LAC PRISONER

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The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU)

The Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) is a non-violent pro-democracy group that has consistently been the target of government repression. Due to their work, UNPACU members have been harassed and arbitrarily detained at an alarming rate since the organization’s formation in 2011. As of April 1, 2019, there are 56 UNPACU members currently detained as prisoners of conscience—accounting for over half of Cuba’s political prisoners, as identified in a list published by UNPACU.

Government authorities use a range of intentionally vague laws to imprison democracy activists. Among other laws, these include:

  • “Precriminal social dangerousness”—imprisonment on grounds that although an individual has not committed a crime, authorities believe they are likely to commit a crime in the future. This charge has carried sentences as high as 17 years.
  • “Attack”—a vague charge applied when an individual has acted in an “intimidatory” manner towards a government official.
  • “Contempt”—a charge applied when an individual has insulted or offended the “honor” of a government official.

State security forces have actively suppressed UNPACU’s right to assemble in both public and private spaces, most recently in the lead up to Cuba’s constitutional referendum on February 24, 2019. Civil society members who expressed a dissenting message, promoting #YoVotoNo (#IVoteNo), faced grave consequences, including beatings and arrests.

On February 11, 2019, security forces raided fourteen homes belonging to members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), a leader of the #YoVotoNo campaign. They confiscated laptops and cellphones and arrested any individuals who attempted to leave the homes, including minors and family members of UNPACU representatives. According to recent reports, up to 20 UNPACU members were detained during this time. In protest, 123 UNPACU members observed a hunger strike in the days before the referendum. As of February 26, 2019,–two days after the referendum had been held—police continued to “permanently surround” the homes.

The Cuban regime has a long history of repression against UNPACU and has targeted the organization in a similar manner in the past. On September 22, 2016, security forces detained 24 activists who were attempting to participate in an UNPACU meeting. Three months later, assault forces raided the homes of eight UNPACU members, arresting 22 people total. Security forces also detained 150 activists who were participating in peaceful protests across Cuba on March 27, 2016.

Jose Daniel Ferrer founded UNPACU in 2011, shortly after serving 8 years in detention for his activism during Cuba’s Black Spring—a widespread crackdown on dissidents, activists, and intellectuals in 2003. He was imprisoned in response to his work on the Varela Project—a petition to guarantee the right of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in Cuba. The petition, which collected more than 25,000 signatures, sought to undermine the unchallenged power of the Communist Party by demanding a multi-party system with open elections.

The Cuban government has attempted to dissolve UNPACU by harassing its leadership and subjecting its rank and file members to short-term detentions, physical violence, psychological pressures, and other forms of harassment. Ferrer has been detained numerous times and subject to smear campaigns to discredit the movement.

Lucia Pineda Ubau

NICARAGUA // Detained December 22, 2018

UPDATE: Lucia Pineda Ubau was released on June 11, 2019, along with 56 other political prisoners. The release follows the Nicaraguan National Assembly’s recent passage of a new law granting amnesty to all protesters and police officers who were involved in the 2018 uprising against President Daniel Ortega.

Lucia Pineda Ubau is a prolific Nicaraguan journalist and the news director at 100% Noticias, where she has worked for over ten years. Pineda was arrested on December 22, 2018, when police and paramilitary forces raided the office of 100% Noticias and took them off air. She was charged with “fomenting, planning and conspiring to commit terrorist acts” for the outlet’s coverage of protests against the government. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the raid and arrest as an “unacceptable escalation of the Nicaraguan government’s crackdown on the country’s independent media.”

On January 26, 2019, World Movement Steering Committee member Ana Gomes joined a European Parliament Special Mission to observe the status of political prisoners in Nicaragua, including Lucia Pineda. Members of European Parliament on the mission interviewed Pineda about her arrest and conditions. For the first month of her imprisonment in El Chipote prison—an interrogation center widely condemned for its use of torture—reports indicate that Pineda was kept in an underground cell where she “slept on the floor or had a bunk without a mattress, suffered from constant mosquito bites, [was] in unhealthy conditions, had skin problems and [was] not allowed to receive sunlight.” She was also not allowed to receive visits from family members.

Around February 1, 2019, Pineda was transferred to La Esperanza women’s prison, where she was finally able to receive a visit from her cousin. However, she is detained in an isolation cell without a toilet. She reports being denied access to sunlight and can only leave her cell to use the bathroom.

The Nicaraguan government terminated broadcasts of 100% Noticias shortly after Mora’s arrest. “100% Noticias was the only independent 24-hour news network that covered the country’s deepening political unrest,” notes a news report. Employees of the station have been arrested or forced into exile for their work with the program.

Other independent media outlets such as Radio Dario, El Confidencial, and Canal 10 have been raided and subject to intimidation by security forces and supporters of the government. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) denounced the government’s actions as an “evident criminalization of the freedom of expression and an infringement on independent journalism to silence critical voices.”

Miguel Mora Barberena

Miguel Mora Barberena

NICARAGUA // Detained December 22, 2019

UPDATE: Miguel Mora was released on June 11, 2019, along with 56 other political prisoners. The release follows the Nicaragua National Assembly’s recent passage of a new law granting amnesty to all protesters and police involved in the 2018 uprising against President Daniel Ortega.

Miguel Mora is a well-respected journalist and director of the news outlet 100% Noticias. He was arrested on December 22, 2018, alongside news director Lucía Pineda, when police and paramilitary forces raided the office of 100% Noticias and took them off air. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the raid and arrest as an “unacceptable escalation of the Nicaraguan government’s crackdown on the country’s independent media.”

Mora was charged with “promoting and inciting hatred, violence and death” due to the program’s coverage of the protests and criticism of the government. His charges also include kidnapping, murder, and torture—allegations widely applied to protest leaders that guarantee lengthy prison sentences. Mora denies all allegations as a government sanctioned smear campaign. He remains detained in La Modelo men’s prison, where he is allowed only two visits a month. On February 23, 2019, Mora began a hunger strike to protest the denial of a visit by his wife in February. After 10 days without food, he ended the strike at the request of his family.

The Nicaraguan government terminated broadcasts of 100% Noticias shortly after Mora’s arrest. “100% Noticias was the only independent 24-hour news network that covered the country’s deepening political unrest,” notes a news report. Employees of the station have been arrested and harassed for their connection with Mora.

Other independent media outlets such as Radio Dario, El Confidencial, and Canal 10 have been raided and subject to intimidation by security forces and supporters of the government. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) denounced the government’s actions as an “evident criminalization of the freedom of expression and an infringement on independent journalism to silence critical voices.”

On January 26, 2019, World Movement Steering Committee member Ana Gomes joined a European Parliament Special Mission to observe the status of political prisoners in Nicaragua, including Miguel Mora. She remarked on Twitter, “All MEPs who visited journalist Miguel Mora in El Chipotle prison, #Nicaragua, 3 days ago, were shocked with the conditions they found him in, extremely weak, for 35 days confined in a dark hole. All he did ask for was … light & a bible. Stop the torture, Pres. Daniel Ortega!”

