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Ortega police violently assaults Sébaco parish church

Priest surrounded inside the church by riot police reports one wounded; they seize equipment from a radio shut down by TELCOR

The police of the dictatorship forcibly entered the chapel Niño Jesús de Praga, of the Parish Jesús de la Divina Misericordia located in Sébaco. Radio Católica also operates from this location and is one of the seven radio stations of the Diocese of Matagalpa, which the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Posts (Telcor) closed this Monday, August 1, in an assault aimed at silencing the media.

Priest Uriel Vallejos, who has remained in the clergy house of the church under police occupation, told CONFIDENCIAL that a Telcor worker arrived Monday afternoon to notify him of the closure of the station and wanted access to the station’s equipment, but he did not let her. The woman left and returned with a patrol car, police, riot police, and paramilitaries.

The officers broke the padlocks of the chapel and broke the roof to enter the offices where the station’s equipment is located at nightfall. At the same time, they threw tear gas bombs to disperse the population that had gone to the Church to prevent the state robbery.

“There is one wounded”, said Father Vallejos, but he had no further information. Around 8:00 p.m., the priest denounced that his electricity service had been suspended. “We are in the dark, they have cut off the electricity in the priest’s house,” he said via Twitter. 

In a live transmission, one of the parishioners assured that the Police fired in the air and threw tear gas bombs at the people who were outside the parish.

Around 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Father Uriel Vallejos, together with other faithful Catholics locked in the parish, denounced that the temple was surrounded by riot police and called on the population to join in defending the equipment, which belongs to the Christian people.

“I am in the Clergy house, I am here. They continue violating, they are inside, in the chapel. We are here,” said the priest. 

“Don’t leave me alone, these people -the police- are here. They are running around like mad dogs. Let all the people of Sébaco come. Let’s not be cowards,” the priest was heard saying in a live transmission of the Catholic Channel of Sébaco when everything started. While the population continued to arrive at the church, the bells did not stop ringing.

Father Vallejos considers that the regime’s actions against the Church are because they fear the prophetic voice of the Church in denouncing injustices. They seek to silence the Church, specifically, “us priests, and they know that the people always listen to the voice of their pastors”. 

Those are their intentions, to close everything, so that there are no more denunciations of the injustices, of the violations of human rights that they commit every day,” he said. The priest sent a message to the population to pray, to have confidence in the Lord, and to avoid falling into provocation. That the only thing they seek, as pastors, is that there be peace, freedom, and respect for human rights in this country.

Álvarez urges regime to recognize injustices

Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and administrator of the diocese of Estelí, confirmed that Telcor closed the seven Catholic radio stations in the north under the alleged argument that they did not have the necessary permits. However, he clarified that he himself has submitted all the required documentation since 2016, but “we never received answers as is already the custom of the Government in some and many other cases”, he said. 

“If the director of Telcor,  Nahima Díaz Flores -daughter of the Chief of Police, Francisco Díaz, and Daniel Ortega’s in-law- wants to wants to meet with me, I will bring all the documents that I presented to them, with the letter of receipt and signature from Telcor.  If they are right, I myself will admit before the people that they are correct, that they should close our radio stations, but if they are not right, they should have the courage to say that they were wrong or that they purposely want to close our media”, said the priest in an annoyed tone. 

“I have never had a problem recognizing my mistakes and they know it. But neither will I accept mistakes and injustices that they want to attribute to us. They know it very well and they know that if I make mistakes, I recognize it, but in the meantime, let them accept their injustices.”

“They have closed all our radio stations. But the Word of God, they will not silence it,” said Bishop Alvarez on his Twitter account.

The violent incursion of the authorities was rejected by human rights organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as locally by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro.

UNHCHR calls for an end to the atrocity

The UNHCHR said, through a tweet, that they were informed about “the violent acts” of the police, for which they demanded the immediate cessation of this outrage. 

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, urged the regime of Daniel Ortega

“to cease attacks against religious freedom, freedom of expression and to respect the life and integrity of Nicaraguans”, in view of the outrages and violence in Sébaco, he said on his Twitter account.

For its part, CENIDH demanded respect for the personal integrity and life of religious, parishioners, and journalists who were inside the chapel.

The Orteguista regime has maintained a frontal attack against the Church since 2018 when the institution denounced human rights violations against the people of Nicaragua. This year, mainly, the regime stepped up its viciousness against the priests, subjecting them to more acts of harassment and persecution.

This Monday, the dictatorship intensified the persecution with the closing of media outlets of the Diocese of Esteli, the assault on Catholic Radio, and the violent incursion of police forces into the Parish of Jesus of Divine Mercy in Sebaco, while attacking the population. 

In May and June, the regime increased police harassment against Monsignor Alvarez, who had to take refuge in a church in Managua, and was also surrounded by riot police. Meanwhile, in Masaya, Father Harving Padilla could not leave his parish San Juan Bautista due to threats of imprisonment. Both priests were helped by other pastors.

Also imprisoned were Father Manuel Salvador García of Nandaime and Monsignor José Leonardo Urbina of Boaco, the first accused of threatening Sandinista fanatics and the other of rape in proceedings in which due process is not respected, according to independent jurists.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff

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