A Bring back Our Girls demonstration in Ireland Statement from South African unions and civil society: We, as the South African Labour Federations, Youth Organisations, Creative and Cultural Sector, Worker Unions, Churches, Community Organisations, Tak …

A Bring back Our Girls demonstration in Ireland

A Bring back Our Girls demonstration in Ireland

Statement from South African unions and civil society:

We, as the South African Labour Federations, Youth Organisations, Creative and Cultural Sector, Worker Unions, Churches, Community Organisations, Take Charge Campaign Sectors and Nigerian communities gathered in Pretoria on this the 7th Day of June 2014 do hereby submit this memorandum to the Nigerian Embassy in support and solidarity of the Nigerian people to send a message to the Nigerian government for more visible efforts in tracking down Boko Haram and ensuring that The girls are safely recovered.

We have noted with horror and shock, the activities of the organisation known in Hausa as Boko Haram. We have been led to understand that Boko Haram stands for “Western Education is a Sin/ is Forbidden”. We are appalled by the abduction of the girls, aged between 15 and 20, from the Government Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok on 14 April 2014. This is a despicable crime against humanity, which must be condemned by the whole world. We do not understand why Boko Haram chooses to target defenceless civilians and in the case of the 276 defenceless girls in its campaign to draw attention to its grievances.

Girls around the world have the inalienable right to be free and to receive education. There must be no place anywhere in the world for human trafficking, abductions and forced marriages, which condemn girls and women to slavery.

As Africans we are often subjected to warlords in our countries often funded by shady foreign characters and self-serving foreign interests whose sole aim is to enrich themselves from the raw materials of Africa and perpetuate poverty in the richest lands that God made. We hope that in the case of Boko Haram this trend is not repeating itself as we sadly noted in Libya.

Our most immediate concern regardless of the bigger political economy issues affecting Africa are the 276 girls who were abducted from their schools at gunpoint. The issue of girls and women being used as negotiating tools and sex tools in the wars of Africa has reached and exceeded intolerable levels. It is, therefore, our plea that these incidents are completely eradicated on the African continent.

The need to deal with these extremists becomes more and more urgent as they are escalating their attacks with more villages reporting attacks such as Nuwari, Musari, Walori on Saturday last week and Kano the following day.

It has also come to our attention that Boko Haram is terrorising people not only in North Eastern Nigeria; but neighbouring countries as well such as Cameroon whose Northern town of Waza was hit when they hijacked Chinese tourists from that town.

We are concerned about the disruptions of livelihoods of communities in North Eastern Nigeria and the communities residing along the North Eastern border with Nigeria.

As all the organisations gathered here we are showing our support for the Nigerian girls, their mothers, their fathers and the entire population of Nigeria. We also call on the African Union and the United Nations to:

Denounce the patriarchal nature of this act whereby children, more especially girls, are used as battlefields to further political agendas. Boko Haram’s agenda is undoubtedly intended to perpetuate gender disparities in education, which are a gross violation of human rights and a contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which prohibits trafficking and commodification of children.

Immediately dispatch security forces to the North Eastern part of Nigeria to restore peace and stability in that part of the country.

Commit to providing post-conflict and reconstruction assistance to Nigeria’s North East for the swift and effective restoration of stability and peace in that area.

Institute precautionary and pro-active plans for the security of the peoples of Africa (especially) women and children as speedily as humanly possible after the signs of conflict (or impending conflict) have been identified.

We would like to render our utmost support and solidarity to the people of Nigeria, in particular those families who are directly affected by this act of terror. We call on the African Union (AU) and the United Nations to assist the Nigerian government in any way in its quest to recover the girls and restore peace to Nigeria’s North East.

We further urge our trade union members in all sectors, all workers organised and unorganised, government departments, gender and human rights activists to join hands and to continue waging the fight by putting pressure on the Federal Government of Nigeria, the AU, Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) and whoever has a role to play in peace-keeping and conflict resolution to swiftly act to bring our girls home safely.

We are marching today to emphasise the fact that education is a fundamental human right for all. We want to emphasise that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind, race, colour, sex language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status as declared and proclaimed by the declaration of the rights of the child adopted by the UN General Assembly.

– Issued on behalf of the Labour Movement, Workers Unions and stakeholders formations


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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