Genocide Watch exists to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder. Our purpose is to build an international movement to prevent and stop genocide.
Sixteen days after the massacre on Pentecost Sunday in Nigeria, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Ondo state, we know one thing for certain: Nigeria’s government is letting the attackers get away with it. No one has been arrested in the murders of the 40 congregants and the maiming of scores more. Despite an onslaught in which the terrorists surrounded and shot up the city church for 25 minutes, the government has failed to identify a single suspect. That fits with the general pattern of impunity for Islamists who target Nigerian Christians, and it is why there is no end to it in sight.
On June 14, I spoke with Ondo’s Bishop Jude Arogundade about the attack. He elaborated on his widely quoted statements in which he took issue with Western leaders who attribute this and other unprovoked attacks on Christians by militant Fulani Muslim herdsmen to climate-change-driven communal disputes over resources. That position has long been held by the State Department and influenced Secretary Antony Blinken’s delisting last fall of Nigeria as a “country of particular concern” for religious persecution.
Ireland’s President Michael Higgins repeated these excuses for jihadi murder after the Pentecost attack, defending the Fulani herdsmen in the context of a mass shooting, as “pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change.” In a letter, Bishop Jude denounced Higgins’s words as “far fetched” and “deflections from the truth.”
The bishop insists that the atrocity is part of a religious-cleansing campaign to eradicate Christians, and Muslims who are not perceived to be Muslim enough. It was ignited a decade ago by Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast. It has since been spread by various Islamist militants, who are increasingly nomadic Fulani. While Christian farmers were murdered in their fields before in the southwest, this is the first large-scale attack against a church in this region, he said. This violence has spread largely because of government policies that are biased in favor of Fulani, even those who are now radicalized jihadis.
Christian farms in the north, particularly in southern Kaduna state, have been hard hit. “Most attacks are carried out by Fulani men (tagged as either unknown gunmen or bandits) dressed in Khaki, riding in military vehicles, and carrying sophisticated weapons,” the Kukah Center, which was founded by Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto state, reported in March. The Fulani attackers “kill, burn houses and churches while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.’”
The Kukah Center finds that “many communities have been displaced and many farmers are unable to plant and harvest their crops. Consequently, hunger and poverty have risen, and the economy has deteriorated by the day.” In fact, thousands in southern Kaduna, a mostly Christian region, have been killed, and millions more are displaced and destitute. The jihadis can take over and even change the names of entire villages without any government response.
After the Pentecost massacre, locals are certain, Fulani waged bloody attacks that killed 32 Christians in four southern Kaduna communities — Unguwan Gamu, Dogon Noma, Ungwan Sarki, and Maikori. The church and many houses were torched. There, too, the government failed to respond. In Benue state, on May 20, St. Michael’s Agasha parish in Makurdi suffered lethal attacks when Fulani murdered farmers in their fields and burned their homes. In these pages last August, I wrote of similar Fulani offensives in Christian villages on Kaduna’s border with Plateau, describing a nearby military unit that stood down until the attacks ended. These are only a few examples.
“Nowhere seems to be safe again in our country, not even the sacred precincts of a church,” commented Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, president of the Nigerian Catholic bishops’ conference, after the Pentecost attack. The bishops express grave concern about the abductions of their priests, now brazenly conducted from inside church compounds by Fulani jihadis and others — with complete impunity. They understand that the Christian presence in the north is doomed if its leaders are relentlessly targeted.
The Kukah Center documented the following: Father Stephen Ojapah and Father Oliver Okpara were abducted by suspected armed Fulani on May 25, from the rectory of St Patrick’s Church in Katsina. On May 11, Father Joseph Bako died in captivity after being kidnapped from Saint John’s Church in Kaduna on March 8. On March 27, Father Leo Raphael Ozigi of St. Mary’s Church was abducted after leaving Mass. On March 24, in Zaria, while traveling to the diocesan secretariat, Father Felix Zakari Fidson was abducted for 37 days. On February 6, Father Joseph Danjuma Shekari of St. Monica’s Church in Kaduna was kidnapped from his parish residence for four days.
