Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Holocaust is a Holocaust is a Holocaust: Laura's Story from Biafra War Memories

The story below is so similar to my mother's and her family's in the Holocaust in Europe. At the end Laura tries to discourage Biafra from trying for their independence from Nigeria again. It is unimaginable for her that it will happen again. The killings, the starvation, the Death Marches, rape, pillage... more than we can imagine although all of that visits us in our nightmares from our parents' stories. My mother used to say, "If there is a G-d in heaven, WHY?" The reason Biafra must try again is because the genocidal butchers are bottomless in their thirst for blood; they will revisit you whether you agitate or not. Eventually they will come for you. You must go. And if they don't want you to? Then the horror will visit them, and their families.

"My father…they butchered him"
"My name is Laura Nwando Onwualu.  I was born 1954 in northern Nigeria, Plateau State, Kura Falls"
I don’t remember much about the Nigerian Biafran War but I remember then I was in primary 6, 1967 or 66. Yes, 66 -67 No, then, there was a time – they started teaching us a song, you know, it says it is going to be our new anthem for our new country, Biafra. So we were learning the song. What we are going to do with it we don’t know but then we started noticing people in the north – because then I was staying with my grandmother in Onitsha [in the Southeast] – we started noticing our family members in the North coming home [to the Southeast] you know. We don’t know they came back telling us stories of killing in the North about how they will come to the house. The Hausas will come to the houses, kill them you know especially the men and my father came home with my mother because they were in the North. My family came home. Though my father wasn’t killed. He was on leave [from work]. He came home and they were telling me stories. One afternoon my mother was in the market. We were home and people started running and I was very young then. I didn’t know why they were running. They said the Hausas have crossed the bridge and that they are coming into Onitsha.
We were hearing gun shots and bomb blasts and all that so I gathered my brothers and started running with the neighbors. We didn’t know where we were going. We left the house and we were just trekking and people were falling and people were crying you know because they couldn’t see their loved ones. My mother came home looking for us you know. Eventually she found us. Then my father had gone back to the North because after his leave he had to go back and we didn’t see him again so.
“We were hearing gun shots and bomb blasts”
Yes, after his leave, he decided to go back because then he was working with the white men. He was persuaded not to go back because of the killings [there in the North] but he said no. He just wants to get there, take permission from his work place and come back [to join us in the Southeast in Onitsha] so he left one morning and then we never see him again and that was it. So eventually somebody came to tell us that he was killed. He was killed actually with some people that, they were to board the train, that was September 29, 1966, they were to board the train coming back to the Southeast from Jos, Bukuru precisely. They were waiting for the train at the station that night to come to the Southeast so these Hausas, they came and killed all of them there. That was how we never saw him, my father, again till date.
“That was how we never saw him, my father, again”
Yeah, I was very close to my father you know, but the killing I didn’t really very much feel it. I just knew that I lost him, but I couldn’t see him, you know. He told me he was coming back, because then I had an exam. There was an exam I had, he told me that he was going to buy me a watch, if I passed the exam. So every day I had to sit in front of the house waiting for him to come back to buy the watch because I had passed the exam. I never saw him till just one day somebody came. I wasn’t even at home.
“He told me he was coming back…”
We went playing, I was very young then. I came in and I saw my mother and my grandmother and some other people. They were all crying, I was just confused. What happened? They said somebody said my father died. I honestly I didn’t even understand what death is all about. They were all crying because my father was an only child of my grandmother. It’s just that I missed my father. I never saw my father again so I never, I don’t know how I felt about it because I was very young. I don’t know what death is all about. It’s just that he told me he was coming back and I never saw him again.
It was just when I became an adult you know I understood what death is all about it. As at that time I never know what it was all about. I didn’t. I just felt his absence because I never lived with him. I left him when I was six years to live with my grandmother. I just kept thinking, you know, still believing that he will come back one day. He will come back one day and that is how we continued until I never saw him. So that was it.
I remember the song that they told us would be our anthem. It goes like, “Land of the rising sun we love and cherish” I can’t remember the other stanzas but it went like that “Rising sun we love and cherish”, I can’t remember. I can’t remember it again. It was very long ago but it started like that “Land of the rising sun we love and cherish” that is the first stanza but I can’t remember the rest of the stanzas. I have forgotten and that was it. (CLICK READ MORE below)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Judith Bergman: writer, lawyer, political analyst on Biafra

Why Don’t All Black Lives Matter?

