OVER one hundred men and women gathered in the centre of Aberystwyth town on Saturday 10th May for a rally to protest the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria last month.
Large crowds of people dressed in red gathered at the clock tower with placards and banners showing support for the missing girls. ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Girls’, ‘Girls Are Not For Sale’ and the popular Twitter slogan ‘#BringBackOurGirls’ were all messages displayed on the day as members of public marched along the seafront to the bandstand.
Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion, was in attendance and had this to say via his Twitter feed: “Great to join the Red March around Aber to raise awareness of Nigerian girls kidnapping & global education. Good turnout for a vital cause.”
The exact whereabouts of the girls, who were abducted by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, remains unknown. Approximately 276 schoolgirls were taken from Chibok, a town in the north-eastern state of Borno on 14 April, and though dozens are said to have escaped, 223 remain missing. They are thought to be located somewhere within the remote Sambisa forest.
Boko Haram, notorious in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon and Niger for its kidnappings, assassinations and bombings, are thought to have abducted the schoolgirls as a means of preventing the education of women.
Through video footage, they have made clear their desire to negotiate a swap deal, exchanging the schoolgirls for imprisoned Boko Haram militants throughout the country.
The international community has stepped up efforts to locate the girls in recent days, with counter-terrorism teams being sent from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, China and Canada to aid the Nigerian government. A manned American plane used in Iraq and Afghanistan has begun flying surveillance missions over the country in an attempt to find the schoolchildren.
Attempts to show solidarity for the kidnapped girls have manifested in a fast-growing social media campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Public figures such as US First Lady Michelle Obama and the Pakistani political activist Malala Yousafzai have joined in to voice their support, but some unexpected backlash has been received on Twitter, with users of the website alluding to the controversial use of drones by the American government to conduct military strikes against targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.