Student Leaders Arrested in Nicaragua before UN Security Council Meeting

By Gabriela Selser (dpa)

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HAVANA TIMES – Six student leaders who have led civic anti-government protests in Nicaragua were arrested today by the police, in the midst of the serious crisis that will be tackled for the first time on Wednesday in the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

The group of students was captured while on their way to a meeting in the capital. They were  transferred to the police interrogation prison known as El Chipote, informed a representative of the University Coalition.

One of the detainees is Edwin Carcache, a member of the student representation in the opposition Civic Alliance and known for his constant participation in demonstrations and anti-government marches.

The others arrested are the four young women, Grecia Ramirez, Judith Mairena, Ariana Moraga and Iskra Malespín and Alejandro Centeno, all belonging to student organizations and the Civic Alliance, said the source.

The capture occurs 48 hours after the police announced that they were going to “investigate the organizers and those responsible” for a civic demonstration held on Sunday, which culminated in a shooting attack by government paramilitaries in pick-up trucks and the subsequent burning of a police patrol. Three persons were wounded.

For its part, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) of the OAS, said today through its Special Monitoring Mission for Nicaragua (MESENI) that it had knowledge of the detention. “We urge the State of Nicaragua to provide information on the location of the youth and the reasons for the arrests,” the text added.

The IACHR also condemned on Tuesday “aggressions and insults” against Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez by Ortega sympathizers this past Sunday and urged to “end the stigmatization speeches”, that promote violence.

Meanwhile, Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal, 93, today made an “urgent call to the world” to “intervene” and help “immediately stop the repression” of the Ortega government against his opponents.

“We have had massacres, prisoners, kidnappings, torture (…) Stop this repression immediately is what we demand,” added the author of “The Gospel of Solentiname”, referring to the reign of terror unleashed by the police and paramilitaries against demonstrators.

National and international human rights organizations coincide in saying more than 330 people have been killed, one group, the ANPDH, puts the death toll at 481, with several thousand wounded and hundreds of imprisoned and missing persons during the serious crisis that began on April 18.

The critical situation facing the country will be addressed Wednesday by the UN Security Council, official sources confirmed in New York today.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who recently assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council, said it is “important that the world and the Security Council know the latest on the situation” of the Central American country through the report “Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional Organizations in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: The Situation in Nicaragua.”

Haley’s statement comes four days after delegates from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) were expelled from Nicaragua, allegedly in response to the harsh report of the agency in which it accused the government of exerting “repression and retaliation” in multiple ways on the population since April.

The UN office, now with former president of Chile Michelle Bachelet at the head, regretted what happened and said that despite having left the country will continue to monitor the abuses that are committed in Nicaragua.

In turn, the German Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned” the “increased repression and criminalization of protests in Nicaragua” and urged all parties to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis “for the good of the country”, resuming “the process of national dialogue without delay.”

Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and government spokesperson, called on Nicaraguans to take part in “a beautiful process of reconciliation,” while at the same time calling those who protest against her regime “tiny, hate-filled groups that operate like demons and devils” to divide the country.