GENEVA, February 23, 2016 — Julieta Lopez, the aunt of Latin America’s best-known prisoner of conscience, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, today accepted the 2016 Geneva Summit Courage Award on his behalf.  Speaking at our 8th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, before a chamber of human rights victims, dissidents and activists as well as hundreds of members of the public, she described the squalid conditions in which the Maduro government is keeping her nephew, who is in prison simply for opposing a political system that has led Venezuela to the brink of implosion.

Below are some of her words:

On her feelings of injustice

“From the very instant that my nephew was unjustly imprisoned, I have felt such indignation that I turned into an activist and an advocate for the human rights of Leopoldo and the rights of all political prisoners.”

On the reality of Leopoldo Lopez’s oppressive detainment

“Leopoldo was placed in an isolation cell from the moment he was imprisoned.”

“He has endured deep cold that has hammered away at his soul.”

“His dark and narrow cell is not a metaphor – it is a way of punishing him”

“He is deprived of receiving letters from his family”

“The systematic harassment of his wife, children and mothers has reached new proportions”

“Since they deprived him of pen and paper, he couldn’t even write a message for you today”

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