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Nigeria Mass Killing, Example of Ongoing Anti-Shiism

Shia Rights Watch expresses its deep concern for Shia population after brutal Shia mass killing in Nigeria by state army.

According to local activists approximately 1,000 people were killed and hundreds were arrested by the army. The Shia leader Ibraheem Zakzaky was also shot and taken to an unknown place. The military has said Zakzaky is in its “safe custody,” but his followers are not sure he is receiving medical care he needs after he was wounded.

On Wednesday the government alleged mass burial of number of the victims to “cover up its crime and hide the death toll” as local Shia stated.

“Shia are minority in Nigeria and such brutal violation requires outsider evaluation since this government has lost its credibility after this mass killing” says Mustafa Akhwand, founder of SRW. Therefore SRW asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, to personally assign and oversee an investigation committee.

Mustafa continued “We the Shia Muslims, ask Ban Ki Moon to use his position to bring justice to the Shia community of Nigeria by a detailed investigation and fair punishment of the violators.”

SRW also participates in Political Briefing on Nigeria to discuss the recent attacks on Shia Muslims in Nigeria, and the arrest and torture of Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqoub el-Zakzaky on Friday, December 18th. The briefing will take place at UMAA’s National Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Mustafa Akhwand will share SRW’s view on the issue at the rally in front of Nigerian Embassy and at the briefing.


Speak UP to STOP Shia Mass Killings


Join SRW, and number of other NGOs today as they speak up

Nigerian Embassy 3519 International Ct NW, Washington, DC 20008 at 2:00

Social Development and the Promotion of Religious Freedom for Shia Muslims

Social Development and the Promotion of Religious Freedom for Shia Muslims

Shia Rights Watch, Inc (SRW)

Statement for the 54th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD54)

Greetings esteemed colleagues and member states,
On behalf of Shia Muslims around the world it is a pleasure to be able to present this address to the commission. Social development is an important tool in lifting nations out of poverty as it attempts to put the individual at the center of development operations. By developing a greater understanding of how individuals influence development processes, we can work to craft more inclusive and socially conscious programs going forward. Shia Rights Watch would like to emphasize the importance of guaranteeing the uninhibited assess of religious minorities to development programs.
Please note: This statement uses the Shia minority as an example and this model can be applied for all groups. We use this population because our NGO’s specialty is focused on this group.
By putting individuals at the center of development, you establish a basis for tolerance and diversity, and you ensure that change comes from the bottom up rather than from the top down. The International Institute for Social Studies compiled a list of indices of social development which measure informal institutions across nations in an attempt to conceptualize the progress of social development around the world. These indices are: civil activism, clubs and associations, intergroup cohesion, interpersonal safety and trust, and gender equality. Shia Rights Watch argues that in places around the world with sizeable Shia populations, improvements in these areas are stifled are neglected by authorities.
Civic activism has been high in many Shia communities around the world, and this has only increased since 2011. While this activism could have been harnessed to facilitate greater dialogue between the state and its citizens, in many places these displays of activism were severely repressed. Currently many Shia Muslims are facing jail time and execution due to their involvement with the wave of protests that emerged in 2011. Despite the repression, civil activism has continued and Shia Muslims have worked to remain mobilized. It is time that repression of civic activism is called out by the international community.
In regards to clubs and associations, Shia groups have been subject to arbitrary censorship and even prohibition. This restriction of the free expression of Shia Muslims further removes them from the development process.
Intergroup cohesion has been suffering in many states where significant Shia populations are located. Sermons and school curriculums have been documented as containing hate speech that incites violence against Shia Muslims. Some of these materials contain language similar to that displayed by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. In many respects, efforts at development and countering extremism will fail unless greater intergroup cohesion is reached. Efforts at greater intergroup cohesion cannot only be implement from the top down, they must also permeate the smaller networks of people such as religious communities and individual families.
As a result of the hate speech that has been directed towards Shia Muslims, there have been numerous manifestations of physical violence against the group. Shootings and bombings have become regular practices for extremist groups against Shia Muslims, whom they belive are heretics. This has taken an immense human toll on Shia communities. This toll has been even more significant as militant groups have systematically targeted Shia intellectuals and business owners. The targeting exemplified here shows the desire to both violently and economically cripple Shia communities. Significant social development will not be able to occur in countries with sizeable Shia populations if the threat of physical violence persists.
This threat of physical violence has, in no small way, been aided by officials who have done little to investigate and prosecute crimes against Shia. Bombings and shootings against Shia Muslims largely occur without retribution either on the individuals committing the acts or the organizations facilitating the acts. This slow response by governing authorities has significantly reduced trust for the institutions designed to protect them. Without this trust acting as a basis for development, the aspirations proclaimed in this committee will largely go unheeded.
Respect for free expression, judicial reform, protection of safety, greater intergroup cohesion, and a rebuilding of trust must be the foundation for social development efforts in Shia communities. When we can move past the elements of divisive governance and put individuals at the center of development, we will be able to witness great strides to a more unified and prosperous society.