Mora spent 40 days total in solitary confinement in an underground cell and “has suffered intestinal infections and episodes of trembling due to the unhealthy conditions in that dungeon and the lack of potable water,” noted another Member of European Parliament. “During the visit, we asked the prison’s director to take Miguel Mora out into the sunlight. He needs sunlight, vitamin D. He’s almost blind from being in the dark.” The delegation interviewed Mora, who said his critical opinion of the government remains steadfast despite the continued threat he faces for speaking out.

Irlanda Jerez


NICARAGUA // Detained July 18, 2018

UPDATE: Irlanda Jerez was released on June 11, 2019, along with 56 other political prisoners. The release follows the Nicaragua National Assembly’s recent passage of a new law granting amnesty to all protesters and police involved in the 2018 uprising against President Daniel Ortega.

Irlanda Jerez, a dentist by profession and civil society organizer,  was detained on July 18, 2018 and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “fraud” and “swindling.” It is widely believed that Jerez is being punished for organizing a civil disobedience campaign in the country’s largest market, Mercado Oriental. Beginning on June 4, 2018, Jerez and other shop owners refused to pay taxes to the government to protest its disregard for human rights. “Irlanda always had a patriotic ideology, she does not have the color of any political party. . . .On April 19th when we went out and [security forces] attacked us again, she decided to be one more voice demanding  our rights. Her principles are unbreakable,” says her husband, Daniel Esquivel.

On July 18, 2018, National Police stopped Jerez and her husband at a traffic light. The police claimed her car had been involved in a robbery, and arrested Jerez without a warrant. The next day, the Supreme Court published a statement that Jerez had been convicted of “fraud” and “swindling.” However, she was immediately placed in a cell with eight women, all convicted of “terrorism,” a common charge for those who participated in protests. Her husband, a lawyer, notes that those convicted of common offences—including fraud and swindling—are jailed separately from those accused of criminal offences —including terrorism. She is imprisoned in La Esperanza women’s prison, where she currently shares a cell with 17 other women. While imprisoned, she has faced torture for continuing acts of peaceful resistance and for making political statements.

Jerez is being held in inhumane conditions, as are many arrested since the April 2018 protests. A report by Confidencial—a news outlet raided and ransacked by government forces in December 2018—details her holding conditions. “Irlanda Jerez has been for 54 days in an eight by four meters’ cell, in La Esperanza women’s prison along with nine other prisoners…In the room light filters through small slits the size of a concrete block. In 54 days, Jerez has been out in the open for just one hour and has lost 20 pounds.” Since the report, she was transferred to a larger cell holding 19 women total.

Many in the international community fear for Jerez’s safety in La Esperanza prison. Twice, unidentified men have attacked Jerez and her cellmates. On October 26, 2018, a group of armed men broke into the cell containing 17 prisoners with the intent to harm Irlanda Jerez over her refusal to be interrogated several hours before. One woman was left unconscious for three hours, and none received medical care. Prison officials informed Jerez that she had accrued 21 infractions while in La Esperanza and that they intended to transfer her to permanent solitary confinement. “My mom has a record of ‘inappropriate behavior’ for praying, singing the anthem, drawing the national flag, talking to the other prisoners about the corrupt government,” says her daughter. Jerez was returned to the group cell after women in the prison tirelessly campaigned for her return.

On January 26, 2019, World Movement Steering Committee member Ana Gomes joined a European Parliament Special Mission to observe the status of political prisoners in Nicaragua. She interviewed Irlanda Jerez, alongside her cellmates. Jerez testified about being drugged while in holding at El Chipote prison—an interrogation center widely condemned for its use of torture—and the attack she suffered in October.

On February 10, 2019, 20 guards attempted to take three prisoners from a cell containing Jerez. Women in the cell resisted the transfer and were severely beaten by the guards. Two women were eventually taken to an unknown location, where they were incommunicado for at least two days.

Join us in demanding the government free Irlanda by sharing this solidarity Tweet!

Amaya Coppens

NICARAGUA // Detained September 10, 2018

 

UPDATE: Amaya was released June 11, 2019, along with 56 other political prisoners. The release comes shortly after the Nicaraguan National Assembly passed a new law granting amnesty to all protesters and police officers involved in the 2018 uprising against President Daniel Ortega.

Amaya Coppens is a Belgian-Nicaraguan medical student and youth leader detained since September 10, 2018 on charges of kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms, and terrorism. Coppens was “a key figure in the student movement, attending to the injured and bringing food to protesters amid a violent clampdown.” Coppens was taken without a warrant in a raid on her temporary residence by about 20 armed security forces. She was held incommunicado for 9 days in the infamous El Chipote prison—an interrogation center widely condemned for its use of torture.

The 23-year old was a fifth-year student and a member of the student group “Coordinadora Universitaria Democracia y la Justicia,” or University Coordinator for Democracy and Justice. Prior to her arrest, she faced sustained harassment by civilian pro-government mobs and paramilitary forces. In two separate incidents, the message “plomo, plomo” (“lead, lead,” referring to bullets) was written on the exterior of her house, and petrol was pointedly spilled in front of it. In April 2018, she was beaten by pro-government mobs and received death threats on social media. For these reasons, she was forced to move out of her house and continuously move residences for fear for her life.

Coppens remains in pre-trial detention, but her lawyer expects her to be found guilty and sentenced to at least 20 years. “These are political trials. Even if you have the best lawyer in the world, our kids will be found guilty and sentenced. The only way out of this is a change in government,” says her mother in an interview.

While imprisoned in La Esperanza women’s prison, Coppens and her 17 cellmates were attacked by 20 masked and armed men on October 26, 2018. The attack was reportedly in retribution against her cellmate’s refusal to be taken for interrogation four hours prior to the attack. One woman was left unconscious for three hours, and none received medical care for their injuries.

On January 26, 2019, World Movement Steering Committee member Ana Gomes joined a European Parliament Special Mission to observe the status of political prisoners in Nicaragua. She interviewed Coppens about her arrest and imprisonment.

Antonio Ledezma Arabic

Antonio Ledezma Arabic

LAC Antonio Ledezma 2

Antonio Ledezma

VENEZUELA/ أنطونيو ليديزما

فنزويلا – محتجز منذ 19 فبراير 2015

ألقي القبض على عمدة كاراكاس أنطونيو ليديزما في مكتبه بسبب اتهامه بمحاولة الانقلاب. تم احتجازه باستخدام القوة المفرطة من قِبل الشرطة، وتم توجيه اتهامات له بدعم مجموعات متآمرين تسعى لاستخدام أعمال العنف لزعزعة استقرار البلاد، والتآمر والتورط في محاولة انقلاب تمولها الولايات المتحدة ضد الرئيس نيكولاس مادورو. تم اتهامه، وهو    في انتظار جلسة استماع أولية، وبعدها سوف تتم محاكمته وإصدار Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Leopoldo Lopez Arabic

Leopoldo Lopez Arabic

Venezuela Opposition

Leopoldo Lopez

ليوبولدو لوبيز

VENEZUELA / Detained February 18, 2014

فنزويلا – محتجز منذ 18 فبراير 2014

 

