Venezuela: On May 23, 2017, Venezuelan activist, Antonietta Ledezma, spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a global human rights conference, where she advocated for the release of all Venezuelan political prisoners. Ledezma explained that Venezuela is “going through the cruelest dictatorship of [its] history,” and has witnessed a complete “criminalization of politics.” Ledezma is one of several women leading the pro-democracy movement and working for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela. Last month, thousands of women organized massive peaceful marches under their #SueltaTuArma Campaign, which called upon members of the Venezuelan military to “drop their weapons,” and support human rights in the country. Ledezma is also the daughter of former Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, who has been under house arrest since 2015. Join the SetThemFree Campaign and learn the stories of Venezuelan political prisoners here.
Bahrain: On May 17, 2017, the trial of Bahraini activist and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Nabeel Rajab, was postponed for the thirteenth time. His trial is now scheduled to take place on June 14, 2017 by which time he will have sat in prison for 12 months without trial. Civil society members have amped up their advocacy efforts calling for the release of Rajab and other political prisoners:
- The “Freedom for Nabeel: Not One More Day” Thunderclap Campaign calls for Rajab’s release, which you can join here.
- The “Together For Bahrain” group spreads awareness about Bahraini political prisoners.
- The #WeHearYou Campaign calls upon individuals to take a picture of themselves blindfolded to express solidarity with detainees who are regularly blindfolded and tortured by Bahraini authorities.
Ethiopia: On May 16, 2017, the Ethiopian Federal High Court found Yonatan Tesafaye, spokesperson for the pro-democracy Blue Party, guilty of terrorism charges. Tesfaye may be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. In December 2015, Ethiopian authorities arrested Tesafaye for his Facebook posts criticizing the government, which they believe played a role in triggering the massive demonstrations in the Oromia region of the country. A month before Tesafaye’s arrest, Oromo demonstrators protested against the historical exclusion of the Oromo people from Ethiopia’s political and economic systems. Following the ruling, hundreds of people joined the World Movement in expressing solidarity with Tesafaye on Twitter. Click here to view our Storify compilation of the discussion.