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(Voice of the Persecuted) With no news for months, their parents and many others have worried about the condition of the 218 Chibok schoolgirls, a majority Christians, still missing. In a disturbing video shared below, Boko Haram recently released new footage showing around 50 of the abducted girls dressed from head to toe in hijab’s—Islamic attire. It’s heartbreaking to note that the face of every girl held an expression of hopelessness, with some even weeping. Others held babies, obviously raped after forcibly converted to Islam then married off to their kidnappers. It’s sickening to imagine the mental and physical abuse they have endured. God have mercy upon them.
The girls were kidnapped in mid April 2014 when Boko Haram militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Due to security risks, the school had already been closed for a month. Students had been called in only to take final exams.
Disguised as guards, they entered the school and told the girls to come with them. Many of the female students were taken away in trucks to the fortified camps of the Islamic group in the Sambisa Forest. The militants also set homes on fire during the attack.
A militant dressed in camouflage and holding a rifle spoke in the Hausa language and claimed the girls have resigned themselves to their fate. He warned if the Nigerian government does not give up the battle against the radical Islamic group and release all Boko Haram members, the girls would not be seen again. He also threatened the girls will be killed if the military tries to rescue them. In Vanguard’s report, per the news agency’s sources, the militant in the video is believed to be Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s notorious leader. Though unseen for some time and thought to be killed during an airstrike, it’s recently been confirmed he is alive.
His message translated by Vanguard (references to Allah have been changed to God by the news agency):
We thank God for giving us the opportunity to send this message to the parents of these girls [pointing at the girls sitting behind him.]
It pleased God to let us have these girls in our captivity for over two years now. Our first message is to the parents of the girls to let them know that their daughters are still with us, some of them.
I also want to tell them to ask the Nigerian government to release our brethren, especially those in Maiduguri, Lagos, Abuja and other places across Nigeria. They should be released immediately.
You all knew that we had the girls, but God never allowed you to know their location and you will never know by God’s grace. You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them, they have been with us for over two years, yet you can’t even know where they are. You have just been lying about these girls, people should know that.
Also, for the over two years that we have been with these girls, about 40 of them are married, some are dead as a result of airstrike by infidels. We will show you a video of how your own aircraft dropped a bomb that killed some of these girls. Some of the girls have suffered fractures and other forms of injuries as a result of the air strikes.
As you can see, these are the girls, all we want is for you to release our brethren otherwise you will never get these girls God willing. This in short is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok Girls.
As long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls, that is our message. I specially informed our people in captivity in Lagos that they should be patient and continue with their prayers, God will take us to where no one expects and we will rescue them. All those in Lagos, Maiduguri and other southern parts of the country. Keep praying, very soon, we will rescue you.
Let me conclude this message by saying that many people have been coming to us lying that they were sent by the Nigerian government to get the girls released. Let the government and the whole world know that we have not sent anyone to negotiate with the government on our behalf over these girls. We have dealt with you in the past and you know our recommended negotiators. If you need to, you should talk to them. We don’t use our own people to negotiate with you, we use your own people such as journalists to talk with you. We have not sent any other persons. You know that we prefer to use journalists known to you.
Let me say again, release our people and we release your girls, otherwise, they will never be released. If you think you have the power to come and rescue them, go ahead and try.
President Buhari, your Army has been lying to you that they have finished us, let them try and see if they can rescue these girls alive.
Obviously pressured and directed, one of the girls was chosen to make an appeal on the video. She claimed her name was Maida Yakubu and shared that some of the girls had been killed in aerial raids targeting Boko Haram strongholds. She also said 40 have been “married” to fighters. She pleaded,
“Oh you, my people and our parents, you just have to please come to our rescue: We are suffering here, the aircraft have come to bombard us and killed many of us. Some are wounded. Every day we are in pains and suffering, so are our babies … No one cares for us.
“Please go and beg the government of Nigeria to release the members of our abductors so that they too can free us to let us come home.”
The girl was later indentified by her parents.
There’s also footage of bodies alleged to be that of girls killed during airstrikes. Many believe they were not killed by the Air Force, but ordered to be executed by Shekau for the purpose of the video message. It is also being questioned if any of the dead girls were even from Chibok, as the schoolgirls are known to be Boko Haram’s greatest bargaining chip.
In part of a statement by Bring Back Our Girls leaders, Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, said:
“853 days since the abduction of our Chibok Girls, we woke up to a video on the state of our girls. We are left with mixed feelings of grief and strengthened hope as the chilling words continue to sink in.
