Students join protest to free kidnapped schoolgirls

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

Protest calls for Nigeria action

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Hundreds of students have marched through Wellington to demand action from Nigerian authorities to return kidnapped girls to their families.

About 300 girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, on April 14 by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Some have since escaped, but the plight of those still captive has sparked a global campaign called Bring Back Our Girls.

New Zealand students joined the campaign with protests yesterday, hundreds marching in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

Wellington Girls' College student Dawape Giwa-Isekeije told protesters that New Zealanders had a responsibility to stand up for those unable to stand up for themselves.

"This is a cause that should be close to everybody's heart. It's not OK anywhere in the world for anybody to be denied education in such a disgusting and harassing way."

University student Bontu Gobena, from Ethiopia, said her family had moved to New Zealand for a better education, and students in Africa deserved the same.

"For the girls there who are struggling already and getting kidnapped, this is a big deal. They're trying to get a better life to support their family and the generations behind. We need to do something about it because if we don't do it now it's going to continue."

Various MPs spoke to protesters, including Education Minister Hekia Parata and Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said it was an important cause because girls everywhere deserved to complete their education without hindrance and in peace.

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- The Dominion Post

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