10 Facts From Amnesty International’s Latest Boko Haram Report
To coincide with the one-year commemoration of the April 14, 2014 mass abduction by Boko Haram of almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok, Amnesty International has released a report called:
OUR JOB IS TO SHOOT, SLAUGHTER AND KILL: BOKO HARAM’S REIGN OF TERROR IN NORTH-EAST NIGERIA
The abduction thrust the Jihadist sect, Boko Haram, into the international spotlight. The group has terrorized northeastern Nigeria since 2009. Here’s an interesting cartoon that gives some contextual insight to Boko Haram.
In the 90-page report released today, Amnesty International compiles anecdotal evidence and testimonials from hundreds of people interviewed to document war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report is based on nearly 200 witness accounts, including 28 with abducted women and girls who escaped captivity. 377 testimonies were gathered, including 189 with victims and eyewitnesses to attacks by Boko Haram; 22 with local officials; 22 with military sources; and 102 with human rights defenders.
I’ve gone through this information-rich document and taken out 10 points that I believe capture what it’s all about and highlight some of the facts you should know. Here it is:
#1. 2,000 is the estimated number of women and girls abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014. Many have been trained to fight alongside the militants
#2. There are an estimated 15,000 Boko Haram fighters
#3. The 276 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok gained global attention with the help of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. But the missing schoolgirls are only a small proportion of the women, girls, young men and boys abducted by Boko Haram.
#4. 19-year-old Aisha told Amnesty International that during the three months she was held captive, she was raped repeatedly, sometimes by groups of up to six fighters. She was trained to fight and was sent on an operation to attack her village
Watch Aisha speak in a video here.
#5. Boko Haram has killed at least 5,500 civilians since the start of 2014.
#6. In February 2015 a counter-offensive by the Nigerian military, with support from Cameroon, Chad and Niger, forced Boko Haram from some major towns and released many civilians from Boko Haram’s rule. It is too early to judge whether this has weakened Boko Haram’s ability to threaten the lives and property of civilians in the north-east
#7. The operational structure of Boko Haram is fluid. Members operate in cells with relative autonomy and control. Boko Haram’s political and spiritual leader, Abubakar Shekau, is called the Amir (the leader). He heads the council of elders, called Shura (council), with seven members. Each Shura member heads a Lajna, a ministry. The commanders are called qaid and have executive powers. The sub-commanders, munzirs, lead the operations of the foot soldiers, maaskars.
#8. Amnesty International has received information that some abducted boys and girls under the age of fifteen were forced to take active part both in battle and in executions. This conduct constitutes the war crime of conscription or recruitment of child soldiers and members of Boko Haram should be investigated for this offence.
#9. Boko Haram is a well organized and efficient force. Amnesty International has documented evidence of Boko Haram training recruits and using sophisticated weaponry, such as armored tanks. Boko Haram also has a fleet of vehicles, including motorcycles, flat-bed trucks and armored personnel carriers, which it is able to supply, service and deploy. Boko Haram holds and administers territory and has a command structure that imposes discipline on its forces and directs hostilities.
#10. Boko Haram’s attacks in the north-east are systematic in nature. The group’s attacks on schools demonstrate a methodical plan whose objective was to prevent children from receiving a secular education.