The death of Hugo Torres increases demands for freedom for political prisoners in Nicaragua

After the death of Hugo Torres, @OACNUDH once again urges the Ortega and Murillo government to release all those arbitrarily detained

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The former guerrilla and political prisoner Hugo Torres Jiménez died at dawn this Saturday, February 12 at the age of 73, after eight months of being detained by the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo in Nicaragua.

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In the history of Nicaragua, the memory is kept that the former guerrilla Hugo Torrez, known as Commander UNO, in 1974 helped free Daniel Ortega from prison. Even so, the government of the Ortega Murillo family was vicious against him and with more than 170 political prisoners, depriving them of his freedom and of all his human rights as prisoners of conscience.

On the morning of Saturday, February 12, the death of the political prisoner was surprisingly announced and in a note of mourning, his children Hugo Marcel, María Alejandra, and Lucía Aracelly Torres reported his death and announced that by the will of their father they would not celebrate funeral honors or public activities.

Members of the opposition movement UNAMOS, of which Torres was vice president, confirmed the authenticity of the mourning note, which did not specify when or where the death occurred, nor the causes of his death.

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The Ortega government, through a note from the Public Ministry, confirmed the death, in a concise manner, as if wanting to disclaim blame and affirming that Commander UNO “had spent the last days next to his children.”

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The former Sandinista commander and other UNAMOS leaders were captured by the police in June 2021 on charges of conspiracy to undermine national integrity, as part of a wave of arrests of opposition leaders, students, businessmen, and journalists critical of Ortega. . UNAMOS was known until last year as the Sandinista Renovating Movement (MRS), formed in 1994 by dissidents from the FSLN, such as the writer Sergio Ramírez and a group of deputies who rebelled against the vertical leadership of Ortega, who would finally ban it in 2008.

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Torres becomes the first political prisoner to die in the El Chipote jail of opposition figures arrested between May and November. But before the political prisoner Eddy Montes, died violently in the La Modelo Penitentiary Center on May 16, 2019, the opponent was killed with the accurate shot of a prison guard.

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The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights CENIDH recalled that, as part of its hard work in defense of human rights violations against Nicaraguans, “on several occasions, they demanded information from the Police and the Nicaraguan government about their whereabouts and their state of health, no response.

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On June 13, 2021, the Police arrested four well-known leaders of the Sandinista dissidence -UNAMOS, including the former guerrilla Dora María Téllez, known as Comandante Dos, one of the most critical voices of the Government of Daniel Ortega- as part of the arrests that have taken place since the beginning of June, reported official and political sources.

Hours before his capture, Torres recorded a video that was released shortly after, in which he recalled his role in the Sandinista guerrillas and his sacrifice for Ortega’s release. “46 years ago I risked my life to get Daniel Ortega and other fellow political prisoners out of jail,” he said.

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“I am 73 years old, I never thought that at this point in my life I would be fighting against another dictatorship, now fiercer than the Somoza dictatorship, more unscrupulous, more irrational, absolutist,” added Torres.

Cheer up people, keep your spirits up. History is on our side. What are they leaving, they are leaving. The end of the dictatorship is near, he concluded in the video.

https://video.wixstatic.com/video/c2bf80_bce88b1385de424a83ce761e0ee82c95/360p/mp4/file.mp4

Organizations that defend human rights and countries have spoken out before the death of a former guerrilla and political prisoner in Nicaragua.

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“Another terrible crime of #Ortega, the tyrant of #Nicaragua,” tweeted human rights activist Bianca Jagger, while the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) expressed on the same social network “It fills us with pain and indignation the death in prison of Hugo Torres, political prisoner of the dictatorship in #Nicaragua”.

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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH) – Central America and the Dominican Republic #Nicaragua, regrets the death of General Hugo Torrez and the conditions in which political prisoners find themselves. “OHCHR regrets the death of Hugo Torres and expresses its solidarity with his relatives. For months he was deprived of liberty in inhuman conditions and subjected to criminal proceedings without guarantees”.

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On its official page OHCHR, it states that Hugo Torrez since his arrest has been violated, along with those of more than 40 people, his #HR to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. Given what happened, “@OACNUDH again urges the Government to release all people arbitrarily detained.”

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For his part, César Landa, Foreign Minister in Peru, expressed his solidarity with the Torrez family and assured that his country will continue working so that Nicaragua returns to democracy “Hugo Torres has died in #Nicaragua, a political prisoner arbitrarily imprisoned after denouncing President Ortega. #Peru will continue working with the international community to contribute to the return to democracy and respect for human rights.”

In a November statement, the government of Peru expressed concern about the situation in the Central American country Nicaragua, “Peru has supported the resolutions adopted in the Organization of American States to avoid this serious situation, as well as all the collective efforts aimed at favoring the reestablishment of dialogue and understanding among Nicaraguans, the release of political candidates and prisoners, and the implementation of the agreed electoral reforms.”

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For his part, the Chilean Foreign Ministry lamented the death of Hugo Torres, imprisoned for making use of his civil and political rights, and demanded clarification of his death, such as the freedom of political prisoners. “We make a call to clarify the circumstances of his death and we demand the release of all those arbitrarily imprisoned by the Daniel Ortega regime.

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Members of Unamos and Nicaraguan exiles, in different countries, held a mass this Sunday and later a tribute to the retired general and political prisoner Hugo Torres.

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Sergio Ramírez, the winner of the Cervantes Prize, who was also one of the commanders of the revolution in the year 79 together with Hugo Torrez, told a digital medium. “Hugo Torres represents a life full of bravery, dignity, and courage. Nicaragua loses one of his great sons because he was committed to the freedom of Nicaragua, “he emphasized.” The great paradox, sad, is who was released from prison now in his own prison left to die who freed him.

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The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) has also condemned the death of the “political prisoner” detained by “the Nicaraguan regime”, and has “categorically” condemned the “persecution and arbitrary detention for political reasons” in the country.

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The death of the former guerrilla and politician occurs at a time when various human rights defense organizations are condemning the “manipulation” of criminal law and the “lack of guarantees” in the trials that the Prosecutor’s Office is carrying out in the country and in which at least 18 government opponents have already been found guilty.

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The OAS took advantage of Torres’s death to demand the “immediate release of all political prisoners,” a step that the OAS describes as “fundamental” for the “democratization” of the country. “Nicaragua needs another path other than repression, persecution, and the systematic violation of the rights of Nicaraguans,” the organization has assured.

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