Victims of the Ortega Dictatorship Organize to Campaign for Political Prisoners Release

A youth holds a poster with the image of a relative being held as a political prisoner during the official launch of the Victims of April Association (AVA).  Photo: EFE | Confidencial

Released political prisoners, as well as families of political prisoners and those wounded during protests create a new organization, “Victims of April Association”.

By Confidencial 

HAVANA TIMES – The newly formed Victims of April Association (AVA), consisting of those directly affected by the Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo dictatorship, announced they are preparing to initiate new actions to pressure for the liberation of political prisoners, and don’t discount the possibility of launching a new hunger strike.

Some 100 victims (of the government), including formerly imprisoned opposition members, families of political prisoners and survivors of armed attacks by the dictatorship, met in Managua to define a strategy for obtaining the freedom of at least 61 current political prisoners.

“We will soon take to the streets. We’re becoming organized for such actions (….); I believe we’ll carry out a hunger strike and are preparing ourselves ahead of time,” AVA member Diana Lacayo told EFE.

The liberation of political prisoners is among the principal demands being made by those opposed to Nicaragua’s dictator, Daniel Ortega, whom they hold responsible for the death, arrest and disappearances of hundreds of individuals since the sociopolitical uprising against him in April 2018.

Although the Ortega-Murillo regime has released hundreds of opposition members within the last 12 months, arrests, rigged trials, and political harassment of dissidents continues. According to AVA, not everyone can make their cases known or fight on their own behalf because they are not organized.

Fighting for the forgotten victims

Grethel Gomez, AVA’s president, states that the organization is comprised of opposition members who have been wounded, imprisoned or in exile, as well as their families, who are not already members of large opposition movements such as the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and the Blue and White National Unity movement.

“We are a more comprehensive organization. We are working for all victims (…) who have been forgotten by many other organizations, such as those who were wounded, many of whom are bedridden and have been unable to participate because they are immobile,” explained Gomez.

Maria Guadalupe Ruiz, who spent five months in prison and is known as the only female political prisoner of the regime in 2019, has shown interest in joining AVA.

“They (AVA) gave support to my mother when I was a prisoner. Now they have incorporated more victims, including current and former prisoners. They’re paying attention to all the comprehensive needs of the “victims of April”. I’m thinking of joining AVA because political prisoners are going through very difficult times,” says Ruiz.

A group of women, leaders of AVA, held a hunger strike last November (2019), which was suspended after 9 days due to a deterioration in the health of Father Edwin Roman, who accompanied them. The hunger strike was held in Father Roman’s parish, San Miguel, in Masaya, which was subsequently surrounded and cordoned off by armed police to prevent humanitarian aid donations. The regime also cut the parish’s water and electricity services.

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