May 11, 2014 6:34 pm

Bring back our girls rally hits Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – “Bring back our girls” is a message being heard around the world, including in Winnipeg.

Wearing red to signify the amount of blood that has been shed in Nigeria, Winnipeg’s Nigerian community gathered at the Manitoba Legislature Building on Mother’s Day to demand the return of nearly 300 kidnapped girls from a Nigerian boarding school almost a month ago.

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“When you send your child to learn, you want them to learn and come home and better themselves, not for some people to traumatize them, kidnapping them,” said mother and Nigerian Oluyenisi Ilelapoye.

“The nightmare — you’re sleeping and waking up every morning realizing that your kids were abducted almost four weeks ago. You don’t know if they’re alive,” said Xylvexter Aghrdi, president of the Nigerian Association of Manitoba.

Terrorist group Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” took responsibility for abducting the students.

RELATED: How Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from Chibok

“These [students] are, like we say, the future leaders of tomorrow, so the only crime they committed is their quest for education, and the last time I checked a quest for education is no crime,” said Aghrdi.

In a video released this week, Boko Haram’s leader called the girls slaves and threatened to sell them.

“I repeat, I took the girls, and I will sell them off. There is a market for selling girls,” he said.

“This is just inhumane, this is not normal. A human with a heart and conscience wouldn’t do something like this, and it needs to stop immediately,” said rally supporter and student Oyindamola Alaka.

With the girls’ whereabouts still unknown, world leaders are pressuring the country to find them, with Amnesty International accusing the Nigerian government of ignoring warnings of the assault and refusing international help.

France, China, the United States and the United Kingdom have all offered support to Nigeria, with Canada supplying surveillance equipment and planning an emergency parliamentary debate Monday.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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