Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No Justice for Neda in Iran or for Génesis in Venezuela and how the two are linked

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

Neda Agha-Soltan  and Génesis Carmona
Neda Agha Soltan, was just 26 years old, when was shot in the chest and killed in central Tehran on June 20, 2009 as she left a nonviolent demonstration in the midst of contested elections that became known as the Green Revolution. She was an aspiring singer. Her murder was caught on video and it made her an iconic figure. Five years later and her killer has not been brought to justice.

Nearly five years later on February 18, 2014 and 7,391 miles away in Valencia about 60 miles south of Caracas another young woman met a similar end.  Génesis Carmona was just 22 years old and nonviolently expressing her desire for a better Venezuela when she was shot in the head and died a day later from her injury on February 19, 2014. She was a fashion model and beauty queen.

Both young women were apparently shot by pro-government militia targeting demonstrators and passersbys with the collaboration of the national guard with paramilitary units on motorcycles. It is no coincidence that what is taking place in Venezuela now in 2014 is reminiscent of the tactics used by the Iran's regime in crushing mass student protests in 2009.  The role of the Cubans in the Venezuelan military and intelligence apparatus has been much commented on over the past month, but the relationship with Iran and the presence of Iranians in Venezuela has not drawn as much attention, but it should because what were known as the Basij in Iran are called Colectivos in Venezuela are the same thing: pro-government militias linked to the murder of nonviolent demonstrators.

Whether its been five years or four months we must remember; the demand for justice must still be made; and we must protest both murders and the impunity of their killers who are still at large along with the apparent complicity of the authorities in Iran and Venezuela. 

But we must also remember that both Neda and Génesis were willing to stand up and nonviolently protest for their countries to be better places to live in and it cost them their lives.

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