Photo: Reuters

Over 200,000 people signed a petition supporting the nomination of former President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva - who is currently in prison after being convicted on trumped-up corruption charges – for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

The campaign was launched by Argentine activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who expressed his solidarity with Lula, serving his sentence in the city of Curitiba, Paraná state, since April 7, reports TeleSUR.

Esquivel, president of Argentina’s Peace and Justice Service (Serpaj) highlighted Lula’s contributions to combating poverty and hunger in one of the most structurally unequal countries in the region and world.

In a letter to the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway, Esquivel highlighted initiatives such as the Zero Hunger and family benefits program as well as the development of a successful socio-economic model, which saw 30 million people lifted from poverty during Lula’s term in office; achievements which have been recognized by the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), Development Programme (UNDP) and World Bank.

Meanwhile, unemployment dropped by some 50% year on year, while health and education programs saw Brazil’s Human Development Index rise under the Lula administration.

“Through democratic and participatory processes, Lula’s government improved the quality of life of the population and gave hope to sectors most in need,” stated Esquivel.

However, Judge Carolina Lebbos recently denied a request by Esquivel to visit Lula in person.

The former President was sentenced to 12 years and one month imprisonment in a process described by his defense as illegal and politically motivated.