TIME indonesia

Foreign Drug Smugglers in Indonesia Look Set to Face a Firing Squad Early Wednesday

Activists Call For Stop To Bali Nine Duo Executions
Cole Bennetts—Getty Images A girl holds a candle as part of an Amnesty international vigil for the Bali 9 duo, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in a last ditch effort to sway the Indonesian Government to halt the planned executions of the two on April 27, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has rejected clemency appeals

It appears that nine drug convicts, eight of them foreigners, will face a firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday. That’s according to an Australian news report that claims a local mortician has been instructed to write the dates of death as “29.04.2015” on the crosses that will be placed on the coffins of Christian prisoners.

Indonesian media also report that nine coffins, covered in white cloth, were taken in readiness on Sunday night to the police station in the Javanese town of Cilacap, near Nusakambangan island, where the convicts are being kept and where they will be shot. The death penalties come after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the killings.

Indonesia gave a 72-hour execution notice to the four Nigerians, two Australians, one Filipina, one Brazilian and one Indonesian on Saturday. That time frame, and the dates being inscribed on the crosses, suggests that the executions will take place very early on Wednesday morning — perhaps just after the stroke of midnight.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, has been given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

However, no such reprieve has been granted to other inmates, who include Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

Legal appeals are still under way for Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso and Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His lawyers rushed to file a last-minute request for a second judicial review on Monday morning.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi have joined the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the Indonesian maid whose severe abuse at the hands of her employer in Hong Kong threw a global spotlight on the plight of female migrant workers, has asked Jokowi to pardon her fellow domestic helper Veloso, who maintains that she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

Families of the condemned have arrived on Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military have stepped up security in Cilacap and Nusakambangan. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, wants to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Veloso’s mother, brother and former husband held a banner that said, “Save the Life of Mary Jane!” at Cilacap’s port on Monday in a desperate attempt to halt her execution. Veloso, who supporters say is a victim of human trafficking and whose plight has sparked sympathy from Indonesian citizens, told her eldest son on Saturday, “Don’t think that I died because I did something wrong. Be proud of your mother because she died owning up to the sins of others.”

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME Nigeria

Inside the Search for the Chibok Schoolgirls Abducted by Boko Haram

After more than a year the Nigerian army could be closing in on the forest where the schoolgirls are believed to be held

Nigerian activist and “Bring Back Our Girls” co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili left a room full of the most influential people in the world speechless this week, in an emotional speech saying they could not possibly move on while 219 schoolgirls were still crying to be rescued. It has been just over a year since Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, in northern Nigeria, and while 57 have escaped, not one of them has done so because of military efforts.

Speaking at Tuesday’s TIME 100 Gala in New York City, Ezekwesili, a former Federal Minister of Education of Nigeria and Vice President of the the African division of the World Bank, took the opportunity to continue her work canvassing for the rescue of the Chibok girls. She called upon President Barack Obama to push for action, saying: “If he could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

In the last year there has been much talk about the girls but little success. Below is the story of the search so far. The girls are being held, it is believed, in dense forest in the northeast of Nigeria. Nigerian forces entered the forest in the last week supported by intelligence and surveillance provided by U.S. and other Western states.

April 14-15, 2014 : Boko Haram fighters break into the Government Secondary School in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok in Borno State. They kidnap 276 schoolgirls: several of them jump off trucks carrying them away from the school.

April 23: Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi is the first to use the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag in a tweet during a UNESCO address given by Ezekwesili, who goes on to lead the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

April 30: The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag gains traction, trending in Nigeria with over 100,000 mentions in a single day. It spreads internationally, attracting support from celebrities and prominent public figures, including Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, American actress and comedian Amy Poehler, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and singer Mary J Blige.

May 2: By now, more than 50 of the schoolgirls have escaped in separate groups.

May 4: Nearly three weeks after the kidnapping and after much criticism over his silence, President Goodluck Jonathan makes his first public statement on national television acknowledging what happened and vows to find the girls.

May 5: Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, releases a video claiming responsibility for the abduction and promises to sell the girls as slaves.

May 7: Just after #BringBackOurGirls reaches 1 million tweets, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama tweets a photo of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls. Four days later, she delivers the presidential address rather than her husband, saying they are both “outraged and heartbroken” about the abduction.

