The Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Warsaw, Poland, Dr Piotr Cywiñski, says he and one hundred and nineteen other volunteers across the world are offering to be jailed in exchange for the release of a teenager, Omar Farouq, imprisoned for blasphemy in Kano State.
In an appeal letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Cywiñski wrote, “As the director of the Auschwitz Memorial, that commemorates the victims and preserves the remains of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, where children were imprisoned and murdered, I cannot remain indifferent to this disgraceful sentence for humanity. I wish to request the pardon of this thirteen-year-old boy. Regardless of what he said, he cannot be treated as fully aware and responsible, given his age. He should not be subjected to the loss of the entirety of his youth, be deprived of opportunities, and stigmatised physically, emotionally and educationally for the rest of his life. I am convinced that the authority you possess can still undo this sentence. However, if it turns out that the words of this child absolutely require one hundred and twenty months of imprisonment, and even you are not able to change that, I suggest that in place of the child, one hundred and twenty adult volunteers from all over the world, gathered by us – myself personally among them – should each serve a month in a Nigerian prison. In total, the price for the child’s transgression will be the same, and we will all avoid the worst. If you agree to grant clemency, or to the above proposal in lieu of punishment, I will make an attempt to provide financial help for the boy’s proper education. This way, instead of a destroyed young man, Nigeria will gain an aware and educated young citizen.”
Cywiñski asked Buhari to consider his proposal “favourably”, saying, “You will undoubtedly agree with the statement that human rights begin with the rights of the child. I remain hopeful that this issue will be quickly resolved according to twenty-first-century standards.”