The oppression of young students protesting against President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime in Venezuela has led some to begin a campaign to sew their mouths closed, hoping to attract international attention and force the government to free the more than 100 student political prisoners in the country.
Infobae reports that fifteen students have begun the movement, protesting both the arrests and probation orders on thousands of students for having participated in protests against the political oppression and economic irresponsibility of the government. The students marched to the Venezuelan Palace of Justice (Supreme Court) with their mouth sewed in silence as a display of dissent.
The students had been fasting for days before sewing their mouths. “Our parters have reached the extreme action of sewing their mouths shut because of the silence of the Justice system and to alert the government that our hunger strike is permanent, prolonged, and serious,” said student spokesman Daniel Gutiérrez. “We the students will continue in protest, contemplating the grave situation that the country experiences and in our colleagues who are in jail for thinking differently.”
“I sewed my lips shut because of this government, which does not have the will to resolve the student crisis,” wrote one participant on Twitter.
— Leyla Martin R (@LeylaMartinR) July 7, 2013
Others have also posted photos of the students defiantly posing with their self-inflicted injuries.
— H é c t o r (@Hector_ManuelP) July 11, 2013
— CARLOS DAVID BRICEÑO (@CarlosBCNN) July 11, 2013
The Venezuelan government has arrested thousands, mostly peacefully protesting, unarmed college students, since the current uprising began after the arrest of Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López. López remains in jail for, among other infractions, arson and incitations to violence. While the Venezuelan government has extended their efforts to keep out of the media spotlight the human rights abuses against protesters, mass arrests are not uncommon. In May, the Venezuelan national guard arrested 243 students indiscriminately in a raid on student housing at 3 AM, while students were sleeping. Instances of torture, beatings, and disfigurement have persisted well into the summer.