U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today strongly condemned the abduction and mistreatment of more than 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria and called for additional international sanctions against the group. Boko Haram, an extremist group that rejects what it sees as the modernization of Nigeria – including the education of women, has threatened to sell the girls as slaves, and some may have already been sold into child marriages. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution today condemning the abductions.
‘I am outraged that these young women have been kidnapped, mistreated, and may be sold into slavery just because they were trying to get an education and build better lives for themselves,’ said Stabenow. ‘Education is a basic right, and all people should be able to pursue education without fear of violence or retribution. We stand united in condemning this horrifying act, and I urge everyone to speak out to demand that these girls be freed immediately.’
In a letter to President Obama, Senator Stabenow and the 19 other women in the U.S. Senate urged the United States Department of State to push the United Nations Security Council to target Boko Haram with additional sanctions.
The full text of the letter follows:
May 6, 2014
President Barack ObamaThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As the women of the United States Senate, we are writing to you today deeply disturbed by the abduction and mistreatment of more than 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls as slaves, and some may have already been sold into child marriages. We condemn these appalling actions in the strongest possible terms, and we agree with you that the abduction of these girls is an outrage. The girls were targeted by Boko Haram simply because they wanted to go to school and pursue knowledge, and we believe the United States must respond quickly and definitively.
In the face of the brazen nature of this horrific attack, the international community must impose further sanctions on this terrorist organization. Boko Haram is a threat to innocent civilians in Nigeria, to regional security, and to U.S. national interests. The National Counterterrorism Center has found that Boko Haram has engaged in multiple attacks on Westerners and repeatedly targeted students at schools and universities, threatening the ability of young Nigerians, particularly women, to attend school.
While we applaud the initial U.S. condemnation of the kidnapping, we believe there is much more that the United States government should do to make clear that such an attack will not be tolerated. We urge you to press for the addition of Boko Haram and Ansaru to the United Nations Security Council’s al-Qa’ida Sanctions List, the mechanism by which international sanctions are imposed on al-Qa’ida and al-Qa’ida-linked organizations. Their addition to the List would compel a greater number of countries to sanction Boko Haram, joining several countries, including the United States, which have already done so. The Department of State reported that Boko Haram has links to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb when it designated the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and General David Rodriguez, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, has described these links before Congress.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working together until girls and women worldwide can pursue an education without fear of violence or intimidation.
Barbara A. Mikulski, United States SenatorSusan M. Collins, United States SenatorKelly Ayotte, United States SenatorTammy Baldwin, United States SenatorBarbara Boxer, United States SenatorMaria Cantwell, United States SenatorDianne Feinstein, United States SenatorDeb Fischer, United States SenatorKirsten Gillibrand, United States SenatorKay Hagan, United States SenatorHeidi Heitkamp, United States SenatorMazie Hirono, United States SenatorAmy Klobuchar, United States SenatorMary Landrieu, United States SenatorClaire McCaskill, United States SenatorLisa Murkowski, United States SenatorPatty Murray, United States SenatorJeanne Shaheen, United States SenatorDebbie Stabenow, United States SenatorElizabeth Warren, United States Senator
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