Enduring false witness – Amnesty International on Nicaragua

By Stephen Sefton, crossposted from Tortilla con Sal

During the Nicaraguan opposition’s US supported failed coup attempt between April and July 2018, the country’s political opposition and their international supporters spread practically innumerable falsehoods. Perhaps their most egregious lie, among so many others, was that Nicaragua’s police deliberately fired on and killed peaceful protestors on the orders of President Daniel Ortega. While various sources contradict that false accusation, what should render it suspicious to any sceptical independent observer of the 2018 crisis is the killing of 22 police officers and the wounding by gunfire of 400 police officers in the period between April 18th and July 17th that year. In fact the very first fatality of the crisis was police Captain Hilton Manzanares killed by opposition activists on April 19th.

Neither the UN High Comissioner for Human Rights nor the Inter American Commission for Human Rights, none of the human rights NGOs nor practically any of the  news media reporting on the events in Nicaragua in that period adduce information from sources contradicting their false reports. Their reporting simply excludes contradictory sources such as news reports by media outlets supporting the government or the official bulletins of Nicaragua’s national police. Nor does the reporting by any of those instances or media make any genuine attempt to corroborate their false accusations from independent sources or by careful comparison of competing versions of events. Among the clearest examples of this is the reporting of events in Managua and Estelí that took place on May 30th 2018.

English video on the events of May 30th

Amnesty International’s report on that day states, “The Amnesty International delegation accompanied the Mother’s Day march and witnessed the chaos caused by the detonation of firearms. The organization has been able to verify that the attacks against demonstrators were led by police and pro-government armed groups known as “Sandinista mobs” in the vicinity of the National University of Engineering and the Central American University. The possible use of snipers firing from the Dennis Martínez Stadium has also been reported”

Amnesty International has never corrected that false, grossly politically biased account by making readers of their reports aware of contradictory, readily verifiable accounts either from official sources or from sandinista media. Whereas they repeat false accusations from opposition sources and media outlets with no corroboration from independent first hand sources. This and other aspects of Amnesty International’s extremely unreliable reporting on Nicaragua have been well covered by the independent report “Dismissing the Truth”.

Its coverage of events on May 30th 2018 is representative of Amnesty International’s failure to report honestly on events during Nicaragua’s 2018 crisis. For that day, Nicaragua’s national police reported in their press release No.33  that 20 police officers suffered gunshot wounds in the incidents referred to by Amnesty International’s report of the events in Managua, along with 7 people being shot dead and a total of 71 other people being wounded. Amnesty International has never corrected their report to include those police casualties or to discuss what they might mean in terms of those responsible for the shootings.

The same police report  relates how, also on May 30th 2018, at La Trinidad in Estelí, a caravan of sandinista supporters traveling to Managua for a peace march was attacked by opposition gunmen causing 11 police officers to suffer gunshot wounds and 5 police officers to suffer wounds from hand held mortars, while twelve sandinista supporters participating in the peace caravan were also wounded, two of whom died of their wounds later

Amnesty  International has never given an adequate account of these lethally violent opposition attacks on police officers and demonstrators in Managua or on people peacefully demonstrating their support for the government in Estelí. They may dispute the facts, but their deliberate omission of cogent contradictory official accounts and news reports and of the deaths of police officers and government supporters clearly demonstrates their false witness in reporting the events in question. They continue to support the false accusation that Nicaragua’s police fired indiscriminately on peaceful opposition protesters, a lie which plenty of evidence from various sources contradicts but which Amnesty International has never adequately addressed.