Cuba, allies block activist at UN Human Rights Council
Cuba, backed up by China and North Korea, blocked a Cuban activist from addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday through repeated points of order.
uba, backed up by China and North Korea, blocked a Cuban activist from addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday through repeated points of order.
Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, a scientist who says he was deliberately infected with HIV by the Cuban authorities whilst in jail, was set to address the session in Geneva.
But every time Ruiz Urquiola began to speak, Cuba and other nations immediately intervened, saying the council was discussing human trafficking and his address was off the topic.
After first asking for his accreditation to be removed, Cuba, followed by others, accused him of deviating from the topic, with Havana’s representative referring to his “groundless accusations”.
uba intervened five times, while Venezuela, China, Eritrea and North Korea did likewise in support of Havana’s position.
“We could spend our entire day here in this situation, which is extremely unpleasant,” said Cuba’s representative.
The council vice-president Juraj Podhorsky, in the chair, twice urged Ruiz Urquiola to bring his speech to the topic, but eventually declared that time was up and moved on to the next speaker.
The back-and-forth lasted about 10 minutes.
The Council session was focused on human trafficking. Non-governmental organisations participating in a session — in this case, Ingenieurs du Monde — have the opportunity to give their speaking time to activists.
A doctor in biological sciences, Ruiz Urquiola is a critic of the Cuban government on environmental issues.
In 2018, the human rights group Amnesty International declared Ruiz Urquiola a prisoner of conscience, saying he had been given a one-year sentence for contempt for allegedly disrespecting two forest rangers under legislation inconsistent with international law.
The scientist claims he was injected with HIV by the authorities while in prison.