Over the past week the Shia community has continued to reel from the news about the mass killing of Shia Muslims in Zaria city in Nigeria. Although the Nigerian military is maintaining its innocence, new reports and evidence are showing the malicious actions of the Nigerian armed forces. The military spokesman claimed that no people were killed by the army but that has been categorically proven false. Africa director for Human Rights Watch states that for the military “at best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group”.
On December 21, the Nigerian army bulldozed an Islamic center, Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatollah, belonging to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). The demolition was with hopes to reduce congregation of IMN members and to reduce the spread of Shia beliefs in the area. In recent years, shia Islam has seen a fast expansion, reaching a population of 4 million. This expansion has been under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, an open critic of Nigerians corruption and human rights violations. Since his abduction, Sheikh Zakzaky has yet to be heard from. However, the governor of Kundana State has announced that the Sheikh will be “prosecuted for any crimes that he may have committed”.
Rallies and protests have continued to emerge around the world from New York to Karachi. A Nigerian military attempt to investigate the situation has been denounced by the international community, including Shia Rights Watch. As details emerge surrounding the atrocity, Shia Rights Watch urges a fair and impartial investigation by an independent body.
A recently released report by the Bahrain Human Rights Society provided new details on aggression by Bahraini security forces in the first week of December. According to the group there were 23 sit-ins by protestors, and 25 peaceful protests. These actions were met with 18 incidents of violence by security forces in 14 villages. A total of thirteen citizens were arrested this week. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of the Bahraini Security Forces and calls for an independent review into the actions of these forces.
This past week the Saudi Judiciary issued a decree to release Iranian Hajj pilgrim Gholam-Reza Momayez after they unjustly detained him for 75 days. Momayez was detained by Saudi authorities for criticizing the Saudi government’s handling of the hajj stampede that occurred earlier this year in which anywhere between one and five thousand people were killed, including almost 500 Iranians. While Momayez will be released soon, this governmental overreach is clearly designed to clamp down on dissent by both citizens and visitors.
Pakistani security forces claimed that they arrested 24 militants connected with the systematic murder of Shia Muslims throughout the country. Most of the arrests occurred in Karachi, where terrorist groups have carried out targeted assassinations against Shia shopkeepers and intellectuals. Shia Rights Watch recognizes this a start to restoring justice to Shia communities however much more needs to be done.
As the year closes on the country with the largest number of violations against Shia Muslims, Iraq has witnessed yet another attack on a Shrine. As mortar shells were fired upon the Imam Hassan al- Askari Shrine in Samarra. This attack would injure seven people in the area. ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack yet nobody has been taken into custody in connection with this attack. Shia Rights Watch continues to call for greater protection for the Shia community in the country in their communities and their places of worship.
Three of the shells hit the al-Qalah area, and one shell detonated 700 meters from the Shrine.
In must be mentioned that the shrine was also attacked in 2006, resulting in the shrines demolition but no injuries. It took until 2009 to repair the collapsed golden dome; however until today tourism has been limited due to possible dangers.