// Nigeria's Witch Children
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« on: Mar 01, 2009 04:18 PM »


Nigeria’s Witch Children
 
By  IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
 
Aid workers and experts affirm that the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims. (Google)
 
EKET, Nigeria — Jeremiah, 10, can’t stop tears from rolling down his face as he recalls how he was tortured, burned and nearly killed by his own parents for being branded by their local church as a wicked witch.
"We were having a revival at church one night when from nowhere, the pastor's wife stood up to say I was a witch," the Nigerian child told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday, March 1.

It has been more than a year since Jeremiah fled from his home and took refuge at an emergency shelter in the town of Eket in Nigeria’s south-east state of Akwa Ibom.

But his escape came after he suffered months of abuse at the hands of his parents after he was accused of sorcery.

After the church incident, Jeremiah was immediately locked up at the pastor's house, starved and assaulted with clubs as part of the exorcism exercise.

When he moved back home, he suffered another episode of torture by his parents, who over several weeks, locked him up in a room, starved and flogged him and then set him ablaze.

"One day my father came in with a jerrycan and poured petrol on my face and my clothes and lit matches.

“I was burnt and for several days I could not open my eyes and my mouth," he recalled, before slipping into a long silence, and then sudden gush of tears.

Despite the seriousness of the burns which left him permanently scarred, he was not allowed to seek medical care. Days later, he sighted another jerrycan of fuel in the house and knew it was time to flee.

Aid workers affirm that despite all his sufferings, Jeremiah is counted of the lucky children haunted by witchcraft.

At a centre sheltering Jeremiah, there are over 170 other children -- aged between 18 months and 16 years – who have sought or been brought to emergency shelter.

Many bear scars of torture -- machete cuts, burns or a nail drilled into the head.

"Some die, they are thrown into the sea,” Sam Ikpe-Itauma, head of the local charity organization Children's Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), says.

“Many are forced to eat a poisonous wild berry, in the belief that if you eat and don't die, you are not a witch, if you die then you are a witch. But there are hardly any survivors.”

Pastors Business

Aid workers and experts affirm that as in many other parts of Africa, the belief in witchcraft is not new in Nigeria, but it’s all new that children now become victims.

Experts blame this trend for the self-proclaimed pastors who make fortune from children exorcising rites.

"There is an explosion of fake evangelists," Herbert Batta, a university lecturer in the state capital Uyo, told AFP.

He added that the self-made pastors know very well there is nothing wrong with the children they brand.

Ikpe-Itauma, of the Eket local charity CRARN, agrees.

"You have to be seen to spiritually powerful to draw the crowds and in the process collect lots of money in offerings."

Around a dozen phony pastors have been arrested recently.

One of them is facing murder charges after he confessed in a documentary film to having killed 110 child witches.

He now says he killed only the witches inside the children, not the children themselves.

The phony pastors also get paid in cash or kind for deliverance and counseling sessions.

Chigbo Ekwealo, a university of Lagos philosopher and witchcraft specialist believe that people ignorance and poverty have made them an easy prey for those phony pastors.

"Some people are making brisk business out of defenseless children," Akwa Ibom State spokesman Aniekan Umanah, concurrs.

"It's greed, targeting gullible and susceptible rural people."
 
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 02, 2009 12:41 PM »

I don't suppose this has made national news?

Now if it had been Muslims doing something like this, the news media would drag out all the "Islamist experts" and have them explain to all the gullible viewers  how evil Islam, Muslims, the Quran, etc is....
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 18, 2009 11:47 PM »

Hundreds accused of 'witchcraft' persecuted in The Gambia
Witch doctor in The Gambia

Witch doctor in The Gambia

© Gainako Newspaper

18 March 2009
Up to 1,000 people in The Gambia have been taken from their villages by “witch doctors”, taken to secret detention centres and forced to drink hallucinogenic concoctions.

The liquid they are forced to drink has led many to have serious kidney problems. Two people are known to have died of kidney failure after having been subjected to the ordeal.

The incidents are part of a “witch hunting campaign” spreading terror throughout the country.

Eyewitnesses and victims told Amnesty International that the “witch doctors”, who they say are from neighbouring Guinea, are accompanied by police, army and national intelligence agents. They are also accompanied by "green boys" – Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s personal protection guards.

According to victims and their relatives, “witch doctors” have been visiting villages with armed security and taking villagers they accuse of being “witches” – many of them elderly – by force, sometimes at gunpoint. They are then taken to secret detention centres.

Some have been held for up to five days. They are forced to drink unknown substances that cause them to hallucinate and behave erratically. Many are then forced to confess to being a witch. In some cases, they are also severely beaten, almost to the point of death.

The most recent incident took place on 9 March in Sintet village in the Foni Jarrol district. Up to 300 people were forced to go to the President’s farm in Kanilai. According to one witness:

“At 5am the paramilitary police armed with guns and shovels surrounded our village and threatened the villagers that anyone who tries to escape will be buried six feet under. Fear gripped the village, children were crying and traumatised. They randomly identified over 300 men and women who were forced at gunpoint into waiting buses and ferried to the President’s hometown.

"Once there, they were stripped and forced to drink ‘dirty water’ from herbs and were also bathed with these dirty herbs. A lot of these people who were forced to drink these poisonous herbs developed instant diarrhoea and vomiting whilst they lay helpless.

"I stayed there for five days. I experienced and witnessed such abuse and humiliation. I cannot believe that this type of treatment is taking place in Gambia. It is from the dark ages.”

The incidents have taken place in the Foni Kansala district, an area near to President Jammeh’s farm in Kanilai. However, many people believe that the “witch hunting” campaign will spread throughout the rest of the country. Hundreds of Gambians have already fled to the Casamance region in Senegal after their villages were attacked.

The witch doctors were invited to The Gambia early this year, soon after the death of President Jammeh’s aunt. The President is reported to believe that witchcraft was used in her death.

Halifa Sallah, a prominent opposition figure who has written about the activities of witch doctors for the main opposition newspaper, Foroyya, was arrested at his home on 8 March. He has since been charged with sedition and spying, and is currently in Mile II, the Central Prison in the Gambia. His next court date is set for 25 March. Amnesty International is concerned that he is at risk of being tortured or ill-treated and that his trial will be unfair.

Halifa Sallah is former member of the Pan African Parliament and minority leader of the National Assembly. He is Secretary General of the People’s Democratic Organization of Independence and Socialism and coordinator of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development. He stood as a presidential candidate in the Gambia in 2006.

Amnesty International has called on The Gambian government to put an immediate stop to the witch-hunting campaign. The organization has also urged the authorities to investigate the incidents and to bring those responsible to justice.
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