10 Killings: The Tragic Story of the Barrios Family in Venezuela



By Alex Roche, writer and campaigner

Imagine that one day your brother is at home with his two sons. Police enter his house, beat him and take him away, handcuffed. Imagine that later that day, he is taken to hospital, already dead, with gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach.

Now imagine that five years later another brother of yours is shot several times in the head and killed by the police, in the presence of your nephew. The following year, yet a third brother of yours is shot and killed, after having been threatened earlier that day by a policeman.

Hard to imagine, right? Well, this is not all. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Ten Ways to Repress a Journalist

People hold posters as they mark World Press Freedom Day in Tbilisi (Photo Credit: Vano Shlamov/AFP/GettyImages).

People hold posters as they mark World Press Freedom Day in Tbilisi (Photo Credit: Vano Shlamov/AFP/GettyImages).

Governments and other organizations across the world are perfecting techniques to prevent journalists from shining a light on corruption and human rights abuses. From trumped-up charges and removing work licenses to murder, here are 10 ways journalists are repressed and prevented from reporting freely and fairly.

1. Physical Attacks
In some countries such as Syria, Turkmenistan and Somalia, governments, military forces and armed groups attack and even kill journalists who are seen to be critical of their policies and practices.

In May 2012, 18-year-old citizen journalist Abd al-Ghani Ka’ake was fatally shot by a government sniper in Syria while filming a demonstration in Aleppo. Armed opposition groups have also attacked and killed journalists.


Brazil Must Stop Siding With Oppressive Regimes

Brazil’s recent history of siding with some of today’s most oppressive governments must end. As we watch the events in Tunisia and Egypt unfold, Brazil’s track record of supporting and befriending today’s most powerful dictators is downright shameful.  This position is not only contrary to the country’s desire to become a leader in global human rights, but also irresponsible.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s apparent willingness to greet and negotiate with oppressive regimes was counterproductive to the world’s development.  Current President Dilma Rousseff has an opportunity to break with this trend by living up to the country’s humanitarian aspirations and expectations, as evidenced in the nation’s involvement with the world’s most respected humanitarian organizations.

Brazil became a member of the UN Human Rights Council when the multilateral body was created in 2006.  Brazil’s involvement with the organization has served as a platform for Brazil to contribute to important human rights matters, including resolutions offering access to medicines combating pandemics such as HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  Brazil also introduced and championed initiatives to protect children rights and to combat discrimination by defending the incompatibility between democracy and racism.

Although such initiatives are noteworthy, Brazil has been less than helpful with other matters of global importance.  In 2009 it stopped supporting the Council’s resolutions dealing with North Korea’s human rights violations.  Brazil also refrained from standing up to the international crimes committed under Sudan’s regime. Additionally, Brazil supported Sri Lanka’s resolution, in which the massacre of over 70 thousand people during 25 years of civil war was not recognized.


Human Rights Flashpoints – November 10, 2009

What’s Up This Week

  1. Colombia – Venezuela: No Love
  2. Sudan: Threat Against Election Officials
  3. Upcoming This Week

Colombia and Venezuela – The Cold War Continues?
The tension between Colombia and Venezuela has once again flared with Venezuela’s government sending 15,000 troops to the border at the end of last week and publicly stating that it is preparing for war. There have been multiple causes for the recent deterioration of relations between the two governments. Most recently, the murder of two national Venezuelan guardsmen on the border allegedly by Colombian paramilitary groups resulted in the closing of two bridges connecting the two countries. Consequently, Chavez has accused the Colombian government of complacency against paramilitary groups trying to destabilize his government. In addition, the Venezuelan leader has cited last month’s military cooperation lease between the US and Colombia to give American troops more access to national military bases as the foundation for a US invasion into Venezuela. The US and Colombia have argued that the military deal will assist in the fight against drug traffickers and other insurgents. The recent violence further exacerbated the already strained relations caused by the Venezuelan arrests of supposed Colombian spies last month, the discovery of multiple bodies along the border presumed to be Colombian paramilitaries, and Colombian charges that Chavez was supplying guerilla groups with anti-tank weapons.

The Uribe government in Colombia announced on Sunday that it would solicit the aid of the UN Security Council and the Organization of American States to deal with the growing enmity with Venezuela.  While an all out war between the parties is highly unlikely, Chavez’s decision to send troops to the border could lead to an escalation in border violence.