“Today, 28 months since the abduction, we call on the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, China, Australia, Israel, agencies like the United Nations and African Union, and all who previously expressed intentions to support the rescue efforts, to reengage and adopt a strategic rescue position. As global citizens, this is the least our #ChibokGirls deserve.”
Please keep the Chibok girls and their families in your prayers. Pray the militants (persecutors) taking part in the insanity will have the scales removed and see the true evil behind it. To repent and turn to Christ. Please remember all our Nigerian brothers and sisters in your daily prayers.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters who have suffered brutal persecution.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and help rebuild villages and their lives. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They’re so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
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The Nigerian Military is claiming the whereabouts of the nearly 300 school girls kidnapped by the Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram have been located, but are unable to rescue them as it may endanger their lives.
The country’s Chief of Defense, Air Marshal Alex Badeh spoke to thousands of organized demonstrators who had been brought in on buses and marched to Defense Ministry headquarters in Abuja. He said Nigeria’s military fears using force to try to free them could get them killed.
He told demonstrators supporting the much criticized military that Nigerian troops can save the girls. But he added, “we can’t go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”
He refused to comment on the location of the girls when asked by reporters. He asked the demonstrators,
“We want our girls back. I can tell you we can do it. Our military can do it. But where they are held, can we go with force?”
The crowd yelled back, “No!”
“If we go with force what will happen?” he asked.
“They will die,” they replied.
He told them, “Nobody should come and say the Nigerian military does not know what it is doing. We know what we are doing.”
Soldiers in the military have claimed they are force to go to dangerous areas undermanned, while trying to overcome the radical group laden with high tech weaponry. Earlier this month, some of them fired on the car of a commanding officer coming to pay his respects to 12 soldiers who the soldiers felt were unnecessarily killed by the insurgents in a ambush.
The CDS refused to give details that the military would not use force in its efforts to secure the release of the abducted girls, but assured that this war on terror would be won by the military. “The President has empowered us to do the work”, he said.
Badeh also confirmed that the military was recovering arms and ammunition that are alien to the Armed forces “which shows that people from outside were supporting the insurgents”.
Believing it was Al-Qaeda in West Africa, the CDS said: “I know people from outside Nigeria are in this war, they are fighting us, they want to destabilise us. But this is our country and some people in this country are standing with the forces of darkness; we must salvage our country, we must bring sanity back into our nation”.
Coordinator of the group, Chidi Omeje said the group represents the ordinary Nigerians on the streets who understand that no nation can stand on its own without a strong military.
He stated that the group was spurred into action because of the myriads of media attacks championed by mischievous politicians and some interest groups that have ulterior motives.
“We are not politicians or religious bigots and we appreciate our military and we know they are doing their best. We are trying to tell the leadership of the Nigerian military that ordinary Nigerians are behind them, and appreciate them”.
While efforts are being made to secure the release of the schoolgirls, Boko Haram continues to carry out deadly attacks in the northern part of the country.
On May 18, an explosion in Kano, while police averted another devastating bomb blast in the city the next day. Nearly 80people were killed in two bomb blasts in the center of Jos, the Plateau State capital on May 20th. And another bomb blast on Saturday close to a football center, University of Jos where three people died.
Please pray for Nigeria and our Nigerian brothers and sisters. Pray for the rescue and safety of the mainly Christians girls abducted from Chibok, along with many others who are never covered by the main stream media!
In the company of armed militants, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau laughed as he claimed in a recently released video,
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”
Now we learn that more girls have been abducted as the U.S. prepares to send military personnel, law enforcement personnel and others with experience in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiation and victims’ assistance, per White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Concerns about the amount of time which has gone by since the kidnapping (22 days) he mentioned, time is of the essence.
“Appropriate action must be taken to locate and to free these young women before they are trafficked or killed.”
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, today. He welcomed the secretary’s offer to send support to discuss assistance.
The latest abductions appear to be very similar to the Chibok kidnapping of what is now claimed to be near 300 girls.
The Telegraph is reporting that Islamic militants kidnapped eight girls aged between 12 and 15 from a village (Warabe) near one of their strongholds in northeast Nigeria.
“They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village.”
A police source said the girls were taken away in the early hours of Tuesday on trucks, along with looted livestock and food. The Islamist rebels are still holding 276 girls.
In the Chibok attack, as with the Warabe seizure, the militants arrived disguised as soldiers.
A 16-year-old girl told AP she remembered them saying. “Don’t worry, we’re soldiers, Nothing is going to happen to you.”
The gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside. The men went into a storeroom and removed all the food. Then they set fire to the room.
“They started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great),” the 16-year-old student said. “And we knew.”
