Stop the criminalization of Biafra-activists! A clarification of the genocide is overdue!

Nigeria arrests 104 Biafra-activists

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands the immediate release of 101 Biafra-activists who were arrested in Nigeria on Monday. "Instead of criminalizing activists as terrorists, Nigeria should finally remove the taboos from the issue of the Biafra genocide and clarify what happened there from 1967 to 1970", said the STP’s Africa-expert, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Tuesday. "This process of coming to terms with the past is long overdue." Last Sunday, the 101 supporters of the "Biafra Zionist Movement" (BZM) had demonstrated in Enugu, hoisted Biafran flags and declared the independence of Biafra. "The BZM is merely an insignificant and small faction – but any criminalization of Biafra-activists intensifies the tensions in the region," warned the human rights activist.

The STP also demands the release of three leaders of the "The Movement for the Actualization of the Soveriegn State of Biafra" (MASSOB). They had already been arrested on November 1, 2012, when they tried to hand over a BZM-member to the police. The MASSOB supporters feared that their commitment for an independent Biafra might be discredited and had tried to prevent the BZM’s declaration of independence. The MASSOB itself had also declared the independence of Biafra on May 22, 2000, by hoisting the flag.

The call for an independent state is repeatedly raised in Biafra. The genocide of two million Ibo in the late 1960s – after the region was split up – is still a taboo for the Nigerian public. The crimes were not documented and those who were responsible have not been held accountable.

The arrested people are facing a charge of high treason. The MASSOB chairman Ralph Uwazuruike was arrested and accused of high treason for similar reasons in 2005. In 2007, the case was dropped and the lawyer was set free. In 2011, he was arrested again – together with 280 other MASSOB-supporters - but President Goodluck Jonathan demanded their release a few days later.