Cuban Biologist Ruiz Urquiola is on a Hunger and Thirst Strike in Front of the UN in Geneva

Ruiz Urquiola in front of the headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 July 2022 — Cuban biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola began, on this Wednesday, the third day of a hunger and thirst strike in front of the headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ruiz Urquiola decided to start the protest to demand that the island’s regime respect the right of all Cubans to return to their country after Havana prevented his sister, the activist Omara Ruiz Urquiola, from returning to Cuba on June 25, from the United States where she was receiving medical treatment.

According to the independent journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez, Ruiz Urquiola has also decided “to suspend his antiretroviral drugs as a patient with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) until the entity makes a statement on the violations of individual rights committed against him and his sister,” whom “Cuban State Security has just sentenced to political exile.”

In December 2019, the activist denounced to several German NGOs that the Cuban government inoculated him with HIV. Ruiz Urquiola then said that he had medical proof that a strain of the virus had been inoculated into him at the Abel Santamaría Provincial Hospital in Pinar del Río, when he was in the final phase of a hunger and thirst strike.

The Actions for Democracy Movement published a statement on Wednesday in which it affirms that the activist’s claim has as its objective that the UN pronounce itself not only with regards to the forced exile tof his sister, but also to “take defining measures with the Cuban dictatorship once and for all, extending its resolution to all the governmental institutions of the European Union.”

The NGO, based in Madrid, urged “the Government of Spain and the opposition parties PP, Ciudadanos and Vox to speak before the European Parliament and its representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, so that it, in turn, intercedes and denounces this outrage that we are sure it will serve as the climax to end the complicity with the Cuban regime.”

Support for Ruiz Urquiola from activists, artists, and Cuban civil society has poured in immediately. “But if Ariel is right now in front of the UN on strike, it is because this new violation against Omara is part of multiple abuses already perpetrated against their family,” curator Anamely Ramos wrote on Facebook. “They are defenders of human rights on an international scale, so leaving them to their fate is something that international organizations cannot do,” she added.

“Once again the arbitrariness of the regime leading people to put their lives at stake, as a last resort to claim their rights,” the Mexico-based journalist José Raúl Gallego wrote on the same social network, and accompanied his message with a video that shows the moment in which Ruiz Urquiola arrived on July 4 at the headquarters of the UN High Commissioner.

A Doctor of Sciences, Ruiz Urquiola participated in several research projects on Cuban biodiversity, especially linked to marine and terrestrial species. He was expelled from the Marine Research Center under the official argument of unjustified absences, but, according to the scientist, it was a plot against him for not being “trustworthy” for the authorities of that institution due to his political leanings.

Ruiz Urquiola has previously carried out several hunger strikes. One of them in front of the Oncology Hospital in Havana, when his sister, Omara, was not given a medicine against the cancer that she suffers from. Two others were carried out during his arrest in 2018 when he was sentenced to one year in prison for the alleged crime of “disrespect.” On that occasion, the fast ended with the release of the scientist, who currently resides outside the Island.


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