Nicaragua: 'crude and violent' response to protests condemned

At least ten killed in social security protests, with state security officials reportedly attacking protesters

The authorities in Nicaragua must immediately stop repressing demonstrators and protect their right to protest, said Amnesty International, after at least ten people were killed and several others injured or remain unaccounted for following a terrifying clampdown on dissent yesterday.

State repression of the demonstrations escalated yesterday after two days of protests, with Amnesty receiving reports that state security forces were attacking protesters in several locations, including the capital Managua, and had surrounded a group of students in a local university.
 
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least nine journalists have been injured since the demonstrations began and at least two have had their equipment stolen, while five independent television networks covering the events have been blocked from transmission. 
 
Amnesty is calling on Nicaragua to launch a comprehensive and independent investigation by the civilian authorities into all allegations of excessive use of force by state security forces. All of those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice.

The demonstrations against the government began on Wednesday in response to changes to the country's social security system. In a national radio address on Thursday, Vice President Rosario Murillo reportedly denounced the protesters as “vampires, needing blood to feed their political agendas”.
 
Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International's Americas Director, said:

“The authorities’ crude and violent response to these demonstrations has deeply troubling implications for human rights in Nicaragua. 

"The slaughter of protesters, including several young students, who went out to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in the nation’s recent history.
 
“Instead of sowing terror and demonising demonstrators, the government must engage in dialogue with all sectors of society, including the victims of state repression, to find a peaceful solution to this grave situation."
 

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