Human rights organizations on Wednesday criticized Daniel Ortega’s government for trying to “wash its face” by showing imprisoned opponents in a kind of “circus” that has been going on for two days, without the family checking their health.
A new dozen of opposition members who have been imprisoned for more than a year were shown this Wednesday for the first time since their detention during judicial hearings. The images were broadcast by official media, as happened on Tuesday with ten other detainees. They were wearing blue uniforms.
Ortega, a 76-year-old former guerrilla in power since 2007, accuses opponents of wanting to overthrow him with U.S. support. “Hearings of imprisoned criminals, coup plotters, terrorists and traitors to the homeland continue”, wrote the pro-government website El 19 Digital.
The government assures that the detainees “are healthy” and “are not dying” as denounced by the “mercenary press”. But relatives contrast the images with photos from before they were arrested and highlight their weight loss.
On this occasion four women appeared, among them Dora María Téllez, 68 years old and former comrade of Ortega in the Sandinista guerrilla. Also, the manager of the newspaper La Prensa, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, and the banker Luis Rivas.
“The only purpose of the presentation of the political prisoners is to wash the regime’s face, which is under international pressure and internal pressure from relatives,” said Juan Carlos Arce, of the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Never Again, on social networks.
The former Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS, Arturo McFields, exiled in the United States, considered the act as a “cruel media circus”.
For the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), the government is subjecting opponents to “public scorn” by holding these “illegal informative hearings”.
Although all of them already have sentences, the authorities assure that in these sessions they are told of the status of their appeals.
“Their perverse eagerness to humiliate them (…) has failed because despite the fact that they are unrecognizable and have health problems, they continue to raise their faces innocent, firm and dignified,” added Cenidh.
“The images do not deny that they suffer unjust imprisonment, that they are incommunicado and without medical assistance,” commented on social networks Victoria Cardenas, wife of Juan Sebastian Chamorro, shown on Tuesday.
Chamorro is one of seven presidential hopefuls detained last year before the elections where Ortega won a fourth consecutive term.
In addition to former guerrilla Téllez, who fought against the Somoza dictatorship, Suyen Barahona, Ana Vigil, leaders of the opposition Unamos, and activist Tamara Dávila were shown.
“So skinny Dora María! Those prisoner clothes fit her loosely. I can imagine what she would look like in normal clothes. What an ignominy to imprison this symbol of courage and coherence,” writer Gioconda Belli, exiled in Spain, said on Twitter.