She was going to defend the constitution with her life, she told the Financial Times. It was there, through that interview, I first got to know her. Got to know her, got impressed by her – and curious about her. A fearless woman, I thought! Luisa Ortega, the Prosecutor General of Venezuela, a year long supporter of Hugo Chavez and supportive of President Maduro after he took over power in 2013. Those days are over now. She is paying a high prize for her protests against the regime and its undermining of the constitution and the democracy in Venezuela. Her life is threatened. A few days ago, I spoke with her on a secret phone line. The night before, her house had been raided. Here is an abstract of our talk:
Publisert i Aftenposten 23. august 2017.
Hun skulle forsvare grunnloven med sitt liv, sa hun til Financial Times. Det var der, gjennom det intervjuet, jeg først ble kjent med henne, – ble kjent, imponert og nysgjerrig. Luisa Ortega var da riksadvokat i Venezuela. Hun hadde vært lojal Chávez-støttespiller i mange år og sto støtt også for president Maduro etter at han overtok makten i 2013. De dager er nå over. Hun er foreløpig den med høyest rang som har protestert mot undergravingen av grunnloven og demokratiet i Venezuela. Det betaler hun dyrt for. Nå er hun truet på livet. Jeg fikk en time med henne på hemmelig telefon for noen dager siden. Kvelden før var huset hennes raidet.
I met her three years ago, in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. At the time, I had worked in the humanitarian sector for years. I had seen more than enough conflict and drama, heard more than enough shattering stories, and seen more than enough individuals destroyed by war and conflict. Yet, the story of this Palestinian grandmother has stayed with me.
En forkortet versjon er publisert av Aftenposten.
Han ble 61 år. Han burde blitt langt eldre. Hvis ikke det var for at han ble syk. Fordi han satt i fengsel. Fordi legehjelpen ble holdt tilbake. Men han vil trolig gjøre det også – leve mye lenger. Fordi ordene hans vil bli stående. Gjerningene hans vil bli stående. Forsakelsene hans vil bli stående. De heltene som har ofret seg for prinsipper står som regel igjen med større respekt og kraft i historien enn de som i redsel og smålighet på kort sikt har bekjempet dem.
Et stort portrett av Liu Xiaobo ved trappene på Nobels Fredssenter. Foto: Nobels Fredssenter.
Peace is hard work. They know that in Colombia, Tunisia and Myanmar. They have lost faith in it in Syria. In Iraq, they don´t know what to expect from peace any longer. And in Cyprus, they are not even sure if they want it. Few Cypriots can remember how many rounds of peace talks there have been. Right now, a new one is going on in Switzerland. And while many have hopes that the talks will lead somewhere, others are skeptical and expect little. Because they have seen it before. In fact, they sometimes feel like they have seen far more of the failed peace initiatives than they have seen of the actual conflict. Yet, there are still some who keep the faith. There are still some who recognize that peace requires hard work and investment and that it needs to be built bottom-up through dialogue, contact, mutual respect and common interests.
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting two of them: Rita and Costas Severis.