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Daughter of famous Cuban dissident cries foul play; appeal for UN inquiry into his death supported by 46 former presidents and world figures

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Rosa Maria Paya took the floor today at the UN Human Rights Council, presenting an appeal by 46 public figures for a UN inquiry into her father’s death. Right: Paya hands the appeal to Gianni Magazzeni, senior UN rights official, after she spoke in a NGO meeting with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Geneva, March 12, 2013. Photo: UN Watch.

GENEVA, March 12, 2013 – US intervention prevented Cuba and its allies from blocking a UN speech today by the daughter of Cuba’s top dissident, Oswaldo Paya, allowing her to present an appeal, signed by former world leaders and other public 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 the petition signed by 46 former presidents, foreign ministers, parliamentarians and human rights activists. Click here for joint appeal to UN signed by former presidents of Peru, El Salvador and Uruguay.

The Cuban delegate interrupted her speech, furiously accused her of being a “mercenary,” and demanded that the Ecuadoran president stop her from speaking. 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 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 who 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 underscored the true nature of Havana’s repressive regime,” added Neuer.

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