By Alix Hardy
A teen was shot dead by pro-government forces Sunday during a protest in the Nicaraguan capital city, Managua.
“We condemn the vile assassination of Matt Andres Romero, aged sixteen, wounded by a bullet during the police repression of citizens who were protesting for the freedom of political prisoners. One more youth assassinated by the [Daniel] Ortega-[ Rosario] Murillo regime,” the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) said Sunday.
Police said Romero was “caught in crossfire between protesters.”
Local media, La Prensa, reported at least six other people were wounded by gunfire, one a local journalist who was shot in the arm.
Protesters were asking for political prisoners to be freed by the government that detained them as “terrorists” in recent months.
Demonstrators were surrounded by police and pro-government armed forces, according to media reports. On one side, tear gas was fired at the crowd and shots were heard on the opposite side.
Some protesters and those who were wounded took shelter in a church where they lay flat, pictures on social media show. “
“Those who think sowing repression today will allow them to harvest peace tomorrow are wrong. Enough with attacking and killing Nicaraguans!,” Bishop Silvio Baez, part of an ecclesiastic dialogue team and strong opponent of the Ortega regime, wrote on Twitter.
“This kind of attack has been repeatedly observed in the last weeks: government must ensure the full respect of the right to peaceful assembly accord to international human rights standards”, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated.
Human rights groups have identified at least 300 people illegally incarcerated by pro-government forces since the start of the repression in Nicaragua in April.
Nicaraguan authorities said last week they arrested 204 people but denied their incarceration was illegal.
Human rights organizations and investigators have repeatedly been denied access to detainees.
Authorities blamed Sunday’s violence on “right-wing coup-mongers” for “attacking families” in tweets with pictures of protesters carrying makeshift mortars.