Support Nicaragua’s Political Prisoners

We, concerned citizens of Nicaragua and people of the solidarity movement across Europe, have created this web platform and campaign for the liberation and support of Nicaragua’s political prisoners to raise awareness, inform you, provide you with ways to participate, and support the political prisoners. 

May the bars of the cells / turn to sugar or bend of mercy / and my brothers go and do again / love and revolution. 

– Mario Benedetti

Many student, peasant and social movement leaders have been illegally detained since the start of massive protests against Nicaragua’s government. This government, headed by president Daniel Ortega and his wife (and vice-president) Rosario Murillo, has been in power for the past twelve years. Since the protests erupted on 19 April 2018, after the murder of two students at the hands of police, the government has been unwavering in their deployment of repressive strategies to quell any and all dissent.

By now, in a wave of unprecedented state violence, 300+ people have been killed, thousands injured, and 600+ imprisoned (source: CIDH/CENIDH). The Interamerican Human Rights Commision (CIDH) Group of Independent, Interdisciplinary Experts (GIEI) recently concluded in their thorough, 235-page report that crimes against humanity were committed in the brutal repression of the protests. The day before the report was to be made public the government expelled all CIDH missions, including the GIEI, from Nicaragua.

National Police on their way to repress a protest in Managua, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy El Nuevo Diario.

The Government of Nicaragua, or Sandinista party (FSLN), has total control over the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. During the protests, in the midst of the government “Clean-up Operation” (Operacion Limpieza), an anti-terrorism law was rapidly approved by the National Assembly. The definition of terrorism in this Law, however, has been criticized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner (OHCHR) for its strong potential to be used arbitrarily.

Protesters carry a murdered protester over the barricades in Monimbo (Masaya), Nicaragua. Photo courtesy.

In spite of this criticism, the State of Nicaragua has been using it to criminalize different forms of exercising the right to protest. After its outright repression and the crackdown on the protests by the National Police in conjunction with irregular armed forces (paramilitaries), this criminalization has been characterized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and OHCHR as the third stage of repression.

Paramilitary militias in the city of Leon, Nicaragua. Photo courtesy.

To date more than 600 people are being held on charges of various crimes despite the lack of evidence. Many of the arrests have been made by paramilitaries in coordination with the police and under a process of media stigmatization by the pro-government media landscape. Despite the fact that both national and international human rights commissions have held the State, the National Police and the paramilitaries responsible for the majority of the deaths and other human rights violations that occurred during the crisis, none of these actors are being prosecuted at present.

A masked anti-government protester takes part in a march called “March of the balloons” in Managua, Nicaragua on 9 September 2018. The signal reads “Freedom for political prisoners”. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Under ‘Political Imprisonment in Nicaragua‘ you can learn more about the situation of political prisoners, the violations of their human rights, and the legal irregularities in their cases. The widespread imprisonment of protesters worsened after the passing of an ‘anti-terrorism’ law on 20 July 2018, which has a very broad definition of ‘terrorism’. At this moment, many protesters are awaiting trial for ‘terrorism’ just for raising their voices against the government.

On our blog ‘News & Prisoner Profiles‘ you can learn more about the different cases – from students and student leaders, to peasant and social movement leaders, to autoconvocados (self-convened protesters), people framed as scapegoats, and government critics. You can also always go directly to the blog posts by clicking on one of the blog categories all the way below.

Finally, under ‘Patricipate & Donate‘ you can find more information on how to help us fight for the liberation of these prisoners, and how to help their family members support them financially. To this end, we work together closely with the Nicaraguan Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners. 

During their hearing, student leaders of the Leonese 19 April Student Movement raise their fists and shout “Fuerza Nicaragua” (Strength, Nicaragua). Many political prisoners try to appear to their hearings with a smile to defy the government officials and give hope to the Nicaraguans on the outside. Photo courtesy.
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