Massacres in Nicaragua
Crimes against indigenous people must not go unpunished (Press Release)
Following a massacre of indigenous people in a biosphere reserve in Nicaragua, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands an end to impunity for crimes against indigenous people – and better protection of the indigenous communities of Nicaragua. "Those who are responsible for the violence must be held accountable, because the violence against indigenous people of Nicaragua is increasing dramatically. Inactivity on the part of the authorities is leading to even more violence," stated Ulrich Delius, the STP's director, in Göttingen on Friday. According to the human rights organization, the indigenous people of Nicaragua are not safe, not even in internationally recognized nature reserves. The attackers did not hesitate to kill several indigenous people in order to illegally appropriate their land and clear the forests.
At least six members of the Mayangna indigenous community were killed when 80 armed attackers raided their settlement in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve on Wednesday. The invaders burned down several houses and arbitrarily shot and killed several members of the indigenous community. Another ten have been missing since the attack. There are around 30,000 Mayangna living in Nicaragua.
In 1997, UNESCO recognized the 2.2 million hectare nature reserve on the border with Honduras as a biosphere reserve. It is considered one of the largest contiguous rainforest areas in northern Amazonia. For years, indigenous people have been complaining about a dramatic increase in illegal logging. Satellite images show that 31 percent of the reserve are now being used for agriculture, while only 15 percent of the reserve had been cleared by the year 2000. Nicaragua has lost around 19 percent of its forests of the last 20 years. "Illegal clearings in the reserve are destroying the livelihoods of indigenous communities who live from the forest. This is a serious threat to the ecosystem. Nicaragua's government must finally stop this undeclared war against man and nature," the human rights organization emphasized.
Murders of indigenous people are quite common in Nicaragua. In most cases, those who are responsible are not punished. Even if suspects are arrested, they are usually acquitted in court for alleged lack of evidence, the STP criticized. Nicaragua's authorities lack the political will to end impunity for the murder of indigenous people, but the latest massacre must finally lead to a change of mind on behalf of the government and the judiciary. This week, the police of Costa Rica arrested Nicaraguan citizens who are accused of killing an indigenous family in the Maio reservation in Nicaragua in October 2019. "We will see whether those responsible for this crime are actually brought to justice," the STP stated.
Header image: Joe Townsend via Flickr