Other Christian leaders are targeted, too. The Methodist Church reported on May 29 that eight Fulani militants abducted its head, His Eminence Samuel Kanu-Uche, along with a chaplain and Bishop Dennis Mark of Owerri. The three were taken into the bush and tortured. They were released days later after the payment of a $240,000 ransom. “We will finish you people and take over this land,” the militants warned, according to Kanu, who added, “They claimed that Nigeria belonged to Fulani.”
While no Muslim imams are reported abducted, the sultan of Sokoto was threatened by a mob for bravely criticizing the May 12 deadly bludgeoning, on a campus in Sokoto, of Christian student Deborah Yakubu, for alleged blasphemy against Islam. The police dispersed the mob setting fires around the sultan’s residence. Bishop Kukah also protested Yakubu’s murder and the fact that only two suspects were arrested, on minor charges. In response, in a viral video I viewed, an imam incited his followers, threatening: “The leader of the infidels of Sokoto state, they said he made some statements. . . . Matthew Hassan Kukah, so let him continue to do, I swear we shall kill him. . . . I swear, we shall kill you.” All diocesan Masses were then suspended following attacks that “devastated” two parishes. Nigeria’s Christian Association implored the government to protect the bishop.
For over a decade, Christians have been fleeing ISIS affiliates committing enslavement and religiously motivated murders in Borno and neighboring northeastern states. Now all Nigerian Christians, nearly half of the country’s 216 million people, live in fear of Fulani herdsmen jihadis, who have the apparent tacit approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, the son of a Fulani chieftain, and, as victims of climate change, they have had the sympathy of the State Department and other Western leaders. As elsewhere, this targeting of a religious group occurs in a larger national context of crime, conflict, and terrorist violence, but it is no less egregious and deliberate persecution of defenseless Christians.
On May 16, the Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland was in Nigeria and met with Bishop Jude. Hopefully, she listened and will redirect policy to end this horrific religious cleansing.
Research and References
House Foreign Affairs Committee
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Hearing on Conflict and Killings in Nigeria’s Middle Belt
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Genocide of indigenous peoples
The genocide of indigenous peoples, colonial genocide, or settler genocide[note 1] is elimination of entire communities of indigenous peoples as part of colonialism.[note 2] Genocide of the native population is especially likely in cases of settler colonialism, with some scholars arguing that settler colonialism is inherently genocidal.
The Rohingya genocide is a series of ongoing persecutions and killings of the Muslim Rohingya people by the Burmese military. The genocide has consisted of two phases to date: the first was a military crackdown that occurred from October 2016 to January 2017, and the second has been occurring since August 2017. The crisis forced over a million Rohingya to flee to other countries. Most fled to Bangladesh, resulting in the creation of the world’s largest refugee camp,while others escaped to India, Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of South and Southeast Asia, where they continue to face persecution. The United States, United Kingdom, and other countries refer to the events as “ethnic cleansing“.
Another historically significant example of forced labour was that of political prisoners, people from conquered or occupied countries, members of persecuted minorities, and prisoners of war, especially during the 20th century. The best-known example of this are the concentration camp system run by Nazi Germany in Europe during World War II, the Gulag camps run by the Soviet Union, and the forced labour used by the military of the Empire of Japan, especially during the Pacific War (such as the Burma Railway). Roughly 4,000,000 German POWs were used as “reparations labour” by the Allies for several years after the German surrender; this was permitted under the Third Geneva Convention provided they were accorded proper treatment. China’s laogai (“labour reform”) system and North Korea’s kwalliso camps are current examples.
About 12 million forced labourers, most of whom were Poles and Soviet citizens (Ost-Arbeiter) were employed in the German war economy inside Nazi Germany. More than 2000 German companies profited from slave labour during the Nazi era, including Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, Volkswagen, Hoechst, Dresdner Bank, Krupp, Allianz, BASF, Bayer, BMW, and Degussa. In particular, Germany’s Jewish population was subject to slave labour prior to their extermination.In Asia, according to a joint study of historians featuring Zhifen Ju, Mark Peattie, Toru Kubo, and Mitsuyoshi Himeta, more than 10 million Chinese were mobilized by the Japanese army and enslaved by the Kōa-in for slave labour in Manchukuo and north China. The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that in Java, between 4 and 10 million romusha (Japanese: “manual labourer”) were forced to work by the Japanese military. About 270,000 of these Javanese labourers were sent to other Japanese-held areas in South East Asia. Only 52,000 were repatriated to Java, meaning that there was a death rate of 80%.Kerja rodi (Heerendiensten), was the term for forced labour in Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule.The Khmer Rouge attempted to turn Cambodia into a classless society by depopulating cities and forcing the urban population (“New People”) into agricultural communes. The entire population was forced to become farmers in labour camps.
Confessions of ex-Myanmar soldiers show mass-murder orders came from the top: Bob Rae
The 2 men’s testimony will be ‘hugely important’ in upcoming trials, says Canada’s ambassador to the UN
CBC Radio · Posted: Sep 09, 2020 5:56 PM ET | Last Updated: September 9, 2020
Video testimony from two former Myanmar soldiers is “hugely important” evidence that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people were part of a systematic campaign of genocide, says Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations.
In video clips that surfaced last week, two men who identify themselves as Zaw Naing Tun and Myo Win Tu describe being ordered to kill members of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority indiscriminately, and to bury their bodies in mass graves.
The videos were recorded by the Arakan Army, an insurgent group fighting Myanmar’s military. CBC had not independently verified the contents.
The two men are now at the The Hague in the custody of the International Criminal Court, sources told CBC News.
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims left Myanmar in 2017 for neighbouring Bangladesh, fleeing what they described as a military-campaign of rape and mass murder.
Bob Rae is Canada’s ambassador to the UN and the former Canadian special envoy on the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. In 2017, he travelled to Bangladesh to interview Rohingya survivors in refugee camps. Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.
CHRISTIANS DELIBERATELY DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES IN BID TO ERADICATE CHRISTIANITY
Christians are being deliberately driven from their homes in certain regions of the world, according to Open Doors. Its new report, called ‘Church on the Run’, says that governments, armed extremist groups and in some cases even families are trying to weaken or eradicate Christian populations. It comes as new data reveals that there are around 100 million displaced people in the world, one in eighty people on earth. In Iraq, the Christian population has dwindled from over a million to around 166,000. The report describes a “deliberate strategy” to weaken, silence or completely eradicate Christian populations. Open Doors’ global gender persecution specialist, Helene Fisher, said: “Part of this deliberate strategy is to fracture religious communities. Displacement is not just a by-product of persecution, but, in many cases, it is an intentional part of a broader strategy to drive out Christianity from the community or country.”
Open Doors found that the most common agent driving displacement for Christians is their family. Family units can withhold basics for survival, such as food or shelter and can threaten their physical safety with violence or death threats when a family member converts to Christianity. Violent groups and government officials single out key figures like church leaders for persecution. Their departure can be the trigger for other Christian families in the community to move. The report also found that Christians do not leave persecution behind when they flee. In their new “homes” they can be singled out, being denied basic aid or face attack from other displaced communities. This happens whilst they are already processing severe trauma from their initial displacement.
The report highlights the long-term impact of displacement in Iraq with a local refugee saying: “Everyone is slowly leaving, It happens quietly, but it is happening every day. People pack up their things, lock their doors and leave behind their entire lives.” Rachel Morley is specific religious persecution analyst for Open Doors and she’s been speaking to Premier about the report: “We found that religion and religious identity can mean that Christian IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and refugees carry an extra layer of vulnerability. The thing which is most concerning from the report is that at every stage of the displacement journey, whether that be when a Christian is deciding to leave, or whether they’re in a camp or an urban setting, religious persecution can manifest at every stage or in any place.”
Morley says the systematic targeting of Christians is seen particularly starkly in countries such as Iraq and Nigeria: “In Iraq, Islamic State, especially over the past decade has resulted in many thousands of Christians being deliberately uprooted from a specific area or lands. “Another place where we see this is in northern Nigeria, where the role of multiple Islamic extremist groups have made it their goal to remove Christians from that particular area. So we see this strategy of displacements as a tool to uproot Christians from a particular area. “What we see as well is that religious persecution is part of this complex tapestry of reasons why a Christian will leave. That can be because alongside ethnic tensions, conflicts, there is instability. And we see this in places such as Myanmar, where really it’s this combination of factors, which means that there are thousands displaced both internally and in neighbouring countries.”
CHRISTIANS DELIBERATELY DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOMES IN BID TO ERADICATE CHRISTIANITY