Thursday, January 18, 2018

...Muslims continue demonstration outside Venezuelan Embassy

For a second day, members of the Muslim community gathered outside the Venezuelan Embassy, Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain, to hold a peaceful demonstration for the Government to intervene on behalf of at least eight Trinidadian Muslims currently in the custody of the Venezuelan intelligence service, Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), under the suspicion of being terrorists. 

Yesterday, relatives, friends, and well-wishers of the detained men gathered outside the embassy with placards that carried messages such as “Free Our Muslims Now in Venezuela”, “We Want Justice For All Our Brothers”, “Leaders Must Show Concern”  and “Free All Our Muslim Brothers in Venezuela.”

The demonstration was not as large as the previous day’s but  chairman of the Muslim Social and Cultural Foundation Inshan Ishmael, said the message was just as strong, if not stronger. 

“This is part two of our gatherings, because the issue continues. Take for instance, we are being told that some of the men who were supposed to appear before a tribunal recently, was just a rumour. We have been in direct contact with these men and we have been told from them and from their attorneys that this did not happen, nor was it on the cards for it to happen.

“So this is the reason we are here...this is our main goal, to show in a peaceful manner that we have not forgotten you and we will stand by your side. And while it may not be possible for all of us to be here everyday, we want to show our brothers that they are always in our thoughts and we will  continue to fight for them as best as we can,” Ishmael said. 

Ishmael reiterated calls for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and President Anthony Carmona to get involved and to liaise with the President of Venezuela, Nicolas  Maduro, on the issue.

“We have a President who can write to Denmark’s authorities to save a couple of giraffes yet it has been over two weeks, and as far as our information is, he has not written to the Venezuelan authorities, nor has he publicly said anything on the issue. I am as much an animal lover as the next person, but this situation here deals with human lives, and yet we have not heard anything from our President. Why is that?

“The same question can be asked of the Prime Minister. She is the head of the National Security Council, yet we have not heard from her on this issue at all,” Ishmael said.

In a news release yesterday from Gary Griffith, Minister of National Security, Griffith stated he wanted to reassure citizens the Government has been doing everything that was diplomatically possible to assist the party of Trinidad and Tobago nationals currently detained in Venezuela.

While Griffith said he recognised the fact that family members of the detained persons would like to see a speedier resolution, he also explained that the sovereignty of Venezuela must be respected and that all due investigations must be allowed to run their course with respect to the constitutional laws of Venezuela.

“Their justice system must be respected. In similar manner, if anything happens with our law enforcement officers and our officials arrest anyone from another country, that country obviously has to understand and respect the authority of Trinidad and Tobago based on what may have happened. So it would be inappropriate for us to do more than we can and should do,” Griffith said.

“Just by them accommodating Trinidad and Tobago, agreeing to our delegation of experienced and qualified persons to go to Venezuela to see what can be done, that alone speaks for itself to show that the Venezuelan authorities are fully supporting and intend to work with us,” Griffith said.