The UN Human Rights Council held a session on the situation in Nicaragua, in which the delegations from different countries and Nicaraguan dissidents highlighted the worsening of fundamental freedoms in a country “further away from observing human rights.”
“Every day, the country deviates further from human rights, deepening people’s suffering, triggering the exodus of youth, and undermining the future of democratic public institutions,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif noted at the opening of the session on December 18.
“Political and indigenous leaders, members of the Catholic Church, human rights defenders, journalists, and others have been systematically attacked by the Government after expressing critical ideas, and many of them are in exile, with no possibility of returning,” Al-Nashif stressed.
Among those exiles is Medardo Mairena, one of those banished by the government of Daniel Ortega because of his political activism and who was part of a Nicaraguan civil society delegation that participated in the dialogue in Geneva.
“We hope that the international community will help us to get rid of this, of a government that does not respect human rights inside Nicaragua. I know the difficulties faced by my brothers in the struggle who are still political prisoners,” Mairena, one of the founders of the Peasant Movement, stressed to EFE.
According to the “number two” of the UN Human Rights Office, 17 women and 54 men in Nicaragua, including political opponents and human rights defenders, continue to suffer arbitrary detention, with reports of torture and threats to prisoners and their families.
“Forceful action must be taken to stop the systematic repression we are experiencing inside Nicaragua so that we can reach a defense of human rights and we Nicaraguans can return to our homeland,” said Mairena, currently in exile in the United States. He was persecuted in his country for leading the opposition to the interoceanic canal project.
Concern over political prisoners
The Deputy High Commissioner denounced recent events in Nicaragua, such as the cancellation of the legal status of the indigenous and Afro-descendant political party YATAMA and the imprisonment of two of its representatives in the National Assembly.
“Our Office is concerned about the health and physical integrity of one of them (Brooklyn Rivera, 71), whose whereabouts are unknown since his arrest on September 28,” Al-Nashif stressed, expressing regret that YATAMA’s seats were illegally reassigned to the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).
She also recalled the case of a woman arrested in April simply for wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Long live a free Nicaragua.” She is currently only able to see her one- and eight-year-old children for 45 minutes each month.
She also cited the case of Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who was not part of the group of priests released following a recent agreement between Nicaragua and the Vatican, and who therefore remains in prison “being subjected to solitary confinement and deprived of necessary food and adequate health care.”
According to lawyer and activist Alexandra Salazar of the Legal Defense Unit (UDJ), with UN sessions like today’s, “pressure must continue on Nicaragua to return democracy, free elections, and the release of political prisoners.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation in which people find themselves in prison, how they are being tortured, and we are seeing that many people are subjected to situations of forced disappearance, unjust imprisonment, and solitary confinement,” she added in statements to EFE.
Attorney General Wendy Morales participated in the session on Monday, December 18, representing the Nicaraguan Government, and reiterated the Ortega regime’s “total rejection” of this type of dialogue that “is a daring form of aggression and interference against the dignity of the Nicaraguan people and our sovereignty.”
These sessions criticizing Nicaragua, she added, “arise from resolutions based on media campaigns of misinformation and hate that attempt to impose sanctions and blockades to the detriment of the elementary principles of human rights.”