The atrocities committed by Boko Haram can be cited as nothing but crime against humanity. Boko Haram; the name itself carries the outrageous idea that western education or education itself is forbidden. It is a terrorist group based in north-east Nigeria and its neighboring countries. It is estimated that currently, there are close to 10,000 fighters in this outfit. The group has openly pledged its allegiance to other terrorist outfits like al-Qaeda and ISIL (or ISIS, for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
Since it came into existence in 2002, Boko Haram’s continuous focus has been to try overthrowing the government in Nigeria and implement an extremely violent and skewed version of their misinterpretation of the Holy Quran. Its constant radical propaganda resulted in a bloodied uprising in July 2009. This, followed by a massive prison break in Nigeria in 2010 led to its massive resurgence. The militants stormed the Bauchi prison and released hundreds of inmates.
It started targeting schools and other civilian areas in the beginning before orchestrating dastardly attacks on police offices and the United Nations office in Abuja in 2011. Things took a turn for the worse when a state of emergency was declared by the Nigerian government in 2012. The extended period of emergency resulted in massive abuse of power by the Nigerian security forces and increasing attacks by Boko Haram extremists. There were bombings in the town of Jos, in which 80 people died following an attack on Abuja barracks. During various shooting incidents, dozens more civilians have been killed in the town of Maiduguri. It has been reported that more than ten thousand people were killed last year in the ongoing violence in Nigeria.
The rampant corruption prevalent in the Nigerian security forces led to its failure in dealing with the insurgents. Boko Haram has seized control of vast areas in the state of Borno in north-eastern Nigeria. By the end of January 2015, it was estimated that Boko Haram controlled close to 20,000 miles of territory in the region which they have declared as a caliphate.
To understand what Boko Haram and its affiliate groups are trying to achieve, it is important to realize that they are working towards the idea of an apocalypse. The judgment day promised in the Holy Quran, according to them. They are trying to establish an Islamic caliphate around the middle-east, then spreading to Europe and finally taking over the World, which is a grossly whimsical arbitrariness of autocracy.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has abducted more than 500 women, children and men. This includes 276 school girls being abducted from the town of Chibok in April 2014. More than 5000 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram since then. These civilians include Non-Muslims or Muslims who doubt or reject their extreme views. Following the kidnapping of the 276 schoolgirls, an estimated 57 girls escaped. The remaining 219 girls still remain captives of Boko Haram. Some of the girls who escaped shared stories of rape, torture and slavery. The extremists are using these innocent girls as sex slaves for themselves. Apart from that, many are being sold off as slave brides with a reputed ‘bride price’ of $12.50 each. The young girls are forced to convert to Islam by memorizing two chapters of the Holy Quran and are then married off to the insurgents. These atrocities from Boko Haram can only be categorized as crime against humanity and the human race.
While millions flooded the streets of Paris after the killing of 17 innocent civilians, Nigeria witnessed a far deadlier rampage. As per estimates, 150 people were massacred. While in the town of Baga, Nigeria, countless refugees fled for their lives as Boko Haram extremists burned down their houses. According to another report, 20 people were later killed in an explosion in a crowded marketplace. The explosion was reportedly caused by two young girls forced to wear explosive vests. Under-reporting by media is being blamed for the lack of outrage and response against these attacks. However, the areas being affected are virtually a no-go zone for the journalists. Most people do not know what exactly is transpiring due to blatant denial and stonewalling tactics being used by the Nigerian authorities and the powerlessness of the civil society to investigate these horrific atrocities.
It is also worth noting that not until November 2013 did the U.S. designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. Numerous countries have offered aid to Nigeria. China has offered to help with satellite data and military equipment while Israel and Canada have also pledged support. France and the U.K. have also sent trainers and material assistance. On December 1, 2014 the U.S. embassy in Abuja announced that the U.S. had discontinued training a Nigerian battalion at the request of the Nigerian government.
However, all these efforts are turning out to be too little too late. In the mean time, the general population of Nigeria and the neighboring nations are fending for themselves against these heavily armed and trained terrorists. Just like only after the end of World War 2, more than 7 decades ago, when this nightmarish terrorist group is completely neutralized, will we fully know about the extent of excesses committed by Boko Haram. Atrocities committed not against the population of a few countries, but against humanity itself.
By Ankur Sinha