Within just a few days, what we feared could happen has become a reality in Venezuela.
The South American state held its Constitutional Assembly election on Saturday 30 July; a move encouraged by the government, but strongly rejected by opposition parties and various social movements.
Many Venezuelans regard the election to be mired in illegitimacy, and as a result there has been significant political unrest in the months building up to polling day, and in the days following it.
The deterioration of human rights
The authorities’ shambolic handling of this national tension has been seen as a worrying pattern of deteriorating human rights in the country.
There has been a dramatic increase in the illegal use of force, numerous arbitrary detentions and the killing of at least ten people, which allegedly includes teenagers.
Venezuela security agents seize opposition leaders from homes: family https://t.co/bFqll2tfQ2
— Emad Rassmy (@erassmy) August 1, 2017
Many of our students' families are deeply affected by the democratic crisis in #Venezuela. We stand by them and by the Venezuelan people.
— Alberto M. Carvalho (@MiamiSup) August 1, 2017
Indiscriminate attacks against citizens have also been reported, including shootings and the firing of tear gas in residential areas and near hospitals, in addition to scores of people hurt by military and police forces and armed civilian groups.
Living in a parallel universe
It’s clear that President Maduro and his government appear to be living in a parallel universe.
The use of lethal force in Venezuela must stop immediately. The authorities cannot continue to ignore the tension and violence engulfing its country, and they must respond to the urgent needs of the entire population – including those who do not agree with the government.
Impartial investigations must be carried out in civil courts into all acts of violence, regardless of who is responsible. Immediate action must also be taken to put an end to arbitrary detentions, killings and other serious human rights violations.
Human rights have been brushed aside in Venezuela for long enough, and the silencing of critical voices must come to an end once and for all.