Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Belgo-Nicaraguan student Amaya Coppens was released from prison on Tuesday alongside nearly a hundred other political prisoners, detained amidst the clampdown on anti-government protests ongoing since 2018.
Coppens, an active opponent of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, was arrested in mid-November together with other political activists who had brought water to protesters on a hunger strike.
After their arrest, the group became known as the “water bearers,” and the police said that firearms and Molotov cocktails had been found inside their vehicles, an accusation that Coppens’ father said was fabricated by authorities.
The 25-year-old medical student and 15 other activists were charged with arms trafficking and is set to appear before a court at the end of January 2020.
The decision to release Coppens and 91 other political prisoners ahead of the trial was taken by the government as a sign of its “willingness to contribute to national reconciliation,” De Standaard reports.
The Brussels-born activist had been one of the figureheads of the student protests against Ortega’s reforms to the country’s social security system in 2018.
Even after social unrest led the government to undo the reforms, the protests quickly expanded into a broader movement demanding Ortega’s resignation, in one of the largest social movements since the Nicaraguan Revolution that erupted in the early 80s.
Coppens’ role as a figurehead in the student demonstrations organised at the start of the movement led to charges of terrorism and saw her imprisoned for nine months in September 2018 and released under an amnesty law after serving eight months.
Several of the released prisoners celebrated their release but pledged to continue protesting against Ortega’s government and for a “free Nicaragua.”
The Brussels Times