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May 06 2014

Sens. Mikulski, Collins Lead All Twenty Bipartisan Senate Women Condemning Abduction and Mistreatment of Girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram

Bipartisan Senate women call for additional international sanctions against Boko Haram terrorist organization

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today led all twenty Senate women in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama condemning the abduction and mistreatment of more than 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria and calling for additional international sanctions against the organization. Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls as slaves, and some may have already been sold into child marriages.

"We are outraged and horrified that these young women have been kidnapped, sold into slavery, had their education curtailed, and may even have been forced into marriages," Senators Mikulski and Collins said. "Education is a basic right for boys and girls who deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their education without fear of violence or retribution-no matter where they live. The Senate women stand united in condemning this reprehensible crime and are firm in our resolve that it will not be tolerated. We will not stand by and allow the Nigerian people to continue to be terrorized by Boko Haram and will continue to lead the effort to impose tough economic sanctions against this group."

The United States State Department has designated Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and has reported that the group has links to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb. In their letter, the Senate women urge President Obama to press for additional international sanctions in the United Nations Security Council, compelling a greater number of countries to join the United States and others in imposing their own sanctions.  

"We condemn these appalling actions in the strongest possible terms, and we agree with you that the abduction of these girls is an outrage. The girls were targeted by Boko Haram simply because they wanted to go to school and pursue knowledge, and we believe the U.S. must respond quickly and definitively," the Senators wrote. "In the face of the brazen nature of this horrific attack, the international community must impose further sanctions on this terrorist organization. We urge you to press for the addition of Boko Haram and Ansaru to the United Nations Security Council's al-Qa'ida Sanctions List, the mechanism by which international sanctions are imposed on al-Qa'ida and al-Qa'ida-linked organizations.  Their addition to the List would compel a greater number of countries to sanction Boko Haram, joining several countries, such as the United States, which have already done so."

A copy of the signed letter is available here.

Senators Mikulski and Collins were joined by all the Senate women in signing the bipartisan letter to President Obama including Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

 

The Senators' letter to President Obama follows:

 

May 6, 2014

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

As the women of the United States Senate, we are writing to you today deeply disturbed by the abduction and mistreatment of more than 200 girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria.  Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls as slaves, and some may have already been sold into child marriages.  We condemn these appalling actions in the strongest possible terms, and we agree with you that the abduction of these girls is an outrage. The girls were targeted by Boko Haram simply because they wanted to go to school and pursue knowledge, and we believe the United States must respond quickly and definitively. 

In the face of the brazen nature of this horrific attack, the international community must impose further sanctions on this terrorist organization. Boko Haram is a threat to innocent civilians in Nigeria, to regional security, and to U.S. national interests. The National Counterterrorism Center has found that Boko Haram has engaged in multiple attacks on Westerners and repeatedly targeted students at schools and universities, threatening the ability of young Nigerians, particularly women, to attend school. 

While we applaud the initial U.S. condemnation of the kidnapping, we believe there is much more that the United States government should do to make clear that such an attack will not be tolerated.  We urge you to press for the addition of Boko Haram and Ansaru to the United Nations Security Council's al-Qa'ida Sanctions List, the mechanism by which international sanctions are imposed on al-Qa'ida and al-Qa'ida-linked organizations.  Their addition to the List would compel a greater number of countries to sanction Boko Haram, joining several countries, including the United States, which have already done so.  The Department of State reported that Boko Haram has links to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb when it designated the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and General David Rodriguez, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, has described these links before Congress.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working together until girls and women worldwide can pursue an education without fear of violence or intimidation.               

 

Sincerely,

 

Barbara A. Mikulski, United States Senator

Susan M. Collins, United States Senator

Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator

Tammy Baldwin, United States Senator

Barbara Boxer, United States Senator

Maria Cantwell, United States Senator

Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator

Deb Fischer, United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator

Kay Hagan, United States Senator

Heidi Heitkamp, United States Senator

Mazie Hirono, United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar, United States Senator

Mary Landrieu, United States Senator

Claire McCaskill, United States Senator

Lisa Murkowski, United States Senator

Patty Murray, United States Senator

Jeanne Shaheen, United States Senator

Debbie Stabenow, United States Senator

Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator

 

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