Islamic Human Rights Commission


22nd September 1998

IHRC calls on British government to campaign for Muslim prisoners

The Islamic Human Rights Commission notes that despite the release of some political prisoners in Nigeria, no Muslims from the Muslim Brotherhood, held simply for their beliefs have been released by the junta.

Today’s visit by Nigeria’s Head of State of General Abubakr to the UK, heralds the start of a new relationship between the junta and Commonwealth and Western countries, hitherto critical of its human rights record. IHRC is concerned that the process of re-assimilation that this tour of the UK, France and the US indicates, is premature. Whilst prominent secular and Christian detainees have been released and like-minded exiles have returned, not a single member of Nigeria’s Islamic opposition has been released.

Ten days ago, police opened fire at the end of a demonstration marking the second anniversary of the detention of the movement’s leader Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky. Four were killed. Last weekend also saw protests end in police violence.

IHRC has written to General Abubakr asking for the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees including those from the Islamic opposition. IHRC is concerned that the British Foreign Office makes equal and proper representations about all prisoners held unjustly by the junta. There are an estimated 200 members of the Islamic opposition still in prison in Nigeria. It is ironic that Abubakr’s predecessor Abacha released more members of the Islamic opposition through international pressure, than his supposedly more liberal successor.

With the EU considering lifting sanctions against Nigeria, and the Commonwealth entering negotiations regarding its status, IHRC fears that the plight of Muslim prisoners is of no concern to the international community, whilst those who imprison them are now being actively promoted.

IHRC is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Nigeria from whatever political, confessional or ethnic background.

For more information, please call the Press Office on (+44) 181 931 1919, mobile 0958 522 196, e-mail: ihrc@dial.pipex.com