Update on Mubarak's Case: Physical Harm Seems Inevitable & We Must Fight
Your Action Is Needed
We never like writing bad news, but that's all we have for you. If you've been following the case of our advisory board member, Mubarak Bala, you'll know that this selfless and prolific activist was arrested on charges of insulting the prophet Muhammad. A petition was started by a group of lawyers in Kaduna, in the north of Nigeria and signed by 16,000 people. The petition demanded that Mubarak be arrested and removed from Facebook for insulting the prophet. See their demands in the photos below.
The Nigerian police swiftly acted on these demands and arrested Mubarak Bala. Our initial concerns were twofold: retaining legal representation for Mubarak and preventing him from being moved to Kano state, where sharia law rules. Should Mubarak have to face justice as prescribed in sharia law, he will be facing execution.
So, the bad news is that we did get confirmation that Mubarak was moved to Kano a day ago. Here is a statement from Leo Igwe, Mubarak's fellow activist on the ground in Nigeria,
While the police authorities in Kano have confirmed that Nigerian Humanist Mubarak Bala is in their custody, they have not granted him access to a lawyer. He has been held incommunicado. The police arrested Mubarak in Kaduna three days ago following a complaint of insulting prophet Muhammad that some lawyers in Kano filed at the State Police Command. Mubarak was detained in Kaduna for a night before being transferred to Kano two days ago. Since taken to Kano, the police authorities have not allowed him to see his lawyer. The police authorities have been blocking efforts to understand the details of the complaint. This is in breach of Mubarak's human rights. There are reports that Mubarak is being beaten and tortured while in detention. There are also concerns over the state of his health, especially with the outbreak of a strange disease in Kano. In the last 48 hours, there has been no independent confirmation that Mubarak is alive and well, there is no confirmation that he is not being maltreated and that his rights are not being violated. Given the nature of the allegation, there are serious concerns over Mubarak's health. According to family sources, Mubarak is hypertensive. Many people are worried that Mubarak could be killed while in detention given the several death threats that he has received. Please kindly help draw the attention of the Nigerian authorities to the case of Mubarak. Ask the police authorities to grant Mubarak access to his lawyer today. Urge the police to charge him in court formally or release him unconditionally.
Mubarak is also receiving an enormous amount of death threats online, which represents a whole other problem he faces even if we succeed in securing his release.
Today, we have received word from Leo Igwe that three lawyers have been secured with retainer funds donated by International Humanists. The problem now is that the authorities in Nigeria are denying Mubarak's right to speak with his lawyers. We also do not have confirmation that he is alive and healthy. For all we know, he may have already been killed. We don't want to think about that but this is a very real possibility.
What you can do
You can donate to Mubarak's legal fund here.
You can sign the petition to prove to the Nigerian authorities that the world is watching. Sign here.
You can tweet to the Nigerian authorities. Click here to tweet a prewritten message to them.
You can find your closest Nigerian Embassy here and write to them or call them and tell them how you feel about this. Here is a prewritten message to send to them:
Dear (add the name of your recipient here), I am writing to you regarding the case of Mubarak Bala, President of the Nigerian Humanist Association. News of his arrest on April 28th, 2020 in Kaduna by police officers from Kano State Police Command has spread around the world. I am writing to you from (enter your country here). I am demanding that your office help me with the following:
I need to know and have confirmation of where, exactly, Mr. Bala is.
I need to know if he has been charged formally and I would like to see a copy of paperwork associated with any charges.
Mr. Bala must have access to his legal team immediately.
If Mr. Bala was not charged within the 24 hours specified in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, then I demand his immediate release.
I request that Mubarak Bala be moved to a neutral area of Nigeria, where he can be tried fairly.
I need confirmation of Mubarak's physical condition.
I await your prompt response,
(enter your name and organization here)