Speaking in Berlin today, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid Markus Löning commented as follows on the death of Cuban dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza. Villar Mendoza was a fearless advocate of democracy and human rights. He has now laid down his life for this cause. I pay tribute to his dedication and offer my profound condolences to his family and friends.
At the same time I call on the Cuban authorities to release Guillermo Fariñas from custody immediately. Since his arrest two days ago he has been refusing food and life‑saving medicines in protest over Villar Mendoza’s death.
The Cuban Government must finally release all political prisoners, end all restrictions on freedom of expression and hold democratic elections.”
Wilman Villar Mendoza died in hospital on 19 January 2012 from the consequences of a hunger strike begun in jail. A member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, he had been arrested on 14 November 2011 at a protest rally and initially released. On 24 November 2011 he was sentenced to a four‑year prison term for resistance to and contempt of public authority and other offences. When Villar Mendoza was transferred from prison to hospital on 14 January 2012, his condition was already life‑threatening.
Sakharov Prize‑winner Guillermo Fariñas has been in custody since 18 January 2012. He was detained while participating in a protest rally against the arrest of another human rights activist. Guillermo Fariñas has gone on repeated hunger strikes to protest against human rights abuses and arbitrary arrest. He served on the jury of the “A Logo for Human Rights” initiative.