‘Boko Haram’

‘No’ to western education! That is what Boko Haram stands for. In truth the Group’s name roughly translates as ‘western education is forbidden’. Last April’s kidnapping of 300 Chiboki school girls was also ‘justified’ this way. As per Boko Haram’s orthodox version of Islam women shouldn’t be allowed to attend school. For all practical purposes they want to go back to the age of slave society. They need slaves—and women are domestic slaves—to realise their political objectives. Boko Haram nowadays gets wide currency across the world through their barbaric actions of massacre, kidnap and rape.

Unlike the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris which grabbed headlines across the world, the massive killings in Baga in Nigeria were largely under reported. The government of Nigeria is not free from blame. There is widespread denial throughout Nigeria of what is happening—a denial that extends to press.

On January 7, news from the town of Baga in northeast Nigeria, near Lake Chad, indicated that the largest killing yet had taken place, the massacre of over 2,000 people, mainly women, children and older people who couldn't escape quickly enough.

Thousands of buildings are reported to have been destroyed, and hundreds of people kidnapped. Amnesty International quoted one woman as saying, ‘‘Boko Haram kidnapped at least 300 women and held us in a school in Baga. They freed the older women, the mothers, and most of the children after three days, but they are still holding the younger women.’’

The fate of young women who fall into their hands is to be sold in the market or, perhaps, like the 10-year-old girl in Maiduguri, to be used as suicide bombers. In that attack on January 10, over 20 people died.

Many thousands more from the area of northeast Nigeria have become refugees, with 135,000 fleeing across the border into neighbouring countries. Over 850,000 people have been internally displaced.

Like IS in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram has declared its own so-called ‘caliphate’. The group would like to expand its influence across the old borders, and has already attacked troops in Cameroon. They are currently said to occupy an area roughly the size of Belgium.

In previous attacks on towns and villages, Boko Haram has commanded people not to vote in elections. Demo-cracy is also proscribed in their eyes. As with IS, again, they intend to function as an occupying power.

The Nigerian government has done little so far to combat the insurgency, bogged down as it is in official corruption. Now military forces from Cameroon and Chad are reported to be heading toward Nigeria to help fight them, thus regionalizing the conflict. 

Vol. 47, No. 34, Mar 1 - 7, 2015