By Gabriela Selser (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Some twenty persons imprisoned for participating in protests against the Government of Nicaragua announced Thursday an indefinite hunger strike, while almost a thousand protesters again took to the streets of Managua to demand “justice” and “freedom for the hundreds of political prisoners.”
Marcos Carmona, executive secretary of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH), presented to a press conference a letter signed by 25 prisoners held at the El Modelo prison, the largest in the country, in which they announced their decision.
The detainees said they are “political prisoners of the regime” of President Daniel Ortega and that their protest will be indefinite, until obtaining a “just release, regardless of the consequences.”
The prisoners expressed their support for Brandon Lovo and Glen Slate, two young men convicted in a closed door sham trial of the murder of a journalist in the Caribbean coast city of Bluefields in April.
They also demanded access to the El Model prison for their lawyers and representatives of local and foreign human rights organizations.
Carmona said that the CPDH supports the position of the prisoners. He noted that there are at least 120 more persons imprisoned at El Model for participating in anti-government protests.
He added that his human rights organization has received complaints from inmates who say they are not being treated with dignity or given the food their relatives bring them. Cases of mistreatment and sexual abuse against detainees have also been reported.
Protestors demand the release of the prisoners
In Managua, about 1,000 citizens formed a “human chain” of several blocks this afternoon in a downtown area, where the police deployed riot police.
To the cry of “justice” and their demand for the exit of Ortega and his family from the government, the protesters demanded the release of all those detained for peacefully protesting, which according to human rights organizations total more than 400.
Among the protesters were student leader Lesther Aleman and businessman Juan Sebastian Chamorro, members of the opposition Civic Alliance, who demanded “an urgent change” for Nicaragua and called for a new protest on Saturday September 1.
Thursday’s human chain was organized, among other groups, by the University Coordinator for Democracy and Justice (CUDJ), which on Thursday also called on the private sector to urgently call a national strike, at the same time accusing them of being “accomplices” of the Government.
“For years, the larger private employers has been an accomplice of the regime, the political ineffectiveness of the private sector within the Civic Alliance is costing us lives, freedom, and rising unemployment,” said a statement from the CUDJ.
Since the protests began in April, the Civic Alliance carried out two national strikes of 24 hours considered successful, but the private sector has been reluctant to participate in an indefinite strike, alleging that this would affect companies and increase unemployment.
[There have been rumored threats that the government’s paramilitary forces in conjunction with gangs, under the protection of the Police, could lead a looting, destruction and occupying of businesses that abide by a national strike.]
In recent years and until April 18, the government maintained a so-called “strategic alliance” with the country’s most powerful businessmen, which according to Ortega was key to economic stability.
Human Rights Organization renews call to end the repression
Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) demanded the Government “immediately end the repression” including the kidnappings of civilians opponents, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
“We demand that the Ortega-Murillo Government cease the perverse practice of disappearing people not only to instill terror among the population, their families and entire communities, but also to increase citizen insecurity and silence the people of Nicaragua,” said a press release from the human rights organization.
Costa Rican government says no to Ortega’s request for information on refugees
Meanwhile, the Government of Costa Rica reiterated that it will not give information to Ortega on immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers, because it is “sensitive” matter and would violate the international agreements on refugees that this country has signed.
Costa Rica reacted to what Ortega said at a rally of public employees and other supporters on Wednesday, in the sense that he would ask San José for information on immigrants, to notify which of them were involved in crimes or terrorist acts.
“Costa Rica and no other country that has signed international agreements will provide sensitive information that is governed by the confidentiality processes that our country has,” Deputy Foreign Minister Lorena Aguilar told reporters.