Saturday, May 21, 2016

Shyam Sunder Sharma writes

For the kidnapped girls in Nigeria

We would shut ourselves in, 
all doors & windows shut. 
The fierce Harmattan 
would overshadow 
the real sunset and 
the manmade ones, 
(the high flames from oil refineries 
gave the sunset effect) 
the entire horizon 
would be eclipsed 
in dust.

Rains would stop 
and all that fell would be 
dust and some more dust.

Dizzy Palm trees would 
sway with the harsh winds, 
the Harmattans spared nothing.

This dry dust shower would 
reign for months 
and then the rains clouds would 
reassemble and return.

The dust would settle, 
turn to mud in the rain 
that would wash down 
the delta of Niger.

I hear the horrors now 
of a new Harmattan, 
a man made terror, 
Boko Haram with a 
Harami agenda.

It is not dust but hatred 
and ignorance it spews.

A dastardly coward, 
it chooses little girls 
as its fodder.

Hundreds of girls 
as young as twelve, 
abducted as slaves or pawns.

"Girls should marry or be sold as slaves," 
smirks the Harami leader.

Dark ages descend 
on the dark continent. 
Oil rich Nigeria is 
robbed of lamps to light.

This is not a war of faith 
much as the Haramis might say. 
The world must gather 
and eliminate this evil 
without mercy.

Girls, the tiny blossoms, 
must be allowed to bloom 
free of fear of being sold 
or owned.

Such Harami ideologies 
should be crushed or 
you might find these evil winds 
knocking on your doors and windows.

Why should girls be confined 

 Image result for chibok images


  1. Shyam says, "Penned two years back on the day over 200 school going girls were abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, sadly many of these girls were forced to die as suicide bombers, the fate of so many remains unknown."

  2. The Harmattan is a dry, dusty northeasterly trade wind which blows from the Sahara desert across West Africa between late November and mid-March (winter). In some places it is hot, in others, cold. It lowers the humidity, dissipates cloud cover, prevents rainfall formation, and sometimes creates clouds of dust which can result in duststorms or sandstorms, while its interaction with monsoon winds can cause tornadoes.

  3. The Boko Haram movement was inspired in part by Mohammed Marwa “Maitatsine” ("He who curses others"), a Qur’anic scholar from Cameroon who moved to Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria, around 1945. He rejected the hadith and the sunnah (the traditional reports about the words, deeds, habits, and silent permissions and disapprovals of the prophet Muhammad and his companions) and condemned the reading of any books other than the Qur’an. He denounced the use of radios, watches, bicycles, and cars and the possession of excessive amounts of money. In 1979, he rejected Muhanned’s legitimacy and proclaimed himself as an annạbi (Hausa for "prophet"). In December 1980 the Nigerain army cracked down on his followers, the Yan Tatsine, leading to around 5,000 deaths, including Maitatsine himself. Many followers fled to Kaduna and Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Borno, and in 1982 they provoked riots that killed over 3,000 people. Sect survivors moved to Yola, leading to more violence in 1984 that killed 1,000 and left half of the city's 60,000 inhabitants homeless. Maitatsine’s successor, Musa Makaniki, led the remnants to his hometown, Gombe, where more Yan Tatsine riots occurred in 1985. Though he fled to neighboring Cameroon, Yan Tatsine incluence remained strong in northern Nigeria.

