Nigerian Students Killed While Asleep

By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa

ABUJA, Nigeria – Roughly 50 students were killed as suspected Islamist gunmen attacked a college in north-eastern Nigeria.

Rescue workers and family members gather to identify the shrouded bodies (photo courtesy of Kuwait Times)

The students were shot dead while they were asleep in their dormitories at the College of Agriculture in Yobe state. The gunmen also torched the college’s classrooms.

The attack is blamed on the Boko Haram extremist group, even though there has been a four and a half month old state of emergency covering three states and one-sixth of the country.

“They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them,” Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture said.

Mato further said he could not give an exact number for death toll because security forces are still recovering bodies of students mostly aged between 18 and 22. The Nigerian military has collected 42 bodies and transferred 18 wounded students to a local hospital.

In addition, Mato reported that about 1,000 students had fled the scene.

Most of those killed were Muslims, as is the majority of the college’s student body.

The college is roughly 25 miles from another school that suffered from a similar attack around Damaturu town. There are no security forces stationed at the college despite the attacks.

Two weeks ago, state commission for education Mohammed Lamin urged all schools to reopen and promising protection by soldiers and police.

In June, Boko Haram carried our two attacks on schools in the region. At least nine children were killed in a school on the outskirts of Maiduguri, while 13 students and teachers were killed in a school in Damaturu.

In July in the village of Mamudo in Yobe state, Islamist militants attacked a school’s dormitories with guns and explosives, killing at least 42 people, mostly students.

Boko Haram regards schools as a symbol of Western culture. The group’s name translates as “Western education is forbidden.”

Some of Boko Haram’s fighters have trained with al-Shabab in Somalia.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has said in video addresses that his group wants to end democracy in Nigeria and allow education only in Islamic schools.

Its uprising poses the biggest security challenge in years to Nigeria which is Africa’s biggest oil producer and its most populous nation with more than 160 million people – almost equal numbers of which are Muslims and Christians.

Boko Haram militants have killed more than 1,700 people since 2010.

For more information, please visit:

BBC News – Nigeria attack: Students shot dead as they slept – 29 September 2013
Scottish Express – Gunmen massacre Nigeria students – 29 September 2013
Kuwait Times – Militants storm Nigeria college, kill 50 students – 29 September 2013
Yahoo! News – Nigeria College Attacked: At Least 40 Killed – 29 September 2013
Sky News – Nigeria College Attacked: At Least 40 Killed – 29 September 2013
The Globe and Mail – Boko Haram blamed after attack on Nigerian college leaves as many as 50 dead – 29 September 2013


Boko Haram Gunmen Kill College Students in Early Morning Attack

By Erica Smith
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

LAGOS, Nigeria — At least 40 students were killed today when Boko Haram gunmen opened fired on their dormitory. All of the dead are believed to have been students in the College of Agriculture in Gujba, some 30 kilometres from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state. Northeastern Nigeria has been under a state of emergency for several months following multiple attacks by the extremist group.

Boko Haram Fighters (Photo Courtesy of ABC News)

Initial reports indicate that most of the students were asleep when the dormitory was attacked and many died in their sleep. A local politician has told the BBC that two van loads of bodies were taken away from the scene. College provost Molima Idi Mato, speaking to Associated Press, said the number of dead could be as high as 50 and that about 1,000 students had fled the campus. The gunmen also set fire to classrooms.

Surviving students are looking for family and many people have shown up at the hospital looking for loved ones.

Academic activities only resumed last week in schools in Yobe state following 10 weeks of closure after an attack by members of Boko Haram on two secondary schools, which led to the death of 29 students and three teachers . Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “western education is forbidden”, has a penchant for attacking schools and students because they believe that schools are a symbol of Western culture and ought to be destroyed.

The military believes that  the recent school attacks are a sign of desperation by the Islamists because the group only has the capacity to hit soft targets, like schools.  The defence ministry has said that an offensive launched against Boko Haram in May has greatly weakened the group and scattered their fighters across the northeast. The fact that the group is still launching attacks, even if they are in remote places, casts some doubt on the military’s claims of success.

