Religious persecution continues in Nicaragua
ADF International - a faith-based legal advocacy organisation that protects fundamental freedom and promotes the dignity of all people - has filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Álvarez. The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Matagalpa was wrongfully convicted of "undermining national integrity" for speaking out against the Ortega regime’s abuses.
The persecution of Bishop Álvarez started on the 4th of August 2022, when police prevented him from leaving his residence, the Episcopal Curia of Matagalpa, to celebrate Mass at a nearby cathedral. The Bishop, along with seminarians, priests, and a cameraman, was coercively detained in the diocesan offices for 15 days. On the 19th of August 2022, police forcibly entered Bishop Álvarez’s residence and arrested him and seven other members of the Catholic Church without a warrant. Bishop Álvarez then was placed under house arrest.
The Bishop, who is a strong critic of Daniel Ortega’s government, started a hunger strike on Thursday in protest against the way he’s been treated and oppressed. He was unjustly sentenced to 26 years in prison for preaching on the human rights violations committed by the Nicaraguan government. He has been deprived of communication with family and legal representation, and it is believed that he is being held in solitary confinement.
According to Kristina Hjelkrem, legal counsel for Latin America for ADF International, and lead lawyer on the Bishop’s case: “Those concerned with basic human rights should be outraged by the crisis endured by people of faith in Nicaragua. For simply fulfilling his duties as a bishop and preaching the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church, Bishop Álvarez has been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison. This is a clear violation of not only his human right to freedom of expression but also to profess his faith and share his beliefs as a pastor. ADF International is honoured to bring this crucial case to the Commission, and we look forward to securing justice for Bishop Álvarez, and hopefully, an end to religious persecution in Nicaragua. No one should be persecuted or imprisoned for sharing their faith.”
President Daniel Ortega and his regime blatantly flaunt their power to suppress anyone who has the courage to challenge their authority. They have been targeting the Catholic Church, religious orders, media, schools, leaders, and ordinary Christians who dare to speak out against the abuses committed by the government.