تحديث: في 12 أغسطس 2016، قررت محكمة الاستئناف الفنزويلية تأكيد الحكم على ليوبولدو بعقوبة السجن لمدة 14 عام بتهمة التآمر، التحريض العلني والحرق وإلحاق الضرر بالممتلكات العامة. إن المزاعم والاتهامات ضد لوبيز تم انتقادها من المجتمع الدولي، الذي اتفق على اعتباره سجينا سياسيا، تم حرمانه من المحاكمة العادلة. محكمة الاستئناف في كراكاس “تجاهلت” المدعي العام الرئيسي في القضية الأصلية، فرانكلين نيفيز، واعترافه بـ “تعرضه للضغوط لتوجيه اتهامات باطلة” إلى لوبيزـ وذلك وفقًا لمؤسسة حقوق الإنسان. برغم دعم الذي تلقاه لإطلاق سراحه؛ ما زال لوبيز محتجزا بسبب الاحتجاجات المؤيدة للديمقراطية في 2014، والتي مثلّت تحديا للنظام السلطوي للرئيس الفنزويلي مادورو.

منذ سجنه في 2014، تم حرمان لوبيز من استقبال زيارات زوجته، ليليان تيتوري، والعائلة، الذين غالبا ما يتعرضون للإذلال وزيارات فجائية عندما يحاولون رؤيته. أيضًا تم رفض طلباته للحصول على تمثيل قانوني، كما عانى من المعاملة اللاإنسانية في محبسه. المحاكمات الباطلة، والعقوبة القاسية تمثل انتهاكًا جسيمًا لحق لوبيز في حرية التجمع السلمي والتنظيم. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Daniel Ceballos Arabic

Daniel Ceballos Arabic

LAC Daniel-Ceballos

VENEZUELA /

دانيال سيبالوس

فنزويلا/ محتجز منذ 19 مارس 2014

تحديث: بعد أن كان محتجزا في البيت لمدة عام، تمت إعادة القبض على دانيال سيبالوس في 25 أغسطس 2016، وما زال في السجن.

دانيال سيبالوس، هو ناشط حقوق إنسان وعمدة سابق لسان كريستوبال في تاشيرا، تم إيقافه ثم طرده بناء على قرار المحكمة العليا الفنزويلية بتهمة ازدراء المحكمة ولفشله في ملاحقة المشاركين في الاحتجاجات السلمية الفنزويلية في عام 2014. الاتهامات الموجهة له تتضمن التمرد والتآمر. هو حاليا يتابع المسار القضائي لاستلام القرار النهائي بشأن عقوبته. في 17 مايو، سيبالوس فاز بالانتخابات التمهيدية التي عقدها ائتلاف المعارضة قبل الانتخابات العامة التي ستعقد في وقت لاحق في الخريف. بعد أسبوع من فوزه، تم نقله من سجن عسكري تم حجزه فيه منذ العام الماضي إلى سجن عادي خارج كاراكاس. بعد نقله، اضم سيبالوس إلى ليوبولدو لوبز في إضراب عن الطعام لمدة 30 يوم. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Ronny Navarro Arabic

Ronny Navarro Arabic

VENEZUELA /روني نافارو

فنزويلا/محتجز منذ 28 يونيو 2014

تحديث: خلال وجوده بالسجن؛ تخضع أغراض روني للتفتيش كل 15 يوم.

روني نافارو كان قد تعرض للاحتجاز التعسفي بوساطة المخابرات البوليفارية في المطار في ميكويتيا، كاراكاس في 28 يونيو 2014. في بداية 2014، قمت مجموعة كبيرة من الشباب بتنظيم معسكرات احتجاج وقاموا بالتخييم عبر كامل الأراضي الوطنية لأكثر من 40 يومًا. روني نافارو كان أحد قادة المعسكر في بلازا “ألفريدو سادل” في لاس مرسيدس، كاراكاس. في صباح 8 مايو 2014، قام الحرس الوطني بنشر عملية مفاجئة لإزالة كل المعسكرات. تم القبض على جميع المتواجدين في بلازا سادل، إلا 3 تعرضوا للاعتقال؛ البقية، بما في ذلك روني، تعرضوا لتطبيق التدابير الاحترازية عليهم.

في 10 مايو 2014، زعم النائب العام دون دليل جنائي أن روني نافارو ارتكب جرائم التآمر وعرقلة الطرق العامة. روني كان حرا لكن كان مطلوبا منه الامتثال لتقديم تقارير منتظمة. بعد القبض عليه في 28 يونيو 2014، فإن الجرائم المذكورة أعلاه والاتهامات الإضافية بشأن التحدي والازدراء تمت المصادقة عليها في 1 يوليو 2014. وفقا لذلك تمت محاكمته بسبب زيارته لبعض النشطاء خلال خوضهم إضرابا عن الطعام قبل ذلك ببضعة أيام، حتى برغم أنه لم ينتهك أي حظر أو بقي في اجتماع عام. بعد هذه الجلسة، روني نافارو كان قد تم احتجازه وإرساله لمقر المخابرات في هليكس، حيث لا يزال هناك.

في 17 سبتمبر 2014، طلب مكتب النائب العام الوطني نقل روني نافارو مرة أخرى إلى قصر العدل، لكي تلصق به تهمة جديدة: التآمر من أجل نشوب ثورة، الاتهام كان استجابة لشريط فيديو يفترض أنه تم تسجيله بوساطة عميل سري. في بداية نوفمبر 2015، قام المتحدث باسم الحكومة الفنزويلية بمنح روني استثناء إنسانيا بما يسمح له بإجراء جراحة لمعالجة كسر في يده اليسرى. في محاولة للحصول على حريته؛ قام روني بمحاولة غير ناجحة للترشح للبرلمان في الانتخابات الفنزويلية خلال عام 2015. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Gerardo Carrero Arabic

Gerardo Carrero Arabic

VENEZUELA / جيراردو كاريرو

فنزويلا/ محتجز منذ 8 مايو 2014

جيراردو إرنستو ديلاجدو كاريرو هو ناشط حقوق إنسان ومنسق وطني لـ “عملية الحرية”. هو أيضا المنسق الوطني لـ “منظمة الشباب الفنزويليون” وهم رواد في تنظيم معسكرات للطلاب والشباب المعارضين وفقا لمنهجية “المقاومة المدنية المنظمة” و”لا للعنف”. هؤلاء الأفراد قاموا بالتخييم في مقرات برنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في كاراكاس في 2014 للمطالبة بـ “الوعي القومي”.

في الصباح الباكر ليوم 8 مايو 2014، نفذ ضباط الحرس الوطني البوليفاري(GNB)  عملية لطرد الشباب الذي قضوا أياما في خيامهم عبر فنزويلا للاحتجاج على أزمة الديمقراطية. بلغ إجمالي المعتقلين 300 شخص، ومن بينهم جيراردو كاريرو. جيراردو كان يحتج سلميا فقط خارج مكتب برنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في كاراكاس، فنزويلا.

