All 20 U.S. senators who are women sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemning Boko Haram, the Islamist organization that abducted some 300 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, last month. The senators called on the administration to impose further international sanctions against the militant group.
“We are outraged and horrified that these young women have been kidnapped, sold into slavery, had their education curtailed, and may even have been forced into marriages,” wrote Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who led the senatorial effort.
“Education is a basic right for boys and girls who deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their education without fear of violence or retribution -- no matter where they live," the letter stated. "The Senate women stand united in condemning this reprehensible crime and are firm in our resolve that it will not be tolerated. We will not stand by and allow the Nigerian people to continue to be terrorized by Boko Haram and will continue to lead the effort to impose tough economic sanctions against this group.”
Armed militants from Boko Haram abducted some 300 Nigerian girls from their school in April. Some managed to escape the remote forest where they were taken, but police said last week that more than 200 were still missing. Boko Haram kidnapped eight more girls aged 12 to 15 on Monday night.
Abubakar Shekau, the group's purported leader, claimed responsibility for the first abduction in a video on Monday and threatened to “sell them in the market, by Allah.”
"The girls were targeted by Boko Haram simply because they wanted to go to school and pursue knowledge, and we believe the United States must respond quickly and definitively,” the senators wrote in their letter. “In the face of the brazen nature of this horrific attack, the international community must impose further sanctions on this terrorist organization. We urge you to press for the addition of Boko Haram and Ansaru to the United Nations Security Council’s al-Qa’ida Sanctions List, the mechanism by which international sanctions are imposed on al-Qa’ida and al-Qa’ida-linked organizations."
Mikulski and Collins were joined on the letter by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Read the letter below:
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story gave conflicting information as to how many girls Boko Haram kidnapped. Some 300 girls were taken from a school last month and more than 200 of them are still missing.