Nigerians protest rights violations in Biafra on Istanbul’s central Istiklal Avenue
Akın Çeliktaş – ISTANBULA group of Nigerian migrants on Sept. 21 made a press statement in Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Avenue to draw attention to human rights violations in their home country’s Biafra region.
Around 30 Nigerians from the “Indigenous People of Biafra” group stated that more than 1,000 people had been abducted or disappeared in Biafra, southeast of Nigeria, saying the Nigerian army was responsible for the violations.
“We do not want war. Many people had been disappeared. The U.N. should hear our voice. We want peace,” the group stated.
Nigeria’s air force on Sept. 19 said it was deploying aircraft to the southeast of the country, where unrest related to a campaign for secession has escalated in an area formerly known as Biafra.
The military presence in the southeast has increased in the last few weeks as part of an operation that the military said was part of efforts to crack down on “crime, kidnapping and secessionist agitation.” The air force deployment marks a further escalation of the operation, which began this month.
“The essence of the deployment is to provide the necessary air cover to the ground troops to enhance overall operational cohesion and efficiency,” said Olatokunbo Adesanya, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spokesman.
“The request by the Nigerian Army for close air support made the involvement of the NAF inevitable,” Adesanya added.
The military deployment has led to tension between troops and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) secessionist group which last week accused soldiers of laying siege to their leader’s home. The army denied the accusation.
A curfew was subsequently imposed in Abia state, where the residence is located, and the army on Friday categorized IPOB as a “terrorist organization.”
Secessionist sentiment has simmered in the southeast since the Biafra separatist rebellion plunged Africa’s most populous country into a civil war from 1967 to 1970 that killed around one million people.