MANAGUA, Nicaragua – In a country where irony is king, rights activists who tried to march peacefully yesterday in commemoration of International Human Rights Day were nearly deprived of their rights to free expression and security as a mob of Sandinista supporters attacked marchers with mortars, rocks and sticks.
The Sandinista convoked by the government’s Human Rights Ombudsman Omar Cabezas and transported to the event in buses provided by the governing party wasted no time in clashing with human-rights activists, who were assembling at the downtown traffic roundabout to leave on their scheduled march.
The Sandinistas, some masked and most wearing government propaganda messages, tore the demonstrators´ signs – some of which were protesting electoral fraud in the Nov. 9 municipal elections while others shoved and kicked the marchers. The determined rights activists started to march south toward the United Nations buildings. The Sandinistas followed them for several hundred meters, throwing sticks and rocks at them as they left.
Police, who were again ordered by President Daniel Ortega last week to not repress the people made several inefficient efforts to calm the Sandinista mob until officers eventually separated the two groups long enough for the rights activists to march off.
Since August, the ruling Sandinista Front has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward any form of social or civic protest or demonstration an crackdown that critics claim is clear indication of the government´s move toward dictatorship.
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