Early May onwards: Teams of military advisors, negotiators and counsellors from the U.S., U.K. and France start providing help with the search efforts. China, Israel, Canada, Iran, and the E.U. all pledge assistance too.

The U.S. has at least 26 officials specifically tasked to the Boko Haram abduction, including three FBI officials and at least 16 military personnel. The U.K. deployed Sentinel and Tornado GR4 aircraft with surveillance capabilities to help in the search, and it continues to provide commercial satellite imagery to the Intelligence Fusion Cell in Abuja, where UK personnel are working alongside Nigerian, US and French colleagues. Ned Price, the Assistant Press Secretary of the National Security Council, says on Thursday: “The U.S. Government has maintained an interdisciplinary team in Abuja consisting of specialists on temporary assignment and personnel assigned to our Embassy in Abuja. Given the regional component to Boko Haram, there are also individuals in other locations including U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries that are part of this effort.”

Nigeria turns off cell phone coverage in the North East area where Boko Haram are operating making it more difficult for militants to coordinate attacks, according to sources. However, it also makes intelligence gathering from phone calls impossible. The Nigerian military strategy also focuses on forcing Boko Haram out of urban areas into forests, further hindering intelligence gathering.

Later that summer, Nigeria requests to purchase American Cobra helicopters for the search but the U.S. declines as Nigeria does not have the infrastructure in place to fly and maintain a fleet of Cobras, which would take several years to develop.

May 12: Boko Haram releases a new video appearing to show about 100 of the missing girls. They boast the girls have converted to Islam and refuse to release them unless the government releases Boko Haram militants from prison.

May 22: The U.S. deploys 80 troops and an unmanned aerial vehicle to Chad to help regional efforts to rescue the schoolgirls.

May 26: Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s highest ranking military officer, says the army has located the girls but refuses to give any details of their whereabouts, causing doubts about the veracity of the reports. He says the army would not make an attempt to rescue them by force: “We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”

May 27: Reports emerge that Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people close to Boko Haram to broker a deal to release the girls.

July 15: Nigerian police say they arrested Zakaria Mohammed, a high-level Boko Haram member, who was fleeing military operations around the Balmo Forest. It is not clear if he provided any information on the whereabouts of the schoolgirls.

October 17: The Nigerian army announces a ceasefire deal between government forces and Boko Haram, following negotiations mediated in Saudi Arabia by Chadian President Idriss Déby and Cameroonian officials. The announcement raises hopes that the remaining girls might be released, but Mike Omeri, Nigeria’s chief security spokesman, says no deal is in place.

2015

February: After being awarded scholarships, 21 of the Chibok girls who managed to escape are now studying at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola, the capital of neighboring Adamawa state.

March 6: Work begins to rebuild the girls’ school in Chibok, which has been closed since they were abducted.

March 19: Nigeria’s army chief Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah admits there is “no news for now” about the girls’ fate, despite military successes in recapturing towns held by Boko Haram.

March 25: A 56-year-old woman abducted by Boko Haram in July 2014 is released after 8 months. She tells the International Centre for Investigative Reporting in Nigeria that she was being held in the same house as the Chibok girls in the town of Gwoza in Borno State, under 24-hour-security by armed guards – although she never actually saw the girls herself.

March 27: The town of Gwoza is recaptured by the Nigerian army but, despite earlier reports suggesting otherwise, the kidnapped girls are not found.

April 18: President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who will take office on May 29, writes in the Times that his government will do everything in its power to bring the girls home, but says his administration will begin with a honest assessment as to whether the Chibok girls can be rescued: “Currently their whereabouts remain unknown. We do not know the state of their health or welfare, or whether they are even still together or alive. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.”

April 19: Nigerian ground troops move into the Sambisa forest hoping to find and rescue the Chibok girls after sustained air strikes carried out by the Nigerian Air Force over the past eight weeks.