Western social justice warriors couldn't care less about Biafra

gettyimages 690026530 Why Don’t All Black Lives Matter?
A man points at a Biafran flag painted on a wall on Old Market road in Onitsha on May 30, 2017, during a shutdown in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian civil war. Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images
Fifty years ago, on May 30, 1967, Biafrans seceded from Nigeria, and declared their own state. The Nigerian government refused to accept the secession and responded by launching a war on Biafra in July 1967. The assault included a blockade of the nascent state, and resulted in the genocide of more than two million Biafrans, many of whom were children who starved to death because of the blockade. After three years of war, the nascent state of Biafra ceased to exist. 
Biafrans are an indigenous African people, who are ethnically predominantly Igbo. The territories that constitute present-day Nigeria became a British colony in 1914, merging a number of different indigenous African peoples in the artificial construct of Nigeria, among them the Biafrans. In 1960, Nigeria became independent, retaining the artificial shape left over from British colonization. 
Most likely, you will have heard nothing about this Biafran anniversary, nor about the peaceful efforts of Biafrans today to bring about an independent Biafra and the Nigerian government’s brutal suppression of those efforts. The media is not covering it, universities and think tanks are not hosting conferences about it, the United Nations Human Rights Council is not passing resolutions about it, and human rights activists and social justice warriors are not marching in the streets for Biafra. The world community is universally and shamefully silent on the plight of the Biafrans. 
Amnesty International is practically the only human rights organization to have taken any significant interest in Biafra and to have documented some of the numerous human rights abuses perpetrated against Biafrans by Nigerian forces: arbitrary arrests, torture and murder. 
Amnesty’s latest comprehensive report on Biafra was released in November 2016. The report confirmed that the government of Nigeria is killing peaceful activists from the movement for an independent Biafra (IPOB). Between August 2015 and August 2016, Nigerian security forces killed at least 150 people in a deliberate crack down on peaceful IPOB activists, culminating in a mass killing of at least 60 activists in the space of two days in connection with events to mark Biafra Remembrance Day on May 30 2016. The report mentioned  “…a pattern of hundreds of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment by soldiers during and after IPOB events, including arrests of wounded victims in hospital, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.” 
One 26-year-old man told Amnesty International that he was shot and hid in a gutter. When soldiers found him, they poured acid on him. “I covered my face. I would have been blind by now. He poured acid on my hands. My hands and body started burning. The flesh was burning… They dragged me out of the gutter. They said I’ll die slowly.” 
A 28-year-old mother told Amnesty International that her husband left in the morning to go to work but called her shortly afterwards to say that the military had shot him in his abdomen. He said he was in a military vehicle with six others, four of whom were already dead. “He started whispering and said they just stopped [the vehicle]. He was scared they would kill the remaining three of them that were alive… He paused and told me they were coming closer. I heard gunshots and I did not hear a word from him after that.” She later found his body in a mortuary. 
Another witness told Amnesty International that on the morning of 30 May he saw soldiers open fire on a group of around 20 men and boys aged between 15 and 45. He says five of them were killed. “I saw one boy trying to answer a question. He immediately raised his hands, but the soldiers opened fire…He lay down, lifeless. I saw this myself.” Military officers loaded men with wounds into one van, and corpses into another. Later that morning, another witness described how police shot a child bystander as a group of young men protested the shootings. 
This year, for Biafra Remembrance Day on May 30, 2017, Biafra activists marked the anniversary by staying at home.
For those who claim to care about human rights, Biafra should be a no-brainer.  
A clear-cut example of former Western colonization, the genocide of the 1967-70 war, and the Buhari government’s constant persecution and oppression of Biafran’s right to self-determination. However, Western social justice activists, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and its supporters, couldn’t care less about Biafra. It does not figure on their lists of priorities, it is never mentioned, it is as if Biafrans did not exist. Why don’t all black lives, including those of Biafrans, matter?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" And if a letter goes to AJC unanswered?

