Washington D.C., October 10th, 2023.- The European Parliament nominated human rights defenders, Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience 2023. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race and Equality) invites you to tweet so that members of the European Parliament vote in favor of this joint candidacy next Thursday, October 12. Their votes will be an act of recognition of the courageous struggle and sacrifice of Nicaraguan human rights defenders who, despite the serious risks to their lives, continue to work to restore democracy and the rule of law.
Vilma Nuñez de Escorcia began her work in the defense of human rights at a young age, joining the First Student Committee for the freedom of university student political prisoners under the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Garcia, standing out in the student struggles of that time. She was the first Nicaraguan female appointed Magister Vice President of the Supreme Court of Justice in 1979, and for 33 years she has been the cofounder and president of the Center for Nicaraguan Human Rights (CENIDH), an organization that has reported, denounced, and accompanied multiple victims of the Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo regime. Currently Núñez is in Nicaragua, stripped of her nationality and civil rights, and exposed to serious human rights violations.
Monsignor Rolando Álvarez is the Bishop of the Matagalpa Diocese and the Secretary of the Estelí Diocese. Álvarez is considered “the most solid symbol of resilience that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo face”, because for years he has been one of the most critical voices regarding the situation in Nicaragua and had a prominent role in the mediation carried out by the Episcopal Conference during the dialogue after massive peaceful protests that occurred in April 2018.
Subsequently, in August 2022, the Ortega regime ordered the house arrest of Monsignor Álvarez for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity and spread false news;” and in February 2023 ordered his exile among 222 political prisoners, however he refused to leave. Currently, Monsignor Álvarez is serving a 26-year prison sentence for committing crimes considered “treason to the homeland,” in a situation of statelessness and under isolation in the Jorge Navarro Punitory Complex (La Modelo) in Tipitapa, Managua.
From Race and Equality we recognize that the European Parliament has been a great ally of the Ncaraguan people. In recent years, Parliament has adopted important Resolutions condemning the continuous deterioration of the human rights situation in Nicaragua, the escalation of repression and the systemic human rights violations and Nicaraguans’ fundamental liberties.
In a context of crimes against humanity that remain under impunity, the Sakharov Prize 2023 is a unique opportunity to shed light upon and recognize the work that, despite the exile, jail, and other threats, human rights defenders do in search for the truth, justice, and reparation for the victims.
We invite civil society organizations, allies, journalists, and followers to echo the candidacy of Vilma Núñez and Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, using the hashtags #NicaraguaInSakharovPrize and #SakharovPrize, and tagging members of the European Parliament this upcoming October 11, 2023 starting at 9am Nicaragua (11 am Washington, D.C.).
Tweet model 1:
#NicaraguaInSakharovPrize🇪🇺🏆 Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos are symbols of determination, resilience and tenacity in the struggle for the defense of HRs in Nicaragua.
Vote in favor of their candidacy to #SakharovPrize (tag members of the European Parliament)
Tweet model 2:
#NicaraguaInSakharovPrize🇪🇺📢 Vilma Núñez (@cenidh) and Monseñor Álvarez are human rights defenders who are in a situation of statelessness in Nicaragua, under terrible risks.
We encourage members of the Euoropean Parliament to vote 👍 for this candidacy for the #SakharovPrize 2023.