They Raise Concern at USCIRF Statement which they say is 'Mischaracterizing the Situation'
By Dan Wooding, who was born in Nigeria
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Jubilee Campaign and Representatives of religious liberty organizations have, during a gathering in Washington, DC, observed a moment of silence in honor of the hundreds of Christian victims of Nigeria's post-election violence in April 2011.
Image captures the smoldering wreckage of St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital of Abuja on Dec. 25, 2011. Militants have also launched a series of arson attacks and massacres against churches in northern Nigeria.
The carnage in 12 Sharia states of northern Nigeria destroyed 700+ churches, displaced thousands of Christians in 48 hours and is considered one of the worst attacks on Christendom in contemporary world history.
During the meeting, they also raised concern at a US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) statement which they say is "mischaracterizing the situation" in the West African nation.
A news release sent to the ASSIST News Service by Jubilee Campaign USA, said, "While we commend a web post by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) criticizing the absence of meaningful prosecutions two years afterwards, we are concerned at the dangerous moral equivalency expressed in a USCIRF Press Release alleging 'Ongoing attacks and retaliations by Muslims and Christians in Nigeria's...Middle Belt.'
"The data is clear that Christian villages have overwhelmingly been targets of multiple midnight massacres -- 36 in 2012 alone -- resulting in hundreds of deaths of Christians in the last couple of years. Blaming the victims, who by far come from the Christian community, is grossly unfair. The rare instances where villagers were able to engage in defensive action in a context of state security failure have been broadly termed 'reprisal attacks' without acknowledging that Christians have exclusively been at the receiving end of systematic genocide in Plateau State of Nigeria."
Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria
It went on to say, "USCIRF rehashes Boko Haram's claim that it attacks Christians in retaliation for attacks by Christians on Muslims. In reality, Boko Haram has unequivocally stated its goal to exterminate Christians in the north and impose Islamic rule in Nigeria. It has consistently bombed churches and killed Christians to this end, with occasional collateral damage to or targeted assassination of Muslim critics.
"USCIRF moreover undercounts the number of churches attacked in 2012, even though available data shows that more Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2012 than were killed in the rest of the world. It is hoped that USCIRF which has generally fared better in fulfilling its statutory reporting requirements than the International Religious Freedom office of the US Department of State is not regressing following last year's reorganization."
The release concluded by saying, "That said, the concern expressed by USCIRF on the current violence is welcome and commendable. We call upon USCIRF to make its concern concrete by including a recommendation to the US State Department to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It is the most logical next step in view of the current situation in Nigeria and USCIRF's advisory role to the US Government. It should also recommend that US urge Nigeria to provide compensation and humanitarian assistance to victims instead of to perpetrators.
Members of the Working Group signing on to this press release include:
* Jubilee Campaign
* International Christian Concern
* The Institute on Religion & Democracy
* Barnabas Fund
* Igbo League
* Westminster Institute
* Justice for Jos Plus
Jubilee Campaign (www.jubileecampaign.org ) which was initially founded in the UK by India-born Danny Smith, promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities; advocates the release of prisoners of conscience imprisoned on account of their faith; advocates for and assists refugees fleeing religious based persecution; and protects and promotes the dignity and safety of children from bodily harm and sexual exploitation.. Jubilee Campaign holds special consultative status with ECOSOC at the United Nations.