The Blog

Confronting Collusion

Our involvement in war and arms must be confronted; we cannot continue to collude with criminals and must own up to the roles that we play. Too many have suffered and too many are suffering.

As violence breaks lose once again in the Central African Republic, The Nigerian governments support for aggression towards civilian groups is all but forgotten. Earlier this week a documentary aired showing horrific violence perpetrated towards civilians in Nigeria, but days on, barely anyone has bat an eyelid. The ICC is thought to be pursuing some case of some sort against Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathon, but as the persecution continues, "National heroes" are what this militia group is being hailed as.

Nigeria is Britain's key counter terrorism partner in the region or so our prime minister says, in the fight against Boko Haram and the violence they perpetrate our funding for the nation has gone up. It was just a few months ago that #BringBackOurGirls was trending globally and everyone who was anyone was holding up their placard, from Michelle Obama and Salma Hayek, to placards at the Cannes film festival red carpet. I remember at the time reading reports on separate kidnappings by the government, of course this wasn't a part of the mainstream narrative but I didn't delve much deeper.

I, as a news reporter have been consumed by the crisis in the Central African Republic and my attention has been laid there. The Central African Republic has seen an unprecedented level of violence which spiralled out of control early this year, leading to masses of Muslims fleeing for their lives. I recently travelled to the country's borders visiting refugee camps in Chad and amidst the horror and sadness in the eyes of those I met; it was a particular story which stuck.

A young, widowed man who had escaped with his two sons spoke to me about his heart-breaking loss, but one that he was angered by rather than saddened. Omar blamed foreign intervention, disarming one group whilst arming another.

The subsequent result of this was that Muslims in the country had nothing to defend themselves with or no one to defend them as they were killed in violent mob attacks. Masjids were burnt and homes were looted, as all they could do was flee for their lives.

An all too familiar environment and all too familiar situations, According to the reports I've seen Nigeria is using funding to arm militia, Kenya for their anti-terror unit (accused of kidnappings and disappearances), why should I think CAR would be different?

Kenyan counterterrorism police face accusations of kidnappings, killings and mistreatment, watchdog Human Rights Watch have not shied away from the role of Britain and the United States. The security unit receives significant support and training from the United States and the United Kingdom. "Donors need to carry out their own investigations of these abuses and suspend their assistance to abusive forces, or risk being complicit in Kenya's culture of impunity," the rights group said.

#NigeriasHiddenWar laid out a damning report condemning the government and its support for violent militias as video footage laid facts bare. The documentary included video evidence of government forces rounding up hundreds of men and waited for the army to arrive to shoot them down, along with men accused of being Boko Haram having their throats cut as though they were being sacrificed. Men with their hands and legs tied behind them and beaten in the sun, a woman being beaten to the ground whilst cradling her baby, this militia receive training, weapons, powers to detain and wages from their government, one even receiving funding from ours. At least 4,000 people have died in military custody in Nigeria as Goodluck Jonathon's war continues, in Nigeria's "war on terror". Little different to many, civilians are being killed as though there collateral damage.

Operation Protective Edge has led to more than 2,000 fatalities and the death toll in Syria has reached at least 200,000. International war crimes are being committed in Nigeria and "ethnic cleansing" in CAR, between 1992 and 1995 40,000 women were raped in Bosnia with testimony from the women showing the level of humiliation and degradation they suffered at the hands of Serbian forces.

As an international community, we continue to fail ourselves.

"national interest repeatedly takes precedence over human suffering and breaches of world peace."

Navi Pillay, UN Human Rights Chief

Our involvement in war and arms must be confronted; we cannot continue to collude with criminals and must own up to the roles that we play. Too many have suffered and too many are suffering. In her last address to the security council, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, criticised the body for its ineffectiveness citing conflicts in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza. Pillay said. "None of these crises erupted without warning." In my opinion we are seeing the warnings, but in most cases we'd rather hide them under the carpet, is the reason for this that we're afraid of being confronted by complicity?.

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