April 21: Obiageli Ezekwesili tells the Time 100 Gala “If he (President Obama) could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

Additional reporting by Aryn Baker and Maya Rhodan

Read next: Boko Haram has fled but no one knows the fate of the Chibok girls one year on

TIME TIME 100 Gala

Watch the Bring Back Our Girls Founder’s Emotional Speech: ‘You Can’t Move On’

"Whatever we choose to do, we can accomplish. Let’s choose to bring our girls back"

“Bring Back Our Girls” co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili lamented Tuesday night that hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist group Boko Haram last year are still missing, during an emotional speech at the TIME 100 gala.

“How can we be in a world where technology can find you in your bedroom and today we have nothing on the matter of our 219 girls?” the TIME 100 honoree said in remarks that brought some attendees to tears.

“There’s absolutely nothing that the God I believe in cannot do,” she said. “But the same God has given man and woman the power of choice. Whatever we choose to do, we can accomplish. Let’s choose to bring our girls back, please?”

Earlier in the night she called on President Obama to do more to help find the girls.

“If he could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls,” she told TIME.

Watch her entire TIME 100 gala speech below.

TIME Nigeria

Nigerian Military Focus on Area Where Abducted Girls Are Believed Held

Parents and community leaders dismissed the statement as political grandstanding

(LAGOS, Nigeria) — Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram are focusing on a northeastern forest where officials believe more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago are being held, the government’s counter-insurgency spokesman said Wednesday.

Parents and community leaders from Chibok town dismissed the statement as political grandstanding.

The outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan “remains resolute in finding and returning them (the girls) to their homes,” said Mike Omeri of the National Information Centre at a news conference in Abuja, the capital.

A military offensive has driven the Boko Haram Islamic extremists out of all strongholds except the northeastern forest, said Omeri.

“Presently, the military is moving into the Sambisa Forest,” he said, “Our intelligence indicates that the present military operation is focused in the area where the girls are believed to be held.”

His statements are a far cry from the uncertainty about the girls’ fate expressed Tuesday by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who pledged to be honest with the parents. Speaking on the first anniversary of the kidnapping, Buhari said he would not make any promises to find the girls because their whereabouts remain unknown.

Parents and community leaders told The Associated Press that their information indicates the girls were moved from Sambisa within weeks of their abduction. They insisted on anonymity for fear of attack by Boko Haram.

Community leader Pogu Bitrus said the last reported sighting of the girls was last year in the Alagarno forest. Nigeria’s military said it drove Boko Haram from Alagarno last week, but added there were no signs of the girls.

“They are using our girls for political purposes,” Bitrus said.

Parents met with a representative of Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who promised work would start Monday by soldiers to rebuild the school burned by Boko Haram, community leader Dr. Idrisa Danladi told the AP.

Jonathan’s government initially denied the mass abduction and then made some misleading statements about the girls, as did the military. Both have faced international outrage for failing to rescue the girls snatched from a school in Chibok on April 14-15. Dozens escaped but 219 remain missing.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Buhari on Wednesday to express U.S. support for efforts to rescue all hostages held by Boko Haram, in efforts to counter the Islamic extremist group and to protect civilians, according to a White House statement.

TIME Nigeria

Read Malala Yousafzai’s Letter to ‘Brave Sisters’ Abducted by Boko Haram

Malala Yousafzai Wins Nobel Peace Prize
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images Malala Yousafzai holds a bouquet of flowers during after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on October 10, 2014 in Birmingham, England.

"To my brave sisters, the kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok," she wrote

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai wrote an open letter to the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants, one year after the girls were seized from a boarding school in the rural northeastern town of Chibok.

“On this first anniversary of your captivity, I write to you with a message of solidarity, love and hope,” the young Pakistani activist wrote in a letter posted to Medium, which she also read aloud in a SoundCloud audio recording.

Yousafzai described her own meetings with Nigerian officials, in which she urged Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to secure their release. “I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed,” she wrote.

She also described emotional encounters with grieving parents and survivors of the attack. “Last July, I spent my 17th birthday in Nigeria with some of your parents and five of your classmates who escaped the kidnapping. Your parents are grief-stricken. They love you, and they miss you,” she wrote.

She added that girls who had escaped the attack received full scholarships through the Malala Fund to complete their secondary school studies. “We hope to someday extend that same scholarship to all 219 of you, when you return home,” Yousafzai wrote.

Read the full letter at Medium.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Have the missing Nigerian schoolgirls been trained to fight?

