Protests in Nicaragua Demanding the Release of the Remaining Political Prisoners

Over 80 political prisoners are still in jail, although the June 18th deadline to free them has passed.

Relatives of the remaining political prisoners protest outside the La Modelo prison on June 19th. Photo: Carlos Herrera

“The government hopes to deceive the international community. They want to leave these political prisoners as common criminals,” denounces former prisoner Nelly Roque.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Family members of the more than 80 political prisoners who still remain in the Ortega regime’s jails gathered outside the La Modelo prison on Tuesday morning, June 18, to demand their immediate release. Despite the commitment that the government made to the Civic Alliance at the negotiating table, the June 18th deadline for the complete liberation of the political prisoners has passed and these prisoners are still locked up.  The negotiations themselves are currently suspended.

Family members of the political prisoners protest outside the “La Modelo” prison. Photo: Carlos Herrera

 With balloons and blue and white flags – popular symbols of the opposition to the government of Ortega and Murillo – plus signs and photographs of their family members, relatives began to gather at six in the morning outside the men’s prison gates.

Protest at the Central American University as well

An enormous blue and white flag was unfurled in front of the culture building at the Central American University (UCA). Amid shouts of “Justice”, and “Freedom for the political prisoners,” university students and released political prisoners demanded that the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo complete the total liberation of the 86 political prisoners who are still detained in the different penitentiaries of the country. The list of their names have been drawn from data compiled by the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

University students and released political prisoners held a protest at the Central American University, demanding that the Ortega-Murillo regime comply with their agreement. Photo: Carlos Herrera

“I’ve come to protest and demand the total freedom of the political prisoners who are still in Nicaragua’s jails. The dictator must follow through and free them,” stated a business administration student, who added that she would continue participating in these peaceful actions to demand the departure of the Ortega regime.

The demonstration rapidly became a small march within the campus, with some 200 young people participating.  The songs sounding across the loudspeaker alerted the police, who took up positions in front of the university with their protective shields out.

The kids didn’t blanch. They came up to the main gate and waved their flags.  Among the slogans they chanted at the troops: “Study, study, or you’ll always be a policeman.”  The police remained alert in case the students attempted to go out onto the main avenue.

The National Police encircled the area of the protest held by students and released political prisoners on the university campus. At least six patrol vehicles carrying special forces stationed themselves just outside the area. Photo: Carlos Herrera

The small march ended with a concert; Mario Ruiz of the band known as “Garcin” sang three songs despite the police harassment and the noise from the police car sirens.

Several university workers and other students carried out Facebook live transmissions or just took pictures.

Kevin Roberto Solis, a released prisoner, stated that this was just an indication that people aren’t afraid.  At the same time, he explained, it was a message to the regime that they wouldn’t accept further negotiations if the agreements already signed at the negotiating table weren’t respected.

“It’s a lack of moral fiber on the part of Daniel Ortega, the assassin. We want to put pressure on the regime and have the international community hear us and execute the sanctions. We also urge the people not to remain indifferent towards us, to go out on the streets and pressure them to respect the Nicaraguan constitution and our freedom to mobilize,” Solis insisted.

Mario Ruiz of the band “Garcin”, sang a number of protest songs, despite the police cordon. Photo: Carlos Herrera

Ninety-day deadline expired on June 18

On Wednesday morning, June 19th, the day that the 90-day deadline for freeing all those arrested for participating in anti-government protests expired, Daniel Ortega’s regime let it be known via a statement that no more prisoners would be released.  The government document read in part: “On Saturday, June 8, the National Assembly discussed and approved an Amnesty Law that made possible the liberation of all those people [political prisoners] on Monday June 10 and Tuesday the 11th.”

Last week, 106 male and female political prisoners were released within the context of this law. Nonetheless, the Civic Alliance continues to affirm that at least 86 political prisoners are still in prison, some for over a year. These prisoners have been accused of common crimes.

Attorney Jose Pallais, a member of the Civic Alliance negotiating team, recalled that the remaining 86 prisoners “have been fully identified with their first and last names in lists that are public; family members have come forward and explained that they were detained for their political participation, hence they qualify as political prisoners under international standards.”

In the regime’s press note, they affirm that those prisoners who’ve been freed are those on the mutually agreed upon list developed with the Alliance and given to the Red Cross in the presence of Waldemar Stanilaw Sommertag, the Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua, and Luis Angel Rosadilla, in representation of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. The note makes no mention of the rest of those detained.

Academic and former Nicaraguan ambassador to the US, Carlos Tunnermann, participates in a press conference in Managua on Tuesday, June 18, following a meeting with the negotiation witnesses to inform that there are political prisoners left to free. Photo: Carlos Tunnermann.

This same Tuesday, the Alliance met with family members of the political prisoners and with the Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and OAS representative Luis Angel Rosadilla to denounce the government’s incompliance with the agreements and to analyze the actions to be taken given the regime’s refusal to free the remaining 86 prisoners.

Leslie Rayo, mother of Francisco Rayo, explained that the witnesses and mediators committed themselves to talking with the government so that they fulfill the agreements signed at the negotiating table.

“We hope that the government will respond to this situation. If they don’t comply, we’ll go out on the streets and hold more demonstrations. Those they have kidnapped must be freed, because they’re innocent. We’re not afraid, and we’re showing our faces because we’re the voice of those who are inside,” Rayo affirmed.

Juan Sebastian Chamorro, a member of the Civic Alliance, declared that they’d continue working day and night to achieve the liberation of the unjustly jailed prisoners of conscience. He pointed out that in the majority of cases they’ve identified the same pattern: the regime has accused them of common crimes such as aggravated theft and narcotrafficking.

“There’s a clearly defined pattern and that’s going to help a lot to present very clear causes for demanding the release of these prisoners. What a coincidence that these people who weren’t freed are all having similar charges raised against them. The family members presented the witnesses with irrefutable evidence that they were involved in peaceful demonstrations. That makes them beneficiaries of the famous Amnesty Law,” affirmed Chamorro.

Juan Sebastian concluded that the government has utilized this situation as a delaying tactic to continue directing attention towards the topic of the political prisoners and avoid discussing democratization and moving up the elections.

‘It’s very important that the witnesses and those accompanying them, who are in communication with the government, record the testimony of the family members regarding those that are still captive, so that they be recognized as political prisoners,” finalized Chamorro.

Released prisoners support the protest in La Modelo

The Nicaraguan Association of Political Prisoners had announced that they would hold a protest Tuesday outside the “La Modelo” prison in Tipitapa. Photo: Carlos Herrera.

 

The Nicaraguan Association of Political Prisoners also headed up street protests on Tuesday against the government for non-compliance with the agreements, since they didn’t free all of those who were imprisoned for demonstrating.

Nelly Roque, a released political prisoner and a member of the Political Prisoners organization, stated that the government’s decision not to free the remaining political prisoners is one more demonstration of their lack of commitment to resolve the national crisis.

“Once more, the government attempts to deceive the international community saying it freed all the political prisoners. They want to leave these political prisoners in jail as common criminals. They’re victims of the regime, and that’s why we demand their freedom. Until they’re freed, we’ll continue realizing more peaceful actions,” she ended.

Includes information from the EFE

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