SHAFAQNA- Daniel Quintero, a 21-year old student from Venezuela, never imagined that he would end up being tortured after going to an anti-goverment demonstration. He tells us what happened, and how he is doing now.
“I decided to go out on to the streets to protest in February 2014 simply because there is a group of people in our country who don’t respect other people’s way of thinking. “The atmosphere felt like a war – you could feel the danger, too much adrenaline. There were 100 security officers in the street in front of me with shields, just because we think differently.
“Some people felt frightened like me, others were too angry or wanted to go crazy like the military, who were screaming at us. I was hoping the situation would calm down but that didn’t happen.” Instead, Daniel was arrested by members of Venezuela’s national guard: “They kicked and punched me in the face and ribs, and hit me on the forehead with the butts of their guns.”
He was forced to strip down to his underwear, handcuffed and forced to spend nine hours doubled up with his hands touching his ankles. If he moved, they beat him.
At one point, the commanding officer told Daniel they were going to burn him. “He had a can of petrol, wires and matches. The whole army surrounded me while he hit me nine times with his baton.” Daniel was also threatened with rape.
“You’d never expect something like this to happen to you, that this could come out of humanity. These archaic methods from eras gone – this physical harm that’s done for no reason – it is inhumane. We should be free of this now”.
“The torture and aggression affected me physically, but spiritually, it has strengthened me. It gives you more tools to continue fighting, and no hate. On the contrary, it gives you a new understanding. If I could say something to my torturers I would say: I forgive you”. “To come out of this experience to know I have the backing of many people through Amnesty, is magnificent. I don’t know how to show my gratitude except to say thanks, many thanks.”
Daniel is one of many who have reported being tortured in Venezuela. The authorities appear to have targeted people who they believe took part in the mass protests across the country in February 2014.