Image result for jack rosen ajc
Jack Rosen, Chairman, AJC
I wrote a heartfelt letter to Jack Rosen, Chairman of the American Jewish Congress in New York City. My expectation as to his response was low, as I had already blogged about what I wanted from him and then tweeted to him several times with no response. I did think however that since he had reciprocated my following him on Twitter  (albeit with no dialogue) that I might at least get a polite acknowledgment for my emotional missive regarding my Biafran friends and their plight for self-determination. There was a time when the American Jewish Committee cared about Biafra. I don't think I asked too much of Jack Rosen but you can judge for yourself by reading my letter to him. A month has gone by and he has not responded so I've decided to make this an "open letter." (Prior to writing to Jack, I did receive a nice response from Eliseo Neuman, director of AJC's Africa Institute.) 

Mr. Jack Rosen                                                  Image result for american jewish committee logo

Dear Jack,
Forgive me if using your first name is presumptuous but since we have some things in common, I hope it is o.k. After reading your bio online, I saw that both you and I were born in the same year to Auschwitz survivors. Luckily, my mother fell in love with an American Jewish GI and he brought her to America as one of the first World War II war brides. 

I am writing to explain that I am an advocate for the Biafran people, many of whom have proven to have Jewish DNA and have chosen to be Jewish. The majority of the population are Christian, as they were converted by the British but all Biafrans are supporters of Israel and are suffering under an Islamic president at this time. That brings me to my purpose of writing to you. 

Beginning in 1968, when you and I were in high school (I grew up in Michigan; you in New York) the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) experienced a genocide of over 3.5 million of their people. A year ago, as a child of the holocaust, their current plight got my attention again. 

What do I want from the AJC? I am requesting that you reopen the AJC report of 1968 on Biafra to draw attention to this issue of international concern. I am copying the email I sent to Eliseo Neuman, after which he sent back a courteous, professional, and prompt reply saying that it is not within the current scope of AJC. Please scroll down to the end of my email to see my email to Eliseo and his reply to me.

Thank you Jack for any consideration for this humanitarian issue. We cannot turn our backs on our Biafran friends. They are a proud people, full of integrity and intelligence. I truly believe that when their country is formed, and it will be, there will not be a better ally of Israel. 

Sincere best wishes,
Naomi Litvin 

AJC Africa

Dear Mr. Neuman,
I am writing to ask if you have any involvement in Nigeria? Specifically I am advocating for the Biafran people who seek self-determination by splitting off from Nigeria. In 1968-1970 they suffered the loss of over three million people in the civil war, which was the last time they attempted to gain freedom.

Now with a Hausa Islamic president (M. Buhari) and judges threatening Sharia Law in the court system, the mostly Christian Biafra people are getting close to the edge. Their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, creator of Radio Biafra is a dual citizen of UK and Nigeria who has been illegally held in Kuje Prison along with others of his group since October of 2015. The charges are false and have not been proven by the federal government of Nigeria.

What I would like to ask of the American Jewish Committee *(Correction: Congress) is that they reopen their investigative report that was published in 1968. At that time if the world had listened, millions of lives might have been saved. Here is a blog that I published that refers to the AJC report. Calling on American Jewish Congress to update Report on status of Biafra. < (click)

An interesting note is that Biafra supports the State of Israel and many claim Hebrew roots and live by our same values. The killing of Christians and those Jews in Biafra is well documented and continues daily. There is a huge diaspora of Biafrans worldwide. 

Much more information is available on the website of IPOB, the Indigenous People of Biafra.

Please, on behalf of seventy million friends of Israel consider how you can help.

