Inés Margarita Gonzalez Arraga is a bright Venezuelan with a Master of Chemistry from IVIC Venezuela and a Chemistry PhD from Akron University in the United States.
Inés was also an avid Twitter user (@inesitaterrible), one of many unafraid to express their thoughts against the authoritarian Venezuelan regime, initially led by Hugo Chavez, and now led by Nicolás Maduro. With more than 70,000 followers, she managed to draw the attention of the authorities.
On October 4, 2014, Inés was called to the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) facilities, the Venezuelan political police state, from where she has not yet returned. “Public incitement, insulting public officials and violent outrage” are the charges against her, for writing on social networks, especially Twitter, and she now faces a prison sentence of 3 years.
After a year of imprisonment, still without a fair trial, Inés Gonzalez is currently locked in the Helicoide, a place where there have been reports of human rights violations and torture, including physical, psychological and sexual assault.
Since July, she has needed an emergency operation: a total hysterectomy (i.e. a total removal of her reproductive organs). It’s not clear whether this condition is a result of physical aggressions, but it is the case that Inés was in perfect health when she was called in by the SEBIN.
In light of all this, we in Estudiantes por la Libertad express our solidarity with the Venezuelan political prisoners in all the abuses to their freedom and integrity, especially the case of Inés Gonzalez, still imprisoned in the Helicoide. We also hereby declare that:
- We condemn any restriction of freedom of expression, especially of the personal opinions people express about their governments.
- We condemn the lack of due process and the fact people have to spend years in jail without a fair trial. In addition, we advocate for a correct proportionality of penalties and condemn that prisoners are subjected to mistreatment by the authorities.
- We repudiate torture and aggressions made to political prisoners.
- We empathize with Inés Gonzalez, for the surgery she will be submitted to urgently, especially considering that at the time of her arrest by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) she had the good health typical of a person her youth.
- We call on international public opinion, the media and multilateral organizations, for solidarity with this case, and to not allow “Inesita Terrible” to lose her life in the attempt to protect the freedom of her country.