February 26, 2021

Nicaragua Police prevent a student march and leave several injured

The Nicaraguan Police on Thursday prevented a student demonstration, with violent actions that left several injured and at least 14 arrested, in the midst of the country's worst socio-political crisis in decades.

Hundreds of heavily armed police officers thwarted a student march to commemorate National Student Day, and resorted to violence to avoid, this time without success, protests against President Daniel Ortega.

Because the National Police occupied the public spaces where the movement of the march in Managua was expected, the students and opponents made demonstrations in parking lots of private buildings, some of which were raped by agents to make arrests.

The Nicaraguan Police prohibits protests against Ortega, as well as singing the national anthem or raising the Nicaraguan flag, despite the fact that the measure violates the Constitution.

Police and government groups attacked with firearms, threw pellets, chibolas (glass marbles) and stones at the protesters, some of which damaged private property.

The attacks, which left at least one protester and a journalist injured, plus two other people with minor blows, were getting worse every time the opponents shouted slogans against Ortega, like "Daniel, listen: we're still in the fight!" or "He's a criminal, he's not a president!"

Members of the opposition Blue and White National Unit also reported that five people were beaten by police and paramilitaries near where the protests were held, and two others suffered similar assaults when they were arrested.

A journalist in Managua and another in Matagalpa (north), were captured and physically assaulted by police and paramilitaries, who released them after "stealing" their work equipment and personal belongings, as they reported.

The majority of protesters arrested, including the son of a veteran local journalist, were released hours later, the opposition confirmed.

The violent actions occurred in at least four points in Managua, where the protesters had concentrated in their attempt to participate in the march.

In the departments (provinces) of Jinotega, Masaya and Matagalpa, as well as in the Southern Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACS, southeast), where at the beginning the opponents did not report violence, then confirmed attacks by paramilitaries with the support of police officers, who left several captured protesters and others injured.

The Government of Nicaragua ignored the appeals of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to allow students to express themselves freely, as it did days ago with an official celebration.

The students, who since 2018 claim the resignation of Daniel Ortega, intended to commemorate the so-called "massacre" of July 23, 1959, when the Somoza dictatorship ordered an attack on a student demonstration, which left four university students dead in the city of León.

The event took on relevance in 2018, for new armed attacks, this time from the Government of Ortega, which have left hundreds dead, including dozens of university and college students, according to various humanitarian agencies.

According to the IACHR, which has indicated the Government of Nicaragua as responsible for crimes against humanity, at least 326 people have died in the context of the crisis. Local humanitarian organizations account for 594 and the Government recognizes 200.

An application process of the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Nicaragua is underway in the Organization of American States (OAS) due to the rupture of the constitutional order that, if executed, would suspend the agency.

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