  4. “Boko” is Hausa for “fake” and “haram” is Arabic for “forbidden;” "Boko Haram," usually translated as "Western education is forbidden" but sometimes as "Western influence is a sin" or "Westernization is sacrilege," is the common name of an extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria but also active in Chad, Niger, and northern Cameroon. Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad ("People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad") was founded in 2002 in Maiduguri by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, who had a graduate education, spoke proficient English, and lived a lavish lifestyle before he became strongly influenced by the 13th-century theologian Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (“Sheikh ul-Islam") who had sought to restore Islam to its earliest practices and influenced the religion’s most fundamentalist sects, including Wahhabism and Salafism. Yusuf was indoctrinated by Ja'afar Mahmud Adamu, who called him the "leader of young people" when they both preached in Maiduguri's Indimi mosque. Adamu was a member of Jama’at Izalat al Bid’a Wa Iqamat as Sunna (“Society of Removal of Innovation and Re-establishment of the Sunna”), a movement created in Northern Nigeria in 1978 in opposition to the bid’a, (innovation) practiced by the Sufi brotherhoods. Largely due to Izala pressure, 12 northern Nigerian states imposed sharia law in 2000-2002, but Yusuf and other radicals denounced it as a corrupted form. At first he used the Izala infrastructure in Borno to recruit members, then established his own religious complex and school with the political goal of creating a genuine Islamic state. Adamu and Yusuf split some time between 2002 and 2004, and Adamu was murdered at his mosque in the northern city of Kano in 2007. At first, Borno welcomed the Izala into government, along with Yusuf’s sympathizers, and Boko Haram received funds from local politicians to discredit their opponents. Eventually, Boko Haram withdrew into remote areas, though Yusuf continued to broadcast his messages. After the 2007 elections the government decided it no longer needed Boko Haram support and cut its funding, and in 2009 the police began “Operation Flush” to investigate its activities. That year Yusuf told the BBC, "There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam. Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism.” The group also denounced Sufi, Shiite, and Izala sect members as infidels. In 2009 the police stopped a group of “Yusifiyya” on motorcycles on their way to bury a comrade and ordered them wear helmets. In the confrontation that followed, several were shot and wounded. On 26 July, security forces arrested nine Boko Haram members and confiscated weapons and bomb-making equipment, and Boko Haram retaliated by attacking a police station in Bauchi state; the violence quickly spread to Kano, Yobe, and Borno, leaving over 1,000 dead (700 in Maiduguri alone). Two days later, troops surrounded the home of Yusuf’s parents-in-law after his followers barricaded themselves inside. On July 30, wounded, he surrendered and was turned over to the police, who then publicly executed him outside their headquarters.

  5. In July 2010, Abubakar Shekau, also known as Darul Akeem wa Zamunda Tawheed ("the abode of monotheism"), another ethnic Kanuri who married one of Yusuf’s four wives, proclaimed himself the new leader of the group, though he had presumably been killed the year before. (Nigerian officials have repeatedly announced his death and maintain that new leaders continuously appropriate his identity.) In September 2010, 105 of his followers and 600 other prisoners staged a mass prison break in Bauchi and resumed their insurrection, carrying out 115 attacks in 2011 that killed 550. They also began using suicide bombers against police buildings and the United Nations office in Abuja in August. It has targeted schools and killed hundreds of students, claiming that these attacks would continue as long as the Nigerian government interfered with traditional Islamic education. Another10,000 children have been unable to attend school as a result of Boko Haram activities. On 1 January 2012, as official violence against the insurgents escalated and became more brutal, president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Jos, Borno, Yobe, and Niger states; two days later Boko Haram gave southern Nigerians three days to leave, and three days after that began a series of attacks on Christians and members of the Igbo ethnic group. In Kano, on 20 January, they assaulted police buildings, killing 190. In the first three weeks of 2012, the number of deaths reached 50% of those in the entire previous year; by mid-year, hundreds of police had been assassinated and more than 60 police stations attacked. That year the United States designated Shekau as a terrorist; from June 2013 the US offered 7 million dollar reward for information leading to his capture. In 2013 Boko Haram increased operations in northern Cameroon and skirmished along the borders of Chad and Niger; in February 1914, the group killed more than 100 Christian men in the villages of Doron Baga and Izghe and 59 boys at the Federal Government College. Since the insurgency began, 20,000 people had been killed and 2.3 million displaced. The organization funded itself from bank robberies and kidnapping ransoms, and had occasionally been connected to cocaine trafficking. In November 2013 the US listed it as a terrorist organization, and in May 2014 the UN Security Council listed it under its al-Qaeda sanctions regime, citing its ties with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb “for training and material support purposes" and "valuable knowledge on the construction of improvised explosive devices.” The UN claimed that "Boko Haram members fought alongside al Qaeda affiliated groups in Mali in 2012 and 2013 before returning to Nigeria with terrorist expertise …. likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials." In July 2014 – the same month it was announced that Nigeria had the highest number of terrorist killings in the world over the past year (3477, in 146 attacks) -- Shekau voiced support for al-Qaeda's head Ayman al-Zawahiri (as well as Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar), but the main al-Qaeda organization never officially accepted Boko Haram as an affiliate

