Uniformed forces open fire on EndSARS protestors in Nigeria, killing at least 12

Protestors from the LGBTQ+ community were among those who were attacked and injured while protesting against police brutality.

A group of young people holding a banner reading 'queer lives matter'

On Tuesday, protestors of the EndSARS movement were attacked while gathering peacefully in the suburb of Lekki in Lagos, Nigeria. BBC News reported witnesses describing how uniformed men opened fire on the 1,000 protestors, with Amnesty International sharing that at least 12 people were killed.

Many are calling this horrific scene “a massacre”. Dozens of soldiers flanked by police officers disembarked from trucks close to the protestors before opening fire into the crowd. Videos of the attack were shared across social media. One witness said, “They were firing and they were advancing straight at us. It was chaos. Somebody got hit straight beside me and he died on the spot.”

Authorities around the world have called on Nigeria to investigate the violence.

#EndSARS is an anti-police brutality movement formed in protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.

SARS began as an undercover force formed with the purpose of tackling rising cases of violent crime, including armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and other forms of domestic terrorism. Now most believe SARS have become the criminals.

LGBTQ+ people have complained of harassment and torture by SARS. The force have detained citizens on ridiculous charges from being fashionable, such has having dyed hair or dreadlocks, to having an iPhone or ‘appearing queer’.

According to an Amnesty International report, those who have been detained by SARS are forced to endure a variety of methods of torture, including but not limited to beating, hanging, and starvation. Those who are arrested are held against their will for days or weeks at a time.

Since October 8, the streets of Nigeria have been filled with those demanding change. The youth and LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria have been at the forefront, outspoken about the EndSARS movement, sparking a revolution against police brutality. Many of those young, queer leaders were harmed in Tuesday’s attack.

Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement on October 11 that SARS would be disbanded, protests have not slowed down, and this horrific public violence from the police isn’t the first – earlier last week in Lagos, officers opened fired on peaceful protesters, resulting in one death and many more injuries.

The young people and the LGBTQ+ community of Nigeria have been sharing across social media the harassment they receive from SARS officers, the videos going viral, sparking more protests, and gaining attention from influential people all over the world.

Following Tuesday’s attack, the calls for police reform have morphed into cries that President Buhari must go. Demonstrators say they are sick and tired of the barbarity that is being ignored.

Demonstrations in solidarity for Nigeria have been organised in New York, London, Toronto and more cities across the globe, amplifying the voices of the Nigerian youth and the LGBTQ+ community. To learn more about EndSARS, visit the website here.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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