Alicia Keys, Greta Thunberg, Kerry Washington Among 60 Celebs and Activists Urging Nigeria to …

People hold banners as they demonstrate on the street to protest against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. Protests against Nigeria’s police continued to rock the country for the eighth straight day Thursday as demonstrators marched through the streets of major cities, blocking traffic and disrupting business.
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba


Why Global Citizens Should Care

All citizens reserve the right to protest and the fact that Nigerians have been punished for exercising this right is unjust. The United Nations’ Global Goal 16 calls for peace, justice, and strong institutions, which is an essential goal that goes a long way in achieving all of the Global Goals. This goal can only be achieved if all voices are heard and the human rights of Nigerian citizens are not suppressed. Join the movement and take action against this issue here

On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day was met with an open letter signed by activists and celebrities worldwide, calling for justice for the Nigerian protesters who had allegedly been attacked by police and jailed for taking part in the #EndSARS protests against military and police brutality. 

The protests took place across the country in October and initially called for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a Nigerian police force formed in 1992 to combat robbery and other crimes. These protests were a demonstration against the violence, brutality, and abuse of power allegedly displayed by SARS and the national police. 

Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi spearheaded the penning of the open letter addressed to Nigerian President demanding that he and his government be held accountable for suppressing the rights of young Nigerian citizens. 

Singer Alicia Keys, actors Kerry Washington and Mark Ruffalo, and climate activist Greta Thunberg were among the 60 notable signatories of the open letter. The signatories called on President Buhari to end the ban on peaceful demonstrations in order to “ allow Nigerians their constitutional right to protest.” 

“As signatories of this public letter we express our dismay and outrage at your administration’s violent response to the peaceful #EndSARS protests,” the letter begins. 

The letter, which was published as an advert in the New York Times on International Human Rights’ Day, further asked Buhari to release jailed protesters and journalists who were exercising their right to protest, and to return confiscated passports and government IDs, and to unfreeze bank accounts.

Although Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police announced in a statement released on Oct. 11 that SARS would be dissolved, the infringement of Nigerian human rights took a different form, as those linked to the protest have had their finances limited pending an investigation. 

Related Stories Oct. 13, 2020 #EndSARS: Young People in Nigeria Are Using Social Media to Drive Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

According to Reuters, the Central Bank of Nigeria acquired a 90-day court order to freeze the bank accounts of 20 people linked to the protests pending investigation by the bank. While the bank did not disclose the reasons for investigation, Reuters reported that the court order may be renewed. 

Signatories of the open letter recognized this, and other actions taken by the Nigerian government, as a suppression of human rights and called on Buhari to “heed the call not only for the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, but also those rights enshrined in the very constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” 

Related Stories Oct. 23, 2020 Watch: BLM Co-Founder Opal Tometi Joins Stars for Powerful Video on #EndSARS in Nigeria

This is not the first time that Tometi has united a group of prominent people to stand up for the #EndSARS protests. In October she was joined by celebrities such as actresses Uzo Aduba and Yvonne Orji, theatre actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, and many more in a video posted to social media that called for the disbandment of SARS and highlighted the importance of the protests. 

The open letter ends: “Nigeria deserves better. Africa deserves better. The world deserves better.” 

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