By Amnesty International

2. Why more roads means more traffic, not less.

By Matthew Beck and Michiel Bliemer in the Conversation

3. Let’s face it. There’s no perfect deal to be made with Iran.

By Pierre Atlas in the Indianapolis Star

4. Does more spending guarantee a better military?

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in the Week

5. What if we could detect some types of cancer with a simple breath test?

By Smitha Mundasad at the BBC

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Nigeria

Boko Haram Has Fled but No One Knows the Fate of the Chibok Girls One Year On

“It would have been better to see the dead body of my daughter than to let them carry her away”

Some days, the Rev. Enoch Mark wishes his 20-year-old daughter Monica were dead. One year ago she was kidnapped, and not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about her fate. “Sometimes I think knowing she is dead would be better than knowing nothing at all,” he says. Today, the private agony of a father lamenting his missing daughter is amplified 219 times, as Nigeria observes the one-year anniversary of a kidnapping that stunned a country and woke the world to the threat of Boko Haram.

On the night of April 14, 2014, the calm of Chibok, a rural town in northeastern Nigeria, was shattered as militants stormed the dormitory of a government boarding school for girls just before midnight. Gunmen rampaged through the compound, shooting guns and setting fire to buildings while others, disguised as military personnel on a rescue operation, bundled the students into waiting trucks. The girls’ screams could be heard half a mile away. Itinerant preacher Mark, who had only just enrolled his daughter Monica at the school, ran toward campus. By the time he arrived it was too late: the militants had already rounded up 276 girls and disappeared into the nearby Sambisa forest. “It would have been better to see the dead body of my daughter than to let them carry her away,” he says of that night. “But I didn’t see anyone left, dead or alive.”

The abduction drew international condemnation, with celebrities from Michelle Obama to Madonna and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai calling for their release. Boko Haram, a long-running localized Islamist insurgency determined to bring its radical interpretation of Islamic law to the region, entered the lexicon of global terrorist groups and Chibok, which didn’t even have a Google Maps entry, became a household name. Fifty-seven of the girls managed to escape in the first few days, leaping from the transport trucks where they had been packed like cattle, or dashing into the forest when their captors’ backs were turned. But one year on, 219 girls remain missing, a black eye for the Nigerian military that has done little to locate them, and a rebuke to the international community that joined the Twitter campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, but has achieved little else, despite three regional conferences and international pledges of support. “We keep on telling the girl child that she is important, that she should dare to be educated. Yet we have left 219 of her sisters with terrorists,” says Aisha Yesufu, a mother of three in the Nigerian capital of Abuja who is spearheading the campaign to keep the issue alive. “So everywhere in the world, the girl child, she has realized that she doesn’t matter, not to the world. Nobody cares. Because if her sisters can be left with their abductors for so long, then there is something wrong with us as humans.”

On Tuesday Nigeria’s President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said his government would do everything in its power to bring the Chibok girls home, but he injected a note of caution. “We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.” The Nigerian military, with assistance from mercenary groups as well as neighbors Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has managed to force Boko Haram out of much of the Belgium-size territory it once held, but the group, including leader Abubakar Shekau, is thought to have taken refuge in the trackless Sambisa forest, where it is protected by dense foliage and difficult terrain.

Boko Haram, which loosely translated means “Western education is forbidden,” started in 2002 as a rejectionist religious group that sought salvation in a fundamentalist reading of Islamic law. It turned violent in 2009, when clashes with Nigerian security forces resulted in the extrajudicial killing of founder Muhammad Yusuf. Since then the group has killed around 13,000 people in a violent campaign of bombings, suicide attacks, massacres and guerilla warfare. An estimated 1.5 million people have been forced from their homes by the insurgency, including some 800,000 children, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund.

