Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Stop justifying rights abuses, Amnesty tells Nigerian, US govts

Nigeria Army tweets Trump video to justify armed protest clampdown Nigerian army posts Trump video to justify shooting Shiites - The Jakarta Post
Andrew Cummings | 05 November, 2018, 05:31

The Nigerian army cited comments by US President Donald Trump to justify opening fire on Shia protesters earlier this week.

In a speech from the White House yesterday, Trump said US troops-5,200 of which he deployed to the border earlier this week-won't tolerate members of the migrant caravan who throw stones.

The Nigerian army posted the video on its account with a caption that read "Please watch and make your deductions". "We're going to consider it, I told them, consider it a rifle".

"They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back", Trump told another reporter at the news conference. "What are they then saying?"

The tweet was posted just days after clashes between Nigerian soldiers and Shia Muslims once again turned deadly.

The US is a close partner of Nigeria's government, but has historically been cautious when it comes to security collaboration between the countries, given the Nigerian military's long history of abuse and the absence of meaningful accountability. "Rather than engaging in a preposterous competition over who does a better job of violating human rights, the Nigerian government must hold its security forces accountable for the horrific killing of at least 45 peaceful protesters".

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, have this week clashed with soldiers during protests in Abuja seeking the release from detention of their leader, Mohammed Al Zakzaky.

Members of IMN have been demanding the release of their leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky, who has been in custody for 34 months, the BBC reports.

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On Thursday, 120 of 400 IMN members arrested by police on Monday were charged with "rioting, disturbance of public peace and causing hurt", said a court official in Abuja on Friday.

But only hours later, the Nigerian army tweeted out Trump's remarks the same day.

"Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and global law", Osai Ojigho, executive director of Amnesty worldwide Nigeria, said in a statement Wednesday.

When a reporter asked him about this, the president said the USA military should "consider it a rifle".

Samantha Power, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under President Barack Obama, tweeted an image of the now-deleted Twitter post by the Nigerian military.

But that did not stop the army from pointing to Trump's comments about Central American migrants and refugees as justification.

"It seems the Nigerian military are deliberately using tactics created to kill when dealing with IMN gatherings. So, a stone is a weapon", he said.

Amnesty International had described the firing of live ammunition to disperse a peaceful gathering without warning as a "clear violation of Nigerian and international law".

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