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Nicaragua Assures ADL It Will Return Country’s Only Synagogue to Its Congregation

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The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith today said it welcomes the Nicaraguan government’s assurance that the country’s only synagogue will be given back to its congregation.

The pledge for the synagogue’s return and other assurances relating to Nicaraguan Jews were made by Antonio Jarquin, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States, at a meeting with six ADL leaders in Washington. The diplomat acknowledged during the meeting that a mistake had been made when authorities seized the synagogue following the July, 1979, Sandinist revolution.

In response to Jarquin’s remarks, Kenneth Bialkin, ADL’s national chairman, stated that the “record of the government of Nicaragua will be determined by actions, not assertions …. Nicaragua should do what is right, just and fair, acting on the basis of facts.”

The meeting was held to discuss charges made by ADL last May that the Nicaraguan Jewish community had fled because of Sandinist anti-Semitism and the confiscation of Jewish-owned property, including the synagogue. The ADL had first raised the issues in a private meeting with Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister, Miguel d’Escoto, in October, 1981.

SUBSTANTIVE RESPONSE TO COMPLAINTS

According to Abraham Foxman, ADL’s associate national director and head of its International Affairs Division, Jarquin’s statements were the first substantive responses to ADL’s complaints. Foxman said that positive elements in the Ambassador’s remarks included the following:

He denounced anti-Semitism as “morally reprehensible” and declared it is contrary to Nicaraguan law; pledged to clarify the status of Jews in exile by informing ADL of any charges pending against them and said those who have no charges against them would be welcomed back to Nicaragua; and suggested that those who have no charges against them should petition the Ministry of Justice for the return of their confiscated property, as has been successfully done by some other Nicaraguans.

At the meeting, Bialkin urged that the government of Nicaragua take specific steps to insure the security of Jews wishing to rejoin the few members of the Jewish community who remained in the country despite intimidation.

NICARAGUAN JEWS PLAN TO FILE COMPLAINT

Jarquin was also told that some Nicaraguan Jews plan to file complaints with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights charging that their property was confiscated without trial on the basis of false allegations.

The ADL group requested that Nicaragua allow the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, an international tribunal, to be the final arbiter over any human rights violations found by the Commission. This procedure, it was pointed out, is consistent with the American Convention on Human Rights to which Nicaragua is a signatory.

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