Boko Haram, the extremist group that kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls last April, has released a new video mocking international calls for the girls’ release.
The video was seen as a snub of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who gained prominence after being shot in 2012 by the Pakistani Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education. She met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday to discuss the plight of the missing girls.
In the video, obtained by Agence France-Presse, militant leader Abubaker Shelam stands in front of tanks and masked, armed men and chants, “Bring back our army,” ridiculing the social media slogan “bring back our girls.”
Malala, who turned 17 on Saturday — her birthday is recognized annually by the United Nations as Malala Day — arrived in Nigeria over the weekend. She drew a direct parallel between her situation and that of the abducted girls in terms of violent resistance to the education of women.
“When I heard about the Nigerian girls, that they are being abducted, I felt that my sisters were in prison,” Malala said. “This is my feeling, that if we remain silent, then this will spread, this will happen more and more and more.”
As we reported last week, more than 60 women and girls who had been abducted by Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram escaped to freedom, after their captors left for a raid. More than 200 schoolgirls abducted from their school in the town of Chibok in April remain missing.
Malala met with five of the girls who escaped. They told her that they had not been debriefed by government investigators, according to the BBC.
That may increase pressure on Nigerian officials to step up their efforts. Jonathan promised Malala he would finally meet with some of the families of the missing girls.
“The great challenge in rescuing the Chibok girls is the need to ensure that they are rescued alive,” Jonathan said in a statement.
“Western diplomats said that despite the huge international publicity that the social media campaign has generated, the efforts to find the hostages were little further on than they were back in May, when Britain, America and France began to help,” the British Telegraph reported. “With neither a prisoner swap or a rescue considered likely, they said there was little real prospect of any ‘breakthrough’ in the case in the foreseeable future.”