Capturing Witches: Histories, Stories, Images 400 years after the Lancashire Witches Lancaster University 17-19 August 2012

2012 will mark the 400th anniversary of the trial and execution of the Lancashire Witches. This conference is part of a year-long programme of events which will take place in Lancaster and the surrounding area. This interdisciplinary conference uses the Lancashire witches as a focal point to engage with wider questions about witchcraft, and in particular how witchcraft is theorised and represented in and through history and across cultures.

We wish to attract a wide variety of international speakers from diverse backgrounds, including academia, civil society and media, as well as those who have suffered witchcraft related human rights abuse. Applications for papers need not focus overtly on academic studies of the issues. Proposals for contributions which go beyond the conventional academic format are welcome. All proposals should fit under one or more of the following headings:
1. Policy and Implementation
2. Advocacy and Education
3. Media and Representation
4. Identifying and Surviving Witchcraft Related Rights Abuse
Proposals (paper: 250 words, panel/other format: 500 words) including a 50-word bio for each contributor should be sent to the conference team by 1 December 2011 to capturingwitches@lancaster.ac.uk. Decisions on submissions will be made by 31 January 2012.

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One young Ghanaian’s battle against a soothsayer’s curse

Almost killed for being a ‘spirit child’, Paul Apowida explains how AfriKids, one of the Telegraph’s 2011 Christmas Charities, helped him.

To read this article, please click here

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Woman accused of witch hunt killed and eaten

A woman accused of practicing black magic was murdered.

Her assailants then cut up her body and consumed it in Gumla, Jharkhand.

read more here

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Three people dead – witch hunts continue

KOKRAJHAR: Baksa is in a tizzy over the recovery of the dead bodies of three persons from the bank of Tihu river at Thaikarkuchi under Barama police station in the district. The deceased, identified as Saniram Boro (67) and Suren Ramchiary (62) of Banbari Thaikarkuchi village and Hagam Boro (60) of Sitalpur village, are suspected to have been killed for allegedly practising black magic.

read more here

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Forbidding labeling children as witches — an attack on religous freedom ?!

Indeed… the question cannot be asked without taking a pinch of salt, however that is exactly the claim of another powerful evangelist. Find out more about this story here.

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Discover ‘Häxan’ (English title: The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages)

The idea to investigate and show how witchcraft can be used to eliminate or, stigmatise people in a society has been employed in films. This week, I encourage you to watch a film from 1922 entitled Häxan (English title: The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages). Apart from the fact that the film has got beautifull cinematography, it provides an interesting perspective on the problem.

here is a link to the film on YouTube. It has been broken up into 8 segments

if you want to download the film and watch it in your chosen time, please click here to get a legal copy from silent films archive

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Request for Action!

Stepping Stones Nigeria and our local partner organisation are facing some major challenges at the moment with our relationship with the Akwa Ibom State Government. We need your support in order to continue with the good work that we have been doing to save and protect the lives of children accused of witchcraft in the State. It will only take 5 or 10 minutes of your time to complete this action but your support will make a big difference and will be much appreciated.

Thanks so much for all of your ongoing support,

The SSN Team

Some Background…

In August 2010, in response to the broadcast of a CNN documentary on child witches in Akwa Ibom State, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, claimed that Stepping Stones Nigeria and our Nigerian partner NGO, CRARN, are fraudulent organisations who have extorted over £2 million from members of the public and not used it to help children accused of witchcraft in the State. These were the same allegations that were levelled against the organisations by the Nigerian pastor, Helen Ukpabio, in law suits that she filed against them in 2009. Governor Akpabio then proceeded to give interviews on local TV. Calls were made to arrest the Programme Director of SSN, Gary Foxcroft and the President of CRARN, Sam Itauma and the governor stated that “heads will roll”.

On 10th November 2010 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided the CRARN children’s centre and tried to arrest Sam Itauma after a petition had been filed to them, again claiming massive fraud. Both SSN and CRARN have refuted these ongoing allegations in the strongest possible terms and stated that their accounts are publicly available documents.

On 20th November 2010, Governor Akpabio announced that he had established a Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations in Akwa Ibom State in order to “ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegation that several children in Akwa Ibom State were stigmatised, maltreated, killed and/or buried in shallow graves on account of being branded as witches and wizards”, and for them to “identify the shallow graves and the particulars of the children affected and also to identify those who were maltreated, stigmatised or caused their deaths and make appropriate recommendations.”

Stepping Stones Nigeria’s Response

Whilst we welcome the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations, Stepping Stones Nigeria feels that there is a great need for the international community to monitor the independence and objectivity of the Commission.
As part of our commitment to supporting the work of the Commission, SSN is working extremely hard with all of our Nigerian partners to compile a comprehensive dossier of evidence.
However, we really do need more help to ensure that the Akwa Ibom State Government know that the eyes of the world are monitoring the situation and are willing to hold them to account.

What you can do to help…

1.      Send a letter to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State

Click here for the template letter format.

Please either print this, insert your signature and post to our UK address (we will ensure that it is forwarded to Nigeria) or print, sign, scan and email it to: campaigns@steppingstonesnigeria.org

Alternatively you may wish to send your own personalised letter. Please read our ‘tips for letter writing’ page and check the template letter for details of address and government protocol before sending it. If you wish to check it with us first, again, please email campaigns@steppingstonesnigeria.org

Please note that the Commission will conclude by the end of 2010. All letters need to be sent to SSN urgently if they are to reach Nigeria in time.

1.      Contact the Governor via Facebook

You can find the Governor’s page by searching for “Godswill Obot Akpbaio”. Please send a message:

a)  Congratulating the Governor on establishing the Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations in Akwa Ibom State.
b) Raising concern over the lack of prosecutions of offenders and calling for justice for victims of child witchcraft accusations.
c) Highlighting that the international community will be monitoring the findings of the Commission closely.

2.      Sign the Petition

Please read, sign and forward the following petition to all of your contacts.

Thank you

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