Wednesday 18 October 2017
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Alert Update: Prolonged Violence and Detention of Shia minority in Nigeria

26 October 2007

Following the death of popular Sunni cleric in Sokoto, persecution of Shia community at the hands of Nigerian security forces has increased.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Contents

1.Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required


1. Summary

The collective punishment of the Shia community in Sokoto has not ceased, as their homes continue to be demolished by local authorities, while the 115 detainees, who were arrested following the killing of Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya, have yet to be tried.


2. Background

After the killing of Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya on 18 July 2007, Shia members of the group known as the ëIslamic Movementí and ëThe Muslim Brothersí were collectively blamed for the killing by Sokotoís local authorities. Subsequently, the police arrested and detained 115 of the groupís members. Since the assassination, 68 homes have been destroyed and more than 50 women and children have gone missing. Further, 7 members have been murdered; some were reportedly burned alive in their homes, while one was hacked to death and mutilated. All this was reportedly carried out by a combined force of federal military, state police and mobs under police protection.

It is reportedly believed by the Shia community of Sokoto that the local government had used the assassination of the Sunni cleric as a ploy to indiscriminately attack them. In weeks following the initial killing, the state government destroyed the groupís centre, clinic and school.

Although the state commissioner of the Nigerian police declared on the BBC Hausa Service that there was no evidence linking members of the Sokotoís Shia community to the clericís assassination, the state government continued to collectively punish the minority sect.

Thus far, the 115 detainees have been held for over three months, while none have been charged with killing or conspiracy to kill Umar Danmaishiyya. On the 3 October 2007, the home of Kasimu Omar was demolished alongside three other homes. Interestingly, the official reason was the governmentís plan to build a police station and clinic in its place. On 17 October 2007, the court postponed the groupís trial date for the sixth time, with the chief Magistrate of Sokoto refusing to preside over their case.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian judicial process in the country is reportedly one of the slowest in the world. Over 60% of inmates in their prison system are awaiting trial. They live with ordinarily convicted criminals and are regularly subjected to rape, torture and various other dehumanizing conditions. Many die while waiting to be tried.

Please refer to our previous alert about the crisis in Sokoto at: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2892


3. Action Required

a) Write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country requesting them to make representations to their Nigerian counterparts concerning this blatant repression of religious minorities.

UK campaigners can write to:

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Fax: +44 0207 839 2417
Email: private.office@fco.gov.uk


b) Write to the Nigerian Ambassador expressing your concern for members of the Islamic Movement in Sokoto and calling for an end to the aggression against them.

UK campaigners can write to:

H.E. Mr D C B Nwanna
High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Nigeria House
9 Northumberland Avenue
London.
WC2N 5BX

Fax: 0207 839 8746
Email: information@nigeriahc.org.uk

c) Write to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion requesting her to urge the Nigerian authorities to end the religious persecution of the Shia community in Sokoto.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Dr Asma Jahangir
131-E/1
Gulberg-III
Lahore
Pakistan

Fax: +92 42 576-3236
Email: aghs@brain.net.pk


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Updated sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.


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Sample Letter to Rt. Hon David Miliband MP

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr David Miliband,

Re: Prolonged Violence and Detention of Shia minority in Nigeria

I am deeply concerned about the increasing persecution of the Shia community in Sokoto, following the death of the popular Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya.

Homes of members of the Shia community continue to be destroyed by local authorities. The number of Shias murdered since the killing of the Sunni leader has increased as well, with some of the bodies having been mutilated. Furthermore, many women and children who had reportedly gone missing have yet to be found.

In addition, 115 members of the Shia group, who were arrested following the murder Umar Danmaishiyya, have been held for over three months now. None have been charged with killing or conspiring to kill Umar Danmaishiyya. On 3 October 2007, the home of Kasimu Omar, who is one of the Shia leaders detained, was demolished alongside three other homes, with the official reason for the demolition being the governmentís plan to build a police station and clinic in its place. Hopes of the group receiving a fair trial or of being released in the near future are quickly diminishing as the court again postponed the groupís trial date for the sixth time, with the chief Magistrate of Sokoto refusing to preside over their case.

