Target: Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of Venezuela
Goal: Free Daniel Ceballos, who was recently arrested for participating in anti-government protests
Daniel Ceballos, the mayor of San Cristobal, Venezuela, is a member of Voluntad Popular, Venezuela’s opposition party. He recently ran afoul of the government for participating in anti-government protests, and has been arrested simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Sign the petition and demand that Venezuela respect his human rights–and the rights of all protesters.
Anti-government protests began raging across Venezuela in February. The protests have turned violent on several occasions, and at least two dozen people are dead, with hundreds more injured. Daniel Ceballos was involved in the protest movement. The government has charged him with “suspicion of rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime,” Amnesty International reports. However, while most of the people arrested in the course of the protests “have been conditionally released pending investigations,” Ceballos remains in custody. His assistant, who was present at the time of Ceballos’s arrest, claims that no arrest warrant was presented and that Ceballos was ill-treated by police.
The Minister of Justice later defended Ceballos’s arrest online, claiming that Ceballos fostered “irrational violence” and betrayed his mayoral duties. However, Ceballos has as much right to his political beliefs as any other citizen of Venezuela. If he failed in his job duties, fire him. Arrest is not necessary.
Daniel Ceballos has every right to protest his government, provided that he does it in a peaceful and nonviolent manner. Unless the authorities can prove legitimate wrongdoing on Ceballos’s part, they must release him immediately.
While it is the duty of the state to keep order, the recent chaos surrounding anti-government protests across Venezuela has gotten out of hand. The arrest of Mayor Daniel Ceballos of San Cristobal is simply one example of the government overstepping its bounds in its desperation to restore order. I therefore urge you to release Daniel Ceballos as soon as possible, and I remind you that the rights of protesters must be respected.
Ceballos is charged with “suspicion of rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime,” apparently solely as a result of his participation in anti-government protests. The Minster of Justice and Interior defended the move, saying that Ceballos fostered “irrational violence” and betrayed his governmental duties. But it is up to the government to prove these allegations. Did Ceballos “foster” violence, or did he simply have the misfortune of participating in a protest that got out-of-hand? Did he fail to live up to his mayoral duties? That is cause for dismissal, not arrest.
Daniel Ceballos has as much right to protest his government as any other citizen in Venezuela. The government must respect his human rights–and the rights of all protesters–by refraining from use of excessive force and maintaining the right to peaceful expression and assembly.
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Photo credit: Unukalhai via Wikimedia Commons