Malala and her father – Ziauddin Yousafzai
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala, the Nobel Prize laureate Pakistani teenage education activist, has pledged his daughter’s undying commitment to the campaign for the rescue of Chibok girls.
Yousafzai said he and Malala would not give up their fight and solidarity with the affected parents until the girls, who were kidnapped at a Chibok secondary school, Borno State, last April, regained freedom.
He promised that they would sustain the campaign even if the rest of the world has moved on.
The Pakistani, who has been part of his daughter’s advocacy, made the commitment in an open letter to the girls’ parents. The letter, which was dated Saturday, February 7, 2015, being the eve of the 300th day of the girls’ abduction, was published on Malala’s website and some foreign news agencies.
Regretting that sufficient efforts have not been made to free the hostages, he said the Yousafzais would continue to remember them in prayers.
“My heart is heavy as I write to you on the eve of the 300th day since your beloved daughters have been taken from you. You are in my prayers every day. You have known a pain no parent should ever know.
“It was last July when Malala and I sat with you as you shared stories of your brave daughters, shed tears with you and prayed with you for their safe return,” he recalled.
Yousafzai said he was not impressed by the efforts taken so far to rescue the girls. He urged President Jonathan to meet with parents of the missing children to renew his support for their rescue.
He continued, “We challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to meet with you, acknowledge your pain, acknowledge the sacrifice your daughters made to achieve an education and promise his support.
“Seven months after our visit, I say not enough has been done. The world may turn their attention away, but my daughter, Malala, and I will not forget you or your children. Like Malala, your children were targeted simply for being girls who love to learn.”
Yousafzai said he, alongside his daughter, called Jonathan on Saturday and charged him to take a “resolute action and increase the Nigerian government’s efforts” to rescue the girls alive. He stressed that it was the duty of the President to guarantee the security of all Nigerian citizens.
Yousafzai also urged the global community to join him and Malala in renewing the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
“Malala and I will continue to stand with you and ask everyone not to forget but to raise their voice and demand the immediate return of your daughters,” he pledged.
Yousafzai said the family would, through the Malala Fund, continue to support female education in northern Nigeria, noting that the world would only be better when more people had access to education.
“When Malala was attacked by extremists for her commitment to education, I struggled to understand such a devastating act of violence. Sadly, with the recent attack on a school in Pakistan, being yet another tragic reminder of the risks faced by students and teachers, these threats are an everyday reality for millions of girls and boys around the world.
“A school is a sacred place, an institution of growth and learning; a place where no child should ever fear violence or retribution. It is my wish to see your daughters return home and to their classrooms in order to continue with their education, in a safe and protected environment,” he prayed.
In addition to the letter, Malala Fund shared its concern. On its official Twitter page, the organisation said it would continue “to support and speak out for the Chibok girls.”
But for the Yousafzai letter, the intrigues of the country’s general elections had overshadowed the 300th commemoration. The day, unlike when 100th and 200th days were marked, almost passed unnoticed.
On Twitter, #BringBackOurGirls hashtag may have lost its popularity. The kidnapped girls were scarcely remembered on Sunday. The few people who did had substituted #BringBackOurGirls with #ChibokGirls in what appears like a sign of hopelessness.