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Girls kidnapped by Boko Haram inspire protest and tribute one year later

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    It's been one year since schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram, making headlines around the world.

    Gwen has the story.

  • PROTESTERS:

    Bring back our girls home now and alive!

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Nigerian activists paraded in the country's capital, Abuja, to mark the grim anniversary and renew their demands.

  • SOLAMIPE ONIFADE, Activist:

    We are here to appeal to the government to do better. We want our girls now and alive.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Boko Haram militants kidnapped 300 girls from this school in the northeastern town of Chibok a year ago today. Dozens of the girls managed to escape, but 219 disappeared.

    Their plight triggered worldwide calls for their release, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Even first lady Michelle Obama took part.

    But Boko Haram's leader dismissed the outcry in a video last May.

  • ABUBAKAR SHEKAU, Leader, Boko Haram (through interpreter):

    Just because I took some little girls from their Western education, everybody is making noise. I repeat, I took the girls, and I will sell them off. There is a market for selling girls.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The attack on Chibok was part of a larger Boko Haram campaign to create an Islamic caliphate, allied with the Islamic State group in Northeastern Nigeria.

    In the process, the militants have killed thousands, and Amnesty International estimates they have also abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014.

  • DANIEL EYRE, Amnesty International:

    We found that Boko Haram is using torture, that they have also raped and forced these women and girls into marriage with their members, and is even training some of them to fight.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Since the Chibok attack, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan repeatedly promised to bring the captives home safely. But, in the end, his failure to make good on those promises contributed to his defeat in last month's election.

    Today, the man who ousted him, president-elect Muhammadu Buhari, left open the possibility that the Chibok girls may never be rescued. He said in a statement: "Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them."

    Even so, today's protesters emphasized that, while the girls are gone, they are not forgotten.

  • OBIAGELI EZEKWESILI, Leader, Bring Back Our Girls:

    Our Chibok girls will remain an open sore on the conscience of our nation.

  • AISHA YESUFU, Activist:

    We ought to have protected them. We failed them. Each and every one of us, we failed them. And the next best thing that we ought to have done is to have rescued them. And up until now, we have not done that.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    There were also tributes to the missing girls around the world. Demonstrators in Paris carried banners and signs, proclaiming their solidarity at a rally near the Eiffel Tower.

    And tonight in New York, the Empire State Building will be lit up in purple and red, the colors of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

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