Shia Weekly News #45


On Friday December 11th Punjab police arrested three members of Laskar-e-Jhangvi in connection with the shooting death of a Shia army officer in Lahore. Captain Ahmed Raza was shot and killed six months ago by what was believed to be his guard their accomplices. A man by the name of Nasrullah of the Okara district of Punjab province is suspected to have killed Raza before fleeing to Afghanistan.

Both Nasrullah and his accomplices are known to have connections with LeJ, including with Malik Ishaq the chief of the terrorist group. The suspects will be charged under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Positive action against terrorism in the country is welcomed but does not occur often enough. This case remains one of the few cases where those who have killed Shia Muslims have been arrested.


On Sunday December 6th the Bahraini authorities exercised its unchecked power yet again as the Public Prosecutor renewed the detention of Sheikh Hassan Isa for another 30 days. The former Member of Parliament was arrested on August 28th at Bahraini international airport following his return to the country and was later charged with funding terrorism. Sheikh Hasan’s arrest and charges are a part of the Bahraini government’s efforts to intimidate the Shia community. Shia Rights Watch condemns his detainment and calls for his immediate release.

While dissidents in Bahrain are facing harsh treatment by the justice system despite exercising their rights, members of the Bahraini security forces are restricting the freedoms of Shia Muslims with impunity. On December 7th five policemen were acquitted by Bahrain’s First High Criminal Court of torture charges stemming from the 2011 uprising. This heavily flawed judicial process has hindered the progress of freedom in the country. Shia Rights Watch calls for the release of political prisoners and an overall reform of the country’s judicial system.

Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always: Human Rights Day 2015


New York, NY- Shia Rights Watch commemorated Human Rights Day at the United Nations at a briefing entitled “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always”. This annual event commemorates the important strides made by the international community to recognize the human rights we have today while also recognizing the work that must be done to ensure the full realization of our human rights. The four freedoms emphasized at this event are the freedom of expression, the freedom from fear, the freedom from want, and the freedom of worship. These freedoms are the underpinning of the work that we at Shia Rights Watch conduct on a daily basis.

Richard Benett, the Director of Amnesty International stated that two pillars of his organization’s mission is that no government is beyond scrutiny and that no situation is beyond hope. In an environment where political favor and continued oppression have largely rendered human rights violations against Shia Muslims invisible. Despite the endless barrage of targeted shootings and bombings against Shia Muslims, news about this rarely reaches the eyes of the international community. Despite these high barriers, we have remained resilient and have continued to push for greater recognition for the rights of Shia Muslims globally. Daniel Perell, the UN Representative of International community stated that the new frontier of the freedom to worship is linking religious pluralism with peaceful societies. Studies have shown that studies with respect for religious pluralism tend to be more peaceful and prosperous than societies where religious freedom is not respected. Going forth, it is necessary that both states and individuals learn that benefits of respecting the freedom of all people to practice their faith.

Shia Weekly News #44


On November 30th, Iraq experienced two bombings in Baghdad which targeted Shia Muslims during the annual Arbaeen pilgrimage; fifteen people were reported dead and thirty-eight people were reported injured, following these attacks.  . The first attack occurred at a checkpoint in the Saiydiyah district on a route Shia pilgrims use to travel to Karbala. In this attack nine people were killed and 21 were injured. The second attack occurred in the northern neighborhood of Shaab which killed at least six and injured 17.

