IHRC has received credible first hand evidence that soldiers have completely surrounded a mosque in the Nigerian city of Kaduna with worshippers feared trapped inside.
The worshippers have gathered to commemorate historical events associated with the Islamic month of Muharram that are particularly significant in the Shia calendar.
Shortly before the the Kaduna Markaz mosque on Zango Road was encircled armoured military vehicles carrying heavily armed soldiers and also an ambulance were among a convoy of 18 military vehicles seen nearby.
The military activity is reminiscent of the run-up to the massacre last December of at least one thousand supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by the army and the arrest of its leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. The events were investigated and a report submitted to the International Criminal Court.
It follows a spate of arrests over recent days of IMN supporters in response to a recent state-wide ban proscribing membership of the movement. Because the IMN has no formal membership structure it seems that the law will apply to those who simply support the group or follow the Shia school of thought.
As was feared, the new law appears to be being used as an attempt to prevent the movement’s supporters from attending ceremonies commemorating the month of Muharram. The IMN has regularly led peaceful processions in the month of Muharram
IHRC calls on the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the soldiers and allow the worshippers to continue to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and worship.
Notes to editors:
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