The celebration of International Qud’s day is an event which has been observed in the world as a whole for the last 35 years. In Nigeria and Zaria to be precise, yesterday’s event was the 32nd (in the series). For the last 32 years continuously every year we have been observing the Qud’s Day celebration. It is marked as a solidarity with the Palestinian people. It was set aside by Imam Khomeini in the 80’s, last Friday of Ramadan. And ever since that time people have been observing it all over the world, in major cities of the world including Washington, New York, London, and Paris. If one watched Press TV yesterday the world have seen the demonstration from all over the world.
In Nigeria we have been observing it in different cities, at least in about 22 cities, including principally Kaduna, Zaria, Kano, Jos, Bauchi, Katsina, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Yola, Lagos, Ilorin and Port Harcourt among others. This year the event went smoothly as it has always been done. The procession started after Juma’at prayers from Central Mosque of Sabon Gari and ended in Kofar Doka roundabout. As you can see from the pictures, the closing prayers were even said.
However, all of a sudden there was sporadic shooting from the soldiers. They just appeared from nowhere and started shooting at people coming back from the procession. They continued shooting for sometime in the fall of the night. They hid in the sugarcane farms of Kubanni area, where there were no houses. They were sure that they were shooting at the protesters. As the shooting came after the procession, the target could be anyone passing by.
During the shooting they have killed and wounded a lot of people, including children and women. It was during that shooting that one of my sons, Mahmud, a student of Almustapha International University in Beirut, was shot. He came home for the holiday at the beginning of this Ramadan. He was shot at his abdomen. He was brought here bleeding; they wanted to take him to the hospital, but the soldiers had blocked the way. He, therefore, bled to death on the road (to the hospital).
Among those arrested were three of my children- Ahmad, Hameed and Ali. They were taken alive and in good condition. But later on, after we made contact with some people, specifically the police, they helped us to locate their whereabouts. They were taken to the Military Hospital in Basawa. When we demanded that they should hand them over to us, they refused, but insisted on taking them to Shika Hospital, (themselves); that we should collect them there. Later on we came to know that, they have already killed Ahmad and Hamid while Ali was wounded on his leg. He has a compound fracture. I don’t think it was bullet wound, they broke his leg. Up to now he could not be brought back because they have blocked the road.
Ahmad and Hameed also came for the holiday; they were both students. Ahmad was studying Chemical Engineering in Shenyang University of technology. Hamid was studying Aeronautical Engineering in Xian, another city in China. Ahmad was about to graduate next April in Chemical Engineering. Hamid came only last Saturday, his plane landed in Lagos on Friday and took a local flight to Kaduna on Saturday. So it was six days after he came back. I believe these two were murdered in cold blood because they were taken alive. We believed that they killed them here, because someone has identified Ahmad alive at the Military Hospital, but wounded on his leg. They had shot him before they took him to the hospital.
The casualty figure is still going up as I’m speaking to you now. Yesterday we had a total of 16 corpses, while the soldiers took 9 corpses with them to the Teaching Hospital apart from my two children, eleven all in all. This morning as they were passing by in front of Husainiyyah, they decided to shoot, and killed 3 more people and wounded many. We also learnt that they have taken with them two more corpses this morning. This means today there are additional five corpses, total of 35 people. We presently have a total of 19 corpses with us; the remaining are with them.
We had wanted to have a mass funeral today, but because they have set a roadblock, and it was not possible to collect the rest of the corpses from the University Teaching Hospital, we cannot. The police, who have been helping us yesterday night, were ordered to steer clear. In fact, the police commissioner phoned me and said it would be advisable if we leave the corpses until today, when the soldiers are not on the ground anymore.
Yesterday when we sent an ambulance and met the DPO of Sabon Gari to escort us to the hospital, the soldiers arrested the ambulance, the driver and one person with him. We don’t know what they did to them, they are in their custody. We don’t know whether one of the corpses they took today was that of one of the people in the ambulance. We wanted the police to escort us to the hospital, and went to the Area Commander, and he told them he had been warned to take off his hand from this matter. Meaning that there can be no police escort to the hospital for us.
This demonstration took place in various cities in Nigeria; they just decided to attack that of Zaria in particular. Even in Kaduna, police and soldiers attended and offered escort and protection as they did last year.
We learnt that the soldiers that did the shooting yesterday came from Abuja. They were brought from Abuja specifically for this purpose. They just opened fire and killed people, arrested some and murdered others in cold blood.
I don’t know why some section of the media when reporting the event decided to call it a clash. In a headline, they said, “Shiites, soldiers clash." Let me disabuse your minds about this idea of “Shiites." This has nothing to do with belief; it is to do with people. You don’t have to be a “Shiite” to show solidarity with the Palestinians; you don’t even have to be a Muslim. If you check the internet, you will see some Jews who participated in this Qud’s procession in London and New York. Several Christians participated, including some Heads of state. Hugo Chaves had always participated in Qud’s day procession.
Expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people can never come at a better time than this; when today for 19 days consecutively Gaza has been under siege with shelling from the air with missiles by the Israelis. The death toll is more than 900 now, getting to one thousand. And there has been demonstrations all over the world not, only yesterday, ever since they started the attack there had been demonstrations, particularly in European countries. I don’t know why they decided to attack that of Zaria in particular. Why Nigeria, and why Zaria? Even in the city of Quds, Jerusalem, there was a demonstration yesterday, and no single person was killed. I don’t know why soldiers were brought to open fire on us. What clash then, when you have armless people shouting slogans on one side and some people on the other side with guns shooting at them? Do you call this clash?
Of course, we noticed that this people well prepared for this operation. They have a large number of their people in civilian clothes, who also joined the demonstration. We noticed that at times they were uncontrollable, when they see soldiers they start shouting; that gave them away. They have been doing this to us for some time in some demonstrations. If you are part of us, and you are told to do something you will obey; if you are told not to, you will not. But these people would never listen to anybody. One typical example, is soldiers in civilian dress; they changed the uniform once in the barrack and joined us. It was our people who chased them out. And even when they came to Husainiyyah this morning, it was their people who were shouting, but they killed innocent people. Perhaps if there was any clash, it was between themselves. As far as we know, it was soldiers opening fire on people passing by in a peaceful demonstration.
Up to now we cannot say everything is okay, because right now they have blocked the way to Shika Hospital, and we are not able to recover our injured and the corpses. I have not seen the corpses of my children, apart from that of Mahmud. We have not seen the rest. Similarly, we have seen Ali, who has a compound fracture. There is no way we could get there because of the blockage.