275 people killed since the protests started
The Centro Nicaraguence de los Derechos Humanos (CENIDH) confirmed that 275 people have been killed during the series of protests that started in April 2018. The attacks are not only perpetrated by State forces but also by armed pro-government groups that "operate in collusion or with the acquiescence or tolerance of the police and are responsible for creating chaos, repressing and attacking people at demonstrations," as stated by a recent Amnesty International report.
The most recent incident is the repression of a protest in Managua, where pro-government groups attacked the National University. The Catholic Church managed to dialogue with the attackers in order to allow the students to leave the University and take refuge at the Church. In the process of leaving the university, the demonstrators were shot and at least two students were killed.
It was also reported that security forces are implementing clean-up operations, "to repress the people who hold tranques (road blocks) and barricades and the communities who support them, either as a form of protest or in search of protection from the actions of pro-government groups." Reports indicate that more than 160 people have been detained, kidnapped or gone missing in July 2018 alone.
Amnesty International issued a statement, declaring:
“In recent days the widespread attacks against the civilian population have intensified and grown in terms of scale and coordination, with aggressors carrying lethal weapons deployed to cities like Masaya that have come to symbolize the resistance to President Ortega’s merciless regime. The Nicaraguan authorities must immediately restrain the state security forces and dismantle the armed groups that are clearly acting with their support.”
El uso excesivo de la fuerza por parte del gobierno de Ortega_Murillo, que ha privado la vida de 275 nicaragüenses y la libertad en contra de quienes ejercen sus libertades de expresión, manifestación, es una violación muy grave a los derechos humanos. SOS x Nicaragua pic.twitter.com/OFFkvqbSiG— Cenidh (@cenidh) July 15, 2018
No dejaron ingresar a los juzgados ni a Dra. Vilma Núñez del Cenidh ni a la CIDH a audiencia contra el defensor MEDARDO MAIRENA. Desconocieron el pase especial q tiene la Dra Núñez como ex vive presidenta de la Corte Suprema de Justicia impidiendo su paso pic.twitter.com/KxlSvJsYBO— Cenidh (@cenidh) July 15, 2018
On 25th June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) launched the Special Monitoring Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI). The main objective of this mechanism is to monitor the implementation of the recommendations made by the IACHR to the Government of Nicaragua after their official visit in May 2018. It will also monitor the proper implementation of the precautionary measures ordered by the IACHR in favour of activists and protesters that were reported at risk during the crisis. After two weeks operating in the country, the Commission has reported "the worsening, deepening and diversifying repression in Nicaragua." The IACHR also expressed its concern over the constant messages defaming human rights defenders, that threatens their work and life in a context of political polarisation and violence.
As reported previously on the Monitor, several students and human rights defenders were granted precautionary measures by the Commission due to risks they have faced. As the situation continues to escalate, more protection measures were issued by the Commission. On 10th June it ordered these measures for Jose Alberto Idiaquez, Principal at Universidad de Centroamerica (UCA), who participated in the national dialogue and is now receiving death threats. On 12th June the Commission also ordered protection to Migueliuth Sandova Cruz, wife of the murdered journalist Angel Gahona, after armed men fired shots near her house as a way of pressuring her to stop her activism. On 17th June, four more student activists were granted precautionary measures, similar to those provided to their colleagues on 21st May, as reported in the Monitor. On 2nd July, more measures were ordered to protect the independent media station Radio Dario and a group of human rights defenders from Comision Permanente de Derechos Humanos. Since the crisis started, the IACHR has ordered precautionary measures in order to protect the life of at least 64 people.
CENIDH reported that on 13th July Medardo Mairena, Coordinator of the National Council in Defense of Land, Lake and Sovereignty and Pedro Joaquín Mena Amador, were arrested at the airport, when they were about to travel to the United States, to attend a solidarity activity with the people of Nicaragua. Since then,their location and the conditions of their detention are unknown.
The attacks and harassment against women activists continue in the country. Iniciativa Nicaraguence de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (Nicaraguan Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders) reported that defender Sandra Ramos's home was raided by security officers who claimed they were looking for weapons. Sandra is part of the national dialogue on behalf of the union sector.
#AlertaDefensoras #SOSNicaragua Desde el @FAU_LAC nos sumamos a la @IM_Defensoras y condenamos este ataque. Expresamos nuestra preocupación ante la situación de riesgo que enfrenta Sandra Ramos.— Fondo Acción Urgente (@FAU_LAC) July 14, 2018
¡Estamos con la RESISTENCIA EN NICARAGUA! 💪🏾✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/FcUHY2MdQu
Journalists are also affected in the context of the repression that the country is going through. For example, it was reported that Sydney Josue Garay a journalist from La Prensa was attacked in his home. Reports indicate that armed men entered his home in the middle of the night and stole his phone and threatened to kill him. In addition, on 19th June, four journalists from different media outlets were attacked and threatened by armed pro-government groups demanding the journalists stop covering the protests. Finally, during the attack on the Church reported in the peaceful assembly section, five journalists were injured and robbed by government supporters.
Denunciamos el patrón de ataques contra periodistas involucrados en labores de información sobre la represión de las protestas en #Nicaragua. ¡Exigimos garantías para la defensa de los #DerechosHumanos en el país! https://t.co/AryFSfXvtA pic.twitter.com/F216CUZze8— The Observatory (@OBS_defenders) July 5, 2018