Members of the Assembly of IAJU expressed their solidarity with Nicaragua this afternoon after the representatives of the Latin American Association read a statement that rejects human rights violations in the country and denounced the threats against the Rector of the UCA, José Alberto Idiaquez. The statement was not discussed or voted, but the members of IAJU made their support known with a standing ovation when Fr. Michael J. Garanzini asked whether it reflected “the feelings in the room”. The statement contains the following points:
- We join our concerns with those coming from other Jesuit institutions throughout the world, regarding the deplorable government-sponsored repression and violence in Nicaragua that has claimed more than 350 lives in less than three months.
- We reject unequivocally any violations of all human rights, along with any acts of aggression towards any and all citizens. In particular, we condemn the recent attacks perpetrated by supporters of Nicaragua’s government against a group of Catholic priests led by Nicaragua’s Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and Bishop Silvio Báez as they helped protesters trapped inside a church.
- All attempts to silence or vilify the University of Central America (UCA) Rector, Fr. José Alberto Idiáquez, S.J., in his firm defense of the lives of Nicaragua´s students, represent an explicit abandonment of the ideals of democracy.
- We support and uphold the autonomy of institutions of higher education, as supported by the Constitution as well as the inviolability and immunity of university campuses which are for critical thinking and unobstructed expression.
- We extend unconditional solidarity to all affected people and families, institutions and universities, their students, professors and administrators, working as they are to protect the rights and security of all students and staff exercising their civil rights guaranteed by the Nicaraguan Constitution. In particular, we express our solidarity with our Jesuit sister institution, the University of Central America, which calls its students to peaceful advocacy for social justice, even as government violence is intended to suppress dissent.
- We add our voice to those of our Nicaraguan colleagues in urging the government of Nicaragua to dismantle paramilitary groups, respect the constitutional rights of its citizens, starting with freedom of expression and peaceful protest; and in supporting the efforts of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) in the search for a negotiated solution to the conflict.
- As the tragedy of lost lives grows in Nicaragua as well as in Venezuela, we offer our prayers for peace and reconciliation and extend our solidarity with the cause of justice and democracy in these countries.