The persecution of organizers in defense of human rights and the freedom of association in Nicaragua has not ended. In September, 29 more feminist and women’s rights organizations were illegally canceled by the misogynist, neoliberal, illegitimate government of Daniel Ortega, resulting in a total of 176 organizations of this type that have been shut down since April of 2018.
These closures took place over four days (September 5, 12, 19 and 23, 2022) through changes made in Law 1115 last August 24th that allow the Ministry of the Interior to quash the legal status of organizations without the approval of the National Assembly.
Several of the cancelled groups have a long, significant history of work in defense of the rights of women. This is true of the Itzá Women’s Collective, a feminist organization belonging to the Women’s Network against Violence. Another target is the Nicaraguan Hostel Network, which has worked for 33 years in defense of sexual and reproductive rights including the accompaniment of survivors of macho violence.
In 2009, the Itzá Women’s Collective was able to build a shelter for women who need comprehensive protection against the risk of femicide in Somoto, Madriz. This shelter was still operating at the time of the illegal revocation of the collective’s legal status. The forced closure of the hostel is one among many examples of the impacts of these cancellations on the rights of Nicaraguan women, who are left in a situation of less protection and greater vulnerability in a country where femicides and macho violence are the order of the day. Here the government has dismantled some of the major public institutions safeguarding the rights and protection of women, organizations that are the fruit of historic struggles of the feminist movement.
Just as we of IM-Defensoras have denounced in previous cases, the cancellation of these organizations has been based on arbitrary procedures utilized by responsible institutions that have posed many different kinds of obstacles and/or directly refused to receive administrative documentation required by law and presented in timely fashion. Moreover, the cancellation of the organizations has involved the dismantling of their offices, requisition of their property, and in some cases the criminalization, harassment and other attacks against members.
We condemn this recent arbitrary act against feminist and women’s rights organizations and stand in solidarity with them. We continue to be on the alert and ready to denounce any impingement whatsoever on the rights and personal integrity of all those who work, collaborate or participate with them or benefit from their efforts.
We reiterate our call on the international community and all feminists to stand in solidarity with these organizations and shoulder responsibility for them, all the while maintaining an awareness of the grave situation of human rights defenders in Nicaragua, particularly those who work for the rights of women with a feminist perspective. We urge you to speak out against the arbitrary actions and systemic injustices committed time and again by the government in order to silence the voices of those who struggle for a more just and egalitarian country in which all persons have access to a life of dignity and the full exercise of their human rights.