Washington :The human rights arm of the Organization of American States said that 317 people have been killed during violence surrounding anti-government protests in Nicaragua that began in April.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the toll included 23 minors and 21 police officers.
Anti-government demonstrators have toppled many “Tree of Life” metal sculptures erected across Nicaraguan capital Managua as part of a city beautification plan, during a protest demanding the ouster of President Ortega.
President Daniel Ortega has acknowledged 195 dead, while the independent Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Commission has reported 450.
The report came as the OAS adopted a resolution calling for the creation of an OAS working group to promote nationwide dialogue for peace. Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada rejected the idea, calling it an “interventionist political maneuver.”
“This idea is raised when the attempted coup against President Ortega was already neutralized and while Nicaragua gradually restores its daily life and economy,” he said.
The OAS rights body said it had verified that Nicaragua’s government has persecuted and criminalized protesters. It said that after protest barricades were forcibly removed between July 19 and 30, authorities used armed hooded men to execute arbitrary and violent arrests. Detainees were not informed of their rights or the charges against them, it added.
The commission urged Nicaraguan officials “to promptly and seriously investigate each of these crimes.”
Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas division for Human Rights Watch, praised the resolution adopted by OAS, calling it “the greatest institutional promotion in defense of democracy and human rights” by the regional body in recent times.