جيراردو كان محتجزا لعدة شهور لدى المخابرات البوليفارية في المقر الرئيسي لبلازا فنزويلا، في زنزانة تقع في الطابق الخامس تحت الأرض؛ ويطلق العديد من الناس على هذا المكان اسم “القبر”. بعد مزاعم بتعرضه للمعاملة القاسية والتعذيب؛ تم نقل جيراردو لزنزانة في مقر المخابرات البوليفارية في هليكس، حيث يقبع هناك في الحجز حتى اليوم.

بعد أكثر من 20 جلسة استماع، تم اتهامه دون دليل بارتكاب جرائم عدة تشمل التآمر، التحريض على عصيان القانون، عرقلة المرور في الطرق العامة، وتعاطي المخدرات.

في 3 مارس 2015، أصدرت لجنة البلدان الأمريكية لحقوق الإنسان قرار بتدابير وقائية لصالح كاريرو.

في 28 أكتوبر 2015، أصدر الفريق العامل المعني بمسألة الاحتجاز التعسفي التابع للأمم المتحدة تقريرا أفاد فيه بأنه يعتقد، بعد التحليل المفصّل لكل حالة، أن احتجاز جيراردو كاريرو، بين آخرين في سجن المخابرات، كان تعسفيا.

قد تعرض جيرادو كايرور لمشكلات صحية خطيرة. إنه يعاني من مشكلات بالمعدة، ولديه 28 خراج في جلده، ويعاني من الحمى ودرجة الحرارة المرتفعة فوق 40 درجة مئوية وحتى الآن يتلقى الرعاية الطبية.

في إطار جهود السعي لتحقيق الحرية، فإن جيرادو كيرارو قد رشح نفسه للانتخابات البرلمانية في الانتخابات الفنزويلية التي ستعقد في 6 ديسمبر 2015. وقد رشح نفسه استنادا إلى قرينة البراءة الراسخة في الدستور الفنزويلي. التصويت قد يمنحه حريته، التي لم يحظى بها حتى اللحظة الراهنة. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Renzo Prieto Arabic

Renzo Prieto Arabic

LAC Renzo Prieto Vzla

Renzo Prieto

رينزو بييترو

فنزويلا/محتجز منذ 10 مايو 2014

تحديث: انتخب رينزو بييترو للبرلمان الفنزويلي خلال انتخابات ديسمبر 2015. برغم الحصانة الممنوحة لأعضاء البرلمان المنتخبون؛ فما زال رينزو بييترو مسجونًا.

رينزو بييترو مسجل حاليا في الدراسات الجامعية في المقر الرئيسي لولاية مريديا وهو أنهى دراسته في جامعة تاشيرا وهو فني متخصص في التدريب الرياضي. وهو معروف بالنسبة لزملائه باسم “المسيح” وذلك نظرا لتشابه هيئته مع يسوع المسيح. رينزو أصبح معروف على المستوى الوطني عندما قام بجولة لمدة 19 يوما قطع فيها المسافة بين سان كريستوبال إلى كاراكاس تحت شعار “جولة السلام”. وقد قام بالتأكيد على أنه منذ ذلك الحين فإن المخابرات البوليفارية تتبع خطواته.

كان قد تم القبض عليه في كاراكاس في ظهيرة أحد الأيام عندما كان يحاول دخول مركز تجاري في المدينة، تم تطويقه ثم احتجازه تعسفيا بوساطة العديد من ضباط الشرطة الفنزويليين. بعد 6 جلسات استماع مؤجلة، تم اتهامه بارتكاب العديد من الجرائم، وذلك يشمل توافر النية الإجرامية (دون دليل على الشراكة أو دليل على الغرض)؛ تخريب الطرق العامة، تهريب المخدرات وتصنيع المتفجرات، وهي الاتهامات التي لم يقترفها رينزو. في 28 أكتوبر 2015، أفادت مجموعة عمل الاحتجاز التعسفي التابعة للأمم المتحدة بأنها تعتقد، بعد تحليل تفصيلي لكل حالة، أن احتجاز رينزو، بين آخرين، في مقر المخابرات SEBIN في كاراكاس، كان تعسفيا. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Gilberto Sojo Arabic

Gilberto Sojo Arabic

VENEZUELA / Detained November 26, 2014

جلبرتو سوجو

فنزويلا/ اعتقل في 26 نوفمبر 2014

تحديث: جلبرتو كان نزيلا بالمستشفى في أبريل 2016 نتيجة ارتفاع طارئ لضغط الدم بسبب ظروف السجن وكان يعاني ألما لا يطاق في الفقرات العنقية.

جلبرتو سوجوهو قائد محلي للحزب السياسي “الإرادة الشعبية” في مدينته في سان أوغسطين، كاراكاس. كان قد تعرض للاحتجاز التعسفي بسبب شهادة مواطن مجهول، وقد اقتيد سوجو إلى السجن وبصحبته زوجته وطفله البالغ من العمر 3 سنوات. تم إطلاق سراح الزوجة والطفل بعد 24 ساعة من الاحتجاز.

جلبرتو لا يزال محتجزا في المقر الرئيسي للمخابرات البوليفارية الفنزويلية، في كاراكاس. مصادر مقربة من سوجو تعتقد أن الاعتقال كان نتيجة جمع سوجو التوقيعات لعقد جمعية تأسيسية. هو متهم بالإرهاب الفردي. وما زال في السجن بينما ينتظر الحكم عليه. محاكمته بدأت وهو في انتظار القرار النهائي.

جلبرتو سوجو انتخب للبرلمان خلال انتخابات ديسمبر 2015. ترشح على أساس قرينة البراءة المنصوص عليها في الدستور. برغم أن القانون الفنزويلي يوفر حصانة من المحاكمة الجنائية لأعضاء البرلمان؛ فإن جلبرتو لا يزال مسجونًا. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Yeimi Varela Arabic

Yeimi Varela Arabic

VENEZUELA /يمي فاريلا

 فنزويلا/اعتقل في 1 مايو 2014

يمي فاريلا كان الشخص المسئول عن الأمن في مكتب منظمات حقوق الإنسان الفنزويلية عوالم دون رقابة وإنسانية وحرة. في أعقاب المشاركة في احتجاج ضد الحكومة في 2014، تمت مداهمة المكتب في كاراكاس بوساطة المخابرات البوليفارية، وتم احتجازه تعسفيا واتهامه بالتآمر وحيازة متفجرات. تم توجيه الاتهامات إليه، وبانتظار توجهه للمحاكمة ثم الحكم بسجنه. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

 

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores Copy

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores Copy

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

CUBA / Arrested May 2014

Yoelkis is a member of the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) and two other young activists were detained by police for staging a protest calling for the release of student and fellow UNPACU member  Yohannes Arce Sarmiento.

He was charged with “public disorder” and sentenced to four years of jail. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores (Arabic)

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores (Arabic)

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

يولكيس روزابيلا فلوريس

كوبا/ ألقي القبض عليه في مايو 2014

يولكيس هو عضو في الاتحاد الوطني الكوبي (UNPACU) وبصحبته اثنين من النشطاء الشباب تم اعتقالهم بوساطة الشرطة، بسبب تنظيمهم مظاهرة تطالب بإطلاق سراح طالب وزميل الاتحاد الوطني الكوبي، العضو يوهانس أرك سارمينتو.