Hence, I request you to urge your Nigerian counterparts to put an end to this religious persecution of the minority community in Sokoto. I urge you to call for an independent and impartial investigation into the events surrounding the assassination of Umaru Danmaishiyya and into all subsequent acts of violence including the disappearance and deaths of several Shias in Sokoto and to fully compensate those whose homes were destroyed. Please ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards, and that they are either charged and tried in a court of law or immediately released.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]
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Sample Letter to H.E. Mr D C B Nwanna

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

[Date]

H.E. Mr D C B Nwanna
High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Nigeria House
9 Northumberland Avenue
London.
WC2N 5BX

Dear Mr D C B Nwanna,

Re: Prolonged Violence and Detention of Shia minority in Nigeria

I am deeply concerned about the increasing persecution of the Shia community in Sokoto, following the death of the popular Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya.

Homes of members of the Shia community continue to be destroyed by local authorities. The number of Shias murdered since the killing of the Sunni leader has increased as well, with some of the bodies having been mutilated. Furthermore, many women and children who had reportedly gone missing have yet to be found.

In addition, 115 members of the Shia group, who were arrested following the murder Umar Danmaishiyya, have been held for over three months now. None have been charged with killing or conspiring to kill Umar Danmaishiyya. On 3 October 2007, home of Kasimu Omar, who is one of the Shia leaders detained, was demolished alongside three other homes, with the official reason for the demolition being the governmentís plan to build a police station and clinic in its place. Hopes of the group receiving a fair trial or of being released in the near future are quickly diminishing as the court again postponed the groupís trial date for the sixth time, with the chief Magistrate of Sokoto refusing to preside over their case.

In carrying out these acts of aggression, the Nigerian government is in breach of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Constitutive Act of the African Union as well as sections 36, 38, 40, 42, 43 and 45 of the Nigerian Constitution.

I request you to press your government to end to this religious persecution of the minority community in Sokoto. I urge you to call for an independent and impartial investigation into the events surrounding the assassination of Umaru Danmaishiyya and into all subsequent acts of violence including the disappearance and deaths of several Shias in Sokoto and to fully compensate those whose homes were destroyed. Please ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards, and that they are either charged and tried in a court of law or immediately released.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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Sample Letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr Asma Jahangir

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

[Date]

Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
131-E/1
Gulberg-III
Lahore
Pakistan

Dear Ms Asma Jahangir,

Re: Expulsion, Killing and Detention of Religious Minority in Nigeria

I am deeply concerned about the increasing persecution of the Shia community in Sokoto, following the death of the popular Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya.

Homes of members of the Shia community continue to be destroyed by local authorities. The number of Shias murdered since the killing of the Sunni leader has increased as well, with some of the bodies having been mutilated. Furthermore, many women and children who had reportedly gone missing have yet to be found.

In addition, 115 members of the Shia group, who were arrested following the murder Umar Danmaishiyya, have been held for over three months now. None have been charged with killing or conspiring to kill Umar Danmaishiyya. On 3 October 2007, home of Kasimu Omar, who is one of the Shia leaders detained, was demolished alongside three other homes, with the official reason for the demolition being the governmentís plan to build a police station and clinic in its place. Hopes of the group receiving a fair trial or of being released in the near future are quickly diminishing as the court again postponed the groupís trial date for the sixth time, with the chief Magistrate of Sokoto refusing to preside over their case.

I request you to strongly urge the Nigerian government to an end to this religious persecution of the minority community in Sokoto. I urge you to call for an independent and impartial investigation into the events surrounding the assassination of Umaru Danmaishiyya and into all subsequent acts of violence including the disappearance and deaths of several Shias in Sokoto and to fully compensate those whose homes were destroyed. Please ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights standards, and that they are either charged and tried in a court of law or immediately released.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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ìAnd what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.î
Holy Qurían: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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