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Mass Arrests Return to Nicaragua at Beseiged Church in Masaya

Members of the Blue and White National Unity movement were arrested while carrying groceries to citizens who are cornered inside the church

The Blue and White National Unity reported on Friday morning the arbitrary detention of 13 persons carrying food to a group of mothers of political prisoners who remain on hunger strike in a church in the city of Masaya. The Ortega police had previously surrounded the mothers, together with a group of supporters and the priest Edwin Roman, inside the temple of San Miguel Arcangel, cutting off the supply of drinking water and electricity.

Among those detained are former political prisoners and human rights defenders including Amaya Coppens, Ivania Alvarez, Wendy Juarez, Olga Valle, Olama Hurtado, José Medina, Hanzel Quintero, Atahualpa Quintero, Jesús Tefel, Gabriel Ramos, Roberto Butching and two persons not identified. The prisoners were reportedly transferred to the infamous El Chipote interrogation center in Managua.

The arrest occurred around midnight on Thursday, when a delivery caravan approached the temple of San Miguel to leave the groceries. However, the riot forces, which maintain the church surrounded, did not allow them to deliver the aid. Minutes later when the citizens tried to withdraw from the place, fanatical supporters of the Sandinista Front began to arrive and the Police retained half of the vehicles in which they were moving.

Temple under police siege

The church was surrounded by the Police since the early hours of Thursday, when a group of women began a hunger strike; however, the atmosphere became more tense at the end of the afternoon after the officers closed all the entrances to the church.

The priest, Edwin Roman, left the temple to persuade the officers to clear the entrances to the church, but they responded by creating a human barrier that completely sealed all the accesses to the parish. Roman insisted for a few minutes, but at the request of the parishioners he returned to the interior of the temple after praying for the police that besieged them.

“Lord, we are victims of a dictatorship… we know that evil cannot prevail over good and may the blessing of God all mighty descend and reach you,” exclaimed the priest surrounded by police.

Hours later, Father Roman reported, through his Twitter account, that the parish continued “besieged,” while the mothers of the political prisoners remain “in prayer and on hunger strike.”

Mothers of the political prisoners on hunger strike remain trapped in the temple of San Miguel without water or electricity.  Courtesy | Confidential

They cut water and power

During the night the drinking water and electricity were cut off in all sectors surrounding the parish. The temple of San Miguel is one of the most besieged sites of the National Police; the presence of officers is permanent and on more than one occasion they have interrupted the celebration of religious services.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was aware of the siege of the San Miguel temple and demanded that the State of Nicaragua “respect and guarantee freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the integrity” of the women who remain on hunger strike and Father Roman.

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