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CRISIS ALERT: Nigerian Shia Muslims under Attack

CRISIS ALERT: Nigerian Shia Muslims under Attack The current human rights situation and extensive use of state violence against innocent civilians in Sokoto, Nigeria has reached melting point, as the Sokoto state government has demolished the local Shia Centre, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shi’ite community in addition to setting ablaze hundreds of residences belonging to Shi’ite families. Although no official explanation was given for these demolitions and acts of collective punishment, it is being suggested that it is part of a plan to expel the Shia community from the city. Please raise your voice in condemnation of these violations of the most basic human rights by sending messages of disapproval against these criminal acts of aggression; sample letters, addresses and further guidelines have been provided.

AIM today issued a crisis alert amid the escalating problem facing the Shia of Nigeria.

Statement: Nigerian Shia Muslims under Attack

The current human rights situation and extensive use of state violence against
innocent civilians in Sokoto, Nigeria has reached melting point, as the Sokoto
state government has proceeded in demolishing the local Shia Centre, schools and
a clinic belonging to the Shi’ite community.

Although no official explanation was given for the demolition, it is being
suggested that it is part of a plan to expel the Shia community from the city.

On 19th July 2007, cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya, well-known in Sokoto for his
sermons against Shias, was assasinated. Since then, the Nigerian government used
this criminal incident as a pretext to unleash an indiscriminate assault on an
entire religious sect, namely; the Shi’ites of Sokoto.

To date, there have been two confirmed murders and hundreds of unwarranted
detentions of innocent civilians, including Shia leader Kasimu Rimin Tawaye.
Hundreds of homes and properties belonging to Shias in the city have been set
ablaze, prompting the mass exodus of Shias from the city. The Sokoto state
government has since the above mentioned incidents, also proceeded to demolish
the local Shia Centre, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shi’ite community.

The recent systematic acts of state aggression against a religious minority
group come as part of a wider policy specifically targeted at Shias in Nigeria.
The present state governor, Mr. Alu Magatakardar Wamako in his political mandate
pledged to limit what he called ‘the spread of Shi’ism in Sokoto’ and also
promised to demolish the Shia Centre, the latter of which he has since
actualised. These inflammatory comments — if not openly racist — far from
being compatible with the national and moral standards of responsible office
bearing individuals within democratic societies, share alarming resemblance with
utterances made by extreme elements in the wider Middle East against Shias; more
specifically, views espoused by leaders from the intolerant Wahhabi school of
thought.

These acts of aggression and collective punishment of Shias in Sokoto still
continue, despite the clear statements made by the state commissioner of police
on the BBC Hausa Service where he declared the lack of any evidence linking any
members of the Shi’ite community to the assassination.

The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM) deplores this indiscriminate assault on the
Shia of Nigeria, which clearly constitutes a breach of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and the commitments of the Government of Nigeria as signatories
of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Constitutive Act of
the African Union.

It is with these escalating circumstances that AIM strongly requests an
immediate change in government policy towards the Shia in Nigeria; an
independent and impartial investigation to the assassination of cleric Umaru
Danmaishiyya and all subsequent acts of violence including the deaths of several
Shias in Sokoto; the immediate release of detainees; compensation to victims of
the illegal acts of aggression and the rebuilding of the Shia centre, schools
and clinics; thus allowing the Shias of Nigeria their rightful freedoms to
practice their faith and go about their daily lives without any fear.

AhlulBayt Islamic Mission
3rd August 2007
19th Rajab 1428

Act Now: Raise Your Voice Against the Attacks on Shias in Nigeria

Raise your voice against the systematic acts of aggression and violence
against Shias in Nigeria. We strongly encourage you to write a short
personalised letter to your Local MP and/or the Head of Mission in your country
or neighbouring countries. Kindly find below, two sample letters directed at a
Local MP and Head of Mission respectively; and a list of emails and addresses of
Heads of Mission situated in different countries and a quick search finder for your Local MP in Britain. You will also find useful tips
and guidelines on how to draft a personalised letter.

In your message, make clear your concerns about the distressing acts of
aggression and violence in Sokoto targetting Shias. Urge your Local MP and/or
the Head of Mission to press the Government of Nigeria to meet your demands:

1) the immediate halt of military operations by the police, military and
security forces in Sokoto;

2) the need for an independent and impartial investigation to the assassination
of cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya and all subsequent acts of violence including the
deaths of several Shias in Sokoto;

3) the immediate release of detainees;

4) the compensation to victims for both loss of life and property, and provision
of the necessary legal assistance for victims to provide for the compensation;

5) the responsibility of the Government of Nigeria to ensure that all public
political figures act responsibly and respect the rights of all Nigerians,
regardless of their religious persuasions.