  6. On the night of 14–15 April 2014, the same day a bombing attack in Abuja killed at least 88 people, Boko Haram militants broke into the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno, and took 329 students; they were all in their final year of school and aged 16 to 18. Though the Nigerian army had four-hour advance notice of the attack, it was unable to mobilize reinforcements. Over the next two weeks, in two groups, 53 of the girls escaped, but the rest remained hostage. On the weekend after the kidnapping, the army insisted that more than 100 of the “129” girls had been freed. On 30 April and 1 May, protests demanding greater government action were held in several Nigerian cities. Finally, on 4 May, the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, spoke publicly about the kidnapping for the first time, assuring the public that his government was doing everything it could to find the missing girls (while also chiding the parents for not supplying the police with enough information). On the next day Shekau claimed, "Allah instructed me to sell them... I will carry out his instructions." He also said the girls should not have been in school at all and that girls as young as nine are suitable for marriage. On that same day, after Nigerian troops left nearby Gamboru Ngala to hunt for the victims, Boko Haram attacked the town and killed 300 residents.

  7. A lawyer in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, launched the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls, which attracted 2.3 million tweets by 11 May and was retweeted 6.1 million times over the next year. On 30 April, hundreds marched on the National Assembly to demand stronger action. On 9 May, a Boko Haram spokesman suggested the group would exchange the girls for jailed members, but a journalist-brokered deal to secure the release of 100 prisoners was scrapped on 24 May after Jonathan met with the American, Israeli, French, and British foreign ministers in Paris, who insisted that no deals should be struck with terrorists. Efforts to cooperate faltered, however, largely due to mutual distrust; American officials were wary about sharing intelligence data because of Boko Haram infiltration of the military, and the Nigerian military had failed to supply information that might have helped American drones locate the kidnapped girls. The Nigerian government denied committing human rights abuses in the conflict and objected to the resultant American restrictions on arms sales. The US supplied trucks and equipment but refused to sell Cobra helicopters due to concerns over the Nigerian military's ability to maintain and use them without endangering civilians. On 30 May, two raped girls were found tied to a tree, and local villagers said four other disobedient girls had been killed and buried. On 24 June, it was reported that 91 more women and children had been abducted elsewhere in Borno, and it was estimated that as many as 600 girls were being held in three camps outside Nigeria. On 22 July, Boko Haran attacked villages near Chibok, killing at least 51 people (including 11 parents of the abducted girls). On 23 and 24 July, vigils and protests were held around the world to mark 100 days since the kidnapping. In late September four more girls escaped from a camp in Cameroon and walked for three weeks to Nigeria; they said they had been raped every day. But the rest were kept hidden for years. Non-Muslim girls were forced to convert to Islam. Many were forced into marriage with Boko Haram members, at a "bride price" of $12.50 (£7.50) each. Some were taken to Chad and Cameroon, but most were with retained in militants’ camps in the Sambisa Forest, where they were used as cooks. Some of them were forced to act as suicide bombers. Daily rallies by Bring Back Our Girls demonstrators at the Unity Fountain in Abuja continued, despite police efforts to shut them down. On 13 April 2015 hundreds of protesters wearing red tape across their lips walked silently through the capital to marking the anniversary of the abduction. That month, Stephen Davis, a former Anglican clergyman, went to Nigeria and was given a video of some of the girls being raped, as “proof of life,” and was told 18 were seriously ill, some with HIV, but the Boko Haram cheiftains he was in contact with said they were willing to release the sick girls; however, another group abducted them and the deal fell through. The following month, the military claimed it had recovered most of the areas previously controlled by Boko Haram and freed many women, and in January 1916 another thousand were rescued, but none of them were Chibok girls. In December 2015, Boko Haram took a video of 15 healthy girls and released it in April 1916; in May another missing girl was found, along with her baby and her Boko Haram husband; she claimed that six had died but that the remaining girls were all right. She met the new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on 19 May, and that day the government announced that the army had found the another one in an operation in which 35 militants and 97 women and children had been killed (although her name was apparently not on the list of kidnapped Chibok girls.

