Issue 420: Cuban delegate tries to block UN testimony of late dissident's daughter

Cuban delegate tries to block UN testimony of late dissident’s daughter; US defeats objections by China, Russia, Pakistan, Belarus, Nicaragua
Daughter of famous Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya cries foul play in his death; appeal for UN inquiry supported by 46 former presidents and world figures


Above: Rosa Maria Paya appeared at three separate UN events today organized by UN Watch,including a Human Rights Council speech where she presented an appeal by 46 public figures calling for a UN inquiry into her father’s death. Right: Paya hands the letter to Gianni Magazzeni, senior official at the UN rights office, after she spoke in a NGO meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Geneva, March 12, 2013. Photo: UN Watch.


GENEVA, Mar. 12, 2013 US intervention prevented Cuba and its allies from blocking a UN Watch speech delivered today by the daughter of famous Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, allowing her to present an appeal — signed by 46 world figures — for a UN inquiry into his suspicious death in July.

Rosa Maria Paya spoke in a UN Human Rights Council debate in Geneva, taking the floor on behalf of UN Watch, the human rights group that organized her UN visit and a petition signed by 46 former presidents, foreign ministers, parliamentarians and human rights activists.

“We urge the United Nations to launch an independent investigation into the death of my father,” Paya told the council. “Who is responsible? When will the people of Cuba finally enjoy basic democracy and fundamental freedoms?”

The delegate from Cuba started banging on his desk and interrupted Paya. He accused her of being a “mercenary” and urged the Ecuadoran president of the council to stop her. China, Russia, Belarus, Pakistan and Nicaragua echoed the objection.

However, following a strong intervention in her defense by the US delegate, Paya was allowed to continue. Click here for transcript of Paya’s UN Watch speech, including the country interventions.

“Rosa Maria Paya is a very brave woman,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, “who clearly inherited a lot from her father. This is the first time we’ve brought a Cuban dissident to speak at the UN who’s not in exile but rather has to go back to Havana and assume all the risks that come with taking on a police state in which one still lives. I hope she’ll be safe.”

“The fact that a parade of serial rights abusers rallied behind Cuba to silence a human rights hero only underscores the true nature of Havana’s repressive regime,” added Neuer.

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