تم اتهامه بـ “الإخلال بالنظام العام” وحكم عليه بالسجن لمدة أربع سنوات.Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza (Arabic)

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza (Arabic)

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza

رينير رودريغيز ميندوزا

كوبا/ محكوم عليه في أغسطس 2015

شارك رينير في عدد من الأنشطة المدنية العامة في هافانا، للمطالبة باحترام أكبر لحقوق الإنسان. في وقت لاحق؛ ألقت السلطات القبض عليه بسبب نشاطه العلني.

تم اتهام رينير بـ “خطورة ما قبل الإجرام” وتم الحكم عليه بالسجن لعامين. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta (Arabic)

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta (Arabic)

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta

ريكاردو بيلير فورميتا

كوبا/ محتجز منذ مايو 2014

 

ريكاردو هو عضو في الاتحاد الوطني الكوبي (UNPACU)، ألقت مباحث أمن الدولة القبض عليه في مايو 2014، وذلك في أعقاب اقتحامهم العنيف لمنزل صديقه يولكس روزابال فلورس. كان الشاب قد نظم احتجاجا سلميا للمطالبة بإطلاق سراح زميل الاتحاد الوطني الكوبي الناشط يوهانس آرسي سارمينتو، الذي احتجز آنذاك.

ريكاردو اتهم بـ “الإخلال بالنظام العام” وتلقى حكمًا بالسجن لثلاث سنوات. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong Copy

Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong Copy

CUBA / Sentenced August 2015

Jordys was detained after he attended a peaceful public protest in the Parque Central de la Habana. He was charged with “pre-criminal dangerousness” and subsequently sentenced to three years of imprisonment. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Mario Ronaide Figueroa Diéguez (Arabic)

Mario Ronaide Figueroa Diéguez (Arabic)

 

ماريو روناد فيغيروا ديغيز

كوبا/ محكوم عليه في 2 ديسمبر 2014

 

عضو في الاتحاد الوطني الكوبي (UNPACU). ماريو كان متهمًا بـ “الاخلال بالنظام العام”، وتلقى حكما بالسجن لثلاث سنوات في 2 ديسمبر 2014. يقضي ماريو فترة عقوبته في سجن أجادورس في سانتياغو، كوبا. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

María del Carmen Cala Aguilera (Arabic)

María del Carmen Cala Aguilera (Arabic)

ماريا ديل كارمن كالا أغيليرا

كوبا/ محتجز منذ أبريل 2015

 

في مقرها في هولجيون في كوبا، كانت ماريا ديل كارمن عضو نشط في كل إناث كوبا في المجموعة البيضاء لنحو خمس سنوات قبل سجنها. الآنسة كالا اُتهمت بـ “بالاعتداء” بعد إهانتها لطبيب تسبب في وفاة ابنها، الذي مات نتيجة اهمال طبي.

وقد وجهت إليها السلطات الحكومية تهمة “الاعتداء”، ويتوقع إدانتها من المحكمة. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Yon Goicoechea

VENEZUELA // Detained August 29, 2016

UPDATE: On November 3, 2017, Yon Goicoechea was released from prison with restrictions on speech and movement after more than a year in detention. He continues his political activism in Venezuela today.

Yon Goicoechea is a Venezuelan activist, lawyer, and member of the political party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”). He first gained international attention in early 2007, when he led the Movimiento Estudiantil (“Student Movement”) against a decision by then-Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to shut down Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), an independent television station in Venezuela. At only 22 years old, he organized more than 40 protest marches of around 80,000 people each in an effort to draw global attention to declining civil liberties in Venezuela. Yon received the Cato Institute’s 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty for his “pivotal role in organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil rights in his country.” He went on to co-found Futuro Presente, a foundation focusing on leadership and civic training.

After studying in the US and Spain for a few years, Yon returned to Venezuela in 2016, stating “I returned and millions will return, because Venezuela has a future.” On August 29, 2016, Yon was kidnapped when eight armed men intercepted his vehicle at the La Trinidad tunnel. Hours later, the vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) confirmed that the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) took Yon into custody for having “detonating cords.” For more than 56 hours, Venezuelan officials withheld information about Yon’s whereabouts from his family and lawyer, only revealing his location after prosecutors charged him with possessing explosives and a judge ordered his pretrial detention.

In a New York Times column written from jail, Yon reported that “a couple of dozen armed agents tied [his] hands and covered [his] head with a black cloth.” He was subsequently detained in a cell without light or natural ventilation, where he “felt as if [he] had been buried alive.” At his trial, Yon testified that he had to “sign a document stating that his rights had been respected” or risk solitary confinement for months, despite being kidnapped without an arrest warrant and detained without access to legal counsel.

On September 6, 2016, Yon was transferred to an administrative office in SEBIN detention center the Helicoide. There, he slept on a mat for seven months, before finally being placed in a cell with a bed. He further reported being filmed and harassed by SEBIN officials.

On October 20, 2016, a court ordered Yon’s release due to the prosecution failing to bring charges against him within 45 calendar days of his arrest. Nevertheless, SEBIN officials continued to hold him in their detention facility. In Yon’s own words, he was “being held hostage in violation of the Constitution.” During this time, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International all called for Yon’s immediate release.

Yon remained imprisoned until November 3, 2017—more than a year after his case was closed. He remains a political activist in Venezuela, serving in the national board of Voluntad Popular and the transitional government of Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly. He continues to fight for his dream of a “democratic, free, independent Venezuela, a peaceful Venezuela.”

 

Delson Guarate

VENEZUELA / Detained on August 31, 2016

UPDATE: On November 3, 2017, Delson was released from prison, but with restrictions on speech and movement. On December 17, 2017, he was forced to flee Venezuela after officials attempted to take him back into custody. Delson is now residing in exile in Colombia.

Delson Guarate is the former mayor of the municipality Mario Briceno Iragorry in Aragua State, as well as a member of leading opposition party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”). At the time of his election to mayor, he was only 20 years old—the youngest alderman in the history of Venezuela.

Delson was arrested on September 2, 2016 by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), when a team of 15 SEBIN officials forcibly removed him from his office at City Hall. Delson was subsequently imprisoned in a SEBIN detention facility, the Helicoide.

The Venezuelan government initially charged Delson with environmental crimes of “contravention of land management plans and undue disposal of solid and hazardous waste.” Shortly afterwards, officials accused him of a plot against Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, alleging that they had found “grenades, tear gas bombs, and a plane for the location of these devices.” According to his family, he was not given a chance to defend himself in court—the preliminary hearing of his case was suspended at least ten times.

