News / Africa

Rights Group Suspects Nigerian Military of Covering Up Violence

Post-violence view of concentration of building damages (area 2) as of April 26, 2013. 345 destroyed and severely damaged buildings, burnt trees and fire burn scars visible within this section of Baga.
Post-violence view of concentration of building damages (area 2) as of April 26, 2013. 345 destroyed and severely damaged buildings, burnt trees and fire burn scars visible within this section of Baga.
Heather Murdock
Human Rights Watch says satellite analysis of the northern Nigerian town of Baga proves that thousands of homes were destroyed during a battle that killed hundreds in April.  The organization says the analysis undermines the military’s claim that there was far less destruction and calls for a government investigation.  
 
The battle or massacre - depending on who you ask - in the remote northern fishing town of Baga was on April 16 but it didn’t make the news for nearly a week.  And even then it was believed to have happened on the 19th.
 
Credible sources across Nigeria still disagree on what happened.  New York-based Human Rights Watch has now joined the debate, presenting satellite imagery that compares Baga before and after the violence.  
 
Baga, Nigeria mapBaga, Nigeria map
x
Baga, Nigeria map
Baga, Nigeria map
Human Rights Watch says analysis of the pictures shows nearly 2,300 homes were burnt down even though the military said only 30 homes were burnt.  The organization says it is concerned the military is trying to cover up human rights abuses.
 
The military has maintained that 36 people were killed after Boko Haram insurgents attacked, killing a soldier.  Most of the casualties, they say, were members of Boko Haram, which has been conducting violent operations for nearly four years.
 
Maina Maaji Lawan, a Nigerian senator that represents Baga and is from the town, visited the gravesites over the weekend and said that more than 200 people had been killed and thousands of people were still displaced.

“After physically visiting it, what I have seen is far, far, far more than the reports we received," said Lawan.  "The level of destruction of houses I would not put it at anything less than 4,000.”
 
More concerning than the conflicting reports, he says, is that aid agencies don’t have enough resources to care for the living victims.

“The magnitude of the need has overwhelmed them," said Lawan.  "They have reported that themselves.  I have seen it.  NEMA (the National Emergency Management Agency) and Red Cross and these aid agencies say they need doctors.  There was not one single medical doctor there.”
 
The Human Rights watch report also details individual witness accounts.  In one account, a 32-year-old fisherman says soldiers told the people they were not cooperating with security forces in the battle against Boko Haram and were therefore all suspect.  
 
Human Rights Watch says 3,600 people have been killed in Boko Haram-related violence, including hundreds killed by security forces.  The organization says thousands more people have been arrested and many have been held without charges in inhumane conditions.
 
Locals in Borno State, the original home of Boko Haram, have long complained that they live in fear of both Boko Haram and security forces.  They say if Boko Haram suspects a person of loyalty to security forces, or vice-versa, that person is likely to be killed.
 
Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid