World News

Exiled Catholics testify about their imprisonment in Nicaragua

An unnamed witness gave his testimony for the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations hearing on Thursday.

The hearing, called “An Urgent Appeal to Let Bishop Álvarez Go”, is a desperate request to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega to release the bishop, who had been convicted to over 20 years in prison for criticizing the government’s human rights violations. Bishop Álvarez was deprived of his citizenship and found guilty of  “undermining national integrity; propagation of false news; aggravated obstruction of functions and disobedience of contempt for authority.”

The board was hearing testimonies of exiled prisoners of conscience, many of whom had been arrested without a warrant, stripped naked, humiliated and interrogated among inhuman conditions. One of the former prisoners said that the troubles started in 2018 when Bishop Álvarez had defended young protesters against the government’s social reforms. Ortega’s regime has targeted the Catholic Church since then, and things have been getting worse every year. The Church offered refuge for young people “feeling repression” by police and authoritarian politicians. 

The witness confirmed the National Police of Nicaragua had kidnapped him without a warrant. Then they transferred him to Auxilio Judicial de Managua jail: “That same day the interrogations began, there were more than 30 interrogations, which could take place at any time of the day, even in the early hours of the morning. They blackmailed me and threatened the lives of my relatives because they wanted me to declare that the bishop was a member of an organization that wanted to promote a coup d’état against Daniel Ortega and that he received money from the U.S. government and the European Union. I was accused of undermining the dignity of the state and of Nicaragua, of spreading false news”. 

He was exiled from Nicaragua along with 222 other political prisoners, affiliates of human rights organizations and priests incarcerated for defending human rights. 

Representative Chris Smith, R-N.J., a senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member, expressed his concerns about the outrageous way Bishop Álvarez and others were treated: “The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening to the people of Nicaragua — including and especially people of faith. The regime has closed Catholic radio stations and universities, obstructed access to places of worship, banned public Way of the Cross processions, and frozen the bank accounts of hundreds of Catholic institutions”.


Leave a reply