Delson’s health deteriorated significantly during his imprisonment. Over the course of a year, he lost approximately 60 pounds and was diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, Venezuelan officials repeatedly disregarded his health concerns. After internal bleeding landed Delson in the hospital on September 21, 2016, SEBIN officials forcibly discharged him and returned him to the Helicoide on October 3rd, 2016. A month later, he was rushed back to the hospital for acute gastritis. When he underwent an operation for his intestinal condition, Delson was denied access to the medicine needed for his treatment (five doses of insulin a day). Although his attorney lodged repeated requests to have Delson transferred to house arrest for humanitarian measures, his requests went ignored and Delson remained in the military hospital.

At the same time, Delson’s trial was constantly delayed. Ironically, the 43rd Court in Caracas cited his “lack of transfer from the military hospital” as reason for the deferrals. After the tenth postponement in October 2017, Delson went on hunger strike to protest both his prolonged detention and the lack of medical care.

Delson was finally released on parole on November 3, 2017, after more than a year in detention without a hearing. On December 17, 2017, Delson fled Venezuela, crossing the border to Colombia. In a video sent to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, he reported that SEBIN officials had attempted to take him back to the Helicoide.

Delson continues his activism in exile, stating that “the most important thing about life in prison is knowing that…you are there because you can generate change.”

 

 

Braulio Jatar

Braulio Jatar
VENEZUELA / Detained on September 3, 2016

UPDATE: On July 8, 2019, the Venezuelan authorities formally released Braulio Jatar from house arrest. However, Braulio is barred from leaving his home state of Nueva Esparta, and must present himself in court once every 15 days.

Braulio Jatar is a Chilean-Venezuelan lawyer and journalist. He gained prominence as the founder, director, and editor of Reporte Confidencia, an independent online news website, and additionally hosted three radio shows on legal topics (“Radio Continente”, “Super K La Caribena” and “Encuentro 88.7 FM”).

On September 3, 2016, Braulio was detained by officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) while on his way to host his regular Saturday morning radio show. Officials withheld information about Braulio from his family for twelve hours, only notifying his relatives of his whereabouts when they raided his home without a court order. He was charged with money laundering for allegedly being in possession of $25,000 in cash in his vehicle.

Braulio’s relatives and defense lawyer believe that he was framed by SEBIN officials in retaliation to posting a video of protesters jeering at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Reporte Confidencia. Around thirty people were detained at the protest, but all were released except for Braulio.

Braulio was subsequently imprisoned in and transferred between various SEBIN detention centers. During this time, Braulio suffered from myriad health issues, including hypertension, skin cancer, and severe weight loss.

In April 2017, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Braulio’s detainment “stemmed from his exercise of rights and freedoms enshrined in Article 19 of the Covenant” and called for his immediate release. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the right to freedom of expression.

Authorities released Braulio from prison but placed him under house arrest on May 24, 2017, citing health reasons. Under the terms of the house arrest, Braulio is under 24-hour surveillance by security forces, is barred from making public statements about his case, and can only leave the house for medical reasons and with a judge’s authorization. Since then, Braulio has remained imprisoned in his own home as he waits for a trial date to be set.

 

 

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

Yoelkis Rosabal Flores

CUBA / Arrested May 2014

Yoelkis is a member of the Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) and two other young activists were detained by police for staging a protest calling for the release of student and fellow UNPACU member  Yohannes Arce Sarmiento.

He was charged with “public disorder” and sentenced to four years of jail. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza

Reinier Rodríguez Mendoza

CUBA / Sentenced August 2015

Reinier participated in a number of public civic activities in Havana calling for greater respect for human rights. He was subsequently arrested by authorities for his public activism.

Reinier was charged with “pre-criminal dangerousness” and sentenced to two years of jail. In July 2016, Reinier was arrested again and one year later he was sentenced to four years in jail. Reinier suffers from HIV as well as Hepatitis C, but is being denied proper treatment.

Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta

Ricardo Pelier Frómeta

CUBA / Detained May 2014

Ricardo is a member of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) and was arrested in May 2014 by state security after they violently entered the home of his friend Yoelkis Rosabal Flores. The young men had staged a peaceful protest to call for the release of fellow UNPACU activist Yohannes Arce Sarmiento, who was detained at the time.

Ricardo was charged with “public disorder” and sentenced to three years of jail. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong

Jordys Manuel Dosil Fong

CUBA / Sentenced August 2015

Jordys was detained after he attended a peaceful public protest in the Parque Central de la Habana. He was charged with “pre-criminal dangerousness” and subsequently sentenced to three years of imprisonment. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

Mario Ronaide Figueroa Diéguez

Mario Ronaide Figueroa Diéguez

CUBA / Sentenced December 2, 2014

A member of Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), Mario was charged with “public disorder” and sentenced to three years imprisonment on December 2, 2014. He is serving his sentence in the Prisión Aguadores in Santiago, Cuba. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

María del Carmen Cala Aguilera

María del Carmen Cala Aguilera

CUBA / Detained April 24, 2015

Based in Holguín, Cuba, Maria del Carmen Cala Aguilera was an active member of Cuba’s all-female Ladies in White group for about five years prior to her imprisonment. Cala was accused of  “attack”–a vague

after she insulted the doctor responsible for the death of her son, who died as a result of medical negligence.

She was charged with “attack” by government authorities, and sentenced to three and a half years in prison. On March 1, 2016, her name was included on a list of 47 verified political prisoners provided by the Cuban American National Foundation to President Raul Castro, who had promised to set political prisoners free if provided a list of their names. He never followed through.

On April 19, 2018, Cuba will select a new president   Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Ronny Navarro

Ronny Navarro

VENEZUELA / Detained June 28, 2014

UPDATE: In December 2017, Ronny was released from the Helicoide—an infamous Venezuelan detention center—along with twelve other prisoners following a recommendation for the release of 80 political prisoners by the National Assembly. He was detained for three years and seven months.

Ronny Navarro is a Venezuelan activist and member of the political party Alianza Bravo Pueblo (“Fearless People’s Alliance”). He was initially arrested on May 10, 2014 for organizing a peaceful youth protest camp in the Plaza “Alfredo Sadel” in Las Mercedes, Caracas. Prosecutors charged Ronny with conspiracy and obstruction of public roads, then released him with the requirement that he present himself before the court every 15 days.

On June 28, 2014, officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) suddenly arrested Ronny at the airport in Maiquetia, Caracas, while he and his family were on their way to Maracaibo, Venezuela. Without bringing any evidence, prosecutors accused him of attempting to cross the border to Colombia. Ronny was subsequently sent to the Helicoide, a SEBIN detention center.

Ronny suffered a fracture in his left hand that was left untreated in the Helicoide, causing him to lose mobility in his fingers. On November 9, 2015, a judge approved Ronny’s release to house arrest so that he would be able to operate on his left hand. However, SEBIN officials never released Ronny.

In December 2017, the National Assembly recommended the release of more than 80 political prisoners. Ronny was one of 13 prisoners released by the end of the year. He spent three years and seven months in prison.

 

Gerardo Carrero

Gerardo Carrero

VENEZUELA / Detained May 8, 2014

UPDATE: Gerardo was released on December 31, 2016, along with several other student activists, after spending two and a half years in prison. He continues his political advocacy by campaigning for the closure of SEBIN detention center La Tumba.

