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Update on the Nicaraguan crisis: what’s next for Ortega?

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“Repression and retaliation against protestors continues in Nicaragua as the world looks away” - Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN Human Rights Chief.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega 

On Wednesday the 29th of August the UN released a report entitled Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Context of Protests in Nicaragua. This followed months of investigations into crimes committed in Nicaragua against its own people.

The UN began to examine the criminal actions of the country’s President, Daniel Ortega, after his violent response to peaceful protests in April.

On the 5th of July the UN’s Human Right’s Chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, reported that “The violence and repression seen in Nicaragua since demonstrations began in April are products of the systematic erosion of human rights over the years, and highlight the overall fragility of the institutions and the rule of law.”

He followed this statement with his frustration that “Repression and retaliation against protestors continues in Nicaragua as the world looks away”.

Since April Nicaragua has passed through a number of stages. This began with the mostly peaceful protests in April, followed by the violent government backlash, resulting in the death of 300 and the injury of a further 2,000 civilians.

This final stage sees the ‘criminalisation’ of protestors and demonstrators, who now fear for their lives as they are hunted within their own country for charges unduly assigned to them. Many are now facing charges of terrorism within the courts.

According to the UN report released on Wednesday, Nicaraguans are facing countless violations of human rights. They listed:

“Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, obstructions to access to medical care, widespread arbitrary or illegal detentions, prevalent ill-treatment and instances of torture and sexual violence in detention centres.”

On Friday, following a response to this report, Ortega ordered the exclusion of the UN human rights committee from Nicaragua. The country’s President described the UN as “an instrument of the policies of terror, lies and infamy… they have taken possession of entire continents because of those who have committed genocides on entire populations.” In other words, Ortega sees the UN’s report as an unentitled interference in his country.  

At a rally on Friday, he continued his damnation of the committee, saying, “according to them the coup terrorists [the term he has coined for protestors and demonstrators] are little angels.” He alludes once again to the ‘murder’ of 22 policemen, his “brothers”, but neglects to mention the hundreds of citizens that his forces have killed - the same forces following orders from the government to “shoot to kill”.

Many of the victims of the paramilitary forces were not even involved in these protests. Speaking to Now This World, a mother recounted her story:

“Paramilitary groups started firing at us. They weren’t in combat or fighting with anyone, they were just waiting for someone so they could start shooting and they shot my baby in the head.”

This shocking story is not unique, and will continue being repeated if significant decisions are not made by the UN. It is more and more of a mystery why such stories are not being reported in the Western media.

The crisis in Nicaragua is having knock-on effects on other countries in South America.

Costa Rica is being flooded with more and more immigrants from Nicaragua every day. So far 8,000 have filed for asylum, with a further 15,000 attempting to do so.

Ortega has asked Costa Rican officials to hand over the names of these refugees, claiming that they are criminals that should be returned to Nicaragua. Such an act would be a violation of human rights. There can be no doubt that Ortega will continue to hunt these people both within his country and out. 

The UN has planned to meet again this month to further discuss their failure to implement changes on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ortega has refused calls for his resignation. It is apparent that the Nicaraguan people are facing imminent danger and something must be done soon, before it is too late.

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