Abu Duyanah

* 1984

  • “They managed to make a Decree on social networks, internet space, communication, the Decree Law 370, signed by the president of the republic, dictator on duty, Miguel Díaz Canel, which sanctions the use of social networks. They say that they can assess according to what they understand, that a person is going against the custom and morals of the country.”

  • “Cubans are already changing. This has happened in all regimes, with some exceptions that we have yet to see, such as China or North Korea. But in the majority, with exception of these two, the majority have been forced to make a change. They were trying to make a change with the Raúl [Castro] government, which became known as ‘Lineamiento’. I always make the joke about the compound word: ‘line’ which in Cuba means a scam, and ‘miento’ which means ‘I’m lying to you’. Lying and lying. They tried to make a change, they entertained the people for a while, which was Raúl’s plan for the ten years of his government. That worked for him, but right now it is not working for Díaz Canel [Cuban president]. Because the Cubans are already tired. Because they see that what we have is misery and repression. If you had repression, and you lived as a European or an American, you could say: ‘Well, we have repression, we have no rights, but we have all the things that we need. I can settle for not participating in politics and not having freedom of expression.’ But I don't have freedom of expression, I don't have freedom of movement, and I don't have even the economic freedom either. I don't have food for my children, I don't have milk for my children, I don't have medicine for my mother, there is no medicine for my grandmother, hospitals are a mess. What do I have? I have nothing.”

  • “Yes, of course, Cuban culture is conditioned by the Decree, the Law, the tyranny, from the very first moment. We must always remember words from when Fidel [Castro], when he took power, and when he explained that the artists were going to do whatever was in accordance with the regime. Art was supposed to praise of the regime, the dictatorship, and apart from that, there was no art. ‘In other words, the regime does not consider you an artist because you are in opposition to them?’ No, no, for the regime, I am not an artist, of course. I am not a journalist. I am not a journalism graduate. I am not a graduate in anything. And they use the issue of not being graduated in something, to ask, why do you do journalism. Imagine, a person who fixes shoes is a shoemaker. He solves the problem with people's shoes, he is a shoemaker. And I do journalism, and I am not a journalist. I write stories, and I am not a storyteller, I am not a writer. Inside Cuba. If I send a story to any magazine, my story is published.”

  • “I am an opponent. I always considered myself that I was not a revolutionary and was against the revolutions. Because in revolutions, even if you don't want to, there is always a bloodshed. The changes, because the regimes and the dictatorship do not want to give in, the dictatorship in the end always kills someone. The dictatorship always sheds blood, and I was against that, as a pacifist. I didn't want that to happen. But I don't care what the regime wants to do, if it wants to kill me, or if it wants to kill someone, go ahead, because this is exactly his nature. And it has led me to have to adopt a social position of opposition that was not originally my intention. And although I have always said that I am not a revolutionary, I think that I no longer have any other way... I have to accept that they describe me that way, I have to admit it, because the thing I need, the thing which this country needs, and I want for my children, or for the children of my friends, is a change of the system. And I want the communism to no longer exist in this country.”

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    Havana, Cuba, 21.09.2020

    duration: 02:20:45
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“The Cuban nation has a serious problem: everyone wants to be a Fidel Castro. Those that do not want to be Fidel Castro want a ‘Fidel Castro’ to guide him towards freedom.”

Duyanah Abu
Duyanah Abu
photo: witness archive

Abu Duyanah (pseudonym of Niovel Alexander Tamayo Formén) is a Cuban writer and human rights activist. He was born in 1984 in Cuba, Granma province, but after a few months after his birth, the family moved to Havana. He had a different way of thinking from childhood and began to question the communist regime and all that it implied for Cuban society. As a young man, he was molded as a writer and began activist activities against the regime. His intention was not only to question but to change the situation around him. He felt a strong attraction for anarchism, and in general, for the genres of social claims and protest. He is the founder of the non-violent Demóngeles movement, whose purpose is to claim the rights of free-expression artists. He also participated in the Friendship Movement, which held a series of events, including a march to demonstrate its main pillar - non-violence. In 2001, he began to study Islam vigorously, and in 2010 he adopted the Muslim religion, along with his Islamic name of Mohammed Ali. He was the first Cuban to make a trip to Mecca, and in 2012, he founded the Cuban Association for the Education of Islam. The Cuban regime is persecuting him for his oppositional art, human rights demands, and because he is a Muslim. He lives in Havana and continues writing literature, working on the Demóngeles project and the independent media ADN Cuba.