Venezuelan Journalists, Activists Freed By Military: NGO


Venezuelan journalists, activists freed by military: NGO

Caracas, April 2 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 2nd Apr, 2021 ) :Two journalists and two activists missing for more than 24 hours after an encounter with the Venezuelan military in a conflict zone have been freed, an NGO told AFP on Thursday.

Venezuelan journalists Luis Gonzalo Perez and Rafael Hernandez, who work for the Colombian NTN24 tv channel, and two activists from the Fundaredes NGO were "released without appearing" before the courts, Gonzalo Himiob, a lawyer and director of the human rights NGO Foro Penal, told AFP.

Their release came after "25 hours of arbitrary detention and forced disappearance," the SNTP press workers union wrote on Twitter.

The group were in a town called La Victoria in the western Apure state on the border with Colombia.

Clashes in Apure between the Venezuelan military and "irregular armed Colombian groups" that began on March 21 left nine "terrorists" and four soldiers dead up to Wednesday, the defense ministry said.

The journalists and activists were detained at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, said the SNTP, one of Venezuela's main press unions.

Communication with them was lost four hours later.

"They were held by the National Guard ... and taken to the Guard's control post.

That's where we lost contact," Javier Tarazona, the Fundaredes director, told AFP.

Authorities have not commented on the issue and when contacted by AFP, the government did not respond.

"Human rights violations are continuing in Apure, this time against journalists simply for reporting on the truth of what's happening in that area," opposition leader Juan Guaido tweeted.

Colombian authorities have claimed the confrontation was a Venezuelan military strike against dissident FARC rebels.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro recently admitted that FARC dissidents could be responsible for the killing of civilians and clashes with Venezuelan armed forces in the border area.

Bogota has long accused Caracas of shielding leftist rebels on its soil, a charge Maduro denies.

The marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a historic peace agreement in 2016 to end a half century of armed conflict with the state.

But some guerrilla fighters refused to join the peace process and have continued their struggle, while also mixing with and battling drug-traffickers in lawless areas of Colombia, including close to the Venezuelan border.