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Dozens of prominent activists, politicians, actors and musicians – including Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, Greta Thunberg and Alicia Keys – have signed an open letter to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari calling on him to release protesters jailed for taking part in the country’s recent mass anti-police brutality demonstrations, Vice Magazine reports.
The letter – which was organised by Diaspora Rising, a media and advocacy organisation that was founded by the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi – was taken out as a full-page ad in The New York Times and published to mark International Human Rights Day.
Other signatories to the open letter include actors Kerry Washington, Riz Ahmed, Mark Ruffalo and Yvonee Orji; musicians Angélique Kidjo, Jidenna and Cynthia Erivo; politicians Ilhan Omar and Jamaal Bowman; and activists Dr. Bernice King and Rev. William Barber.
Among its demands, it calls on Buhari to allow an independent investigation into the shooting that occurred on the 12th day of protests when officers of the Nigerian military are alleged to have opened fire on demonstrators in Lagos.
“As signatories of this public letter, we express our dismay and outrage at your administrations violent response to the peaceful #EndSARS protests taking place across Nigeria in October,” the letter says.
“For the first time in recent memory, the world witnessed Nigerians from all walks of life, ethnicities, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic classes, come together to make known the collective needs of the people. Yet their peaceful requests were met with state-sanctioned violence and suppression, as your administration meted out unwarranted force against its own unarmed citizens.” The letter partly reads.
“As people who have supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and throughout the diaspora, we cannot be silent when similar atrocities take place in African countries,” the letter continues. “We demand respect for the Nigerian people, especially as they engage in their constitutional right to protest grave injustices.” it stated.
#Endsars is a protest against police brutality and tgat forced thousands of Nigerians to march across cities demanding an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and abuses.
In November, CNN international crew investigated the events of the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza, where unarmed protesters gathered to demand an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and abuses.
The detailed reporting exposed the Nigerian Governments role in the killings of unarmed protesters, a story the Nigerian government has continued to deny.