Freedom for the Water Carriers! ¡Libertad para la Banda de Aguadores!

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On the 14th November 2019, sixteen human rights defenders and activists, members of the Blue and White National Unity movement, were arrested in Masaya, a town 25kms south of Managua, Nicaragua.  Thirteen of them had just visited the San Miguel Catholic Church to deliver water and medicines to members of the Association of Mothers and Families of Political Prisoners on hunger strike demanding the immediate release of their sons, daughters and other family members who are being held as political prisoners by the Ortega-Murillo regime.  The other three were detained in their homes in Masaya.

The previous day, the Nicaraguan authorities had cut electricity and water supplies to the Church, which is now under permanent police siege, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the Church.   The health of the hunger strikers and their supporters inside the Church, including Fr. Edwin Román the parish priest, with no access to water or medicines, is deteriorating rapidly.

The Banda de Aguadores were taken to the El Chipote maximum security prison in Managua and have been falsely accused in court of the illegal possession of weapons.   Their arrest comes in the context of the ongoing repression in Nicaragua and an increase in Daniel Ortega’s threats of the further use of armed violence against all who oppose his hold on power.  Within Nicaragua and internationally, the arrest of the Banda de Aguadores has been widely condemned and their immediate release, and that of c 150 other political prisoners, called for.  Please add your voice to demand  their freedom. 

Solidarity is not a crime!

Background

Since protests began in April 2018, police and paramilitary forces established by the Nicaraguan government have assassinated more than 300 people, including adolescents and children, over 2,000 have been injured, and hundreds have arbitrarily arrested, many subjected to cruel treatment and torture in prison. An estimated 70,000 people have been forced to take refuge in Costa Rica Human rights within the country have deteriorated dramatically witnessed in: a) severe restrictions imposed on freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration, b) attacks on and closure of civil society organisations and independent media outlets; c) the expulsion of international organisations from the country; d) the ongoing repression of individuals and opposition groups.

In response, the international community (United Nations, European Parliament, Organisation of American States, Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) has widely condemned the gross human rights' abuses and crimes against humanity committed by the Nicaraguan government.