Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Are we facing a Biafran Genocide 50 years on?

by Solomon Egbo (Coordinator for IPOB Manchester)

THIS article is written in the hope that another genocide in Nigeria can be prevented.  Most of the developed world stood back as the Biafran War, which started 50 years ago on July 6th. 1967, descended into genocide.

During the war there were great shortages of food and medicine throughout Biafra, due largely to the Nigerian and British governments' blockade of the region. Furthermore the destruction of Biafra was as much about the protection of strategic British interests in Biafra as it was for the Federal Government to retain control of this oil rich region. Only when images of Biafran children flooded Western media, did the world began to pay attention. 

Whereas nations stood back many individuals showed their abhorence of the mindless slaughter.John Lennon returned his MBE order to the Queen in protest at the UK's involvement in the Biafran War. 20 year old Student, Bruce Mayrock,   burnt himself to death outside the United Nation’s Headquarters in protest against the killings.  He took his own life for people whom he never met before.

Two more young men in Lille, France, also took their lives  in January 1970. One 16 ‐year‐old set himself afire in his school  playground . His suicide note said “I offer myself to atone for the wrongs committed in Biafra, against war, violence and the folly of men.” The other, a 19 year old, left this message “ I did it as a sign of protest against violence, to see love again.” Both received church rites from the Right Reverend Adrien Gand, Bishop of Lille, who said “Only God, who gives us life, may take it back. But how can we fail to see that the cruel reality of the world is striking the young. They await our witness, the testimony of our hope and of our engagement.”

The recent death of Steve Jobs, co- founder of Apple, has propelled Biafra back into the news again. His  biography, written by Walter Isaacson, says that Biafra was instrumental in  Jobs  renunciation of his  Christian faith when as a  13-year-old he confronted his Church pastor with a photograph of two starving Biafran children on the cover of Life magazinebut failed to get a satisfactory answer as to why God allowed such things to happen.

There has been of persecution of the Igbos  and christians prior to and since the Biafran War. For now though, paraphrasing the Bishop's  words we need to bear witness  and engage  in preventing a repeat of the Biafran tragedy.

President Buhari came to power in 2015 in an election when he was actively sponsored by British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama. Seen as a strong figure, a former military dictator of his country, but as other administrations have done his  still 'tolerates' terrorism.

An example of this is state sponsored terrorism in allowing Fulani herdsmen freedom to herd their cattle anywhere and when  challenged they have killed thousands of unarmed men (mainly Igbos) and committed other atrocities. The killing goes unpunished by the state and a President who is a Felani himself! This is not a new phenomena as Christians across the north have been persecuted and killed in increasing numbers over the years.

However the emergence of groups like IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) peacefully campaigning again for Biafra to be recognised as an independent state has led to an extreme reaction from muslims in the north.

An ultimatum has been issued by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (ACYF), a coalition of socio-political groups in northern Nigeria, giving a three months ultimatum for all Igbos in the 19 northern states to vacate the region. If the Igbos fail to leave by the October 1, 2017, the group said, it would use force to evict the Igbos. They also threatened to take over all the  properties of the Igbos after they had left the region. In a press conference in Kaduna AYFC President,  Yerima Shettima, claimed that an event staged by Igbo groups, was a threat to the country’s national security. This was a 'sit at home' protest organised by the Supreme Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra groups, IPOB and MASSOB, in remembrance of the Biafra  war that led to the death of  an estimated 6.5 million people.#

What is the Federal Government doing you might ask? Althouh there is no attempt to prosecute terrorist attacks by Fulani herdsmen theNigeria Department of State Service (DSS) have previously unlawfully detained, by order of President Buhari, the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and thousands of IPOB and Massob supporters have  been killed by security forces, 'disappeared' or unlawfully imprisoned. This is nothing short of state sponsored terrorism.

These events are met with almost deathening silence across the world, indeed   under Cameron and now May, the British Government are condoning these atrocities by not speaking out.History shows the UK bears a large share of the blame because of how it organised the transition to an independent Nigeria.

I feel there is an urgent need for the United Nations to set up a commission for truth and recognise that Biafrans are an indigenous people exercising 'THEIR RIGHT FOR SELF DETERMINATION' .
The Biafran Genocide is pending and  I ask you to listen to this cry for justice and act  to alert politicians here and around the world of their responsibility to prevent a recurrence of the trajedy  50 years ago.

# See Nigeria: 'Bullets were raining everywhere': Deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists.
November 2016 Amnesty.

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