For further information, please see:

ABC News — At least 40 dead after Boko Haram militants open fire in college dorm in Nigeria — 29 September 2013

All Africa — Nigeria: Breaking – Boko Haram Gunmen Kill Many Yobe Agric College Students in Early Morning Attack — 29 September 2013

BBC News — Nigeria attack: Students shot dead as they slept — 29 September 2013

Daily Post — Several Students killed as Boko Haram attacks College of Agriculture in Yobe — 29 September 2013

Fighting Continues in Zamboanga City

By Kevin M. Mathewson
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — An estimated 158 people have been killed, including 15 members of the military, five police and 13 civilians, since fighting broke out between Philippine soldiers and separatist rebels.

Filipino special forces troops carry the flag-draped coffins of fellow service members killed in clashes with Muslim rebels around the southern port city of Zamboanga, where fighting has been flaring for 17 days. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

A majority of those killed, roughly 125, were members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The fighting began more than two weeks ago in Zamboanga City when a large number of MNLF rebels came ashore.  The rebels took nearly 180 people hostage causing Philippine security forces to move in.

The majority of the captives have now been freed, but authorities believe the rebels could still be holding up to five people hostage, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, a military spokesman, said Wednesday.

As a result of the fighting over 1000 buildings have been destroyed, driving at least 80,000 local residents from their homes. Continued sporadic fighting has closed schools and halted transit.

“The Zamboanga crisis has laid bare the inherent vulnerabilities of Philippine government in providing security to its citizens as well as instituting durable peace in Mindana,” Asia Times Online reported.

President Benigno Aquino III has issued an ultimatum for the rebel front’s founder, Nur Misuari, to surrender, warning that the government is prepared to use additional force. The Philippine government has already deployed more than 3,000 police and soldiers.

The Philippine government has been struggling with Muslim rebels since the MNLF was founded in 1971, with at least 120,000 estimated to have died in fighting. The MNLF was created with the aim of establishing an autonomous region for Muslims in the mainly Catholic Philippines.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with the central government in Manila in 1996, but some of its members have broken away to continue a violent campaign.

For further information, please see:

CNN – Death toll climbs as army, militants fight on in the Philippines – 26 September 2013

Los Angeles Times – Battle drags on between Philippine troops and Muslim rebels – 25 September 2013

Aljazeera – Deaths as battle drags on in Philippine city – 25 September 2013



Disappearances in Mexico Continue to Increase

By Brandon Cottrell
Impunity Watch, North America Reporter

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The number of disappearances that go unsolved in Mexico continues to rise even though President Enrique Pena Nieto continually pledges to tackle this problem.  For example, just recently four people disappeared within six days from an area close to the United States border, which exposed again, “the cruel mix of state corruption and organized crime.”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (Photo Courtesy Reuters)

In February, Nieto’s administration revealed that between 2006 and 2012, 26,000 people have disappeared and not yet been found and that an additional 60,000 people have been killed during that span.  The administration also acknowledged that the authorities have not properly investigated these disappearances and often did not even carry out a basic investigation.

Several of the disappearances stem from marine checkpoints.  Eyewitnesses claim that they saw the marines force individuals into a military vehicle and drive towards a nearby base.  However, personnel at the base told the eyewitnesses that no civilians were being held.  Despite such a statement, the individuals taken are still missing and little progress has been made in finding them.

Rupert Knot, a researcher for Amnesty International Mexico, said that these “cases [are] languishing with the Federal Attorney General” and that the “prosecutors want the families to provide more evidence while [the prosecutors] do nothing to further the investigations.”  Additionally, the prosecutors say, “the eyewitness accounts prove nothing [because] naval authorities deny responsibility.”

Furthermore, corrupt law enforcement officers is a common problem as many officers work for the drug cartels.  For example, in a mass kidnapping and killing of thirteen young adults earlier this summer, and in a kidnapping of a man from his car, police officers were involved. The families of these victims say they do not trust Mexican authorities and hope for an independent international investigation.