Sample Letter to Your Local MP

Find Your Local MP:
http://www.writetothem.com/

Date

Dear [name] MP

I write to you to express my deep concern about the current human rights
situation and extensive use of state violence against innocent civilians in
Sokoto, Nigeria; and I request that you use your good offices to represent
my views to the British Parliament.

As you will be aware, following the assassination of cleric Umaru
Danmaishiyya on 19th July 2007, the Nigerian government used this criminal
incident as a pretext to unleash an indiscriminate assault on an entire
religious sect, namely; the Shi’ites of Sokoto.

To date, there have been two confirmed murders and hundreds of unwarranted
detentions of innocent civilians, including Shi’ite leader Kasimu Rimin
Tawaye. Hundreds of homes and properties belonging to Shi’ites in the city
have been set ablaze, prompting the mass exodus of Shi’ites from the city.
The Sokoto state government has since the above mentioned incidents, also
proceeded to demolish the local Shi’ite Centre, schools and a local clinic
belonging to the Shi’ite community.

The recent systematic acts of state aggression against a religious minority
group come as part of a wider policy specifically targeted at Shi’ites in
Nigeria. The present state governor, Mr. Alu Magatakarda Wamako in his
political mandate pledged to limit what he called ‘the spread of Shi’ism in
Sokoto’ and also promised to demolish the Shi’ite Centre, the latter of
which he has since actualised.

These acts of aggression and collective punishment of Shi’ites in Sokoto
still continue, despite the clear statements made by the state commissioner
of police on the BBC Hausa Service where he declared the lack of any
evidence linking any members of the Shi’ite community to the assassination.

Your Excellency, no judiciary system can possibly justify the indiscriminate
attacks and collective punishment of an entire community following the
assassination of a member of another community, let alone in such a case
when the hands of guilt are still unknown. I fear that the failure to
explicitly condemn such aggressions will set a dangerous precedent for the
region and the particularly volatile situation in the Middle East where
similar demographic patterns exist.

In light of this, I respectfully request you to use your good offices to
press the British Parliament to take a clear stance against these
aggressions, thereby maintaining our firm commitment in respect of the
rights of minority groups and the rule of law.

Yours sincerely,

Your Name
 

Sample Letter to Head of Mission

Date

Name of Head of Mission
Address

Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my grave concern about the human rights situation in
Sokoto, Nigeria and the extensive use of violence against innocent civilians
following the state government’s “response” to the criminal assassination of
Mal. Umaru Danmaishiyya on Thursday 19 July 2007.

There are corroborated reports that the security forces in Sokoto have used
excessive force against unarmed civilians of a specific religious minority
group, namely, the Nigerian Shi’ites of Sokoto, and adopted a policy of
collective punishment. Despite the clear declarations by the state police
commissioner on the lack of any evidence linking any members of the Shi’ite
community to the assassination, the security forces proceeded to demolish
the Shia Islamic Centre on Tuesday 31 July 2007, and have detained more than
a hundred individuals from the Shi’ite community since the assassination.

It is evident that the recent violence and acts of aggression targeted at
the Shi’ites of Sokoto have very little to do with the assassination of Mal.
Umaru Danmaishiyya, but are rather related to a wider policy of the
deliberate suppression of Shi’ites in Nigeria. I caution Your Excellency of
the relation between the stigmatisation of Shi’ites and the rise of growing
extremism, in particular the growth of the intolerant school of Wahhabism;
and the alarming resemblance of the recent events in Nigeria with regional
and international experiences.

Such conduct, continuing as of 01 August 2007, appear to amount to breaches
of Nigeria’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights and are contrary to Nigeria’s undertakings under the Constitutive Act
of the African Union.

I appeal to you to use your good offices to remind the government of Nigeria
of its regional and international human rights obligations and commitments,
and to immediately halt all military operations by the police, military and
security forces in Sokoto. I respectfully urge Your Excellency to encourage
a process leading to an impartial and independent investigation of the
assassination of Mal. Umaru Danmaishiyya on 19 July 2007 and the acts of
violence and aggression thereafter, including the deaths of those killed in
attacks following the assassination; be it at the hands of security forces
or otherwise. The results of such investigations should be made public and
all perpetrators brought to justice.

I also ask Your Excellency to ensure that there is an immediate halt to
arbitrary arrests and detentions in Sokoto, and the necessary provisions are
put in place to ensure that those arrested are tried before fair and
transparent courts, which follow due legal process.

Besides appearing to be in breach of Nigeria’s obligations on human rights,
the relevant authorities are also demonstrably failing to protect, promote
and fulfill the rights of Nigerian Shi’ites in Sokoto. I thus urge Your
Excellency to make appropriate legal provisions to ensure that victims are
able to claim compensation for both life and property, including by granting
them any necessary legal assistance and by amending existing laws that
provide for such compensation.

