Leah was one of 110 girls abducted from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria by Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) an offshoot of Boko Haram in February 2018. The next month, following negotiations by the government, the girls were put into vehicles to go home.
However, Leah wasn’t among them. She wasn’t released because she refused to convert in exchange for her freedom.
Write a letter to demand Leah's release
We're urging the Nigerian government to negotiate Leah's release, as they did for the rest of her classmates.
Use the letter below as your guide. You may want to include a few words sharing your own feelings about Leah’s plight.
I was appalled to learn of the latest news in relation to Leah Sharibu, one of 110 schoolgirls abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State on 19 February 2018.
I am aware that 15 year old Leah, the sole Christian in the group, is still being held prisoner by Boko Haram. As well as confirming that five of their fellow abductees were dead and had been buried in the bush, returnees said that Leah had been “held back on religious grounds” due to her refusal to convert in exchange for her freedom.
As you are aware, the terrorists who are holding Leah brutally murdered two humanitarian workers after declaring them apostate simply for working with the Red Cross, and they are still holding another, Alice Loksha Ngaddah, who along with Leah has been enslaved for life. Reading between the lines, and given the link between the Islamic State and the Boko Haram faction that is holding these women, there is every likelihood they are both enduring the same appalling mistreatment as experienced by captured Yazidi girls and women in Iraq at the hands of IS.
May I respectfully remind you of your government’s obligations to uphold the tenets and principles of the Nigerian constitution ensuring that every citizen has a right to “be protected irrespective of his/her gender, culture and religious belief.” I urge you to use your good offices to impress upon your government the importance of prioritising the safe return of Leah and her fellow hostages to their respective families. In addition, may I also urge you to put into place an effective strategy to protect educational establishments in vulnerable communities and to ensure that every child is free to pursue an education without fear.
With thanks in anticipation of your support in this matter.
Writing to UN Secretary-General António Guterres
- Begin with something like, ‘I was deeply moved by your condemnation of the brutal murder of aid worker Hauwa Liman. However, I am disappointed that you did not mention by name or speak out more strongly on the situation of Leah Sharibu, the 15-year-old schoolgirl being held by the same faction of Bolo Haram.’
- Outline the situations of Leah Sharibu, stressing the fact that as the sole non-Muslim she was for some reason omitted from the negotiations that secured the release of her colleagues. Point out also that having been declared a slave there is every likelihood she is experiencing the same fate as captured Yazidi girls and women in Iraq at the hands of IS.
- Point out that the fact that she was kept in captivity for refusing to convert is a grave violation the right to freedom of religion or belief and the fact that minor is currently suffering multiple and severe violations of a multitude of rights outlined in the UDHR is an indictment not only of the Nigerian government's failure to protect a vulnerable citizen, but of an international community that has not held it sufficiently to account.
- Call on the Secretary-General to urge the Nigerian government to negotiate the release of Leah, Alice, and the 112 remaining Chibok girls, to ensure the armed forces are fully equipped to address this insurgency, and that schools in vulnerable areas receive adequate protection.
Send your letter to: His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, U.N. Headquarters, New York, NY 10017, U.S.A.
#2 Our principles
We believe no one should suffer discrimination, harassment or persecution because of their beliefs