What now, Amnesty International?

Amnesty InternationalWHEN Amnesty International was established in July 1961 by Peter Benenson in the United Kingdom, he claimed to have been motivated by the injustice meted out to two Portuguese students. According to him, he was travelling in the London Underground on November 19,1960 when he read that two Portuguese students from Coimbra had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Portugal for allegedly ‘having drunk a toast to liberty’. Till date, researchers have never traced the alleged newspaper article in question. By 1980, Amnesty International drew more criticisms from governments. The defunct USSR alleged that your organisation conducted espionage; the Moroccan government denounced it as a defender of law breakers, the Argentine government banned Amnesty International’s 1983 annual report.

When I look at the roles of some international organisations and some western countries, I may be tempted to conclude that Boko Haram is politically motivated hence there must be international sponsors. It took many months, even years, before many western countries and international organisations accepted to list Boko Haram among the Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO). For a terrorist organisation that has killed many innocent Nigerians, mostly women, children and religious worshippers, what your organisation is interested in is the alleged abuse of human rights by our military. Is your organisation telling us that those helpless Nigerians killed by Boko Haram did not have any human rights or that the Boko Haram group has the right to keep on killing innocent citizens unchallenged?

Your lopsided report is akin to American government’s refusal to sell sophisticated military equipment to the Nigerian military in their fight against Boko Haram sect, citing human rights abuse by our military as their main reason. Are the rights of those alleged to have been abused by our military more than the rights of the children, aged mothers, pregnant mothers and other innocent citizens that were and are constantly being killed by the Boko Haram sect? Why should your report come up now that the Nigerian military is already winning the war against Boko Haram, if it is not intended to weaken and discourage our military? Where was your report when Boko Haram slit the throats of innocent and helpless school children at Buni Yadi, Yobe State? Where was your organisation when Chibok girls were kidnapped by the same Boko Haram sect? Where was your report when the Boko Haram sect was winning the war because there was no sophisticated military equipment to tackle them?

When your organisation was established in 1961, why did you not deem it necessary to revisit how King Jaja of Opobo was allegedly poisoned with a cup of tea? When America invaded sovereign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, where were your reports? Even in Nigeria, where was your report when there were massacres in Odi, Bayelsa State and Zaki Ibiam, Benue State? The way some international organisations and some western countries are behaving towards the fight against this deadly Boko Haram group sends a wrong signal that Boko Haram may have international sponsors, possibly to achieve the much-expected disintegration of Nigeria since the 2015 general elections did not achieve that. Was your report intended to distract our military so that the Boko Haram sect can regroup and start launching their vicious attacks on innocent and helpless citizens the same way they did when some people claiming to be Boko Haram secretary and chieftains deceived the immediate past government with amnesty negotiations?

Initially Boko Haram started bombing churches believing that Christians could carry out reprisal attacks on Muslims and their mosques but when that did not happen they started bombing mosques, believing that Muslims could attack Christians but that still failed. They are currently bombing markets and other public places and I don’t want to believe that this recent amnesty report is aimed at dividing Nigerians along regional lines. I don’t want to believe that those that predicted the disintegration of Nigeria are also working for its actualisation. I want Amnesty International to tell me one country whose military does not abuse human right. I equally want to see any military in the world that uses court injunctions to liberate a town that is held by terrorists. I will be glad if Amnesty International will show me any military in the world that fights wars without civilian casualty. While watching the online commentary on how the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was captured, I saw how the American soldiers used torture to force the bodyguards of Saddam Hussein to show them where Saddam was hiding. Why didn’t the soldiers use court injunction to get where Saddam was hiding?

As a lover of history, I know how international collaborations helped in the disintegration of the former USSR because much-touted world powers saw the then USSR as a threat but I still thank God that Russia, the remnant of that Soviet Union, is still a threat to those that worked for the splitting of the defunct USSR.

It was reported that the Nigerian military officers that revolted sometime ago did so because of the lectures they received from the Intelligence officers that came to train Nigerian military officers. Was it not preposterous that the same American government that refused to sell sophisticated military equipment to us to fight Boko Haram, was ready and willing in sending their Military Intelligence officers to come and train Nigerian soldiers to fight the same Boko Haram? I think Amnesty should map out the strategies how every country’s military should carry their operations without abusing human rights because I don’t see any possibility where the military can liberate a town held by terrorists without any civilian casualty because some innocent civilians must be trapped in the town held.

I still cannot envisage a time when the military will extract information from a captured terrorist, who disguised as a civilian, with a court injunction. I still wonder if any military will be gentle with civilians who are either sympathetic to terrorists or help the terrorists in escaping/carrying out their nefarious activities.

If Amnesty International is sincere, they should be thinking of how to bring justice to the children, pregnant women, the aged and children that were murdered in cold blood by this deadly Boko Haram sect. What of the helpless and poor children who are now orphans due to Boko Haram activities or the innocent Nigerians that are daily sent to their early graves by this Boko Haram sect? Amnesty international, what Nigerians want now is any report that will help us to exterminate this deadly Boko Haram in order to save the lives of innocent Nigerians that will soon become victims of terrorism. Having achieved that, we may then start addressing any alleged human rights abuse by our military. An Igbo adage says that one does not pursue a rat when one’s house is on fire.

• Dr Paul John from Port Harcourt, Rivers state, wrote this as an open letter to the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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