For over a month we’ve watched the world stop and come together to find the 239 passengers who went missing on Malaysian Airline Flight 370.
We watched in horror as our hearts broke for the 325 South Korean students involved in the field trip ferry catastrophe. Now I would hope that the world shows that type of support for the 230 Nigerian school girls kidnapped from their dormitories and reportedly sold and married off to militant extremists.
Did we care enough? This crisis has been going on for the last two weeks and our news has been saturated with rehashed and recycled buzz words from the phantom Malaysian plane, or minute-by-minute updates on the ferry disaster. Let’s not forget that the only break from any of these stories has been the Donald Sterling non-scandal. African Americans rushed to the rescue of the mulatto mistress and her quest to hang out with black people while we ignored this heinous act of terror.
Here’s what we know so far
From The Guardian~
The 14 April abduction of the girls – students aged between 16 and 18 who were sitting a physics paper at their school, one of a handful in troubled Borno state that had opened specially for final exams – shocked a nation inured to violence during a five year-insurgency.
Desperate parents launched their own rescue attempts in the 60,000 sq km Sambisa forest where the girls were being held. Security sources told the Guardian that at least three rescue attempts had been scuppered.
This week, former prime minister Gordon Brown, the United Nations’ special adviser on girls’ education, will visit Nigeria to launch a campaign to raise funds and awareness of the schoolgirls’ plight. “We cannot stop terrorism overnight but we can make sure that its perpetrators are aware that murdering and abducting schoolchildren is a heinous crime that the international authorities are determined to punish,” he said.
Reports of the mass marriage came from a group that meets at dawn each day not far from the charred remains of the school. The ragtag gathering of fathers, uncles, cousins and nephews pool money for fuel before venturing unarmed into the thick forest, or into border towns that the militants have terrorised for months.
On Sunday, the searchers were told that the students had been divided into at least three groups, according to farmers and villagers who had seen truckloads of girls moving around the area. One farmer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the insurgents had paid leaders dowries and fired celebratory gunshots for several minutes after conducting mass wedding ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s unbearable. Our wives have grown bitter and cry all day. The abduction of our children and the news of them being married off is like hearing of the return of the slave trade,” said Yakubu Ubalala, whose 17- and 18-year-old daughters Kulu and Maimuna are among the disappeared.
The parents are planning a mass rally on Saturday to lobby the government for official updates rather than having to rely on reports from local people.
“We are trying, but our efforts are being countered in a way that it is very clear they are being tipped off about our movements. Any time we make a plan to rescue [the girls] we have been ambushed,” said an artillery soldier among a rescue team announced by presidential decree over the weekend. In one clash, he said, 15 soldiers were killed by the insurgents.
“We know where these girls are being held in the forest, but every day we go in and come out disappointed. Definitely somebody high up in the chain of command is leaking up information to these people,” said the soldier, whom the Guardian was able to reach three times during shift breaks. Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, said in 2012 that Boko Haram had secret backers among government and security officials.
Nelson Uwaga, a representative at an official conference set up by presidential decree to discuss national unity as Nigeria celebrates a century of nationhood, said: “If countries can help us by way of arming our people through modern surveillance equipment, for defence and all that, it will be most welcome. [But] what the Boko Haram is doing is not a formal kind of fight but a guerrilla kind of fight, and it is only the local people that will tell you how to fight it.”
Info on Boko Haram from Washington Post~
In 2010, long before the mass killing that now engulf Nigeria began, there was a masked man hoisting an AK-47, a stack of religious books and a promise. His named was Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Islamic group Boko Haram, and in the 25-minute video clip, he promised to annihilate all traces of Western culture and education in Africa’s most populous nation.
It would start with a prison break. Two months after the video’s release, dozens of armed militants belonging to the group stormed a prison and freed 150 Boko Haram members, and 700 more inmates. Then on Christmas Eve, the group unleashed a flurry of bomb attacks in Nigeria that killed 38 Christians worshiping at church or shopping for gifts. “We will continue with our attacks on disbelievers and their allies and all those who help them,” the group said.
As the months and years passed, the number killed by Boko Haram rose inexorably.
May 2011: two bombs, 15 killed.
August 2011: suicide bombing, 21 dead.
January 2012: church bombings, 185 dead.
The killings, which reflect sectarian tension between Christians and Muslims in the country, soon climbed to unfathomable levels. In the past four years, according to estimates in journalistic and Amnesty International reports, Boko Haram has killed at least 2,300 people. In the first four months of this year alone, Amnesty International says 1,500 people have died in ethnic violence.
The fact that the girls were in school speaks to the motive. The terror group, which has not claimed responsibility for the abductions, has roots in an anti-education ideology. Its disdain for an education model left behind by Britain is manifested both in the translation of the group’s name — “Western education is sinful” — and its terror attacks.
The group rose out of the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. A 30-year-old man named Muhammad Yusuf, who blamed British pedagogy for all the country’s problems, founded the group that would become Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. According to Mathieu Guidere, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Toulouse, the young leader introduced a Taliban-inspired model of teaching that rejected Darwin, among other thinkers, in favor of so-called Koranic sciences. The schools lured the unemployed, the impoverished, the students who had flunked out of government universities.
Preaching the necessity of Sharia law, the group grew in number and ferocity after Yusuf’s death in 2009. Killed while reportedly cuffed and in police custody, the unusual circumstances of his demise further radicalized the group. His “death was surrounded in mystery,” wrote academic Ahmad Murtada. ”…Who was responsible for his death and why?”
One year later, after the masked Abubakar Shekau delivered his impassioned screed, the group renewed its purpose of attacking “sinful education.” In July 2013, 29 students were burned alive at a school in northern Nigeria. Days later, Shekau said, ”Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them! We will kill them in front of their students, and tell students to henceforth study the Qur’an.”
Of course it’s alot easier to pretend to look for an missing plane than it is to go up against a terrorist group in a remote jungle desert, but we’ve gone into countries for less. The longer these girls remain with that group the worse their chances are for coming home alive. Especially with the group leader’s threats that he will kill the girls if the search teams aren’t called off. This is insanity and now the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign has been launched in an effort to pressure the Nigerian government to act, but should this all be left up to the Nigerian government? This seems like the type of situation that could use International support. The sooner. The better.
Qmunity with the news that the girls were married off, does it strengthen or weaken your expectation that they’ll return home safely?
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