Amnesty International statement on Nicaragua

Over the last month, we have seen a brutal escalation of institutional violence in Nicaragua. A recent report by Amnesty International highlights the country’s strategy of repression, excessive use of force, extrajudicial executions and control of the media. Most recently pro-government armed groups have been used to halt protests in the streets and as a result, at least 81 people have been killed.

Amnesty International video

The foundations of international democracy suffer when a State violates civil and human rights.  The international community must speak out against repression by the Nicaraguan State.

Since 18th April, the State has tried to silence the voices of dissent amongst citizens in a manner which is violent and disproportionate.  According to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) 81 people have been killed, many of them were students. Young people have been imprisoned and freed without any legal process.

26 May, JPG-Metrocentre demonstration. The lead banners list the names of many of the victims. Photo: Jorge Eduardo Mejía Peralta

This is not the first time Daniel Ortega’s government has turned to violence. In 2017, the State response to protests against the construction of an interoceanic canal by indigenous and local people, showed a disregard for the right to protest and mobilise.  During local elections in November 2017, six people were killed and hundreds were wounded when the police fired rubber bullets at protesters.

This is not new in Nicaragua. Without an independent Congress, the Nicaraguan government has become authoritarian and dictatorial. It has weakened public institutions and prevented citizen’s right to protest freely.

When one person is killed, it should concern us all. People have died defending our freedom of expression; a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Latin America is going through a process of political transformation, where violations of human rights are met by citizens coming together, from daily protest in Brazil against the Temer government to the international mobilisations against gender-based violence.

These recent protests in Nicaragua are the result of 10 years of democratic decay, and the deterioration of civil rights and freedom.

The international community must fulfil its obligation to condemn state repression, demand punishment against those who ordered the shooting of protesters and demand a free and democratic Nicaragua once again.

As Christian Aid, we welcome the recommendations by the IACHR and strongly support the dialogue as a way to reach a peaceful and democratic solution to the conflict.

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