Brutal crackdown on civil society in Nicaragua continues

Brutal crackdown on civil society in Nicaragua continues

People in Need expresses grave concern over the ongoing brutal suppression of fundamental human rights in Nicaragua. Local people, including students, academics, artists, journalists and civilian activists, are being detained and killed for protesting against the authoritarian regime of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo. Since April this year, nearly 350 people have been killed and more than 550 people have been jailed.

Since the beginning of the protests, which were criminalized recently in Nicaragua, more than 30,000 people have fled south to the neighboring Costa Rica. Among them, there are also many members of the security forces - officers, who have refused to take part in the last violent acts of their regime. Since April, there have been dozens of cases of human rights violations and excessive, inappropriate use of violence by the paramilitary units and by the Nicaraguan police.

April protests, based on the long-lasting concerns over the growing authoritarian practices of eleven-year-long rule of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, were triggered by the government’s decision to cut social benefits. While during the first months the regime severely punished all the protestors and their supporters, later on the regime’s strategy has changed. Ortega’s government started to target the repression and to focus on specific groups, especially young people, within the protest movement.

People from all sorts of social groups and sectors created social movement that calls for justice, freedom and democracy. They are united in their demands and calling for release of political prisoners, proper investigation of violence and torture, calling for accountability of those responsible for it, as well as division of power, early elections and creation of a constituent assembly that would include all political voices and help in finding a non-violent solution to the ongoing crisis.

"More and more people are critical of Ortega's government and demanding change, even many Sandinists have left Ortega's ranks," said Lucia Argüellova, the head of Latin-American Program in People in Need. "This is an unusual situation where majority of people is no more willing to tolerate the regime - unlike in Cuba where for example more than 70% do support or at least tolerate the ruling Communist Party. And we can expect this pro-democratic base in Nicaragua to continue growing."

People in Need keeps following the situation closely and is in direct contact with representatives of civil society on the ground. It is vital to keep monitoring human rights violations and subsequently to provide legal and psychosocial assistance to the victims. In this regard, we recognize the Independent Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts of Nicaragua created by the OAS IACHR. We also call on the Government of Nicaragua to collaborate with this group in their efforts to independently analyze the situation on the ground. Dialogue between the various parties - Ortega’s government, opposition, representatives of civil society and other regional and international organizations - is necessary for the non-violent solution of the crisis.

"We remain in day-to-day contact with people in Nicaragua and we are trying to meet their needs in the quickly changing situation of crisis,” said Lucia Argüellova. "But support on the ground is not enough. In addition, it is necessary to strengthen the international pressure and to unambiguously demand the investigation of documented cases of human rights violations: unjust accusations of terrorism, extrajudicial killings, torture and others. We appreciate that the European Union has already made several statements and calls for the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua. However, as an important international actor, its possibilities are much broader. It should take clear action and contribute significantly to some positive developments in Nicaragua.”

For more information, please contact:

Zuzana Gruberová, media coordinator, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, zuzana.gruberova@peopleinneed.cz, + 420 770 101 144 

Author: ČvT