In its recent report, Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2017, ICC states, “It is alleged that members of the IMN armed with batons, knives, and machetes stopped the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff on a principle road in Zaria on 12 December 2015” However, this characterisation of Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s (IMN) supporters in this report is false and alarming.
We therefore urge supporters and people of conscience worldwide to actively participate in our Action Alert activity by:
1. Write to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, model letter/email provided below;
Model email / letter
For the attention of Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
Dear Ms Bensouda,
I am writing to raise my concern about the ICC Preliminary examination into the massacre committed by the Nigerian army in Zaria, Nigeria in December 2015.
In the Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2017 it states, “It is alleged that members of the IMN armed with batons, knives, and machetes stopped the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff on a principle road in Zaria on 12 December 2015”.
This characterisation of Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s (IMN) supporters in this report is false and alarming. Despite numerous investigations and reports by various bodies in Nigeria, not a single shred of credible evidence has been presented showing members of IMN were armed and ready to attack soldiers.
In fact, all the pictures and videos from the attack show soldiers walking around IMN buildings at a leisurely pace without any fear for their safety as they took their position, before opening fire without any provocation on unarmed IMN supporters. Furthermore, all video clips and pictures of the victims’ corpses did not show a single member with weapons by his side. Above all, the report of the Kaduna state Judicial Commission, which the report made reference to, clearly stated that “the assumption that the IMN in Zaria was heavily armed was not verified.”
The Islamic Human Rights Commission has documented this extensively in their communication to the ICC (http://ihrc.org.uk/publications/reports/11646-investigating-the-attack-against-the-islamic-movement-of-nigeria-on-12-13-december-2015-in-zaria) and on their website (http://ihrc.org.uk), as well as by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee in their respective reports and websites.
While the ICC report does state the word “alleged”, it does not present the victims’ perspective, and unfairly presents them as the instigators of the violence that took place over those fateful three days.
If the ICC is to be an effective and impartial body that holds perpetrators of international crimes to account, it needs to avoid victim blaming. Caveats do not avoid the fact that the ICC has regurgitated a narrative in which the victims are falsely accused of violence, thereby giving credence to the governments false claim that this was a law and order operation to contain IMN violence.
The ICC needs to be more responsible, and cannot become a vehicle for perpetrators of grave crimes against humanity to peddle false narratives against their victims.
I am pleased to hear that the ICC has reached preliminary findings and will be seeking further clarifications from the Nigerian authorities. Given my concerns above, I would like to know what the ICC will do to get clarification/information from IMN, the victims of the army’s attack, those who remain imprisoned without trial, as well as the witnesses who saw the army’s unprovoked criminal behaviour.
I look forward to hearing from you soonest.
Your name (and signature if sending by mail)
By Mail, send to:
Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
Via twitter, send to the following handles:
Please use the hashtags: #FatouBensouda and #ICC