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The UN warns of “a renewed attempt to quell dissent” in Nicaragua

November 19, 2019
El presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega

The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega – REUTERS / OSWALDO RIVAS – Archive


The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has expressed concern on Tuesday about what she believes could be “a renewed attempt to quell dissent” by the Government of Daniel Ortega behind the police site to a church with refugee opponents and the detention of those who have tried to bring them humanitarian aid.

The UN warns of “a renewed attempt to quell dissent” in NicaraguaThe UN warns of “a renewed attempt to quell dissent” in Nicaragua

Bachelet's spokesman, Rupert Colville, has referred in a press conference to the events that were unleashed on November 14, when eight relatives of political prisoners entrenched themselves in the Church of San Miguel de Masaya to begin a hunger strike with the one that demands the release of the 130 people detained in the framework of the protests against the Government that are still behind bars.

“That same day, they were surrounded by the Police inside the church, next to the pastor and three other people. The Police cut off the water and electricity and prevented the church from entering,” also to deliver basic supplies, such as insulin for the religious, who suffers from diabetes, “Colville said. Thus, thirteen people were arrested that night for trying to bring water to the entrenched.

Among the detainees are prominent activists Olga Valle and Amaya Coppens, a student leader who was already arrested during the wave of demonstrations against Ortega, spent eight months imprisoned and was released on June 11, in accordance with the agreement between the Government and the opposition. “His detention can be considered an act of reprisal for denouncing the situation of Human Rights in Nicaragua” in international instances, he said.

The thirteen detainees and three other opponents were charged Monday with arms trafficking. “We are very concerned that these seemingly fabricated charges may constitute a renewed attempt to quell dissent,” Bachelet spokesperson warned.

In protest, on Monday, eight people, including an eleven-year-old boy, began a hunger strike in the Managua Cathedral to demand the release of all detainees during protests against the Government. Dozens of Ortega supporters stormed the religious temple hours later and attacked them with stones, “with the acquiescence of the police officers” that surrounded them.

Colville has urged Nicaraguan authorities to guarantee the rights of people held in Managua Cathedral, “in particular, refraining from interfering with the provision of food, water and medical assistance.”

“The Government must put an end to the persistent repression of dissent and the current pattern of arbitrary detentions and refrain from criminalizing and attacking human rights defenders, political opponents and other critical voices,” he said.

Colville has emphasized that “everyone should be able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and to the peaceful assembly without fear of being attacked” or being arbitrarily detained.

In addition, he reiterated to Ortega that the UN “is willing to help the Nicaraguan State to fulfill its international obligations in the field of Human Rights.” To this end, he has proposed that a United Nations delegation “return to the country, if access is guaranteed”.

Protests in Nicaragua began in April 2018 over a controversial social security reform but grew rapidly to claim the “democratization” of the country. More than 300 people died from repression of military and police. The Inter-American Human Rights System recommended prosecuting Ortega for crimes against humanities.

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