Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Surviving the Boko Haram

The Hudson Institute has been involved in Human Rights work for several years now. Their Center for Religious Freedom (CRF) has worked to tell stories that needed to be told, for several years, now. The CRF brought together Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights lawyer and US-Nigeria relations expert, and Deborah Peters, a survivor of Boko Haram violence from Chibok, Nigeria, in a recent discussion chaired by Nina Shea. The entire event is available on video. Deborah’s story alone is transcribed and presented below, with permission from the Hudson Institute.

Deborah Peters.
Image (c) The Hudson Institute
On December 22, 2011, at about 7:00 PM, my brother and I were at home, and we began to hear the sound of guns being shot. My brother called my father and told him not to come back home because of all the firing. My father told my brother to forget about it, since this wasn’t the first time that he was coming home when people outside were fighting. He told us that he would come home, and in some time, he did. When he reached, he told us that he wanted to take a shower since it was hot. At about 7:30 PM, three men knocked on our door, and my brother opened the door for them. They asked him where my father was. He told them that our father was upstairs in the bathroom, taking a shower. 

They waited for my father for about three minutes, and then went ahead and dragged him out of the shower, saying that they didn’t have any time to wait for him. When they took him out of the bathroom, they told him that he had to deny his faith. He told them that he wouldn’t deny his faith. They then told him that if he did not deny his faith, they would kill him. He told them that he would rather die than go to hellfire. He told them that God said that anyone that denied him will be denied in heaven. My father then refused to deny his faith once again, and they shot him thrice in the chest. My brother was shocked, and kept repeating, “What did my dad do to you? Why did you kill him?

They told him to be quiet, threatening to shoot him if he didn’t quieten down. There were three men that night – one who was a leader, one that seemed to be a second in command, and a third who seemed like a servant. The servant suggested killing my brother, but the second in command said that he was too young. The leader, though, agreed with the servant, saying that he had a point – if my brother stayed, he would grow up and become a pastor like my dad, so the leader told him to kill my brother. They shot him twice on his chest and he fell. Once he fell, he began moving – so they went ahead and shot him again, on his mouth. He fell down and died. I didn’t know what was happening – they put me in the middle of my dad and my brother, and on the next day, the army came and picked us up – them to the mortuary, and me to the hospital.

Deborah Peters is fifteen, and is from Chibok, Nigeria. She is the sole survivor of her household that was attacked by the Boko Haram while on an ethnic cleansing campaign in Nigeria.