A 16-year-old girl and her friend jumped out, and managed to escape by running into the forest when a terrorist vehicle broke down.
Though warned just prior to the attack, local officials were unable to fight off the nearly 200 militant invasion.
Due to the voices of many concerned citizens, globally in protest of these evil crimes, we are finally seeing more media attention and world governments stirring to action. The U.S. is preparing to get involved in their rescue, while Britain is also prepared to send special forces and intelligence-gathering aircraft to Nigeria to help aid in their rescue. Obviously the Nigerian government is incapable of eradicating this dire threat not only for Christians, but all Nigerian citizens.
We pray there will be new operations planned and put into action to aid in the elimination of the vile terrorist group who are filled with nothing but hatred. And bring peace and stability to an area Voice of the Persecuted not only reports on, but have one of our own deep in the trenches of what is now being called the Afghanistan of Nigeria. Please don’t stop raising your voices and keep Nigeria in your prayers. Pray for protection.
By L. Kanalos
Please keep these girls and their devastated families in your prayers. We know this area well. Our Nigerian correspondent tells us the terror group has stepped up their attacks and the area now resembles Afghanistan. The group has vowed to kidnap more young school girls. Please pray for the suffering people in north Nigerian subjected by this evil group. May the Lord have mercy on them!
Like so many others I am glad to see more people around the world take up the issue of the school girls who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago from Chibok in the north east region of Nigeria. I am relieved to see people of different backgrounds, in my social media feeds join the #WhereAreOurGirls and #BringBackOurDaughters conversations in solidarity with the grieving families of those missing girls. Celebrities including Chris Brown, Keri Hilson and Mary J. Bilge have contributed their support to the #bringbackourgirls campaigns.
But even as the rest of the world finally gets around to paying attention to this story, we should consider this an apt moment to pause and reflect on how we write about conflict in Africa, young girls and how the western media tends to render female children invisible not just by a lack of coverage, but in the language we use to talk about them.
For two weeks, the plight more than 200 girls [nearly 300] was barely covered in the western media, which led me to wonder if there are gendered notions of African children that deserve protection from African conflict. African boys seem to have received the lion’s share of western preoccupation when it comes to conflicts on the continent. A google image search for the words “child”, “conflict” and “Africa” are mostly images of male child soldiers holding semi-automatic weapons. Many people familiar with conflict know of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, or the boy soldiers of “Invisible Children” of Uganda. Perhaps boy child soldiers invoke a western fascination with the myth of African males, who naturally brutish and violent and are easily coerced into killing one another because, “primordial hatred”. But do many people know that in 1996 in Aboke, Uganda, more than 100 school girls between the ages of 13 and 16 were kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army? That many of them were rescued by their school mistress? That it took almost ten years to get most of them back? I have not heard much mention of the Aboke girls at all in coverage of the missing Chibok girls.
Beyond lack of coverage, I questioned on Twitter the language we use to talk about girls who are abducted in conflict situations. News media reports said that a number of the girls have been “sold as brides to Islamic militants for $12” Is it appropriate to call these girls “brides” or “wives” in our reporting just because the militants may refer to them as such? In scanning the Nigerian media, I did not see the words “brides” or “wives” feature as heavily as I did in Western reporting.
There is nothing remotely resembling marriage in what has happened to these girls. In my view, these girls are not brides, but rather they have been trafficked and sold into nothing short of slavery. Imagine if the world headlines read, “235 Children in Nigeria Kidnapped and Sold Into Slavery”, I would bet reactions would be swifter and stronger. If the reports are true, it is very likely that the girls will be forcibly used for sex, perhaps in addition to cooking, cleaning and other types of labor for the militants. Is this not slavery? When do we use the term “child slave” versus “child bride” for African girls?
I reiterate, I am glad that the world is finally taking notice of the Chibok girls. On the other hand, I do grow nervous when overly sensationalized coverage of children in African conflicts in the West go the way of #kony2012. While the language we use to talk about these girls must do the utmost the horror of their plight, but that in our eagerness to “say something” we do not marginalize them further.
Images by Zachary Rosen, taken at yesterday’s #BringBackOurGirls protest, Washington DC.
By Karen Attiah for AFRICA IS A COUNTRY
(shared with permission)
VOP note: As we have reported in the past, the Boko Haram has stepped up the kidnappings, forced conversions and illegal marriages to young girls and women in Nigeria. These girls are also used as decoys, or to aid militants in carrying out attacks. These terrorists put them under physical and psychological torture them. Pray for their rescue, that they may be reunited with their families and begin to heal, physically and mentally.