Washington, DC – IRI honored Cuban human rights activist, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, with the “Democracy’s People Award” during a ceremony with IRI Chairman John McCain.

Sen. McCain presented the Democracy’s People Award to Biscet’s representative, Laida Carro, during a ceremony in the senator’s office earlier today.

“We are disappointed that we cannot give this award to Dr. Biscet, himself,” Sen. McCain said.  “Although he remains imprisoned in a Cuban jail, his struggle to bring democratic change to the nation continues.  We are honored to recognize Dr. Biscet in this manner and humbled by his strength and determination.”

Dr. Biscet received a three-year prison sentence in 1999 after calling for a protest against Fidel Castro’s government and human rights violations throughout the country.  Cuban officials charged Biscet with dishonoring national symbols, public disorder and instigating crime.

Before being jailed, Biscet began a 40-day water-only hunger strike calling for the release of political prisoners in Cuban prisons.  The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reports there are 320 political prisoners currently serving prison sentences in Cuba.

Cuban officials released Biscet from prison last October after serving nearly all of a three-year sentence. In December, however, Cuban police again arrested Biscet on a charge of public disorder and he has been in jail ever since.

Before his arrest in December, Biscet said “I’m strengthened by my time in prison and I’m going to keep fighting.”

“Dr. Biscet is a tireless defender of human rights and a key leader in the Cuban struggle for freedom and democracy,” IRI President George A. Folsom said.  “IRI is honored to recognize his courageous efforts in the face of brutal oppression.”

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