From: Islamic Human Rights Commission
25 July 2017
PRESS RELEASE – Nigeria: Authorities break up rally to commemorate 2014 massacre in Zaria
A peaceful annual demonstration commemorating the murder of civilians by Nigerian security forces has been violently broken up by armed police in Zaria, northern Nigeria.
About 10,000 had gathered to mark the event which commemorates the 25 July 2014 killings of 32 people marching in support of Palestine during the annual Al-Quds Day procession.
Eyewitnesses report seeing 18 trucks filled with police storm the site of the rally and preventing people from the entering the venue.
An IHRC report into the 2014 massacre found that the peaceful demonstration had been attacked by Nigerian soldiers without warning and without provocation. Some of the fatalities died in custody after being savagely beaten and bore signs of torture on their bodies. At least two more civilians were killed the next day in a similar attack on the funeral preparations.
Among those killed were three sons of the IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, a fierce critic of political corruption as well as the so-called Boko Haram movement.
The massacre marked the beginning of a violent turn by Nigerian authorities against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) which would result in the slaughter in December 2015 of over 1000 IMN supporters at the hands of the Nigerian military.
The violent turn has included attacks on demonstrations, demolition and confiscation of IMN properties, arrests of its supporters and repressive legislative measures designed to weaken the group.
Last Thursday 20 July, the federal government was accused of starting operations to confiscate the site of the Husaiyniyyah Baqiyatullah centre belonging to the IMN in Zaria. Labourers protected by the Nigerian military were seen fencing off the property and carrying out building works in what IMN supporters believe is the first step to seize the land.
The centre was razed by the authorities following the 2015 attack on the IMN. Hundreds of people were killed defending the site.
Along with his wife Zeenah, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has been held without charge following their arrest during the later 2015 massacre of IMN supporters. Both were shot during the attack in Zaria in which at least 1000 IMN supporters, including a further three sons of the couple, were killed.
The couple remain in the custody of the State Security Service which is stubbornly refusing to implement a release order issued by a federal high court judge on 2 December 2016 on the basis that their detention is illegal and unconstitutional. The judge gave Nigerian authorities 45 days to unconditionally release the pair.
Notes to editors:
IHRC’s report on the July 2014 massacre is available here
In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members. The report can be found here
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598