In an open letter, activists condemn the government for “unwarranted force against its own unarmed citizens.”
Global activists and celebrities criticized the Nigerian government for a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality two months ago.
In an open letter to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made public in Lagos to coincide with International Human Rights Day on Thursday, 60 activists condemned the government for “unwarranted force against its own unarmed citizens.”
Writing under the auspices of Diaspora Rising, which calls itself an advocacy organization formed to strengthen “ties between members of the global black family,” the activists called for the release of jailed protesters as well as the prosecution of officers. officials responsible for shooting civilians in Lagos.
They also urged the government to lift the ban on public demonstrations.
Among the signatories were US activist Opal Tometi, actors Danny Glover and Kerry Washington, young Swedish eco-warrior Greta Thunberg, singer Alicia Keys, civil rights activist Angela Davis, US MP Ilhan Omar, Nigerian rapper American Jidenna and Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King jr.
Tometi, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and founder of Diaspora Rising, called Nigeria’s response to the protests “very shameful.”
“Instead of standing alongside [the people], the government went to suppress them, went to stifle the demonstration and repress it, ”she said.
Amnesty International said security forces shot dead at least 10 people during a protest at Lekki Toll Gate, the epicenter of the protests, in Lagos on October 20.
But the military has denied using live ammunition, insisting the soldiers were only firing in the air to disperse the crowds that had gathered in defiance of a curfew.
However, Nigerian authorities said more than 100 people, including 43 security guards, were killed across the country after days of street protests.