FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2018
USCIRF Condemns Violence Against Religious Ministries in Nicaragua
Chair Dorjee said, “We strongly condemn the violence against religious leaders by government forces”
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns increasing violence directed particularly at religious leaders and ministries by the Nicaraguan government and its supporters. Since pro-democracy demonstrations began in April, more than 300 people have been killed and many more injured, including leaders of faith-based organizations.
“We strongly condemn the violence against religious leaders by government forces,” stated USCIRF chair Tenzin Dorjee. “Many faith-based communities have been seeking to play a constructive role in negotiations between the government and opposition groups. Religious communities that have provided aid or spoken out against government abuses towards innocent civilians have been the victims of an increasing number of violent attacks by authorities. The Nicaraguan government should immediately halt any action on its part, or on the part of its supporters, restricting the rights of, or causing harm to, religious communities.”
Government forces have begun explicitly targeting religious leaders and communities through intimidation, physical threats, assaults on places of worship, and killings. Many faith-based groups have reportedly been forced to limit their services and outreach as a result of intimidation and violence by government forces and paramilitaries.
USCIRF is also concerned about a terrorism law passed in July by the Nicaraguan government which may be used to target faith-based organizations providing aid to those affected. USCIRF applauds the use of targeted sanctions by the U.S. government and encourages the U.S. government to continue utilizing targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for human rights violations.
Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga is available for Spanish language interviews on this issue.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Javier Peña at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-202-674-2598.