Discouraged by the authorities’ investigations, there has been a movement sweeping across Mexico where the community itself carries out investigations.  The group meets regularly with prosecutors and use social media to raise awareness.  It also gives strength to the families of the victims and shelters those who want to investigate from the intimidation and pressure from the state to abandon the search.

Although Mexico has not submitted a required report pursuant to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance, which would detail what it is doing to solve these disappearances, Nieto has taken some action to remedy the problem, such as assigning new investigators and creating a new unit dedicated to solving the disappearances.  The Mexican legislature is also considering whether to “reform the military justice system once and for all, and ensure civilian justice to investigate and try all cases of human rights violations by the armed forces.”


For more information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Mexico’s Disappeared Continues To Rise – 29 September 2013

Amnesty International – Mexican Senate Must End Impunity For Armed Forces’ Human Rights Violations – 27 September 2013

CNN – Fourth Officer Arrested In Mexico Mass Kidnapping Case – 25 September 2013

Daily Mall – Mexican Police Drag Man From Car And Kidnap Him In Broad Daylight – 27 September 2013


Thousands of Migrant Workers may be worked to Death in Qatar as the Gulf State Prepares for the World Cup.

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Middle East

DOHA, Qatar—Dozens of Nepalese migrant workers have died in Qatar in recent weeks, and thousands more are enduring horrendous labor abuses and poor labor condones. According to an investigation by the Guardian, thousands of Nepalese workers, the single largest group of laborers in Qatar, face labor exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labor Organisation.

Dalli Kahtri and her husband, Lil Man, hold photos of their sons, both of whom died working as migrants in Malaysia and Qatar.(Photo courtesy of the Guardian)

At the Nepalese embassy in Qatar, at least 44 Nepalese workers died between 4 June and 8 August 2013. More than half of these workers died of heart attacks or heart failure related to overwork or from workplace accidents. Approximately 30 Nepalese migrates sought refuge at their embassy in Doha Qatar in order to escape the brutality of their employers and the deplorable working.

The international Trade Union Confederation has claimed that construction in Qatar ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup could cost the lives of at least 4,000 migrant construction workers. The group has said that at least a half-million migrant workers are expected to flood into Qatar to complete construction on stadiums, hotels and new infrastructure for the World Cup. These workers are expected to come from several countries, including Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.

The annual death toll among migrant workers could be as high as 600 per year, unless the state government steps into to enact reforms the ITUC claims. The ITUC has based its estates on current mortality statistics for Nepalese and Indian migrant workers.  Without changes in labor conditions, more workers are expected to die.

A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said on Thursday that organizers of the 2022 World Cup were “appalled” by the Guardian’s findings in their investigation saying, “There is no excuse for any worker in Qatar, or anywhere else, to be treated in this manner.” He claimed, “The health, safety, well-being and dignity of every worker that contributes to staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup is of the utmost importance to our committee and we are committed to ensuring that the event serves as a catalyst toward creating sustainable improvements to the lives of all workers in Qatar.”

Claims of worker abuse and the large scale loss of human life among migrant workers in Qatar has sparked international outrage, including from the soccer community. Qatar has been told it must respect the rights of workers building the 2022 World Cup stadiums by the world professional footballers’ association, Fifpro.

Fifpro has called on Water to respect the rights of construction workers building the venues for the 2022 world cup. Brendan Schwab, Division Asia chairman for the organization said, “The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar to promote football and, more importantly, football’s universal values in the Middle East. This can only be achieved if Qatar respects the rights of the key people who will deliver that World Cup: the workers who build the World Cup stadia and the players who play in them.”

For more information please see:

The Guardian – Qatar told to respect rights of workers building 2022 World Cup stadiums — 27 September 2013

NBC Sports – Qatar World Cup horror, as 4,000 migrants could be ‘worked to death’ – 27 September 2013

The Guardian – Qatar World Cup construction ‘will leave 4,000 migrant workers dead’ – 26 September 2013

The Guardian– Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘slaves’ – 25 September 2013