Photograph taken by Nicaraguan news outlet La Prensa – WARNING: Image contains explicit content and is not susceptible for all audiences.
The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) vehemently denounces the unconscionable acts of aggression carried out by Orteguista mobs (“Turbas Orteguistas”) and the Sandinista Youth (Juventud Sandinista”) against civil society, members of the media, and human rights defenders who, on April 18, were peacefully protesting reforms implemented by the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS).
Protesters gathered this past Wednesday, April 18 in Camino de Oriente and other points throughout the city of Managua, Nicaragua to demonstrate against reforms put in place by the INSS that would increase required contributions made by workers and employees and reduce pension benefits by 5%. Shortly after beginning their protest, they were met with violent resistance from government sympathizers deployed by the government on motorcycles as well as young pro-Sandinista groups (Juventud Sandinista – JS) who, armed with clubs and bats, lashed out against the protestors and attempted to silence the demonstration. They also stole personal belongings and injured people present in the streets.
Counter-riot police forces were also sent to the scene by the government but were unable to prevent the violence from impacting students, members of the press, and human rights defenders. Among those injured was Ana Quirós – Director of the Center for Information and Consulting Services on Health (CISAS), who suffered a severe wound to the head when she tried to protect another protester who was being beaten. “They beat me with a club as I was trying to defend a young woman who was being brutally attacked by roughly ten (10) people. They were kicking her while she was on the ground and beating her with chains and trying to take away her phone. When we came to help her, someone approached me and probably recognized me and is the one who beat me with a tube,” reported Ana Quirós as she received medical attention.
Similarly, students from various local universities including the Central-American University (UCA), American University (UAM), and the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua(UNAN) were assaulted by counter-protest groups for joining in the display against the INSS. Many commercial establishments also suffered damages as a result of the vandalism these groups committed while lashing out against protestors seeking shelter.
In response to the events, Central-American University (UCA) canceled classes yesterday and today and has issued public statements denouncing the attacks. Similarly, the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu, called for peace and respect for both demonstrators and the media through her Twitter account.
The criminal acts of yesterday and today perpetrated by the mobs have resulted in at least a dozen people injured, damage to property, and theft, according to the Nicaraguan news outlet LA PRENSA. Today (April 19), students across the city continue to carry out protests, despite the ongoing violence.
Race and Equality denounces these and all acts of violence and repression against social protests, and urgently calls upon the international community, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and the UN Human Rights System to take necessary measures to protect the right to social protest without criminalization or threat to the life and well-being of those who exercise their rights. Similarly, we highlight the specific situation of violence and harassment that human rights leaders experience throughout the Americas, as these are clear violations to the right of life, security, and the full enjoyment of liberty.
For more information, please see links below (Spanish)
Cobertura de lo ocurrido ayer (abril 18)
El País: 8 heridos en protestas
Suspenden Clases en la Universidad Centroamericana (Ellos aislaron a los manifestantes que buscaban refugio de la violencia anoche)
Embajadora de los EE. UU. en Nicaragua lanza un tweet sobre la violencia; pide calma y respeto a los derechos humanos
Foto viral de Ana Quirós – directora del Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Saludo (CISAS)
Continúan las protestas en contra de la reforma impuesta por el INSS
Protestas por reformas al INSS dejan varios heridos en Managua
Represión en Nicaragua: grupos de choque del gobierno de Daniel Ortega golpearon a manifestantes y periodistas en una protesta contra la baja de las jubilaciones