On November 24th, PBI organized a film screening and discussion about Venezuela with our Shelter City guest Neyls. Neyls also took part in a discussion after the two documentaries were shown, with moderator and PBI volunteer Sarah and translator Hania.
Sarah Lamberigts opened the evening with an introduction of PBI and the work that we do, once again highlighting the importance of protecting human rights defenders. Through organizing this evening we asked for awareness of the current situation in Venezuela with regards to human rights and were grateful to be able to provide a podium where human rights defender Neyls could do so.
In the first documentary, ‘Where Chaos Reigns’ the audience followed a paramedic group called ‘The Green Crosses’. This group was created by a young medical student and portrayed the harsh reality of what it was like during the protests for protesters, medical personnel and police alike.
In the second documentary; ‘Miradas de Memoria’ the audience watched ten family members of victims talk about what happened during the protests and how they are currently dealing with the aftermath. Through sharing their struggle and talking about their loved ones, they hope to raise awareness about their quest for justice for their loved ones and the state violence they experienced. Neyls is actually featured in this documentary, making the evening all the more special.
After the two short documentaries, it was time for the last video. A mini documentary about Neyls and his stay in The Netherlands through the Shelter City program was made by Laura Esmijer from Lalou Visuals. In the short documentary, Neyls talks about his experiences in Venezuela and his participation in the Shelter City program as well as how he is finding living in Utrecht for three months. After the film screening the mini documentary was published on YouTube.
Having watched all of the documentaries, the audience was then treated to a discussion moderated by Sarah, who has also spent the three months that Neyls was in Utrecht as his buddy. Neyls was most comfortable speaking Spanish during the evening, therefore he was accompanied by Hania, our volunteer translator. She has worked with Neyls on several occasions during his stay, translating from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English.
After the discussion, the floor was opened to questions from the audience, with a nicely cushioned microphone being passed around to guests. Many questions were asked, which Neyls was more than happy to answer. The goal of his stay was also to raise awareness and speak with people about the human rights situation in Venezuela.
Neyls answered multiple questions from the audience on a variety of topics. Such as how people in The Netherlands could support him; he answered that following his organization ALFAVIC VZLA online was a great start. For instance on Twitter and Instagram.
He was also asked whether ALFAVIC works together with politicians. Neyls underlined that there is no place for politics in his tragedy.
With his quest for justice for the death of his son, Neyls was asked about whether he still had trust in the courts in Venezuela. He took a second to form his answer and began with “absolutely…” which was followed by “not” and a smile. He mentioned that due to the little judicial independence in Venezuela, there is no trust in the systems.
After the discussion we wanted to highlight how nice it is to receive words of encouragement and support, so we called upon our audience to write those words on the card that we gave them when they entered the room.
A special thanks goes out to our photographer Danique Luttikhuisen, who took beautiful pictures throughout the evening, the animators at Krab Amsterdam who made the animation video, Laura Esmeijer from Lalou Visuals, the maker of the short documentary about Neyls, and our wonderful volunteers! Last but certainly not least, thank you to our partners Justice & Peace Nederland, the Shelter City project, Human Rights Utrecht, Bibliotheek Utrecht, and vfonds.