Leah Sharibu has been the hostage of terrorists for five years now.
She was just 14 years old when she was taken – the sole Christian among a group of 110 schoolgirls abducted from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria, by members of the Islamic State West Africa Province in February 2018.
Those familiar with her case will recall that just one month later all of Leah’s surviving classmates – five died in transit – were loaded onto trucks and returned to their families following negotiations by the government. But Leah was not among them.
Continue reading “Five years is too long: the Nigerian government must deliver on its promises to secure the release of Leah Sharibu” →
The terrorists told her they would only release her if she renounced her faith and converted to Islam in exchange for her freedom. At just 14 years of age, Leah refused to give in to their pressure.
Abune (Father) Antonios, the legitimate patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, died a year ago today. He was 94 years old, and had spent the last 16 years of his life under house arrest following his repeated objections to unwarranted government interference in church affairs.
In April 2004, the patriarch was appointed with the unanimous endorsement of the Holy Synod of the Church to lead one of only four recognised religious denominations in Eritrea (the others being Catholicism, Evangelical Lutheranism, and Sunni Islam). As a leader of one of the few religious communities not directly outlawed by the Eritrean authorities, one might have expected that he would not face the harassment and pressures the Eritrean regime excels in dispensing.
However, this was not the case. By August 2005 he had been removed by the government from administrative control of the patriarchate, and confined to ceremonial duties. Then in January 2006 he was removed from office in violation of canon law, his advisor Merigeta Yitbarek Berhe was detained, and he was held under de facto house arrest at his official residence. Eventually, in 2007 the patriarch’s personal pontifical insignia and clothing were seized, and he was formally placed under incommunicado house arrest in an undisclosed location in the Eritrean capital, Asmara.
Continue reading “Let us honour the memory of Patriarch Antonios by bringing an end to the violations of the Eritrean regime” →
In November last year, Ken McCallum, the Director General of the UK’s Security Service known as MI5, claimed that his agency had identified “at least ten” potential threats to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime. He added that the Iranian intelligence services “are prepared to take reckless action” against opponents in the West, including by luring individuals to Iran.
Coming at a time of intense civil unrest in Iran following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for incorrectly wearing her hijab, McCallum’s comments highlighted a concerning issue that applies to several of the countries CSW works on: repressive regimes are becoming increasingly unafraid to reach beyond their borders.
Perhaps one of the most obvious examples is China, a global superpower which regularly uses its economic and geopolitical influence to shape decisions in international fora such as the Human Rights Council, and routinely metes out sanctions against Western parliamentarians and others who openly condemn the widespread violations taking place in the country.
Continue reading “As China, Eritrea, Iran and more extend repression beyond their own borders, we must do better” →
In late October the internationally-backed Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic (CAR) released a verdict in the chamber’s first full trial. The case was brought against three leaders of the armed group Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation (3R), who were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Issa Sallet Adoum (alias Bozizé) was sentenced to life imprisonment, and his co-defendants, Mahamat Tahir and Yaouba Ousman, each received 20-year prison sentences.
Continue reading “Justice at last in the Central African Republic, but the government’s work is not finished yet” →
All three were accused of orchestrating attacks on the northwestern villages of Koundjili and Lomouna on 21 May 2019 in which at least 46 unarmed civilians were killed and dozens more were injured. The men are said to have targeted civilian populations that did not support 3R, tying up and shooting civilians before proceeding to subject women and girls in the villages to mass rape and sexual violence.
“We do not sleep with our eyes closed; we take a nap, then wake up and keep watch… we are just depending on the grace of God.”
These are the words of a villager from the Maro Ward of Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) in the southern part of Nigeria’s Kaduna state. In the absence of effective security or government assistance, this is what targeted communities across the state have been forced into: spending their days and nights on alert patrolling, living in fear of terrorists who destroy their crops, take their lives, and abduct hundreds, if not thousands, for ransom.
Continue reading ““We do not sleep with our eyes closed” – how long will the international community fail the people of southern Kaduna?“ →
Kaduna has been an epicentre of violence and banditry for several years now, with attacks on non-Muslim farming communities in the south increasing exponentially with the advent of the current administration amid a general deterioration in security.