Nicaragua: State must stop repressing demonstrators after 10 are killed

Authorities in Nicaragua must immediately stop repressing demonstrators and protect their right to protest, said Amnesty International after at least 10 people were killed and several others were injured or remain unaccounted for following a terrifying clampdown on dissent on Friday.

“The authorities’ crude and violent response to these demonstrations has deeply troubling implications for human rights in Nicaragua. The slaughter of protesters, including several young students, who went out to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s recent history,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of Amnesty International in the Americas.

“Instead of sowing terror and demonizing demonstrators, the government must engage in dialogue with all sectors of society, including the victims of state repression, to find a peaceful solution to this grave situation. President Ortega cannot continue governing with a lack of dialogue, consultation and respect for the human rights of the Nicaraguan people.”

Instead of sowing terror and demonizing demonstrators, the government must engage in dialogue with all sectors of society, including the victims of state repression, to find a peaceful solution to this grave situation. President Ortega cannot continue governing with a lack of dialogue, consultation and respect for the human rights of the Nicaraguan people
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

The demonstrations against the government began on 18 April in response to reforms of the social security system. In a national radio address on Thursday, Vice President Rosario Murillo reportedly denounced the protesters as “vampires, needing blood to feed their political agendas”.

State repression of the demonstrations escalated on Friday, with Amnesty International receiving reports that state security forces were attacking protesters in several locations, including the capital Managua, and had surrounded a group of students in a local university.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least nine journalists have been injured since the demonstrations began and at least two have had their equipment stolen, while five independent television networks that were covering the events have been blocked from transmission. 

Amnesty International calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to launch a timely, comprehensive and independent investigation by civilian authorities into all allegations of excessive use of force by state security forces as well any alleged crime committed by non-state actors. In addition, all of those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials. The state must also guarantee the victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparation; and generate the conditions necessary to guarantee the people’s rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and access to information.