Jeremy Corbyn came under further pressure to condemn Venezuela’s leaders last night after the EU awarded its top human rights prize to the country’s opposition and denounced ‘those who remain silent’
Jeremy Corbyn came under further pressure to condemn Venezuela’s leaders last night after the EU awarded its top human rights prize to the country’s opposition and denounced ‘those who remain silent’.
After dedicating the honour to every political prisoner in the South American country, Brussels bosses said that Western politicians had a ‘duty to denounce’ its oppressive leaders.
The award will prove deeply embarrassing for the Labour leader, who has faced repeated criticism for his failure to condemn Nicholas Maduro, the Left-wing president of Venezuela.
Questions have been raised about the response of Mr Corbyn, a long-time admirer of the socialist leader, since the country became mired in an economic and social crisis earlier this year.
Despite claims of widespread human rights abuses during a crackdown on opposition protestors, the Labour chief has simply condemned ‘violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides’.
A Conservative minister last night expressed his disbelief that Mr Corbyn has so far failed to criticise Venezuela’s regime even though experts fear an outbreak of further disorder and violence.
The award will prove deeply embarrassing for the Labour leader, who has faced repeated criticism for his failure to condemn Nicholas Maduro (pictured), the Left-wing president of Venezuela
Justice minister Dominic Raab said: ‘I join with our EU friends in condemning the authoritarian Venezuelan government’s murder, torture and arbitrary detention of political opponents.
‘It beggars belief that Jeremy Corbyn can’t bring himself to do the same.’
In a significant move, the European Parliament yesterday awarded the Sakharov prize to the oil-rich country’s opposition as well as more than 600 political prisioners there.
After announcing the winner, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani branded Maduro a ‘dictator’ who had ‘robbed citizens of their fundamental rights’.
The Italian politician said: ‘It is our duty to denounce, once again, the unacceptable situation in Venezuela.
So far this year, around 130 people are known to have been killed while carrying out protests on the country’s streets while at least 500 people have been imprisoned for dubious reasons. Above, riot security forces in Caracas in July
‘We must make our voices heard loudly and clearly against a regime that holds millions of men and women hostage, trampling upon their human dignity on a daily basis.
‘We are also calling for the peaceful transition to democracy that the Venezuelan people are desperately calling for.’
So far this year, around 130 people are known to have been killed while carrying out protests on the country’s streets while at least 500 people have been imprisoned for dubious reasons.
The UN has accused security forces and armed groups who support Maduro of being behind the majority of the killings as the country is gripped by hyperinflation.
Its High Commission for human rights last month said ‘there is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate’ and accused the Government of ‘crushing democratic institutions and critical voices’.
Last night it also emerged that Mr Corbyn’s allies in Sinn Fein will boycott the ceremony when the award is handed out in December.
The Irish republican party is part of European Parliament’s GUE group that said the choice obstructs ‘any chances for dialogue’ and is not helpful ‘for peace to prevail’.
During a closed-door meeting in Strasbourg of the European Parliament’s leaders yesterday, Green party MEPs also raised concerns because some of the winners have ‘questionable reputation’.
Both Labour and Sinn Fein MEPs are understood to have instead voted for journalist Dawit Isaak who has been detained in Eritrea for 16 years.
The prize is named after Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet scientist and dissident, and comes with a prize of £45,000.