  8. Meanwhile, in the wake of the Chibok abduction, Boko Haram stepped up its operations. In mid-2014, they gained control of some 50,000 sq. km. (20,000 sq mi) of territory. In July, 200 militants attacked the home village of Cameroon’s deputy prime minister, kidnapped his wife and the sultan of Kolofata, and killed at least 15 people. In August, they overran Gwoza, a remote Nigerian border town, and Shekau announced that it was the capital of a new caliphate; in September, Bama, 70 km (45 mi) from Maiduguri, was captured, and its men and teenage boys were massacred; Nigerian troops refused to advance on the city. In October, as president Jonathan prepared to announce hid re-election bid, his government announced a peace agreement and the imminent release of all the missing girls, but Shekau responded with a video, insisting that no meeting had taken place and that the girls had been "married off." On 29 October, Mubi, a town of 200,000 in Adamawa, fell to the militants, though it was retaken two weeks later, on the same day that Boko Haram seized Chibok for two days. By then, they controlled more than twenty towns and villages. On 28 November, they attacked the central mosque in Kanop during Friday prayers, killing 120. In 27 attacks during November, at least 786 were slain. In December, Boko Haram killed over 30 people and kidnapped over 100 women and children in Gumsuri, before attacking an army convoy near the Cameroon border. Cameroon responded by assaulting a training camp near Guirdivig, arresting 45 militants and seizing 84 children aged 7–15 who were undergoing military training. Late in the month, five villages were simultaneously attacked, and for the first time the Cameroon military launched air attacks against Boko Haram.

  9. On 3 January 2015 Boko Haram seized Baga and a nearby multinational joint task force military base after the army fled’ as many as 2000 residents were killed, though the Defence Ministry claimed the figure was closer to 150. On 12 January, Boko Haram attacked a Cameroon military base in Kolofata and six days later raided two villages in the Tourou Cameroon area, kidnapping 60-80 people, including 50 children between the ages of 10 and 15. On 25 January they took another military base at Monguno, but the Nigerian army repelled their advance on Maiduguri and Konduga, 40 km to the southeast, retook Monguno, and, on 21 February, expelled the militants from Baga. Starting in late January, a coalition of military forces from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger began their campaign against Boko Haran; and on 4 February, Chad forces killed over 200 Boko Haram militants. On 7 March 2015, Shekau pledged allegiance to Daesh (“the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” ISIL, or “of Iraq and Syria,” ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and changed his group’s name to Wilayat Gharb Afriqiya to designate it as a "province" of the Daesh caliphate. In March also, Nigeria hired hundreds of mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to assist against Boko Haram before the March 28 election, and authorities claimed to have retaken 11 of the 14 districts under Boko Haram control. On 24 March, Boko Haran took over 400 women and children from Damasak, Nigeria, even as they withdrew in the face of a coalition advance. On March 27, the Nigerian army captured Gwoza, but the next day Boko Haram killed 41 people to discourage voting. In April, four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest were overrun and nearly 300 females freed. In May the Catholic diocese of Maiduguri estimated that over 5,000 Nigerian Catholics had been killed, leaving behind 7,000 widows and 10,000 orphans. On 15 June, two suicide bombings of police sites in N'Djamena, the capital and largest city of Chad, killed 38 people; 48 men and boys were killed and 17 others wounded on July 1st at a mosque in Kukawa; more mosque attacks the next day killed 97, and a number of women and girls were killed in their homes. On 11 July, a suicide bomber disguised in a burqa detonated an explosives belt in the main market of N'Djamena, next to the main mosque, killing 15 people and injuring 80. Suicide bombers targeted a military base in Kerawa, Cameroon, on 3 September. However, on 9 September the Director of Information at Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters announced that all known Boko Haram camps and cells had been destroyed, and that the group was so weakened that they could no longer hold any territory;11 days later the group responded with a series of bombings in Maiduguri and Monguno. On 24 September the US announced a $45 million military aid package for Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, and a month later the deployment of 300 troops to Cameroon.