According to a newly released report by Amnesty International, the Chibok girls are but a small fraction of the 2,000 women and children who have been abducted by Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014. The testimonies of those who escaped makes for grim reading: repeatedly raped, married against their will and forced to fight. It is likely the Chibok girls share similar fates, if they are alive at all — when Gwoza, the capital of Boko Haram’s self-declared caliphate, was recaptured in late March, residents reported that the fleeing militants killed their wives and stuffed the bodies into wells rather than let them be captured by “infidels.” But residents, speaking to the BBC, said they had seen about 50 of the Chibok girls under Boko Haram guard in the weeks before the city fell. “I don’t believe they are dead,” says Yesufu, the activist, by telephone from Abuja. “They are alive, somewhere. Boko Haram understands the importance of these girls, and will want to keep them as bargaining chips.” Shekau has declared in several video broadcasts that the girls, many of whom were Christian, had either converted to Islam and been married off, or refused to convert and sold as slaves.

Just a few months after the Chibok kidnapping, Boko Haram launched a series of devastating suicide attacks by women, leading some to speculate that the girls could have been brainwashed, or otherwise forced into detonating explosive vests and backpacks in crowded markets. “When Kano saw four explosions in the space of a week in July, all apparently involving young women or teenagers, the first thought was: Is this the Chibok girls?” says Elizabeth Pearson, a doctoral researcher in gender and radicalization at King’s College London and a member of the Nigeria Security Network. As a tactic, it is extremely effective: male security guards are loath to pat down female shoppers, and few suspect women to be suicide bombers. With female bombers, “the shock and fear value is greater. With young women being used particularly, this guarantees greater publicity and media coverage.” But the evidence is inconclusive, notes Pearson. There has been no DNA testing, and the damage wrought by the bombs makes visual identification all but impossible.

For Mark, the idea that his daughter might be living as a captive, abused, enslaved and terrified, is worse than the idea of her being dead. He was told, early on, that one of the kidnapped girls had refused to convert to Islam. As punishment, she was stoned to death. “If that really happened,” he told TIME in January, “it might be my daughter, because she holds her Christian faith so strong. If my daughter was stoned to death for Christ’s sake, I will be grateful.” For some, a martyr’s brutal death gives more comfort than knowing nothing at all.

TIME Nigeria

Report: Boko Haram Abducts 2,000 Women and Girls Since Start of 2014

Amnesty International released report on one-year anniversary of the Chibok kidnappings

The terrorist organization Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the start of 2014, according to a new report released to mark the first anniversary of the group’s notorious kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.

Many of the thousands of abducted women have been sold into sex slavery and trained for battle since 2014, the Amnesty International report found. Men and boys have also been taken to join in the Islamist extremist group’s fighting across Nigeria.

Boko Haram has killed at least 5,500 Nigerians during the past year, the report said. The group boasts about 15,000 fighters whose tactics include taking kidnapped women and girls to remote camps where they are introduced to the group’s version of the Islamic faith. From there they can be either married off to fighters or trained to join them. Either way, according to interviews in the report, women and girls can fall victim to brutalization and rape.

Amnesty International is hopeful that a new government in Nigeria, elected in March, will offer a fresh approach to combating the group, which it says has not been properly investigated and prosecuted thus far.

Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari promised to crack down on the group Tuesday. “We hear the anguish of our citizens and intend to respond accordingly,” his statement said.

TIME Nigeria

New Efforts Promised to Find Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram

People march on a street during a silent protest calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, who were kidnapped a year ago, in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, April 13, 2015
Sunday Alamba—AP People march on a street of Abuja, Nigeria, during a silent protest on April 13, 2015, calling on the government to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped a year ago

President-elect Muhammadu Buhari says kidnapping was "an attack on the dreams and aspirations of our young people"

Marking the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping of 276 girls by Boko Haram, President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that his government plans to do everything in its power to rescue them.

However, Buhari was also careful not to overpromise.

“We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued,” he said, according to Reuters. “Their whereabouts remain unknown.”

The kidnappings grabbed international attention, in large part because of the viral hashtag campaign #BringBackOurGirls, and highlighted the misery being wrought by Boko Haram in its attempt to establish a religious caliphate in northern Nigeria.

“Let us use this anniversary to remind each other that the attack on Chibok was an attack on the dreams and aspirations of our young people,” Buhari said.

Nigeria’s outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan, was roundly criticized for his government’s slow response to the tragedy, which he claims was due to concerns that Boko Haram would kill the girls.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International released a report claiming that Boko Haram had abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014, with many being forced into sexual slavery or combat roles. The report also estimated that over 5,500 civilians had been killed during that time.

[Reuters]

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