(Ottawa—May 7, 2014)—The April 14th abduction of over 270 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in the state of Borno, Niger ia is a chilling reminder that society’s most vulnerable citizens—our children—remain targets of violence.
Tragically, attacks against girls pursuing an education are all too common in many parts of the world. In recent years, the escalation of violence targeting girls—including sex trafficking, attempted assassinations and mass kidnapping—is testimony to the extraordinary efforts being undertaken to deprive girls of an education and our societies future women leaders.
Three weeks have passed since the girls in northeastern Nigeria were abducted and their families are still living in limbo. The misinformation and apparent inaction of the Nigerian government to secure the girls’ return—as evidenced by the failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to make a public statement on the situation until this past weekend—exacerbates this tragedy.
Urgent action is needed to bring these girls home. We call upon the government of Nigeria to take full responsibility for locating the missing girls, and the international community to fully support and prioritize these efforts. These girls have rights recognized under international law to live free from fear of violence—including sexual violence—and have full access to education.
We also call upon the government of Nigeria to respect freedom of expression, and the rights of activists and citizens across Nigeria publicly expressing their profound concern over the lack of government action in the case of the missing schoolgirls.
We join our hands in solidarity with our Nigerian sisters and activists who are using every means, including street protests and social media, to spur action nationally and globally so that the girls of Chibok are returned safely to their families.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) — Northern Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) — Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) — South Africa
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) — Guatemala
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) — USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) — Iran
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) — Liberia
Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) — Yemen