Venezuela Should Meet Demands of Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike
In response to a hunger strike by Venezuelan political prisoners — Daniel Ceballos, Leopoldo Lopez, and others — Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Organization of American States (OAS), UNASUR, and the governments of the region should immediately press Venezuela to release these prisoners, who are in custody on blatantly political charges,” said Carlos Ponce, program director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Venezuela’s government is abdicating its basic responsibility to protect their right to life. The government should call for parliamentary elections and invite national and international electoral observers, as demanded by the prisoners.”
Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos, and other political prisoners have been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks, demanding freedom for all political prisoners, the end of censorship and political repression, and the establishment of a specific date for parliamentary elections, which are due to take place this year.
The hunger strike came in response to Ceballos being transferred to one of Venezuela's most violent penitentiaries, in the town of San Juan de los Morros, and Lopez punished with solitary confinement. Ceballos and Lopez, two of the leaders of the opposition Voluntad Popular party, are charged with rebellion and criminal association for their alleged involvement in anti-government demonstrations. The government has been persecuting political dissidents, shutting down independent media, and consistently violating human rights.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.