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Documenting Nicaragua’s political crisis and corruption


Mardy Lauwerysen, organiser of the exhibition, stands beside her husband Filip Lauwerysen at Pansuriya Gallery. Aung Myin Ye Zaw/The Myanmar Times

2018 was filled with grievances and disappointments, but not just for Myanmar. On the other side of the world in Central America, tragedies ensued as repression and retaliation against demonstrators took place.

Decades of peace in Nicaragua were shattered by a new wave of political violence that has left hundreds dead and thousands of refugees fleeing its borders. A photo exhibition in Yangon’s Pansuriya art gallery illustrated the plight of the Nicaraguan people to Myanmar residents.

By encapsulating the suffering of those in Nicaragua who aspired to have a liberal democracy, the exhibition “My name is April: the reawakening of a nation” posed a timely reminder to Yangon people that the struggle for democracy knows no borders.

Mardy Lauwerysen, an organiser of the exhibition, told Weekend that Nicaraguans are desperate to end the violence and find a democratic path to resolve the political crisis, calling for free and fair elections.

“Because of the government’s violence towards protestors, we Nicaraguans demand the right to have monitored and free elections,” she commented.

Nicaragua’s crisis started with an outpouring of popular protests against government corruption and mismanagement of the national pension system. The regime, led by Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, and his wife and Vice-President Rosario Murillo, responded with a harsh crackdown on the protesters. This led to even larger demonstrations, which were then met with increasing state violence.

Soon after the protests began, people associated with the ruling Sandinista party were mobilised into “shock forces” or “mobs” to attack peaceful protesters, while well-armed pro-government paramilitaries arrested people across the country, according to a UN report released in August. Evidence from the UN also showed that armed mobs rounded up protesters, some of whom were later raped with rifles and tortured in detention.

The violent crackdown on protests has drawn widespread international condemnation. Efforts to conduct a national dialogue failed, and the regime expelled UN human rights monitoring teams.

The photos captured the unfolding crisis: the tears and fear, the despair and devastation, and the strength and solidarity of the Nicaraguan people.


From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (Myanmar) Tues January 8, 2019

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