VENEZUELA challenged the UN on Monday to see for itself if opposition allegations of human rights abuses were true.
Addressing the UN human rights council in Geneva, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza invited the organisation’s experts to visit his country to see the situation there at first hand.
He said the invitation was intended to break through the “media matrix” pushed by biased and unfounded sources from the global right wing.
Venezuela’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) opposition has blamed the government and security forces for the 124 deaths during four months of violent regime-change protests from April to early August.
The US, EU and Britain have backed those claims, with Washington slapping new financial sanctions on Venezuela last month.
After meeting Mud leaders in Berlin last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was considering EU sanctions on Caracas as well for alleged rights violations.
But Mr Arreaza said the rioters had committed crimes against humanity, burning people alive and attacking more more than 900 schools, hospitals, food distribution centres and official buildings.
By contrast, he said, there were 16 proven cases of the use of disproportionate use of force by the security forces — and the officers involved had been put under arrest.
At a press conference last month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pointed out that the rioters had burned more than 30 large government food warehouses during the unrest, affecting four million families who depended on them.
They had set 29 citizens alight on the mere suspicion of being government supporters, nine of whom died.
Mr Arreaza accused UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein of “acting in a highly biased manner” that “appears to form part of a strategy of aggression.
“With all respect, we have come to say the work done by the high commissioner is not correct,” he said, calling for a review of the Jordanian prince’s position on Venezuela.
Venezuela’s position was supported by its regional allies Cuba and Nicaragua, along with China, Russia and Iran.
The foreign minister thanked the many nations which had expressed solidarity with his country.