Beyoncé, Rihanna, Burna Boy, More Voice Outrage at Protest Killings in Nigeria

Artists around the world have voiced support for Nigerian demonstrators after soldiers fired upon protest crowds yesterday (October 20), killing at least one protestor. Several more are thought to have been killed, the BBC reports, citing Amnesty International. Davido has called for Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari to step down and be tried for crimes against humanity. Fellow Nigerian singer Burna Boy tweeted from London that he is pressing for political repercussions against the Nigerian government.

Stars including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Chance the Rapper have also spoken in support of protestors. “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria,” Beyoncé wrote on Instagram. “There has to be an end to SARS.” Rihanna condemned “torture and brutalization” by those “put in place to protect.”

Amnesty International is in the process of determining the precise number killed during the protests, after soldiers created a barricade and began shooting a crowd gathered in the wealthy Lekki region. (Nigeria’s state governor claimed only one person had died.) 

On October 11, after widespread protests, the Nigerian government announced that the notorious police unit known as SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) had been dissolved. Burna Boy released a statement soon after: “In my opinion, abolishing [SARS] is a definite first step but we cannot afford to stop there,” he wrote. He went on to announce a charity to help those who were harmed or arrested during the demonstrations, as well as an initiative to spread information and “amplify the creative and tech community.”

In recent weeks, prominent musicians have joined proxy protests around the world and online, including Nigerian musicians such as Davido, WizKid, Tiwa Savage, and Mr Eazi. “We are not scared to speak,” WizKid said at a protest in London on October 10. “Nigerian youth, don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have a voice.”

SARS formed in 1992, tasked with tackling crime in Nigeria. In a June report, Amnesty International documented at least 82 alleged cases of “torture, ill treatment, and extra-judicial execution” by SARS from January 2017 through May 2020.

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