Gerardo Carrero is a Venezuelan activist who serves as the national coordinator of the Venezuelan Youth Organization. In 2014, he worked to organize protests under the movement “National Conscience,” in which students installed tents in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Development Programme in Caracas, Venezuela. The movement was aimed to peacefully protest against the economic and social policies of the Venezuelan government.

On May 8, 2014, officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) detained Gerardo along with 120 other student protestors. Although 112 students were shortly released, Gerardo remained in prison as prosecutors charged him with obstruction of public roads, incitement to disobey the law, and minor drug usage. He was held in the Helicoide, an infamous SEBIN detention center.

After spending 103 days in the Helicoide, Gerardo went on hunger strike to protest the prolonged detention of all the student activists who had been arrested in 2014, including himself. In an effort to force Gerardo to break the hunger strike, SEBIN officials reportedly handcuffed him to a pipe and beat him with wooden boards until they broke against his legs. After his family members protested his treatment, a judge ruled in September 2014 for Gerardo to be transferred to La Tumba (“The Tomb”), another SEBIN prison.

Gerardo compared his detainment in La Tumba to being “buried alive.” There, he was subjected to solitary confinement in a 2 x 3 meter cell, 15 meters underground. He was kept away from sunlight for five months and learned to identify nightfall when the subway stopped passing over his head. His mistreatment caused him to despair so much that he tried to commit suicide three days after arriving.

While in La Tumba, Gerardo developed serious gastrointestinal problems, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, skin abscesses, and dental pain. To protest his mistreatment, Gerardo went on another hunger strike along with fellow La Tumba prisoners Lorent Saleh and Gabrielle Valles. Their abuse gained international attention, leading the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to pressure the Venezuelan authorities to transfer Gerardo back to a cell in the Helicoide. He was finally transferred back to the Helicoide on February 22, 2015, after spending seven months in La Tumba.

Gerardo stayed in the Helicoide for almost another two years. He was finally released on December 31, 2016. Gerardo continues his political activism and now advocates for the closure of La Tumba.

 

Renzo Prieto

Renzo Prieto

VENEZUELA / Detained May 10, 2014

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UPDATE: Renzo Prieto was released on June 2, 2018 among a larger spate of releases by the Venezuelan government. He served four years in prison.

Renzo Prieto is a Venezuelan lawmaker and activist. He is an elected representative to the Venezuelan parliament as a member of the opposition political party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”). He is also the Secretary General for Juventud Activa Venezuela Unida (JAVU), a platform for young Venezuelan activists.

Renzo Prieto was arrested on May 10, 2014 in front of the Mall El Tolon in Caracas by 30 officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), who did not identify themselves nor present an arrest warrant. A witness to the arrest reported that a group of armed men shot at Renzo for him to stop before placing him in a vehicle to be taken away. He was subsequently taken to a SEBIN detention center, the Helicoide, where he was denied access to a lawyer and questioned with the use of intimidation and psychological violence.

Renzo has been an activist since 2007, when he joined an anti-government student movement. A warrant was issued for his arrest while he was organizing demonstrations in the Venezuelan Andes for JAVU Tachira. He chose not to flee and traveled to Caracas instead after the arrest of movement leader Leopoldo Lopez, saying “I knew that if I left I would only regret it.”

Renzo was initially detained on charges including drug trafficking, criminal association, possessing explosives, fabricating weapons, and blocking traffic—many of which were later dropped. According to Bloomberg News, Renzo’s trial was “delayed more than 30 times as police refused to take him to court or the judge simply didn’t show.” The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations declared Renzo’s arrest arbitrary and called for his immediate release during its 73rd session from August to September 2015.

In prison, Renzo shared a cell with 15 other inmates. Guards denied him fresh air and water, and threatened to confine him in a cramped cell for disobeying orders. In December 2016, Renzo launched a 15-day hunger strike with a dozen other prisoners to demand his freedom—shedding more than 20 pounds in the process. He continued to participate in several protests throughout 2017, and was punished with “isolation, the prohibition of visits from relatives and lawyers, [and] the lack of access to sunlight.”

While he was still detained, Renzo was elected to the National Assembly in December 2014. Another student activist chose him as his deputy under a provision that allows elected representatives to name a substitute in the event of their incapacity.

Renzo was finally released after four years of detainment on June 2, 2018, as part of a national reconciliation effort attempted by Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro after his reelection in May 2018. Directly after his release, Renzo was sworn into the National Assembly (the legislator he served as understudy for is in exile). Renzo holds the record for longest politically-motivated imprisonment among all Venezuelan elected officials.

Gilberto Sojo

Gilberto Sojo

VENEZUELA / Detained November 26, 2014

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UPDATE: Gilberto was released in December 2016 after two years of imprisonment. However, he is banned from leaving Venezuela and must appear before court once a month.

Gilberto Sojo is a Venezuelan legislator and activist. He is an elected representative to the Venezuelan National Assembly and a community leader for the political party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”) in his hometown of San Agustin, Caracas, Venezuela. Prior to his arrest, he worked as a motorcycle deliveryman who organized social activities for retirees in San Agustin.

On November 26, 2014, Gilberto was arrested by officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). SEBIN officials accused him of plotting to blow up the Palace of Justice—Venezuela’s Supreme Court—in an effort to liberate Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo Lopez. They claimed that they had found C4 explosives on his motorcycle.

Gilberto was subsequently imprisoned in the Helicoide, a SEBIN detention center. There, he described being tied to a desk so that he “was hanging by [his] bound hands,” forced to stay in a crouch in a chamber called the “drawer” for 18 days, and beaten repeatedly. Gilberto referred to the Helicoide as “a torture center of this regime.”

In December 2015, Gilberto was elected to the National Assembly as the deputy to legislator Dinorah Figuera while still detained. This was possible due to a provision that allows elected lawmakers to the National Assembly to choose substitutes in the event of their incapacity. However, the Venezuelan government rejected an appeal by Voluntad Popular to release Gilberto under parliamentary immunity, which prevents elected lawmakers from being prosecuted.

On the dawn of December 13, 2016, Gilberto was unexpectedly released. He had spent more than two years in prison. That same day, he was sworn into the National Assembly and officially assumed his duties as deputy legislator. However, he is banned from leaving the country and is to appear before court once a month.

 

 

Leopoldo Lopez

Leopoldo Lopez

VENEZUELA / Detained February 18, 2014

UPDATE: Leopoldo was released from house arrest on April 30, 2019, by the soldiers who were guarding his home. He was detained for more than five years, two of which were under house arrest. He now resides in the Spanish embassy in Caracas, as the Venezuelan president has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Leopoldo Lopez is a prominent Venezuelan activist and lawmaker. He served as mayor of the Chacao district in Caracas, Venezuela for eight years between 2001 and 2008, then went on to found the opposition political party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”) in 2009.

In January 2014, Leopoldo called for peaceful demonstrations to protest government-sponsored violence against dissidents. In response, the Venezuelan government issued an arrest warrant for Leopoldo, accusing him of terrorism, murder and grievous bodily harm, public incitement, arson damages to property and conspiracy to commit crimes. Leopoldo turned himself in to the Venezuelan National Guard five days later on February 18, 2014, declaring “if my imprisonment helps awaken our people…then for me it will have been worth it.”