The photo below is Nnamdi Kanu at a court appearance wearing kippot, magen david, and tallit!
I await your response and any helpful referrals. 
Thank you!
Sincere best regards,
Naomi Litvin   
@nlitvin on twitter

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Biafra: Nnamdi Kanu exits Kuje Prison: Meets bail conditions crafted by Buhari in Islamic Nigeria

It is with great joy that I can write that  Nnamdi Kanu, leader of seventy million Biafran people, has left Kuje prison in Abuja, Nigeria on bail granted on health grounds. Although the bail conditions initially seemed insurmountable, and are purported to be written by none other than Islamic Hausa President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, the Indigenous People of Biafra found the wherewithal to meet all requirements including flying in an esteemed Rabbi to vouch for Nnamdi. The three other pro-Biafra prisoners, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, Benjamin Madubugwu, and David Nwawuisi were not granted bail on the charges of treasonable felony and criminal defamations.
"The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has condemned the bail conditions granted its incarcerated leader, Nnamdi Kanu by Justice Binta Nyako of an Abuja Federal High Court. IPOB, in a statement signed and  sent to DAILY POST by its spokespersons claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the bail conditions and handed them over to Justice Nyako who read them in court."
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu had to meet the following bail terms: 
  • “Produce three sureties and two of whom must be; (a) highly respected and recognized Jewish leader and (b) highly placed Igbo person such as a Senator. The third surety must be resident in Abuja with a landed property in the same Abuja. Above all, the three sureties must deposit one hundred million naira (N100 Million) each.
  • “Barred from attending any rally and granting any form of interview.
  • “Must not be in a crowd exceeding 10 persons.
  • “Must surrender his British and Nigerian passports even when these passports are still in the custody of the DSS.
  • “Must sign an undertaking to avail himself for trial at all times.”
I can only imagine Nnamdi Kanu's first evening free to be with his family!


Nnamdi Kanu at Radio Biafra

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Calling on American Jewish Congress to update Report on status of Biafra

The following Memorandum from the American Jewish Congress was written 49 years ago. Today, the Leader of the Biafran people, Nnamdi Kanu, after being falsely imprisoned in Kuje Prison by the Federal Government of Nigeria, for crimes which have not yet been articulated, was again denied his lawful constitutional rights (yes, Nigeria has a constitution.) That is because this British/Nigerian dual citizen held since October of 2015 along with and many others, advocate freedom for Biafra from Nigeria. At the previous court hearing, the judge proclaimed that Kanu would be tried in a secret, masked trial according to Sharia Law. 70 million Biafrans, comprised of Igbo, Ijaw and many other tribes of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) seek only their freedom from ongoing slaughter by President Muhammadu Buhari, a war criminal and Hausa Islamist. Please tune in to Radio Biafra for up to date news on this fluid breaking news and reaction to the stalling of Nnamdi Kanu's court case. Today, on twitter, I have called upon the Chairman of the American Jewish Congress, Jack Rosen, a fellow Child of Holocaust Survivors, as Biafrans are, to update the Memorandum from 1968. I have also offered to act as an American/Israeli liaison to the Biafran people.  

Nnamdi Kanu appears in court wearing Jewish Star, Tallit, Kippah 
despite Judge's call for Sharia Law proceedings 

       15 East 84th St. New York , N. Y. 10028 TR 9-4500
December 27, 1968

To:                   Chapter and Division Presidents
                        Chapter and Division CIA Chairmen
Field Staff

From: Phil Baum  Director
                              Commission on International Affairs

     I am pleased to enclose a comprehensive memorandum outlining the background and present status in Nigeria/Biafra. This memorandum was prepared by the staff of the Commission on International Affairs because of numerous requests for information about the origin, extent and implications of the Biafran conflict.
     We hope this document will provide some insight both into the beginnings of the present war and of the feasibility of community action to help bring about its resolution. Jewish community relations councils have participated in some measure in various relief activities designed to provide food and medical supplies to Biafra despite the fact that such relief activities are not usually within the purview of community relations councils.
     However, private relief endeavors by themselves are proving woefully inadequate and of diminishing value in effectively preserving life. New initiatives including some going beyond relief may now be necessary. Our memorandum is intended to help clarify the propriety of Jewish communal participation in these activities. The scope of Jewish community relations work is always difficult to define. A tragedy of this scale requires us to reconsider our opportunities and obligations in the midst of vast human travail.


15 East 84th Street
New York, N. Y.  
December 15, 1968