Over one month has passed since political upheaval engulfed Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua. Demonstrations started on April 18 as Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega planned to change the nation’s social welfare conditions. The decision was met by resistance and protests which became violent after clashing with police. The clashes have had severe consequences including illegal arrests, media censorship, road blockades, injury, and death. President Ortega has since withdrawn this plan and although the violent protests declined, political unrest has prevailed.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted an investigation and a subsequent report on the situation, identifying that at least 76 people have been killed and 868 injured, while the government has only acknowledged 18 deaths. The IACHR also reported that 438 people were detained by authorities in the process.
The ACT Alliance Nicaragua Forum has been closely monitoring the situation. Deeply concerned by the infringements of human rights, the Nicaragua Forum expresses its solidarity with the people of Nicaragua in a Statement released on May 18th, 2018.
“We are concerned in the current conflict, about the suffering of the affected families who have lost their loved ones, the mistreatment of the detainees, the uncertainty of those who do not find their relatives, the economic loss due to the destruction of businesses and public goods, censoring of the media, the bad international image the country is projecting as well as lack of trust that the population has of the National Police, whose mission is to safeguard order and citizen security,” the Statement reads.
The ACT Alliance Nicaragua Forum has called on national authorities, “to respect human rights, freedom of speech, allowing every citizen to make use of their right to peaceful protest within the legal and civic frameworks of the nation.”
On May 16, a series of National Dialogues for Peace was launched by National Authorities in the hope that peace could be restored in Managua. The Dialogues, mediated by the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church brought together various interest groups including government representatives, students, unions, farmers, and other members of civil society. The most recent Dialogue that took place on May 23rd was suspended indefinitely by the Catholic Church as no progress had been made between the government and civil society.
“The Dialogues are crucial to guarantee peace, justice and the rights of all people as well to ensure that an inclusive monitoring mechanism is implemented with key sectors including Faith Based Organizations,” said Carlos Rauda, ACT’s Regional Representative of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The IACHR developed 15 recommendations for the State of Nicaragua to implement to safeguard human rights including an immediate stop to the repression and detention of people who participated in the protests.
Safeguarding the rights of the people of Nicaragua is of utmost importance and the ACT Alliance Nicaragua Forum calls on national authorities and the people of Nicaragua to prevent any hatred and revenge that has the potential to further threaten life and exacerbate the crisis.
The ACT Nicaragua Forum’s Statement concludes, “As faith based organizations, we believe in the power of God to bless our nation with lasting peace and consequently call upon our faithful to continue to pray for peace in our beloved country. Our hope and faith are in our great and mighty God. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the communion of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Father be with us in this difficult time.”
The full Statement is available for download here.