Militants abduct over 100 girls from Nigeria school

Updated 15 April 2014

Militants abduct over 100 girls from Nigeria school

MAIDUGURI: Heavily armed Boko Haram rebels abducted more than 100 girls from a secondary school in northeast Nigeria, sparking a search by soldiers to track down the attackers, a security source and witnesses said Tuesday.
Some of the schoolgirls in the Chibok area of southern Borno state narrowly escaped their kidnappers by jumping off a truck in the middle of the night as the gunmen sought to cart them away, according to multiple witnesses.
A security source who requested anonymity said the attackers were members of Boko Haram, a radical group whose name means “Western education is forbidden.”
The group has repeatedly attacked schools in the northeast during an insurgency that has killed thousands since 2009.
Asked to confirm media reports that 200 girls had been taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, the source said: “The number is not up to 200, but it is over 100.”
The gunmen, riding in trucks and on motorcycles, stormed the town after sundown, torching several buildings before opening fire on troops who were guarding the school, said Chibok resident Salisu Ibrahim in an account supported by other witnesses.
The gun battle, which occurred on Monday, reportedly lasted several hours but the rebels ultimately overpowered the troops and entered the school, said Emmanuel Sam, an education officer based in Chibok.
Sam, who fled to Borno’s capital Maiduguri after the attack, said “many” girls had been abducted, but declined to offer a more precise figure. He said the girls had been scheduled to sit exams this week.
The militants loaded the girls onto trucks and drove away, multiple witnesses said.
“We were able to follow the path of the truck and we found it broke down deep in the bush,” the security source told AFP.
“We are now trying to locate the whereabouts of the abducted girls,” he added.
Borno, Boko Haram’s stronghold and where the group was founded more than a decade ago, is a remote region with notoriously bad roads.
Ibrahim, also speaking from Maiduguri, told AFP that “some of the girls jumped out of the truck,” as it moved and some of those who escaped managed to make it back to Chibok.
In an attack earlier this year in Borno state, witnesses said Boko Haram gunmen surrounded a girls’ school, forced the students to leave and ordered them to immediately return to their villages.
The rebels have been blamed for a series of school massacres, including the mass shooting of students in their sleep earlier this year in Yobe state.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has crippled education in Borno, with schools across the state having been shut down.
But a mass abduction specifically targeting girls is unprecedented in the group’s uprising.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.