Five vigils from history to inspire 100-day vigils for Chibok girls


Vigils for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will be held around the world on July 23 – 100 days after they were taken by Boko Haram.

We want to stand with those who are suffering. We don’t want the perpetrators of crimes to think we have forgotten. And we want to make change happen.

By holding vigils, we hope to increase pressure on those who can help to free the 219 girls of Chibok still missing.

A new online petition by A World at School will also call for the safe return of the girls. All messages of support from that petition will be passed to Chibok community leaders and families of the girls.

The petition will also be sent, by United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The Chibok Girls’ families are also expected to sign the petition and offer their full support for the Safe Schools Initative.

OTHER 100-DAY VIGILS COVERAGE:  Worldwide vigils on July 23 and your messages of support for the girls.

Vigils are a way to peacefully show support for a cause. They can take many forms – a silent moment of reflection, a pause for prayer, or the lighting of a candle to demonstrate the issue is in our thoughts.

Events will be held across the globe on July 23 – from Hackney Town Hall in London to the Nigerian capital Abuja –  as communities come together to stand in solidarity. They will be marking the 100 days in different ways.

Here we look at five famous vigils which show how people around the world have demonstrated support for issues they care about and made their voices heard.

Tiananmen Square

Every year since 1990, people have gathered on June 4 in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, to honour those massacred at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, in 1989. This year, on the 25th anniversary, 180,000 people gathered with candles.

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

During the “Dirty War” in Argentina (1976 to 1983), the military government abducted and killed thousands. In 1977 a group of mothers met each Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. They walked in non-violent demonstrations and chanted: “We want our children; we want them to tell us where they are.”  They walked each week until 1983 when the military were overthrown.

Chilean miners

When 33 miners were trapped underground in Copiapó, Chile, in October 2010 churches across the country held 24-hour prayer vigils for more than two months until the last miner was rescued. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera thanked the families of the miners “who maintained faith – this faith that ended up moving mountains”.

Flower power and the Pentagon

In 1967 30,000 people marched from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to the Pentagon where they held an all-night vigil against the Vietnam war. When a plan to airdrop 10,000 flowers on the Pentagon was foiled by undercover agents, some of these flowers were placed in the barrels of police rifles and the term “flower power” was coined.

Al Jazeera journalists

To protest against the jail sentences of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, journalists across the world held a minute’s silence on June 24, 2014. Journalists stood with black tape across their mouths outside the BBC studios in London and in Al Jazeera offices in the Middle East, holding signs with the slogan “Journalism is not a crime”.

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