Nicaragua: Fear for 4 Opposition Prisoners on Hunger Strike

MEXICO CITY (HPD) — Relatives of four dissidents who are on a hunger strike at the El Chipote police prison in Nicaragua, including legendary former Sandinista guerrilla commander Dora María Téllez, said Monday they fear for their lives and sued your freedom.

“We fear that they may die in that torture center. With each passing day, their lives are in greater danger,” the relatives of Téllez, journalist Miguel Mendoza, sociologist Irving Larios and lawyer Róger Reyes said in a statement. They participated in a virtual press conference together with relatives of other opponents detained in that same police center.

According to their families, the four prisoners of conscience began a hunger strike in September to press for “an end to the inhuman conditions” in which they live, with poor nutrition, without medical care or frequent visits. In the case of Mendoza and Reyes, they demand to see their minor daughters, which they have been denied since their arrest more than a year ago, they say.

They said that the concern is due to the fact that the government of Daniel Ortega suspended family visits in El Chipote 52 days ago, when the last one took place, lasting two hours. They indicated that today they do not know how they are.

The Associated Press requested a comment from Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and official spokeswoman, but the request was not immediately returned.

Téllez, who in 1978 stormed Congress in a Sandinista armed operation against dictator Anastasio Somoza, served 66 years in prison, where she was taken for being the founder of the opposition UNAMOS party (formerly the Sandinista Renovation Movement, MRS). According to her relatives, the hunger strike would further affect her precarious health.

In the statement, the relatives said that being held incommunicado with their families is “part of the psychological torture of the regime,” and that when they insist on requesting visits, they threaten them with not giving the inmates the bottles of water that they must bring to them every day. The chipotle.

“My husband has been on a hunger strike for 27 days and I am extremely worried, I don’t know how he is,” said Fernanda Guevara, wife of Róger Reyes, who was a lawyer for former presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga, also held in Chipote since his arrest. in June 2021.

Journalist Berta Valle, wife of Maradiaga and exiled in the United States, also demanded that her husband be allowed to receive a phone call or a drawing from their 9-year-old daughter, or at least a Bible to read.

“They have been arbitrarily tried and sentenced in secret trials, they do not have access to reading or writing materials, they are not allowed to talk to each other, and many do not even have the right to a blanket,” Valle denounced.

In their statement, the relatives requested for the inmates “specialized medical care, adequate food and the guarantee of respect for their human rights.” They also demanded an end to the solitary confinement in which most of them remain.

“Alejandra cries every day for her father,” said Ramón Mendoza, brother of journalist Miguel Mendoza, who stopped eating to demand that he be allowed to see his 8-year-old daughter. He added that he has not seen her brother since September 1, but he knows that he started the hunger strike 29 days ago.

Mendoza pointed out that they presented 11 formal requests for the girl’s entry to be authorized, but the authorities “have turned a deaf ear.” “We demand the suspension of this agony, of this psychological torture,” she added.

“This is like a nightmare. We get up every day with the uncertainty of having him in prison and waiting for permission for a visit,” said Raití Larios, daughter of opponent Irving Larios.

For Ana Lucía Álvarez, who is the sister of Tamara Dávila and niece of Ana Margarita Vijil, both leaders of UNAMOS and arrested 16 months ago, the situation “is unacceptable” and compromises the State of Nicaragua.

“Our relatives are in state custody and anything that happens to them will be the responsibility of the state,” Álvarez said. He added that they now live “under a state of fear and terror, because the regime has also begun to detain relatives” of imprisoned or exiled opponents.

Vilma Núñez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), affirmed that the Ortega government has violated Law 473 of the prison system, which requires humane treatment of those deprived of liberty, as well as the so-called “Mandela rules” for prisoners of conscience and the American Convention on Human Rights.

Núñez, an 84-year-old lawyer who continues to work in Nicaragua despite the fact that the Cenidh was closed after the 2018 social protests, said she was disappointed to see that her work was “unsuccessful” because “this is not a legal issue, but one of perversity.” ”.

“We are demanding compliance with the law from a state that has been collapsed by this new dictatorship,” he said. He added that the Ortega government “has tested the effectiveness” of international instruments such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which in his opinion “should be reformulated.”

Nicaragua has been experiencing a serious crisis since the social uprising of April 2018, when, according to the IACHR, the police repression of the protests left 355 dead, more than 2,000 injured, 1,600 detained at different times and some 100,000 exiled.

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