Brave Venezuelan Activist Wins This Year's Homo Homini AwardPublished: Mar 15, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
The Homo Homini Award, which People in Need has been awarding since 1994, is once again heading to South America. Javier Tarazona from Venezuela, who is currently facing false charges of treason and incitement to hatred and terrorism, has been awarded the prize for his lifelong support of human rights.
Javier Tarazona has been educating and supporting vulnerable and persecuted people since his youth. In high school, he organized a first aid courses for his classmates and educated them on effective HIV prevention and contraception. He was also part of an organization that helped people in prison.
At the age of 17, he founded Fundabriseta, later renamed Fundaredes. It started as a youth organization where children and young people learned democratic principles and values through play and today, has grown into something much bigger.
From Teacher to Activist
After university, he worked as a teacher. However, he increasingly began to work for Fundaredes: encouraging more people from different communities, especially in the border states of Venezuela, to defend their rights. He created permanent human rights monitoring cells in the six Venezuelan border states of Amazonas, Apure, Bolivar, Falcón, Táchira and Zulia. He also organized regular training sessions to teach locals how to monitor and assess their own human rights situation.
Since becoming director of Fundaredes, he has trained more than 8,000 citizens in Venezuela's border states and has been vocal in denouncing human rights violations by the state and irregular armed groups. It is estimated that more than 43,000 residents have benefited from his work. Fundaredes has created public meeting places that have been used by members of hostile groups such as ELN Guerrilla, FARC and the Venezuelan government to meet during times of armed conflict.
Prosecution and Detention
As a result of his actions, he soon fell under constant surveillance by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). Prior to his arrest in 2021, Javier courageously denounced the activities of illegal groups operating in the border areas of Venezuela with the approval of the regime.
Javier Tarazona, along with his brother Rafael Tarazona and fellow activist Omar García, was arrested on July 2, 2021, en route to the Attorney General's Office to file a complaint of harassment and persecution by SEBIN. Javier currently faces charges of treason, incitement to hatred and terrorism. Omar García and Rafael Tarazona have been released from custody but remain under house arrest.
The Situation Today
As of mid March 2022, Javier Tarazona has been in prison for 600 days. He is being held directly at the headquarters of the intelligence agency SEBIN and his trial is constantly being delayed. In November 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested the opportunity to review the conditions of his detention. The reason for the request was the repeated allegations of torture and ill-treatment. The European Union delegation in Venezuela also mentions Javier's case in its statement and requests that, given his state of his health, the Office of the UN High Commissioner should have access to Mr. Tarazona.
The Price of Homo Homini
Since 1994, People in Need has been awarding the Homo Homini Prize to people and groups that have made significant contributions to the defense of human rights, democracy and the non-violent resolution of political conflicts around the world. Past winners include Russian politician Alexei Kovalev, Chinese literary critic and dissident Liu Xiaobo, Azerbaijani lawyer Intiqam Aliyev, well-known Vietnamese dissident Pham Doan Trang, and Nicaraguan farmer Francisca Ramírez. In 2020, the prize was awarded to the currently four detained members of the Belarusian human rights organisation, Viasna.
As Javier Tarazona will not be able to accept the award in person, it will be accepted by proxy. This will take place on Wednesday evening, March 22, 2023, at a gala in Prague's Křižovatka, which will also launch the next edition of the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival. A live broadcast of the ceremony will be available online on People in Need's major channels.
For more information, please contact Ondřej Lukáš, Media Coordinator at People in Need - Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, email@example.com, +420 776 186 529, www.peopleinneed.net