Nicaraguan opponents jailed for protesting against President Daniel Ortega suffer torture and sexual abuse at the hands of their jailers, revealed an NGO report released Tuesday in Costa Rica.
The report of the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Never Again (Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Nicaragua Nunca + ) was based on interviews with 56 released people, who reported how, in addition to the mistreatment suffered in prison, they faced harassment and persecution from authorities after recovering their freedom.
Opponents’ testimonies report sexual violations, suffocation with plastic bags, beatings and kicks, electric shocks, cigarette burns, use of “Russian roulette” and sustained verbal abuse, according to Juan Carlos Arce, one of the study’s authors.
“The purpose of these practices was to send a message of terror” to demobilize the protesters, said Arce in the presentation of the report called “Going back to being human” (Volviendo a ser humano).
Thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets of Nicaragua last year to demand the resignation of Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo.
Protests broke out in April 2018 against a social security reform, and the government responded with a repressive wave that left 328 dead, hundreds of detainees and 88,000 exiles, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The report includes four detailed testimonies of women who suffered serious sexual abuse during their detention.
One of them says that she was taken to a room in the La Modelo prison, on the outskirts of Managua, where seven men with balaclavas threatened her with death and raped her.
The then prisoner, whose name was kept hidden, said that she spent more than a week bleeding after the sexual assault.
“The repression has been monstrous, the resistance immense. Never in peacetime have the people of Nicaragua, their youth, suffered so much criminal repression,” said Gonzalo Carrión, director of the collective.