European parliament scolds Nicaragua over ‘democratic crisis’

Spain's member of the European Parliament Ramon Jauregui addresses the media next to his colleagues Gabriel Mato and Javier Nart during a news conference at the end of their visit to Nicaragua to address the current political crisis of the Nicaraguan people in Managua on January 26, 2019. (REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)
Updated 27 January 2019
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European parliament scolds Nicaragua over ‘democratic crisis’

  • Nicaragua has been convulsed in the past months by some of its worst political tension since a civil war in the 1980s
  • More than 300 people had been killed and over 500 incarcerated since President Ortega clamped down on demonstrators
MANAGUA, Nicaragua: A European Parliament delegation on Saturday urged Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to release political prisoners, permit the return of banned human rights groups and to restart dialogue with the opposition to end a months-long political crisis.
The delegation led by European Member of Parliament (MEP)Ramon Jauregui, a Socialist from Spain, told a news conference it would ask the European Parliament to issue a new resolution on the crisis.
For months, Nicaragua has been convulsed by some of its worst political tension since a civil war in the 1980s. An initial stand-off between protesters and the government in April over planned welfare cuts quickly descended into deadly clashes.
By the time the Ortega administration had clamped down on the protesters, more than 300 people had been killed and over 500 incarcerated, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, a group the government has blacklisted.
Rights groups say four radio stations and one TV station have closed, and dozens of journalists have been beaten. The Ortega government says there is freedom of expression and has accused the opposition of seeking to mount a coup to oust him.
“We don’t believe the government’s story of a coup d’état,” told the news conference Javier Nart, a Spanish Liberal MEP who as a journalist covered the Nicaraguan revolution that led to the 1979 ouster of dictator Anastasio Somoza by Ortega’s Sandinistas.
“The repression of protests was excessive. The population is demanding more freedom and democracy. Nicaragua is going through a major crisis of democracy and the rule of law,” he added.
The Nicaraguan government did not respond to a request from Reuters on the allegations made by the delegation.
The European members of parliament said the Ortega government allowed them to hold meetings with all sectors of society, including political prisoners. But they noted that several opposition leaders suffered persecution after they had taken part in the meetings. (Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

Updated 17 February 2019
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Fire sweeps through Bangladesh slum, nine dead

  • Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: A fire tore through a slum in southern Bangladesh on Sunday killing at least 9 people and destroying hundreds of shanty homes, police said.
The blaze broke out in the port city of Chittagong at about 3.30 A.M. and raced through the district of bamboo, tin and tarpaulin homes, said local police chief Pranab Chowdhury.
“At least 470 shanties were destroyed by the fire. So far 9 people have died. They included four members of a family,” fire brigade official Hefazatul Islam said.
Fires regularly break out in Bangladesh’s slums, where millions live in squalid living conditions.
Rights groups have in the past alleged some shanty town blazes were deliberate acts of sabotage by developers seeking to free up property to construct multi-story buildings.
“We have seen fires are used as a weapon to evict poor slum dwellers and squatters from government or private property,” rights activist Nur Khan Liton said.