Baroness Scotland QC
Dear Baroness Scotland QC,
Sheikh Zakzaky and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria
I am writing to you to ask for your urgent intervention to help halt the continuing persecution of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) by state authorities. Since the shooting of the IMN’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky in December 2015 the situation has progressively deteriorated for the movement and its supporters.
In the most recent government atrocity, it is believed that approximately 100 people including women and children were killed by security forces on 14 November as they made their way in a peaceful procession from Kano to the city of Zaria. Hundreds more are believed to have been injured after heavily armed soldiers dressed as police in approximately 100 trucks opened fire on the religious procession on the outskirts of Kano city. There were also numerous arrests. Schools, clinics and mosques belonging to IMN have been destroyed.
The attacks occurred despite the Islamic Human Rights Commission of London writing to the Nigerian president asking that he act to ensure the protection of those taking part in the annual 40th day commemorations of Ashura. That plea followed credible reports that security forces planned to sabotage these processions.
The outrage followed similar events in October during Ashura commemorations when over a dozen people were killed by police and army gunfire during the processions and many others beaten. There has been a long line of killings and arrests of IMN members and followers since the bloody massacre of December 2015 in which at least 1000 innocent civilians lost their lives and properties including places of worship belonging to the IMN were destroyed. Even a heavily biased judicial commission of inquiry into the massacre carried out by Kaduna state authorities recommended in July that the general behind the savage attack be prosecuted.
Please make urgent representations for the release of Sheikh El-Zakzaky, his wife and the hundreds of other IMN detainees. There are serious concerns over their health. Both suffered gunshot wounds in the attack. Sheikh Zakzaky has already lost the use of an arm and one of his eyes and there is a real risk he could lose his sight completely if he doesn’t receive the necessary medical treatment.
Further, I demand appropriate sanctions be placed against Nigeria for its continued violations of basic human rights norms in this an other cases.