Bianca Jagger notes increased persecution of human rights defenders, calls for the release of political prisoners

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Amaru Ruiz, now living in exile, with Bianca Jagger and Mónica López Baltodano in London, November 2021.

On February 18, Bianca Jagger gave this testimony to a Special Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council.

Key excerpts from her full testimony include:

“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the OAS Permanent Council, I am here to inform you about the serious situation facing political prisoners in Nicaragua. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that many of them are facing a life-and-death situation; today, the lives of 177 political prisoners are in the hands of dictator Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

The death of Hugo Torres

The sudden and mysterious death of retired Brigadier General Hugo Torres on February 12 has shocked public opinion in Nicaragua and internationally.

Hugo Torres went from being a heroic Sandinista leader who rescued Daniel Ortega from prison in the 70s, to being another victim of the Ortega dictatorship.

Persecution of human rights defenders

Starting in May 2021, the regime increased the persecution of presidential candidates, journalists, human rights defenders, socio-political activists and anyone who expresses an opinion against the regime.

In eight months, the police have illegally arrested 55 people, from 112 political prisoners to 167.

After being captured, the political prisoners were virtually disappeared and held incommunicado for more than 80 days and subjected to secret hearings. Political prisoners continue to be held in different centres of the National Penitentiary System, such as El Chipote prison and La Modelo prison, known for being torture centres.

Dora María Téllez in prison

We have the example of four women human rights defenders and political activists: Dora María Téllez, Tamara Dávila, Ana Margarita Vijil and Suyén Barahona, who have been in almost absolute isolation for more than 8 months, facing restrictions on visiting their relatives.

One of the most deplorable aspects is the lack of adequate medical care for political prisoners, which is endangering their lives.

Calls to release political prisoners

I join the calls of the different organizations that demand (the Organization Victims of April, Group Kidnapped United Politicians, Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners, Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners, and Relatives of Political Prisoners in El Chipote since May 2021) for the immediate release of political prisoners in my country.”

Her full testimony can be read at Los presos políticos en Nicaragua están en peligro de muerte.

PBI-Nicaragua Project

It is estimated that since April 2018 about 100,000 Nicaraguans have been forced into exile, mainly relocating to Spain, the US and Costa Rica.

PBI explains: “A first visit to Nicaragua in November 2018 quickly revealed that there was no possibility of establishing a project within the country, due to the level of repression and the inability of organizations to operate openly.”

It adds: “In order to respond to this context and the needs expressed by local organizations, in 2020 PBI launched a new accompaniment project in Costa Rica focused on providing support to exiled Nicaraguan human rights defenders and social movements.”

For more, please see Nicaraguan voices in resistance.

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