No group has claimed responsibility for these attacks but it is likely that they were perpetrated by ISIS or ISIS-sympathizers. Last week, an ISIS plot to booby-trap dolls on an Arbaeen pilgrimage route was foiled by security forces. Shia Rights Watch condemns this horrendous attack and calls for greater protection for the millions of Shia pilgrims and residents in Iraq.



On November 26th gunmen opened fire on a Shia mosque in northern Bangladesh which killed one and injured three. This ISIS-orchestrated attack occurred just a month following a deadly attack on a Shia shrine which injured at least 80 people. These attacks come in the midst of a wave of deadly attacks against secular bloggers and religious minorities in the country.



Yet another Shia religious procession was attacked as a suicide bomb was detonated during the public commemorations on November 28th in the Nigerian city of Kano. The death toll has risen to 22 with 38 injuries. Despite this attack, the Shia pilgrims would continue their journey from Kano to Zaria in the neighboring state.

The extremist group Boko Haram took responsibility for the attack the next day. Boko Haram, in addition to its other terror attacks, has periodically bombed Shia gatherings throughout the country.



On December 2nd, the government of Azerbaijan carried out a raid on the town of Nardaran and reportedly harassed residents and tore down Shia religious symbols. This move by the government comes on the heels of clashes between security forces and alleged Shia militants near Baku. In the past week, dozens of people have been arrested under suspicion of radicalism and anti-government activities.

Many details have yet to be disclosed from this raid but Shia Rights Watch urges the government of Azerbaijan to respect the civil liberties and religious expression of all people within its borders. Despite being a Shia-majority country, Azerbaijan has cracked down on dissent from its citizens. Shia Muslims in Nardaran face increasing scrutiny from the government as the lifestyle in this area is more conservative than official government standards of religious expression.


Incidents of Anti-Shiism in November 2015

This report will analyze the data compiled on Shia deaths, injuries, and arrests that occurred between November 1st and November 30th.  November has been a high risk month for Shia Muslims around the world.  The attacks towards Shia Muslims stretched from Nigeria to Bangladesh.  Iraq had the highest number of Shia killed, like the previous months.  The total of 610 deaths of Shia were officially reported and 360 were wounded.  The data for this report was gathered from a variety of different sources. The most well-known incidents of anti-Shiism were retrieved from stories that are reported to Shia Rights Watch by eyewitnesses. Each incident is thoroughly evaluated for both authenticity and relevance. For an incident to be included in this report it has to show clear intent to target Shia Muslims on the basis of religious beliefs. The subsequent sections will present and analyze the data gathered by Shia Rights Watch for November.


Where have Shia Muslims been targeted? 

Shia Rights Watch_November2015

In November, Shia Muslims were victims in nine countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Azerbaijan and Lebanon. There were a total of 610 Shia deaths this month, 316 wounded, 47 arrests and 20 Shias kidnapped. Three major events happened this month that made November a high risk month for Shias around the world: the first one was the devastating bombing in Beirut, Lebanon.  41 Shias died in this bombing which ISIS took the responsibility.  The second one is the unexpected violent event in Bangladesh which ended in one Shia killed.  Bangladesh does not witness much violent activities against Shias.  This event starts an unfortunate cycle of terror against Shias in Bangladesh.  The Third high risk violent events belong to Iraq, which continues to witness a high number of Shias being killed.


Compared to last month there has been a %41 increase of death tolls in Iraq.  The number of injuries are almost the same.  This month, like the month before, the city of Baghdad had the highest number of shias killed.  ISIS is still the main responsible group for these killings.  In November we witnessed for the first time the use of explosive dolls.  These dolls target little children and it has been a major shock for the communities and the Iraqi security forces to see this level of brutality.\

Shia Rights Watch_November2015_2


Beirut, Lebanon, witnessed one of its devastating bombings in many years.  This suicide bombing attack was targeted at the southern part of Beirut with majority Shia population.  More than 200 people were injured.


At the end of November, we witnessed a brutal suicide attack by Boko Haram.  This attack was targeted at the Shias of northern Nigeria who were present at an Arbaeen procession.


The Hazara community has been targeted again in Afghanistan, part of a long history of being persecuted.  Later, 20 Shia Hazara were kidnapped.  After these events the Hazara community filled the streets and protested in Kabul to demand more security for the Hazara Shias in Afghanistan.


