Why aren't world leaders linking arms in Abuja? #BagaTogether

Like many others I was glued to my TV screen for the greater part of Sunday inspired by France’s determined call for unity and for free speech.

One image that jarred for me though, was the powerful, but controversial image (controversial given the horrendous record of repression of free speech in some of the countries represented), of 44 country leaders linking arms, joined in the call for free speech and unity.

Less than 48 hours before, Amnesty commented on reports that up to 2,000 women, men and children had been killed in Baga, north-eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram. Hundreds of bodies were strewn across the bush, according to the Guardian, and most of the victims were women, elderly people and children who couldn’t run fast enough to escape the relentless, merciless onslaught of grenade and gunfire. Up to two thousand people are dead.

Amnesty has described the murderous attack as 'the deadliest act' in the history of Boko Haram. Then reports emerged of how two girls – one aged 17 and the other just 10 years old – detonated bombs strapped to themselves in a crowded village market in Yobe state, northern Nigeria. Initial reports indicate that this is also linked to Boko Haram.

Two vicious, merciless terror strikes on thousands of civilians, yet there’s been very little condemnation and outrage by the global community.

Why aren’t global leaders linking arms in Abuja calling for an end to the merciless blood spill, abductions, rapes and other grotesque crimes committed by this terrorist group?

Perhaps this is because the Nigerian authorities are often slow to condemn, speak out or indeed act against these assaults – the abduction of the Chibok girls is an example of this.

Perhaps it is because of the decisions taken by those who determine what makes their paper or news programme.

Of course, the attacks in France last week were not just about the deaths of 17 civilians. The strike on Charlie Hebdo was also a direct assault on free speech. So yes, it makes sense that significant attention is paid here.  But isn’t there room for significant coverage for more than one important news story?  

Today the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, in central Nigeria, has accused the West of ignoring the threat of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.  I can’t help but agree with him.  

Yes, the Nigerian authorities need to do more to prevent these attacks and must apply resources and commitment to investigate these crimes and bring perpetrators to account. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for lack of global attention and condemnation.

Following the groundswell of international support for local Nigerian’s call to #BringBackOurGirls after the abduction of the Chibok girls, it is not impossible to see this happen behind #BagaTogether.  

I look forward to the day when I see 44 leaders from around the world linking arms in Abuja declaring ‘Je suis Baga. Je suis Chibok.  Je suis the thousands of others killed by armed terror groups in Nigeria….

Tragically, the list goes on and on. 

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I was horrified to learn that the Nigerian Government have not even compiled a list of the Chibok girls' names - and it seems that the universal worldwide condemnation and protest against the mass abduction last April and May has completely withered away. The world has forgotten the Chibok girls and so the vicious cycle of Boko Haram's terror campaign continue - now in Baga. Goodluck Jonathan abandoned a prisoner exchange plan on 24th May 2014 based on advice from the US, UK, Israeli and French Foreign Ministers - why aren't these country's being held to account for the fate of the remaining 230 girls in captivity? And, what can Amnesty members do to impact this apparently hopeless situation?

claire.athis 4 years ago