The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has called on the Nicaraguan government to protect 13 university students who have been outspoken in leading protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega during the past month.

A team from the commission visited Nicaragua last week and expressed concern over the government's violent repression of protests.

In a statement Friday, the commission said after conducting interviews it decided the students and their family members had been targeted by threats, and their photos were circulated online as the "faces of chaos."

Popular protests erupted in mid-April after Ortega imposed changes to Nicaragua's social security system. The demonstrations soon became wider in scope, and the violent response from police and Sandinista youth brought calls for Ortega's resignation.