Many scientists and scholars in Nicaragua have recently lost their jobs, been attacked and some, forced to leave country for expressing their political beliefs in a peaceful manner. Several of these, Maria Luisa Acosta, the President of the Nicaraguan National Academy of Sciences, was forced to leave the country after receiving death threats; Mauricio Alvarez Arguello, a biologist at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua in Leon, lost his job and was allegedly assaulted by the police for refusing to sign a letter denouncing a critic of the government; and Javier Pastora who was Head of the Surgery Department at UNAN in Leon and employed at the university hospital in Leon for the past 32 years, was terminated from both positions for either participating in peaceful protests or objecting to the government’s efforts to stop him from treating wounded protesters.
CCS has written the President of the Republic of Nicaragua asking that these cases be reviewed, these scholars be kept safe and released if criminal charges are not going to be filed against them.
Daniel Ortega Saavedra
President of the Republic of Nicaragua
Frente a Palacio Nacional, calle 4 Noroeste
Managua, Nicaragua, 11001
Fax: +505 2228 9090
Dear President Saavedra:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our deep concern over the treatment of scientists and scholars who, in recent months, have been attacked, terminated from their jobs, and some forced to flee the country, simply for exercising their right to freely and peacefully express their political beliefs.
María Luisa Acosta, the President of the Nicaraguan National Academy of Sciences, was forced to leave Nicaragua in May 2018 after receiving death threats. These threats were related both to statements from the Academy supporting academic freedom, and to her objection to projects, that in her view, would adversely affect the environment and indigenous people.
Mauricio Álvarez Arguello, a biologist at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) in León, lost his job in November 2018 and was reportedly assaulted by police allegedly because he refused to sign a letter denouncing a critic of the government.
Javier Pastora, who had worked at the university hospital in León for 32 years, was terminated from this position as well as his position as Head of the Surgery Department at UNAN in León. A dozen other doctors were also terminated. Dr. Pastora believes they were targeted either for participating in protests, or for objecting to efforts by the government to prevent their treatment of wounded protestors.
In 2018, both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported on the deteriorating human rights situation in Nicaragua, and against the serious human rights abuses being inflicted on protestors and students. The situation does not appear to have changed and we are gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of these three scholars, as well as the many other scholars and students who seem to be currently at risk.
Your government, which ratified both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1980, has an obligation to protect academic freedom and freedom of expression. We urge you to protect these academics and other students and assure their safety. We also ask that threats of violence against them are thoroughly and impartially investigated, and those found responsible brought to justice.
We further urge you to restore Mauricio Álvarez Arguello, Javier Pastora, and other scholars and medical professionals to their positions and allow them to continue their academic and medical work without interference or intimidation.
Thank you again for your attention to this most urgent matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker
Embassy of Nicaragua
1627 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202 939 6570 I Fax: 202 939 6545
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