H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Office of the President
Aso Rock, Abuja
Wednesday 29 June 2016
Dear President Buhari,
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is writing to you to raise concerns about information we have received that the Nigerian Army will be in attendance and a threatening force at the annual Al Quds Day rally on Friday 1 July 2016.
This is of huge concern as the demonstration is led by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), members of whom were targeted by the armed forces last year. Over three days in December 2015 more than 1000 people were killed as well as property and religious spaces destroyed by the armed forces in Zaria. Leading members of the movement were shot and imprisoned without charge.
It is clear this attack was planned as IMN symbols, buildings, graves and leading figures were targeted. Reports have also stated that individuals faced sexual violence, and were shot, burnt alive, and hacked to death by the Army. This violent massacre was on a very large scale and was hugely disturbing.
There is a history of attacks against IMN, especially during the Al Quds Day rally. In 2014 soldiers attacked theÂ al-Quds Day procession in Zaria, Kaduna State, killing 32. In 2009 four people were killed and several injured when police opened fire on civilians, this was also in Zaria.
Following the December 2015 attacks against IMN, the state government in Kaduna set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) but human rights organisations, including IHRC, believe it is not sufficiently independent and impartial to be able to hold those responsible to account, nor is there any reasonable prospect of any prosecutions.
This lack of accountability has the potential to create an environment where such horrific deaths are acceptable, and that IMN are easy targets. This means that Al Quds Day on Friday poses multiple risks, particularly with the perpetrators of the crimes – the Army – in attendance.
As such, IHRC calls on you to prohibit the Army’s presence at the demonstration and ensure the protection of IMN members who have already suffered immensely. It is imperative to send a strong message to ensure that peaceful and vulnerable members of Nigerian society can demonstrate support for Palestine uninhibited.