Español On Tuesday, a group of activists from the National Organization of Young Venezuelans lent their support to the father of detained student activist Gerardo Carrero, in his effort to take on the director of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), Carlos Calderón. They are taking their case to the Attorney General and Office of the Ombudsman and say the director is personally responsible for the torture of the young student activist.
“My son, Gerardo Carrero, was severely beaten for over 12 hours last Thursday, August 21, by the director of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, Carlos Calderon,” Carrero’s father said on Monday.
His son, imprisoned since May, began a hunger strike on August 21 to protest President Nicolás Maduro’s policies of “tyranny and arrogance.”
According to a statement on the Young Venezuelans website, the group claims that after Calderón finished with Carrero, he went to the cells where other students are being held and asked, “Who else is on a hunger strike?”
In an interview with the PanAm Post, student activist Juan Requesens said that after the formal complaint had been filed “the prosecution asked the court to conduct a forensic exam, and to take [Carrero’s] deposition in the presence of his attorney.”
Carrero’s father says he filed the complaint because his son’s physical integrity was being violated. He added that his son’s lawyers have been banned from SEBIN.
During the interview with the PanAm Post, Requesens said his friend was “hit with a stick and hung from a grate for 12 hours.” According to the young activist, the beatings were intended to force Carrero to end his peaceful protest. “They wanted to end the hunger strike at all costs.”
Ángel Sucre, spokesman for Young Venezuelans, corroborated the reports: “They were hit with clubs; the treatment was brutal and degrading. Although they are experts at not leaving bruises, he had several bruises.”
According to Requesens, the alleged torture-victim identified the head of SEBIN, Carlos Calderón, as the man responsible for his treatment. “Now it’s our turn to seek the full force of the law against this official,” the Young Venezuelans leader said on Thursday.
— Jovenes Venezolanos (@JovenesVzlanos) August 26, 2014
There are 23 students in total being held along with Carrero at the SEBIN headquarters. Requesens explained they were not able to verify the current state of Carrero’s physical health, and that he can only be visited by close friends and family.
He says the detained students “are awaiting hearings to be put on trial, [even though] the administration of justice in this country is at the service of the ruling party.”
The Current Situation
“The situation in Venezuela is one of absolute restriction in terms of freedom of expression, ” said Requesens, “prosecution and imprisonment for those who think differently, continuous persecution by the intelligence services, and physical and psychological abuse for students who are arrested.”
The young activist says he believes Venezuelans have historically stood in solidarity with people of other countries that have found themselves under the worst dictatorial rule. “The case of Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic, or Argentina — the minimum we expect is the same solidarity in return. We need the support of the international community,” he stated.
— Tito Molinos (@titomolinos) August 26, 2014
Alfredo Romero, member of the Venezuelan Criminal Forum (FPV), a non-profit organization that promotes and defends human rights in Venezuela, reaffirmed Carrero’s treatment in prison in an interview with the PanAm Post. He says the student activist was not only beaten after launching his hunger strike, he was tied to a tube and hung from the ceiling for over 12 hours.
Carrero’s lawyer, María Fernanda Torres, also an FPV member, was with the detained student’s family when the complaint was filed on Tuesday. She managed to have Carrero transferred from the SEBIN branch to a jail in a more centrally located area in Plaza Venezuela, where other “high profile” student activists are being held.
According to Romero, Torres was able to verify Carrero’s injuries. “As it has been noted, he was hit on the ribs. When they hung him from that tube in the ceiling with handcuffs, newspapers were placed on his wrists to avoid bruising.”
“This is not the first time that torture has been denounced,” said Torres. “For the FPV, this is the 152nd case in the last few months. This is just one of many cases that we have been compiling. Since February 4, 3,273 arrests have been made as a result of the protests. There are 75 people still imprisoned.”
Romero added that protesters are typically charged with a crime related to public incitement: “The other detainees have been charged with crimes, with no evidence, such as carrying fireworks or weapons. Since 2005, anyone who blocks a street in Venezuela is sent to jail. There is no freedom to protest.”