The President of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega received Wednesday a petition signed by 534,363 Nicaraguans demanding justice for the 198 victims of what activists have called “terrorists” attacks during an “attempted coup” in the country.
The presentation of the signatures was made during a government event in Managua after a “walk for peace,” in which Sandinistas and relatives of people kidnapped, tortured and killed by anti-government protesters chanted: “they weren’t students, they were criminals.”
During Ortega’s address, he criticized the United Nation and its Human Right Council (UNHRC) for singling out the Nicaraguan government as being primarily responsible for the violation of human rights during a series of protests and clashes that began this April.
“We are asking for justice while national and international human rights organizations act without justice. For them, these victims (Sandinistas) do not exist, these victims of torture do not exist,” Ortega said.
The President also accused the U.N. human rights body of being “used by the powerful, by those who have claimed entire continents, by those who have committed genocides against entire peoples… For them, the terrorists are little agents, who didn’t torture anyone and didn’t kill anyone.”
On Wednesday the UNHCR published a report where they claimed there was no evidence that the protesters against Ortega attempted a coup.
The Nicaraguan political crisis began in mid-April when protesters took to the streets against a proposed social security reform that sought to overcome the system’s financial crisis by increasing contributions from both employees and employers to avoid raising the retirement age.
President Ortega withdrew the reform and issued calls for dialogue to avoid a spiral of violence, but the protester’s demands shifted towards getting Ortega to step down before his term ends in 2021. A request the government has rejected.
This shift in the protesters’ demand raised concerns over their true intentions. “They are infamous… these murderers came to break the country’s peace, to destroy hospitals, public schools, and the country’s economy,” Ortega said.