Following more than three months of civic resistance, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega has intensified his pursuit of what he calls “terrorists,” rounding up hundreds he suspects of involvement in protests and sending thousands of others underground.
His main target appears to be young people.
On Monday, authorities stepped up the crackdown, detaining many on suspicion of taking part in marches against Ortega’s government or providing aid to those agitating against the president, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said.
Once they are detained, they are sent to the courts, where government judges routinely accuse them of terrorism.
According to Ortega’s wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, the purpose of the round-ups is to “recover the peace and the right to move freely.”
Álvaro Leiva Sánchez, executive secretary of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), said that “in less than 24 hours we have more than 750 people kidnapped … including entire families.”
“This is a situation of profound violation of human rights and repressive actions that should not be perpetrated by the state of Nicaragua,” Leiva says. He adds: “We are talking about a persecution, a hunt for honorable citizens.”
The legal advisor of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights, Pablo Cuevas, warned that “the government is forcing citizens to take actions that are an outrage in a democratic society and are not conducive the peace.”
Cuevas said that the government is resorting to the same tactics used by the Somoza dictatorship against Ortega during the 1980s, when Ortega was forced to go underground. “The government is attempting to put out fire with gasoline, but this never works,” he said.
Meanwhile, , Managua’s Catholic bishop Silvio Baez pleaded with the government to stop the violence. “We implore, in the name of God, that this hunting of young people cease… It is not justified to criminalize people for protesting and to treat them like terrorists.”
Under a new law passed by the legislature last week and implemented immediately those detained could face 15 to 20 years in prison.
Source: Nicaragua Today