UN Clash: Cuba Overruled in Bid to Silence Widow of Dissident Oswaldo Paya

Also: for first time, an official UN document is published calling for inquiry into Oswaldo Paya’s death, signed by 125 world leaders

GENEVA, Sept. 17 – Cuba’s delegate to the UN Human Rights Council today interrupted testimony by the widow of famed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, in a failed bid to block her from requesting an international inquiry into the death of her husband.

Ofelia Acevedo, who was invited to deliver testimony in the UNHRC plenary by UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization, was interrupted first by Cuba, which demanded that the Chair block her from speaking, and then by China, which supported Havana’s point of order.

But the U.S. immediately took the floor to defend UN Watch’s right to speak. The Chair effectively overruled Cuba’s objection by allowing Acevedo to continue her testimony.

“We commend the U.S. for being the only one today to defy Cuba’s bullying tactics and defend this courageous woman’s right to speak, and her right to find out whether the Castro regime killed her husband, a champion of non-violent reform who was Cuba’s Nelson Mandela,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Timed with Acevedo’s testimony, UN Watch formally presented an international petition to the UNHRC demanding an inquiry into Paya’s death, circulated today to all delegates as official UN document HRC/NGO/3 under the council’s agenda item on “human rights situations requiring the council’s attention.”

Signatories of UN Watch’s appeal include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott, Chinese dissident Yang Jianli, numerous former presidents, foreign ministers & ambassadors, MPs and human rights activists.

This is the first time that the demand for an inquiry into Paya’s death was published as an official UN document.

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