Finally, the inflammatory comments quoted from the Governor of Sokoto, Mr.
Alu Magatakarda Wamako, during his political campaign where he professed his
desire to limit the growth of Shi’ism in Sokoto, are certainly not
compatible with the moral and national standards of responsible office
bearing individuals within a democratic environment. In light of this, I
hope immediate corrective measures are taken by your Government and
necessary precautionary safeguards are introduced to prevent the
reoccurrence of the depressing unfolding events.

I thank you in advance for your careful consideration of this serious matter
and look forward to receiving information regarding the measures taken by
your Government to address this situation.

Yours sincerely,

Your Name
 

Addresses of Nigerian Consulates around the World

Europe

United Kingdom
 

London

His Excellency Dr. Christopher Kolade
Nigeria High Commission
9, Northumberland Avenue,
London, WC2N 5BX
United Kingdom

[email protected]
[email protected]

Dublin

His Excellency Onochie B. Amobi
Embassy of Nigeria
56 Leeson Park,
Dublin 6,
Ireland.

[email protected]

France

His Excellency Ambassador G.B. Preware
Embassy of Nigeria
173 Avenue Victor-Hugo
75116 Paris, France

[email protected]

Germany

His Excellency Professor Tunde Adeniran
Embassy of Nigeria
Neue-Jakob Street 4
10179 Berlin, Germany

[email protected]

Netherlands

His Excellency C. E. Onwuagbu
Embassy of Nigeria
Wagenaarweg 5
2597 LL
The Hague
Netherlands

[email protected]

Belgium

His Excellency A. O. Adeyanju
Embassy of Nigeria
Avenue De Tervuren 288,
1150 Brussels,
Belgium

[email protected]

Switzerland

His Excellency Dr. M. I. Uhomoibhi
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
and other International Organizations in Geneva,
No. 1, Rue Richard Wagner, 1211,
Geneva, Switzerland.

[email protected]

South East Asia & Middle East

Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Alhaji Ibrahim Ganyama Abubakar
Embassy of Nigeria
NO. 323/3, Zafar Street,
Africa Boulevard
P. O. Box: 11365-7148
Tehran, Iran

[email protected]

Pakistan (Islamic Republic of)

His Excellency Umar El-Gash Maina
Nigeria High Commission
Plot NO. 132-135
Diplomatic Enclave NO.1
Ispahahani Road
Sector G-5/4, P.O BOX 1075, Islamabad,
Islamic Republic of Pakistan

[email protected]

India

His Excellency L. M. Dutsin
Nigeria High Commission
EP. 4. Chandragupta Marg,
Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi – 110021, India

[email protected]

Lebanon

His Excellency H. A. Opeloyeru
Embassy of Nigeria
Al Abir Bldg., 1st Floor
Adnan Hakeem Street
Bir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon

[email protected]

Kuwait

His Excellency Abdullahi Buba Gwary
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Block 1, Street 14,
Villa 24, Surra,
Postal Address: P.O. BOX 6432, Hawally, Kuwait.
Kuwait , State of Kuwait

[email protected]

Jordan

His Excellency Adamu Saidu Daura
Embassy of Nigeria
Yahya Khateeb Street
Abdoun-Central
Amman, Jordan

[email protected]

North America

Canada

His Excellency Olufemi Oyewale George
Nigeria High Commission
295, Metcalfe Street
Ottawa,
Ontario, Canada
K2P 1R9

[email protected]

United States of America
 

Washington

His Excellency Professor George A. Obiozor
Embassy of Nigeria
1333 16TH Street, N.W.
Washington D.C.
20036 – U.S.A

[email protected]

New York

His Excellency Ibrahim Auwalu
Consulate General of Nigeria
828 Second Avenue
Nigeria House
New York
NY 10017, USA

[email protected]

 

Australia

His Excellency Dr. Icha Emmanuel Ituma
Nigeria High Commission
7 Terrigal Crescent, O’Malley
P.O.BOX 241, Civic Square
ACT 2608 Canberra
Australia

[email protected]

 

Letter Writing Guidelines:

1. Description of the issue in plain language.

2. A concise, simple background of the problem; put the issue in a context that
will be easily understandable to the recipient of your letter.

3. Be clear about what you want the person you are writing to do about the
issue. Clarify the actions you want s/he to take on the problem.

4. If appropriate, please explain who you are and what you do. This indicates
that the letter is genuine, and also shows that people from varying walks of
life are following events in the country concerned.

Additional Resources:


Shia Centrre Demolished in Nigeria


Attack on Shias in Nigeria


Press Statement: Islamic Movement on the events in Sokoto


112 Members of Islamic Movement brought before Court

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