The Hazara community in Pakistan has been under great pressure and risk.  This month we witnessed the same pattern of individual extremists attacking Shias and their mosques.  Gunmen riding motorcycles and shooting towards Shias is the typical format of such attacks.  In these events the police were injured and in one instance killed.


The population of Azerbaijan is %85 Shia, and although the country is secular and relatively safe, the government does not tolerate any kind of religious activity that expressed any level of criticism towards the President.  Press TV reported that in a big gathering the police killed 4 people who were members of the Movement for Muslim Unity (MMU) during a raid earlier in the day at the north part of the capital Baku.  Several leaders of the MMU were arrested.  Yahoo News reported the same event, but did not mention the religious affiliation of the deceased.


This country has been relatively safe for its Shia citizens.  But this month we witnessed a shooting at a Shia mosque which killed one person and injured 3.  ISIS of Bangladesh claimed the responsibility.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Police officer was shot and killed in the majority Shia neighborhood of Saihat in the eastern city of Qatif. Nobody has taken responsibility for this attack.


Bahrain’s police arrested 47 members of a group of Shia youth.  The police believe they have links to “terrorist elements in Iran” who it said were planning to carry out attacks in the coming days.  The family members and the Shia community denied such allegations.


Shia Rights Watch_November2015_1

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030

On December 1st Shia Rights Watch attended the event at the United Nations Headquarters entitled “Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030”. This program marks the release of the World Energy Outlook 2015 report which presents groundbreaking data on the world’s most pressing issues surrounding energy consumption. Attending this discussion were representatives from the International Energy Agency, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), and the permanent missions of Germany, Pakistan and Turkey. Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency states that the major problems of the current energy markets are the sustainability of current resources and the implications of the current Paris Climate Talks. He states that in regards to the Paris climate talks, the international community is hopeful because many states have approached these talks with commitments to reduce emissions. Shia Rights Watch praises the commitment to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increasingly shift towards the use of renewable energy due to the positive effects this will have on global energy inequality.

The movement towards renewable energy will have a widespread effect on the poorest countries and emerging nations. In resource rich countries, ethnic and religious minorities do not enjoy in the revenue that high energy prices have brought. In fact, resource revenues have been employed to develop tools and tactics to further repress these minority groups. Fossil fuels such as petroleum have entrenched authoritarian states and intensified repression against dissenting voices, a phenomenon widely studied by scholars who study rentier states. Shia Muslims that live in rentier states face widespread discrimination and fear criticizing their government due to state-sponsored repression. Human rights violations have been deeply connected to the reliance on fossil fuels. While the reduction of the harm done to the environment is the immediate effect of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7, the human rights implications could be immense.

Shia Weekly News #43


This past week, Iraqi security forces discovered eighteen bomb infused dolls along a key road between Baghdad and Karbala to be used for the upcoming Arbaeen pilgrimage. Security forces stated that these bombs were deliberately laid to target Shia children who were going to take part in the Arbaeen pilgrimage. This pilgrimage marks the end of the 40 day mourning period on the anniversary of Imam Hussein’s death. While no group has officially taken responsibility for the plot, ISIS has been suspected to be behind this plot. Shia Rights Watch condemns the deliberate targeting of Shia children and calls for the continued protection of this vulnerable group.


According to an Associated Press report, up to 20 Shia Hazaras in the southern province of Zabul. The Hazaras have not been identified and it is not yet known if the abductees were men or women. Parallel to many previous kidnappings, the Hazaras were stopped and forced off of the bus. No group has yet to take responsibility for these attacks but the Taliban has been behind such attacks in the past. Shia Rights Watch condemns the continuous kidnappings and murders of Shia Hazaras in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.


In Peshawar, protests and a set in were sparked by the murder of a local Shia leader. Imam Hussain Shah was the vice president of the ANP in the Gunj area. Shah was also the caretaker of the Pathar Wali Imambargah which is located in the Mohallah Huda area of Peshawar. On Friday unidentified gunmen opened fire on him near the city’s police station as he was on his way to the imambargah for prayers. Despite the fact that this incident occurred near a police station, the assailants remain at large and neither the number of assailants nor their identities are known. Shia Rights Watch condemns the actions of the gunmen and supports the calls of the Shia community for an investigation into this attack. The government of Pakistan both at the national and local level must do more to protect the Shia community.

