Manchester protesters will stage a vigil in Piccadilly Gardens tonight to shed light on the plight of around 230 young Nigerian girls seized by militant Islamist group Boko Haram last month.
The radical group have threatened to ‘sell’ the girls and in light of this supporters will meet from 5-7pm to publicise the girls’ abduction from their boarding school in Chibok in the hope of securing their safe return.
The campaigners will be wearing red in order to show solidarity and support for the Bringbackourgirls movement.
A ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign spokesman, 37-year-old Nikki Wallace, told MM: “It is a truly awful situation, nobody should have to go through something like this especially in the modern day.
“We need to take some kind of action to ensure the girls return home safe. Not enough is being done and that needs to change quickly.
“Bring Back Our Girls is gaining momentum and we need to increase the public’s awareness of what shocking things are happening all around us.”
The girls were abducted three weeks ago and more than 230 of them are still believed to be missing – which has prompted strong criticism of the Nigerian government.
The girls were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on April 14.
Manchester-based campaigner, Rowena Salmon, a 17-year-old student from Chorlton, said: “Hopefully lots of people will bring placards, and from photos from other events it looks like there’s been chanting.
“I hope that by staging this vigil we can attract more attention to the situation and that the media will put more pressure on our government and the Nigerian government to take all measures to bring the girls home safely.
“I also hope that we might bring some comfort to the families by showing our solidarity.”
“I still cannot believe it,” she added. “As someone who’s currently studying A-levels the idea that such a huge action might be carried out with the sole purpose of stopping these girls going to school is disgusting to me.
“I cannot imagine what the girls and their community in Chibok are going through.”
The Boko Haram insurgency, which translates as ‘Western education is forbidden’, has targeted numerous schools in northern Nigeria since it came to prominence in 2009.
Manchester University student Lucy Bannister told MM: “Not only is this an act of terrorism against the education of girls in Nigeria but it is an event of huge human trafficking.
“The idea that these girls can be taken, sold and raped while no authority figures do anything meaningful is horrendous.
“I’m hoping that tonight’s vigil will show solidarity with the families of the abducted children who are fighting for action to be taken.
“I expect that we can show our government and authorities that this is an issue that is important to the people of Manchester and to the people of the UK and hopefully mobilise some serious action.”
The Nigerian government has received widespread condemnation for their failings to find the girls in the last three weeks.
President Johnathan admits that despite searches by the army and air force, they still do not know where the girls are.
Picture courtesy of Bring Back Our Girls UK via Facebook, with thanks