Friday, August 19, 2016

What Leopoldo Lopez, Amnesty and HRF said about his appeal being rejected

"A decision by a court of appeals in Venezuela to uphold a 13-year jail sentence against opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López is yet another stain on the country’s crumbling human rights record." - Amnesty International on August 13, 2016

Unjustly imprisoned since February 18, 2014 and still jailed today
 Amnesty International has recognized Leopoldo López as a prisoner of conscience. A prisoner of conscience is anyone imprisoned for the non-violent exercise of their beliefs. The Venezuelan democratic opposition activist was arrested in Caracas on February 18, 2014 in what was a nonviolent moment. The Metta Center for Nonviolence defines a nonviolent moment as follows:
Coined by Yehudhah Mirsky, a nonviolent moment is a climactic event in a campaign when all of the resistors’ forces are pitted against all of the oppressor’s forces in an open confrontation. The oppressor has two choices: escalate the oppression in a way that is repugnant to the rest of humanity, or back down and concede.
The arrest, continuing arbitrary detentions and show trial of Leopoldo López is an unfolding nonviolent moment that began on February 18, 2014 and has continued for the past 2 years, 6 months, and 2 days.

Leopoldo was arbitrarily detained on February 18, 2014
The latest round has been the Venezuelan regime's appellate court ratifying the unjust 13 year and nine month prison sentence issued in a show trial on September 10, 2015.

Entering the Palace of Justice on August 18, 2016

Leopoldo himself denounced the process over twitter beginning with a grainy photo of him arriving at the Palace of Justice for the rigged judgment of the court of appeals on August 18, 2016 at 8:58am.

The Venezuelan opposition leader went on to make a number of devastating observations regarding his case:
Only in a dictatorship can it be considered a crime being committed to achieve the best Venezuela. It has always been clear to me that there will be no judge or any court of this dictatorship that will grant me freedom. With our case the unjust justice has been laid bare in front of Venezuelans and the world ...  Ironic. One of the judges today executioner, Jimai Montiel, was that boy who sang to Pope John Paul II in 1985. Brothers, Venezuelans, I ask that we turn all our indignation into action and mobilization! They can't break our fighting spirit! They can't force Venezuelans to submit! Let us go forth to conquer change and democracy. At this time, the solidarity that I ask is with our beloved Venezuela! Let us go forth with all our force next September 1st!
 Javier El-Hage, chief legal officer of Human Rights Foundation stated in a press release denouncing the appellate court's decision stating:
“Terms like ‘kangaroo court’ or ‘sham trial’ do not begin to describe what has happened to López since his arrest in 2014. After the lead prosecutor confessed to having falsely charged López, the conviction would have been vacated immediately if Venezuela were a democratic nation,” said Javier El-Hage, chief legal officer of HRF. “López is part of a group of prominent pro-democracy activists under dictatorial regimes worldwide who have been sentenced to dozens of years in prison for advocating basic human rights. In 2009, the Chinese dictatorship jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ after he wrote a democracy manifesto, while in 2012 Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime convicted the leader of the democratic opposition, Vladimir Kozlov, of ‘inciting social hatred.’ Kozlov, whose case is very similar to that of López, was also convicted for ‘creating and managing an organized criminal group,’ which is the label the regime gave to Kozlov’s political party, in a move very similar to the one Venezuela pursued against López’s party, Voluntad Popular.” 
 Amnesty International condemned the ruling in the strongest terms:
A decision by a court of appeals in Venezuela to uphold a 13-year jail sentence against opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López is yet another stain on the country’s crumbling human rights record, Amnesty International said.
“Leopoldo López is the victim of a vicious ‘witch hunt’ against anyone who dares to disagree with the Venezuelan government. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Carolina Jimenez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.
 Friends of human rights and freedom need to makes this known to other American citizens and the international public. Please help to spread the word: Free Leopoldo López!

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