Which of the following scenarios is a more serious human rights concern?
- A 17-year old girl faces is arrested and faces trial on 11 charges – including incitement to terror and assaulting a soldier.
- 110 schoolgirls are kidnapped by a terrorist organization and may be forced to marry their captors.
Apparently, according to the self-proclaimed leading human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the answer is the first.
On February 19, 2018, 110 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terror organization Boko Haram. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International’s response? Complete silence.
According to Time Magazine, “Boko Haram fighters opened fire as they drove into Dapchi, which is in Nigeria’s Yobe state, on machine-gun mounted trucks. They then headed for the Government Girls Science and Technical School, sending students and teachers fleeing into the surrounding bush. The attackers were camouflaged, witnesses told Associated Press, causing a number of students to think they were soldiers.”
Time notes, “Parents fear the girls will be made brides for Boko Haram fighters like many of the kidnapped Chibok girls, who were forced to marry their captors.”
There is clearly serious cause for concern and need for international pressure to demand the release of these girls. Yet, neither HRW nor Amnesty published a single document about the kidnapping on their website. Neither even tweeted about the horrible attack and the concern that the girls might be forced to marry their captors. Neither group has shared information about the attack on their Facebook pages. And neither organization has declared this attack a violation of international law.
However, both groups have been actively involved in a campaign to defend and call for the release of one girl, Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested and is standing trial for 11 charges – including incitement to terrorism and assaulting a soldier. Some of her alleged crimes were caught on video, such as the statement that “Whether it is stabbings or martyrdom operations or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine.”
Leading up to the February 13 opening of her trial, HRW and Amnesty International led intense campaigns celebrating and defending Tamimi. Amnesty published multiple press releases, media advisories, calls to action, and countless tweets. HRW and its staff members similarly tweeted calling for the release of Tamimi. Bill Van Esveld, Senior Research in HRW’s Children’s Rights Division, published a “dispatch” stating that Tamimi’s pre-trial detention was “both a violation of international law and unnecessary.”
HRW’s and Amnesty’s obsession with anti-Israel advocacy, which often comes at the expense of critical human rights issues, is well established. But the stark contrast between the attention given to Ahed Tamimi, all while ignoring the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls, may be a new low.