Leopoldo was subsequently sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison and held in the maximum security prison Ramo Verde. His sentence was denounced by prominent members of the international community, including Amnesty International, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and then-US president Barack Obama.

While detained in Ramo Verde, Leopoldo was placed in solitary confinement in a room that was seven feet by ten feet for months. After three years of imprisonment in Ramo Verde, Leopoldo was released under house arrest on July 8, 2017, to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

On April 30, 2019, Leopoldo appeared to have escaped from house arrest in a video posted online by Juan Guaido, leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly. In the video, Leopoldo stands behind Guaido as he gives a public address. Reports soon emerged that Leopoldo had been freed by the soldiers who were guarding his home, after they decided to support Guaido.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has issued a warrant for Leopoldo’s arrest. Since May 2, 2019, Leopoldo and his family have been residing in the Spanish embassy in Caracas.

 

Rosmit Mantilla

Rosmit Mantilla

VENEZUELA / Detained May 2, 2014

UPDATE: Rosmit was released from prison on November 18, 2016, after undergoing surgery for severe health issues. He applied for asylum in France and now lives in exile.

Rosmit Mantilla is a Venezuelan activist and politician. He is the first openly gay politician to be elected to the National Assembly of Venezuela.

On May 2, 2014, Rosmit was kidnapped from his home by officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). At the time, he was still a university student but had gained prominence as an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights in Venezuela. Rosmit was accused of funding the anti-government protests that had gripped Venezuela earlier that year, and was subsequently imprisoned in the Helicoide, an infamous SEBIN detention center.

While in prison, Rosmit was elected to the National Assembly as a substitute legislator. However, he was prevented from taking office due to his continued detainment. He was abused in prison, stating “there was not a day in which I wasn’t psychologically mistreated…I spent days and months punished in the basements with no water, no light, no toilet and without taking a shower. I was under permanent verbal harassment, hearing ‘you will be here for 25 years’ all the time.” Rosmit additionally witnessed many of his friends undergo electrocution in prison.

Rosmit began suffering severe health issues after two years in the Helicoide. A gallbladder infection spread to his pancreas, making him so seriously ill that a judge authorized his transfer to a clinic for surgery. However, SEBIN officials dragged him out of the clinic and forcibly returned him to an isolation cell in the Helicoide before he could undergo the procedure. In Rosmit’s words, “they were sentencing me to death.”

After significant outcry from prominent groups in the international community, including Amnesty International and the Vatican, Rosmit was treated for his illness and released from detention on November 18, 2016. He had spent two years and a half in prison.

Today, Rosmit resides in exile in France after being granted asylum in 2017. He continues his political activism in France, appearing before the French Senate to advocate for the release of Venezuela’s political prisoners.

 

Antonio Ledezma

Antonio Ledezma

VENEZUELA / Detained February 19, 2015

UPDATE: On November 17, 2017, Antonio escaped from house arrest and fled to Spain. He now advocates for the release of Venezuela’s political prisoners from outside the country.

Antonio Ledezma is a prominent Venezuelan lawyer and politician. He is the former mayor of Caracas and founder of the political party Alianza Bravo Pueblo (“Fearless People’s Alliance”).

On February 19, 2015, 25 agents from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) stormed Antonio’s office in Caracas and forcibly removed him from the building. Antonio was accused of plotting a coup to bring down Venezuelan President Maduro and subsequently imprisoned in SEBIN headquarters in Plaza Venezuela. He was then placed under house arrest in April 2015 after suffering from health issues.

On August 1, 2017, Antonio was once again forcibly removed and taken to prison by SEBIN officials, this time in retaliation for posting a video denouncing the elections in Venezuela. A neighbor recorded the arrest, screaming “They are taking Ledezma away! They are taking Ledezma away!”

Antonio was returned to house arrest on August 4, 2017. On November 17, 2017, he slipped past his guards and made his way through Colombia, eventually rejoining his family in Spain. He had just marked the 1000th day of his detention.

Antonio continues to advocate for the freedom of Venezuela’s political prisoners from exile.

Daniel Ceballos

Daniel Ceballos

VENEZUELA / Detained March 19, 2014

UPDATE: Daniel Ceballos was released from the Helicoide—an infamous Venezuelan detention center—on June 1, 2018, after being detained for more than four years. However, he is required to appear in court every 30 days and is prohibited from leaving the country.

Daniel Ceballos is a prominent Venezuelan human rights activist, agricultural engineer, and lawmaker. He formerly served as the mayor of San Cristobal in Tachira, Venezuela, and as the leader of the political party Voluntad Popular (“Popular Will”).

On March 19, 2014, officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) arrested Daniel for allegedly failing to stop protests in San Cristobal. He was charged with civil rebellion and conspiracy and sentenced to one year in prison. Daniel was detained in maximum security prison Ramo Verde, where prison guards reportedly hurled bags of feces and urine against his window and shut his water and electricity off.

On May 22, 2015, Daniel went on hunger strike along with three other detainees to protest his continued detention after serving his year-long sentence. Daniel was promptly transferred to the July 26 Prison, a general population prison outside of Caracas without the knowledge of his family or lawyer. There, he was placed in solitary confinement and made to sleep on a bed made of cement. After ending his hunger strike on June 11, 2015, he was transferred to the Helicoide, a SEBIN detention center in Caracas.

Daniel was released under house arrest on August 11, 2015, for health reasons. However, SEBIN officials forcibly returned him to the July 26 Prison a year later on August 27, 2016, claiming that Daniel planned to escape to “direct and coordinate acts of violence.” He was then transferred back to the Helicoide.

Daniel spent another two years in prison. In the Helicoide, he was placed in solitary confinement for a continuous period of 52 days. On June 2, 2018, he was released along with 16 other political prisoners, but he is required to appear in court every 30 days and cannot leave Venezuela. He had spent more than four years in detention.

 

Yeimi Varela

Yeimi Varela

VENEZUELA / Detained May 1, 2014

UPDATE: Yeimi Varela was released in December 2016 together with other political prisoners in Venezuela. He spent two and a half years in prison.

For 20 years, Yeimi Varela worked as the night watchman for the headquarters of Humano y Libre (“Human and Free”) and Un Mundo sin Mordaza (“A World without Silencing”), two human rights-focused non-governmental organizations based in Venezuela. Humano y Libre provided leadership and community engagement workshops for youths in troubled neighborhoods, while Un Mundo sin Mordaza played an integral role in the 2014 #SOSVenezuela protest movement. However, Yeimi did not play an active role in the organizations’ work.

Late Thursday night on May 2, 2014, officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) conducted a raid on the NGOs’ headquarters for their involvement in “subversive activities.” They took into custody the only person present during the raid: Yeimi.

Yeimi was charged with “associating to commit crimes” and subsequently imprisoned. He was released on December 31, 2016, along with five other student activists. He spent two and a half years in prison.