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Bolivian Labor Leader and Human Rights Activist Oscar Olivera Arrested

Bolivian Labor Leader and Human Rights Activist Oscar Olivera has been arrested. Olivera is a past winner of the Letellier-Moffitt Human Rights Award and the Goldman Environmental Prize. He was the leader of opposition to the World Bank-imposed water privatization scheme in Bolivia.
Dear Friends,

Our friend, brother and comrade, Oscar Olivera is in trouble. Oscar, as you know, was one of the leaders that led a movement to successfully reverse water privatization here in Bolivia. Today he was arrested on charges of, among other things,
"sedition, conspiracy, instigating public disorder, and criminal association." Oscar's crime? Leading protests against water privatization.

In arresting Oscar rights of association and protest clearly established in the Bolivian constitution were violated, as were his right to due process. These absurd charges were originally filed earlier this year, in a move clearly aimed at dividing peaceful opponents of the government, and discouraging the exercise of the right to association and protest.

Oscar was released from physical detention this afternoon, but the charges have not been dropped. He must report every 72 hours to authorities, and can be detained anew at any time.

This kind of harassment is intolerable, and a clear violation of the most basic civil and political rights of association and expression. We need you to act today. Please send a simple, direct message to those in power here, demanding that such abuses must stop.

Below please find a sample fax, and addresses. Please send a copy to the President Quiroga of Bolivia, with a copy to the US Embassy in La Paz. Please also send a copy to us.

Thank you in advance for your solidarity.


Marcela Olivera


-------------------

Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez
President of Bolivia
We are deeply troubled to hear of the arrest this morning of Oscar Olivera
the president of the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers and a
spokesperson for the Coalition in Defense of Water and Life, on charges of
"sedition".

Oscar is well known around the world as a courageous labor leader and human
rights activist. News of his detention has spread fast. We are fully aware
of the spurious nature of the charges filed against him. His arrest sends
an alarming message to human rights workers around the world: that in
Bolivia fighting for basic is an offense chargeable with "sedition".

We call upon you end such arbitrary arrests, and drop the charges against
him and other leaders of the Coordinadora Samuel Soria, Omar Fernandez, and
personally commit yourself to seeing that such violations of democratic
rights and due process are not committed in the future.

-------------------

Please, send the letters to:

Lic. Jorge Quiroga Ramirez
Presidencia de la Republica
Fax: (591-2) 220-4213
Email: presidencia (at) caoba.entelnet.bo

Sr. Manuel Rocha
Embajador de Estados Unidos en Bolivia
Fax. (591-2) 243-3710

With a copy to:

Federación de Trabajadores Fabriles de Cochabamba
Fax (591-4) 450-3530
Email: fabrilco (at) supernet.com
 
 

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