Labeled “Operation Clean-up” by the government, Nicaraguan government security forces have launched raids to clear protesters’ barricades in opposition hotspots, concentrating on the city of Masaya, a day after President Daniel Ortega made a personal presence there calling for peace, and the neighborhood of Niquinohomo and Catarina villages and Monimbo.
Álvaro Leiva, the head of Nicaraguan Association For Human Rights (ANPDH), said at least 22 vehicles carrying government security forces had arrived in the area.
The ANPDH says at least 10 people were killed on Sunday – six civilians and four members of the security forces.
Leiva warned people in the city of Masaya to stay indoors, saying “there are snipers stationed at different places around the city”.
One resident in Masaya told the French news agency AFP: “We are being attacked by the national police and paramilitaries armed with AK-47s.”
The latest government action came a day after dozens of students in the capital Managua were besieged by pro-government forces for hours in a parish church next to the National Autonomous University of Managua (UNAN) before finally being allowed to leave after the intervention of Catholic Bishops.
Two students died in the action and many said they felt the security forces had been shooting to kill.
The UNAN was the last bastion of student resistance in the capital after months of nationwide anti-government protests in which over 300 people have been killed.
Bishop’s car attacked. Also on Sunday, there were reports of attacks on members of the National Dialogue conference trying to resolve the differences between the government and the opposition.
Paramilitaries attacked the car of Abelardo Mata, the Roman Catholic bishop of Esteli, having to take refuge in a nearby house, witnesses said.
Mata was intercepted by a group of people who damaged the vehicle, breaking the windshield, windows and damaging the tires, and shouted: “murderer”, “coup” and “criminal”.
The official media justified the aggression in their social networks, arguing that it was a sign of the repudiation “of those accused of promoting the terrorist acts sponsored by the coup leaders throughout Nicaragua.”
Mata is one of the mediators for the Conferencia Episcopal de Nicaragua (CEN) mediating talks between the government and protesters.
In Managua, amid great secrecy and under a wide police deployment in the Central Judicial Complex Managua, a preliminary hearing was held behind closed doors for three youths accused of the arrests in Managua, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Masaya, and for having burned the facilities of the Radio Ya.
The police deployment generated an atmosphere of confusion, because campesino leader, Medardo Mairena, who was arrested last Friday, and is also a member of the National Dialogue, was supposed to be presented before the judge. Mairena was arrested at the airport and accused of the death of four officers and a civilian in Morrito, last Thursday.
“We learned that they brought Medardo Mairena, but they did not upload him to a hearing room,” said lawyer Yonarquis Martínez, of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH).
The maximum time for a detainee to be presented or accused in a court is 48 hours after his arrest. This Sunday, human rights activists and members of a delegation of the High Commissioner of the United Nations Organization for Human Rights were not allowed to enter the judicial complex.
For that reason, the CPDH announced that it will present a personal appeal on Monday in favor of Mairena and Pedro Mena. It is still unknown in what jail they are.
Mairena’s brother, Gabriel Mairena Sequeira, was seriously wounded in the chest on Friday by snipers, as he led a protest to highlight the arrest of his brother, on the road between the junction of San Pedro de Lóvago and Santo Tomás Chontales.
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the EU and Peru, Chile, Colombia, Spain and Argentina have all published statements rejecting the actions of the Nicaraguan government over the past few days.