AFT calls for heightened pressure to counter Boko Haram

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The AFT executive council passed a resolution May 23 calling for swift and determined international action against Boko Haram, the radical, extremist organization that is terrorizing the population of Nigeria—especially schoolgirls, teachers and healthcare workers. The resolution urges the Obama administration "to be relentless in engaging the government of Nigeria … to uphold its obligations as a developing democracy that respects the human rights of all its citizens, guarantees the rule of law, and ensures the security and protection of its people."

Titled #BringBackOurGirls, the resolution directs the AFT to intensify our efforts to engage members across the country in a demonstration of grass-roots support—through social media, petitions, letters, demonstrations and other mobilization—that gets conveyed to the government of Nigeria, which must do more to end the atrocities of kidnapping and the murder of innocent civilians.

In early May, the AFT lent its voice to the millions worldwide expressing outrage over the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in separate incidents in Nigeria. At an AFT Tumblr site, AFT members and students are showing solidarity by posting pictures of themselves holding signs of support.

As the resolution notes, the acts of terror are part of an escalating chain of attacks by Boko Haram targeting schools, villages, health clinics and government facilities. Boko Haram, a group whose name means "Western" or "non-Islamic education is a sin," is responsible for killing or wounding thousands of civilians and kidnapping children, who are traded as sex slaves, forced into marriage or to serve as child soldiers.

The AFT stands with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and the bipartisan group of all 20 women senators they led who got the Senate to unanimously pass a resolution condemning Boko Haram and urging the U.S. government to make security assets available to Nigeria in its fight against terrorism.

The resolution also joins the AFT and Education International in calling on the government of Nigeria to make reparations to the families, teachers and healthcare workers, many of whom have been intimidated or displaced from practicing their professions, and others who have been murdered for simply serving their communities. [Barbara McKenna]

March 27, 2014