Saudi Arabia

Three Shia Muslims were injured in raids by Saudi security forces on Monday November 24th. Security forces raided shops in the town of Awamiyah and discharged their weapons at those present. One of those critically injured would be later arrested by security forces. The reason behind the raids has yet to be disclosed but this underlines the discrimination faced by the Shia community in Saudi Arabia. Even when subject to raids and violence, Shia Muslims aren’t afforded the right to know what is happening to them. Shia Rights Watch condemns these raids and calls on the Saudi government to disclose the purpose behind the raids.


A well-known Shia Palestinian was shot and killed near Nazareth on November 21st. Sheikh Ahmad Shahwan was shot three times at his bookstore in the Iksal settlement. A Palestinian cultural figure who converted to Shiism in 1988, he was well known in his neighborhood as Haj Abu Muhammad. His death dealt a blow to both the Palestinian community and the Shia community and Shia Rights Watch calls for a proper investigation into this crime.


Beside arbitrary arrests, killings, citizenship depraving, the Bahraini kingdom is also responsible for number of forced disappearances.

Mohammad Taqi Hassa al-Ghossra is reported disappeared since November 3rd, 2015. According to local witnesses he was taken from his home by security forces and his family has not heard from him. The government denies having any information about his place. The family reported that he called home once and only said “ I’m Ok” with very low voice.

His family has been trying to find a trace of him or his file without any success.

Under international law, forced disappearances are considered one of the most serious violations of the fundamental rights of human beings. The United Nations General Assembly has said that forced disappearance “constitutes an offence to human dignity, a grave and flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and a violation of the rules of international law.”

However” Disappearances” have come to be regarded as an exemplary violation practiced by abusive governments, including Bahraini government.


Gunmen attacked Shia Mosque in northern Bogra, Bangladesh, raising the fears among the country’s Shia Community.

The goal of Anti-Shia terrorist groups is to raise tension between the communities and minorities in order to foster hatred towards one another.


Shia Muslims recently faced another attack by an Anti-Shia terrorist group, when suicide bombers approached the Shia procession in Nigeria’s Kano state, leaving over twenty-one people dead.

During the holy month of Muharram many Nigerian Shia gather together to commemorate Imam Hussein martyrdom, Anti Shia groups take advantage from this gathering to take a life of many Shia.

This time attach took place in the village of Dakasoya, southern village of Capital Kano.



In a wave of government crackdowns, four were killed in an Arbaeen ceremony in the town of Nadaran.

Azerbaijan is a majority Shia nation whose population has been suppressed for years.  In addition to ideological suppression, the people of Nadaran have witnessed great discrimination in regards to their economic and other legal (human) rights compared to the rest of Azeri villages. Post-raid, officials cut off utilities such as power and telephone lines, to the town and put up barricades.

The lack of freedom of speech in this nation has a long history as human rights activists, journalist and defense lawyers have been detained, interrogated and incarcerated for their actions and beliefs.


The UN’s Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee’s (CTC) Global Research Network


Countering terrorism remains leading focus of Shia Rights Watch, due to its importance to restore justice about crimes done towards innocent people and saving lives. It is essential to understand what different types of extremism are, how do they operate and what are they motives. Shia Right’s advisor on counter Terrorism attends a United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee meeting titled “Foreign Terrorist Fighters,” with the hopes of being educated more about new terrorist groups.

Following the launch of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee’s (CTC) Global Research Network last February, the Committee on 24 November held an open briefing with research institutions from around the world to analyse and discuss emerging terrorism issues and trends, particularly pertaining to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).

The half-day briefing consists of two thematic sessions focused on research by network partner institutions on “The motivations and backgrounds of foreign terrorist fighters,” and on “Rehabilitation and reintegration strategies for returning foreign terrorist fighters.”

Shia ( Shiites ) have been victims of inhumane crimes in more than dozen countries and it is essential to understand the new and upcoming terrorist groups and be able to reduce their crimes and finally eliminate their violent behavior.

UN Complaint