  10. On 25 September at least 15 civilians were massacred and stores were looted in a cross-border raid on a Niger village; an attack on a village in Niger's Diffa province on 2 October killed two soldiers and wounded four, while bombings in Nyanya in Nasarawa and Kuje in the Fedeeral Capital Territory killed 18 and wounded 41. On 6 October 11 Chadian soldiers were killed and 14 wounded near Lake Chad, but 17 militants were also killed. In early October three suicide bombers killed at least 15 in Damaturu, Yobe, and five more of them killed 33 in the market in Baga Sola, a Chadian camp for Nigerian refugees. On 11 October two female suicide bombers killed nine people in Mora, Cameroon. The next day the first 90 American troops arrived in Cameroon to assist with training, reconnaissance, and airborne intelligence using drones, separate from the 250 personnel sent to Chad and the 85 to Niger. On 14 October Niger imposed a curfew and movement restrictions in the Didffa region, where over 150,000 Nigerian refugees lived; at least 57 attacks occurred there from February to October 2015, and more than 1,100 Boko Haram suspects were arrested in Niger during 2015. Boko Haram attacked Dar, Adamawe, forcing redidents to flee; then two female suicide bombers, disguised as fleeing villagers, detonated their explosives in the bush, killing 12 people; but 10 militants were killed when they attacked a Cameroon military anti-terrorist division convoy close to the border. On 21 October, a joint operation in Madagali and Gwoza killed 150 militants and rescued 36 captives. On 23 October a suicide bombing occurred in a pre-dawn attack aagainst a mosque in Maiduguri, and a suicide bomb in another mosque killed 27 in Adamawa's capital, Yolabut on the same day fighters were driven out of Kerawa. On 27 October a military operation freed 192 children and 138 women from two camps in the Sambisa forest and killed 30 militants. On 1 November two dawn attacks on Chad army posts occurred; 11 militants and two soldiers were killed at Kaika, and 11 civilians were wounded and two militants killed in an attempted suicide bombing at Bougouma; a third jihadi blew himself up. Chad imposed a 12-day state of emergency in the western Lake Chad region, then extended it to four months. On 9 November two female suicide bombers killed three Nigerians during a security check on a truck filled with Nigerian refugees. In mid-November, two bombers killed at least 14 in Kano. An attack in the Bosso district killed five civilians and 20 militants. An explosion in a market in Yola killed 32. A suicide attack in a suburb of Fotokol killed four; several minutes later, three female bombers exploded their bombs close to the initial site, but they didn't kill anyone else because they acted too quickly. A cross-border raid on Wogom in Diffa killed 18 villagers, including the chief imam, whose throat was slit by his own nephew. Two suicide bombers killed six people near the military base in Dabanga, and five were slain in Gouzoudou. A suicide attack on a procession of Shi'ite Muslims killed at least 21 near Dakozoye. On 2 December,Cameroon's defense minister claimed that 100 Boko Haram members had been killed and 900 hostages freed, but in December the carnage continued unabated. On the 1st, two suicide bombers killed three people, and a third bomber was killed before detonating himself. On the 5th, three female suicide bombers killed about 30 at a crowded market on the island of Koulfoua in Lake Chad. Gunmen set fire to the village of Kimba, killing at least 14. A two-hour gunfight occurred in Aldawari in the outskirts of Maiduguri, followed by the bombing of a nearby mosque that killed 20 and two female suicide bombers blowing themselves up in a crowded market in Madagali, killing at least 28. Nevertheless, in December, president Muhammadu Buhari claimed that Boko Haram was "technically defeated."

  11. Thank you so much Duane Vorhees for sharing my poem and adding lots of inputs on the genesis of Boko Haram and the current scenario in Nigeria.


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