Sunday 15 April 2018 marks 100 days since protests broke out all over Nigeria demanding the release of the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. IHRC, in coordination with UJN and Global Free Zakzaky campaign, call for international protests to mark 100 days of continuous #FreeZakzaky protests in Nigeria. Campaigning organisations will hold protests in different countries including UK, Indonesia, Turkey, Denmark, Geneva and Pakistan. We request you to join this campaign with any type of field activities in your country or with social media campaigns.
The protests erupted after Sheikh Zakzaky suffered a stroke on 5 January 2018, aggravating an already poor condition caused when he was shot during a military attack on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria two years ago in the city of Zaria.
Despite calls by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and other supporters of the sheikh for his release from unlawful detention so that his health can be assessed and he can receive medical treatment; the Nigerian authorities have failed to act.
Demonstrations involving tens of thousands of the sheikh’s supporters have been staged daily in the capital Abuja as well as other towns and cities across northern Nigeria. Despite their totally peaceful nature the protests have been subject to sabotage and violent, often fatal, attacks by security forces intent on bringing the Islamic Movement of Nigeria into disrepute.
Since 8 January 2018, six protesters have been killed by security forces. Hundreds more have been arrested and sustained injuries from beatings during their detention. The majority of those released were freed without charge.
The sheikh’s ordeal began after he was shot along with his wife, Zeenah, and arrested during an orgy of violence unleashed over three days in December 2015 on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in what was widely seen as a bid to curb the movement’s growing popularity.
At least 1000 civilians, mostly Islamic Movement supporters, were killed in the attacks and hundreds arrested.
Three of Sheikh Zakzaky’s children were killed in front of him. As a result of the attack during which he was shot Sheikh Zakzaky lost the sight of one eye and the use of one arm. The latest reports say that Sheikh Zakzaky is at high risk of developing acute glaucoma. His personal doctor has recommended he be taken abroad for specialist treatment which is not available in Nigeria.
The 2015 attack is the subject of a complaint by the IHRC to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
In defiance of a court order demanding the pair’s release Nigerian security services stubbornly refuse to set them free. The Sheikh has told IHRC that he believes that the Nigerian authorities have no intention of releasing him, viewing his worsening health as an opportunity to get rid of him once and for all without having to resort to further violence and incur the wrath of the international community.
It is a testament to Sheikh Zakzaky’s principled stance on non-violence that his supporters have never retaliated or given in to government provocation. Despite being repeatedly subject to attacks by the security forces in the last three years Sheikh Zakzaky has ensured that his supporters remain peaceful and not be provoked into resorting to violence themselves.
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria is a popular mass movement with millions of followers all over Nigeria. It is non-sectarian counting supporters from both Sunni and Shia communities and also maintains exceptional relations with Nigeria’s large Christian population. It is opposed to terrorism and has spoken out and campaigned strongly against the likes of Boko Haram as well as being critical of the government.
Arrange protest or a field activity in your country on 15 April to support Global Campaign and write letters to the African Union demanding immediate release of Sheikh Zakzaky for medical treatment.
When: 15 April 2018
Where: Protests ideally arranged at Nigerian High Commission / Embassy in your country to support this #FreeZakzaky global campaign. Please share pictures of your demonstrations / activities with Ihrc.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 00442089044222
Model Email / Letter:
Medical Treatment for Life Threatening Condition of Sheikh Zakzaky
1. Write to the Commonwealth Secretary General and demand they intervene in this case, a model email / letter and the contact details can be found below for your assistance.
2. Please forward any response you receive to IHRC on email@example.com.
Model email / letter
Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC
Dear Baroness Scotland QC,
Re: Sheikh Zakzaky
I am writing to ask for your urgent intervention to allow illegally detained Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife leave Nigeria for urgent medical treatment due to their critically deteriorating life threatening medical conditions.
15 April 2018 marks 100 continuous days of demonstrations in Nigeria demanding medical treatment for the life threatening medical condition of Sheikh Zakzaky.
The Sheikh’s personal doctor confirmed in his most recent report that his only remaining eye in in danger due to chronic glaucoma and recommended him to be taken abroad for urgent treatment by a specialist, this specialist treatment is not available in any of the Nigerian hospitals.
I am extremely concerned as Sheikh Zakzaky suffered a stroke in early January and his condition has further deteriorated due to continued unlawful detention preventing his medical treatment. He was shot severally more than two years ago, losing his left eye in the process and is currently at a great risk of losing the other eye.
I urge your office to play an active role and make known in unconditional terms that the Nigerian Government will be held directly responsible if anything happens to the Sheikh or his wife and due to seriousness and urgency of the situation I demand that the Commonwealth secretariat takes the following actions;
1. Send a representative to Nigeria to see Mu’allim Zakzaky, his family and other detainees to assess their situation and intervene to allow specialist medical treatment outside Nigeria.
2. Suspend Nigeria’s membership of the Commonwealth for the violence perpetrated by its army against the IMN;
3. Demand the release of those held after mass arrests or being handed over to civilian police authorities;
4. Demand the Nigerian government provide proper and immediate medical attention to all detainees and that all are released;
5. Call for an independent investigation, under the auspices of an international body like the UN, into the violence and mass graves. The bodies of those in the mass graves need to be exhumed, identified and returned to their families. The Nigerian government and army needs to be held accountable for these crimes.
I look forward to hearing from you
Commonwealth Contact Details:
Postal Address: Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 6500
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7930 0827