Representatives of Cuba (top right) and Venezuela (bottom right), accompanied by fellow diplomats from North Korea and Syria, came to UN Watch’s event to lash out at UN Watch and at the human rights activists from their countries who testified of gross abuses committed by the Havana and Caracas regimes.
GENEVA – UN Watch gave a top platform to famous dissidents from Cuba and Venezuela in a series of events held during the recent June session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Addressing a packed audience, speakers at the UN panel testified of being subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and other gross and systematic human rights abuses. The event drew UN officials, Ambassadors, NGOs, and human rights activists—and raised the ire of the Cuban and Venezuelan delegations, who screamed accusations at UN Watch and the panel speakers.
However, U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper (right) delivered strong remarks  in support of human rights protection in both countries.
“We were afraid to come here today,” said 33-year-old Alejandro Suarez Teppa, a Venezuelan philosophy student and protest camp leader who was arrested and brutally detained last month. He was joined on the podium by Eusebio Costa, 22, also a student protest leader from Caracas.
Following the panel, UN Watch, along with the young dissidents, held an outdoor rally in front of the UNHRC. Click here for photos of the rally.
Both students made the journey in defiance of a televised attack against them by powerful National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.
“These students are human rights heroes who put their freedom and safety on the line for the basic democratic freedoms that so many of us take for granted,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
On Cuba, the audience heard testimony from Ángel Carromero, the driver in the suspicious crash that killed Cuba’s most famous pro-democracy figure, Oswaldo Payá, and Cuban dissident and poet Regis Iglesias.

WATCH VIDEO OF PANELISTS: 

“We came to Geneva to ask the U.N. to send a mission to Venezuela to evaluate the cases of human rights violations that students have been subjected to.”
 — Eusebio Costa
, 22-year-old student activist, President of the Student Center at the Catholic University Santa Rosa in Caracas, member of the protest camp in Las Mercedes. VIDEO.

 

“We urge the United Nations to investigate the Venezuelan government’s abuses.”
 — Alejandro Suarez Teppa, graduate student of philosophy, national board member of the Venezuela United Active Youth, leader of protest camp in Stanta Fé. VIDEO

“My nephew was put in solitary confinement in harsh conditions for promoting peaceful protest.”
  — Julieta Lopez, aunt of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been imprisoned since February. When Ms. Lopez addressed the Human Rights Council plenary in March, the Venezuelan delegate interrupted her speech and tried to stop her from testifying. VIDEO

“The accident took place two years ago and the family hasn’t had any access to the autopsy; I’m asking you to have common sense.”
  — Ángel Carromero, Spanish politician, driver of the car in deadly accident of Cuban democracy leader Oswaldo Payá. VIDEO

 

“Listen to the victims of oppression; we’ve been governed for the last 50 years by the same family.”
   — Regis Iglesias, Cuban poet, arrested with 74 other dissidents during the notorious 2003 Black Spring crackdown, Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. Exiled to Spain in 2010, he is spokesman for the Christian Liberation Movement. VIDEO.

MEDIA IMPACT

 

“Venezuelan and Cuban activists lobbied the United Nations to investigate the deaths of dozens of student protesters in Caracas and the jailing of Cuban dissidents. The two Latin American powers, led by socialist Presidents Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, are members of the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council…” Click for more

 

Cuba and Venezuela Lash Out

After the panelists gave their testimony, representatives from the Cuban and Venezuelan government responded by screaming wild accusations of corruption at them and UN Watch.

The Venezuelan delegate said, “We have the greatest amount of oil; you [the United States] have the greatest empire and you are trying to take our resources.” In response to Ms. Lopez’s condemnation of the inhumane treatment of her jailed nephew, the Venezuelan insisted that he was “protected by all constitutional and legal rights.” VIDEO

The Cuban representative screamed accusations at the panelists and UN Watch: “This is clearly a program of the United States to undermine Cuba, and they have given these speakers money to participate,” said the furious representative, who ended his speech by loudly leading a walk-out of the North Korean, Syrian and other allied delegates who showed up at the UN Watch event. VIDEO

Subsequently, the Cuban delegation complained to the Human Rights Council that UN Watch was out of order for hosting the dissidents.

UN WATCH IMPACT

•   Before the panel even took place, it raised the ire of the head of the Venezuelan parliament, who was one of several top Caracas officials to lash out at the prospect of Venezuelan dissidents at the United Nations Human Rights Council, where the government’s violent repression of protests would come under intense scrutiny.

• Venezuela and Cuba both tried to intimidate and discredit the speakers and UN Watch by sending representatives to the event and accusing all involved of being liars and accepting US government bribes.

•  The event won the support of key officials including US Ambassador Keith Harper, who praised UN Watch and the panelists for speaking truth to power.

 • The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights released a statement on Venezuela following the event, stating: “We remain concerned about the continuing human rights violations reportedly taking place in Venezuela in the context of recent demonstrations.”

•   In response to the UN rights chief’s criticism, the Venezuelan government called the statement “deplorable” and accused the Office of joining “the infamous international smear campaign” against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

• María Corina Machado (right), a leading Venezuelan opposition figure with 2 million Twitter followers, sent a video message expressing solidarity. Video here

 

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