Target: Miguel Rodríguez Torres, Interior Minister, Venezuela
Goal: Immediately investigate deaths of protesters at the hands of pro-government vigilante group
At least four men have been shot dead at anti-government protests in Venezuela, which have been escalating since they began almost two weeks ago. A police officer, a member of a pro-government vigilante group, and at least two activists have been killed, and many more injured. The protests, organized largely by students and opposition members, are the largest since last year’s unrest over the election of now-president Nicolas Maduro.
Demonstrators expressed mounting frustration over ever-rising crime rates and economic hardships. Inflation, resource shortages, job insecurity, and a lack of new opportunities are causing increasing unrest among citizens, who have united to force Maduro out of office by constitutional means.
Members of the pro-government ’23rd of January collective’ fired into a crowd of over 100 student protesters before fleeing on their motorcycles. The crowd quickly dispersed, but a 24-year-old student was shot in the head and killed. A leader of the 23rd of January collective was also shot dead, as well as a police officer mediating the demonstrations. The mayor of Caracas confirmed a fourth death late the same day, as well as at least 25 injuries and hospitalizations.
More anti-government demonstrators were shot at when hooded vigilantes opened fire into crowds gathered in central Caracas. While none of the vigilantes have been apprehended, there have been 13 anti-government protesters arrested and charged with acts of terrorism, a disproportionate number considering the two-sided violence. There have been over 20 other arrests, ranging from violence, vandalism, and destruction of police property, including four police vehicles burned.
With demonstrations escalating in Venezuela, it is imperative that the deaths of both pro- and anti-government demonstrators be investigated. Demand that further violence be prevented with immediate, impartial investigations, and quick apprehension of those responsible.
Dear Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres,
Recently, at least four Venezuelans were killed during escalating demonstrations in Caracas and other cities. Two anti-government protesters have been killed by vigilante group 23rd of January collective, as well as a police officer and a leader of the pro-government vigilante collective. Arrests of anti-government protesters have been made disproportionately, with some protesters receiving 13 year prison sentences for ‘acts of terrorism.’
In order to prevent further escalation of violence, it is imperative that each of these deaths be quickly and thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators arrested and removed from the growing conflict. I demand immediate and impartial investigations into the deaths of all demonstrators and police officers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: andresAZP via Flickr Creative Commons