TIME Nigeria

Boko Haram Survivor Tells Story on Capitol Hill

Deborah Peter, 15, recounted how the Nigerian Islamist group had butchered her father and brother as Congress mulls how to counter the group that has abducted over 200 schoolgirls

+ READ ARTICLE

Deborah Peter, a 15 year-old Nigerian, has a horrible story.

On the evening of Dec. 22, 2011, she saw her father, a Christian pastor, shot three times in the chest by three members of the Islamist radical group Boko Haram. While her father lay on the floor of his home, the men debated whether or not they should kill her brother Caleb. As her father breathed his last, they killed Caleb too. The men made the young girl lie between the corpses and she stayed there until the next morning, when a local pastor paid for her to get out of the region. That pastor was killed in 2013 — again, by Boko Haram.

Peter recounted her story before the media on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as Congress debates how to counter the radical Islamist group behind last month’s kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Peter’s home town. She held up a paper sign reading “#BringBackMySisters” for video cameras and photographers. She then attended a House panel committee to discuss the growing threat of Boko Haram, along with Department of Defense and Secretary of State officials summoned as witnesses.

“I decided to tell the world my story when the Chibok girls were taken because everyone needs to know how horrible Boko Haram is,” said Peter in her statement. “They kill innocent people who never hurt them. I want the world to understand what happened to me. I hope the kidnapped Chibok girls will take courage from my story, and know more of what God says, and know what it means to stand strong in the face of bad people.”

After giving her opening statement, Peter was asked to describe how she felt about Boko Haram after all she had been through. “It’s a hard question; I think they’re bad,” she said, before adding “I can’t judge them.”

Later, TIME asked her why. “The Bible said do not judge,” she replied.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser