IACHR condemns "the arbitrary closure" of seven Catholic stations in Nicaragua

Brazil condemns police violence against religious leaders after closure of seven Catholic radio stations

The Brazilian government expressed its concern this Friday about the closure of seven Catholic radio stations in Nicaragua and asked the Nicaraguan Administration to respect both freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

“The Brazilian government repudiates the abusive use of police violence against religious leaders and faithful in the episode (of the closure of the radio stations) and urges the Nicaraguan authorities to restore the operation of the stations without delay,” says a note released by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

In the statement, in which it says it received the information with “serious concern,” the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges Nicaragua to also restore “the full exercise of religious freedom of local parishes.”

According to the Government of Brazil, the closure of radio stations constitutes another severe blow to civic space in Nicaragua and violates the right to freedom of religion and worship, as well as freedom of opinion and expression.

Related news: Ortega orders an “investigation” against Bishop Rolando Álvarez and his team and imposes a de facto prison on them

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes
Moment in which the Police fired into the air to disperse the congregation that supported the authorities of the Catholic Church. Item: Courtesy

It adds that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Nicaragua, guarantees everyone “the right to profess their religion and belief, individually or collectively, both publicly and privately, through worship, the celebration of rites, practices and teaching.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry explained in the note that it conveyed its concern as a founding member of the International Alliance for Freedom of Religion or Worship, created in 2020 and which currently has 36 member countries.

According to the Nicaraguan press, the government of President Daniel Ortega has canceled in recent days the license of nine private stations in the department of Matagalpa (north), most of them with a Catholic or community profile.

Related news: “The government is realizing that it has already lost moral authority, that’s why it attacks the Church,” says a Catholic priest

Some of the closed stations were administered by the Diocese of Matagalpa, led by Bishop Rolando Álvarez, one of the strongest critics of the Ortega government and who is besieged in his home by the police.

This Friday, priests from different dioceses in Nicaragua asked the government to “cease the persecution of the Catholic Church”, after the arrest of two members of the clergy and the siege of two others, including Álvarez, in addition to the closure of radio stations.

“We urge the country’s authorities to respect freedom of expression and religion in our homeland. Let the persecution of the Church cease”, the priests stated in a public message.

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