PRESS RELEASE – NIGERIA: Armed forces continue murderous attacks on Arba’een marchers

Islamic Human Rights Commission

30 October 2018

PRESS RELEASE – NIGERIA: Armed forces continue murderous attacks on Arba’een marchers

Armed forces are once again firing on an unarmed religious procession making its way to the centre of the Abuja a day after tens of people were killed in an attack on a similar procession in a suburb of the Nigerian capital.

Photographs show army personnel and vehicles blocking the path of marchers as they attempt to reach the city centre to hear speeches at the climax of annual processions marking 40 days after the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Husayn, over 1300 years ago.

Organisers fear another bloodbath after a peaceful procession yesterday was attacked by soldiers in the suburb of Karu. At least 100 people are believed to have been killed and scores more injured after they were fired on with live rounds in a bid to stop them reaching the centre of Abuja.

Horrific pictures obtained by IHRC show the many victims being carried away by fellow marchers. Some are visibly lifeless and others injured and covered in blood. Some of the victims are reported to be bystanders. Some were mowed down by passing cars as they panicked to escape the attack. Most however were hit by bullets.

Eye-witnesses have told IHRC that the Nigerian army is using heavy weaponry against the marchers.

There is a shortage of medical supplies with victims not being able to afford the treatment they urgently need. Organisers have also appealed for doctors and surgeons to come and treat the injured.

Processions from all over Nigeria converge on Abuja every year climaxing in a huge rally in the centre of the city. Since 2015 they have been regularly targeted by Nigerian security forces but this year’s violence has reached a whole new order of magnitude as the authorities seem bent on preventing marchers from continuing to their destination.

Today’s procession again appears to have been attacked without warning and without provocation in what is a continuation of the Nigerian authorities’ crackdown on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria which organises the processions.

In recent months the authorities have also attacked and killed protestors demonstrating against the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.

The sheikh has been in detention since 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 by the authorities to curb the movement’s growing popularity.

Last May Sheikh el-Zakzaky and his wife were arraigned by the state High Court in Kaduna charged with abetting the commission of culpable homicide when they blocked roads in the city of Zaria in December 2015. In reality the charges seem to be designed to deflect government responsibility for a planned and systematic attack by soldiers on the Islamic Movement that left at least 1000 civilians dead in December 2015, an attack which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

For more information please call +447958607475 or +447958522196

Notes to editors:

Photos and video of the attack are available on request.

In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.

Our report which we submitted to the ICC can be found here

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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