A Former U.S NFL tight end and outspoken Christian, Benjamin Watson, is calling on Americans fighting for racial justice in the U.S. to also call for an end to violence against Christians in Nigeria, as activists warn the world might be ignoring a possible genocide.
“This time of reckoning, as important as it is for all of us here in the United States, shouldn’t be limited to our shores as injustice persists,” Watson said in an event hosted by the International Committee on Nigeria.
Watson, as well as others at the event Wednesday, called on President Donald Trump to appoint a Special Envoy for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, something that fellow panelist and former Congressman Frank Wolf believes would receive bipartisan praise.
Wolf, former co-chair of the US Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, applaud the move to have a special envoy for Nigeria, vowing to canvass support for it.
Watson, 39, who announced his retirement earlier this year after 16 seasons in the NFL, participated in the press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C.,sitting next to former U.S Democratic presidential candidate and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to speak out against the violence perpetrated by extremists against Christians.
“I am here for many of the same reasons that everyone else is,” Watson explained. “I can remember several years ago it being impressed upon me that the Body of Christ here in the United States is dealing with our own issues. But compared to what is going on around the world in many respects, we need people that stand up for those who are being persecuted. At some time, it may be us.”
“We can remember the hashtag of #BringBackOurGirls filling our timelines. We remember even the first lady of the United States and celebrities even tweeting about this,” Watson recalled. “Now today, six years later, more than 100 of those girls are still missing. The hashtags and social media campaigns have ceased, but for many of those friends and families and communities, their lives have not been forgotten.”
The Super Bowl XXXVIII champion explained that while the abduction of the Chibok girls captured the hearts of the world, it was “just one of thousands of killings and kidnappings, razing of entire communities and burning of churches that have happened at a genocidal rate for the last 20 years.”
“It is not only Boko Haram,” he said. “Most recently, it is Fulani herdsman who have largely operated with impunity and have targeted and attacked Christian communities.”
“The killing in the region is greater than that committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria combined,” Watson added, repeating a statistic mentioned earlier in the conference.
“More than 60,000 Nigerians have been killed and 2 to 3 million have been displaced,” he continued, quoting an estimate from the Nigeria Silent Slaughter campaign. “That is something to consider because they have been moved away from their homelands and starvation and those sorts of things are happening as well.”
Watson also called for the Christian community across the globe to stand by Nigerian Christians.
Nigeria is ranked as the country with the third-highest score on the 2019 Global Terrorism Index, only behind Afghanistan and Iraq.
Watson, who has in the past participated in anti-sex trafficking efforts with International Justice Mission, warned that militants force some children in Nigeria into sex slavery or to become child soldiers.