-- Catholic News Agency
Former Cuban Political Prisoner Testifies About Torture
WASHINGTON D.C., February 19 (CNA) .- Prominent Cuban dissident Dr. Oscar Eliias Biscet testified recently at a congressional hearing about the 'systematic and flagrant violations against human rights' carried out by the Cuban regime against political prisoners.
'The Cuba in which I live is a society full of fear,' Biscet said at a U.S. House joint subcommittee hearing on Feb. 16.
Biscet, a medical doctor and founder of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, testified through a phone call from Havana, with the help of a translator present at the hearing.
His identity was not announced before the hearing, out of fear that the Cuban regime would detain him to prohibit him from testifying.
Since 1959, the country has been run by a 'totalitarian socialist regime' that is 'characteristically anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-black,' Biscet said.
'Its permanence in power is due to the use of terror and extreme police control over its citizens.'
Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) chaired the hearing, which examined the ongoing human rights violations of Cuban political prisoners, under the brothers Fidel and Raul Castro.
Smith described the Cuban government as a repressive regime that crushes those who dare to dissent.
In recent years, he has participated in a documentary film on Biscet and launched an initiative for Congress members to 'adopt' Cuban political prisoners in order to highlight their dire situation.
In 2011, Smith led Congress and members of the international community to nominate Biscet for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Biscet said that he has endured torture and inhumane cruelty at the orders of a dictatorship seeking to coerce him to stop his work to promote human rights in Cuba.
He told of the abuse that he suffered at the hands of the political police, who beat him, disfigured his face and broke his foot.
He and his family were tortured, he said, and three assassination attempts were made against him.
Biscet has been arrested multiple times, including once after he accused the Cuban government of allowing and hiding botched abortions.
While in prison, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush for opposing the Castro regime.
The Catholic Church in Cuba helped secure Biscet's release ' along with over 50 other dissidents ' in March 2011. After his release, he chose to remain in Cuba and continue fighting for human rights.
In his testimony, Biscet described the cruel treatment he suffered and observed during almost 12 years in prison.
The Cuban regime does not follow U.N. standards for the treatment of imprisoned people, but instead treats them with 'no human dignity at all,' he said.
Political prisoners are held alongside those who have committed actual crimes to make them feel as though they are also criminals, he explained.
They are stripped naked and tortured with taser guns, left in the dark with no medical attention, drinkable water or ventilation, he said. They are not allowed to access a restroom or speak to anyone else.
He described how some prisoners are left dangling with their hands bound above their heads and their feet barely touching the ground for up to 24 hours.
Biscet stressed the need for a greater awareness of these human rights violations within the international community.
'They seem not to be getting the point or understand that this is really happening,' he explained.
Biscet also fears another missile crisis ' involving Iran, Venezuela and the U.S. ' if action is not taken to intervene.
He added that he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will be able to advocate for freedom in his visit to Cuba next month.
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