Environmental defenders in Nicaragua denounce government crackdown as elections loom

Environmental defenders in Nicaragua denounce government crackdown as elections loom

There is a sacred hill in Nicaragua known as Kiwakumbaih, where the ancestors of the Indigenous Mayangna people would go to hold important annual events. To this day, it continues to be a popular site for weddings, funerals, debates and festivals. But this year, Kiwakumbaih became the site of a massacre. More than a dozen Mayangna and Miskito had gathered on the hill one afternoon when a group of armed men approached with guns and machetes. They raped several of the women, according to community members who asked to remain anonymous. The armed men put their gun barrels in people’s mouths and fired, execution-style, and hanged others from trees. Between nine and 13 people were killed in what the government has called an “inter-ethnic” conflict between Indigenous communities, but which residents say was actually carried out by colonos, or colonists, who have been forcing their way onto protected territory for years. The country’s media noted this was not the first time that colonos had killed locals at Kiwakumbaih, although it had never been on this scale. Family members of the victims have called for a more thorough investigation into the Aug. 23 massacre. They say they want to locate the remains of loved ones and carry out a proper burial. But investigating land-grabbing disputes has become even more complicated in 2021. The government is arresting critics of President Daniel Ortega and escalating police force ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for November. “We are in a state of censorship,” María*,…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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