A Carnegie Mellon University professor who wished Queen Elizabeth II “excruciating” pain in a viral tweet Thursday detailed her reasons for her controversial statement in an email to PublicSource.
Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at CMU, noted the United Kingdom’s role in the suppression of the separatist Igbo people in Nigeria in the late 1960s. Estimates of the deaths from starvation and violence in the country’s Biafra region range from 1 million to several million.
“I am the child and sibling of survivors of genocide,” Anya wrote in response to an inquiry from PublicSource. She added that she has previously tweeted about her mother’s experience during the war in Biafra.
“I was born in the immediate aftermath of this genocide, which was directly supported and facilitated by the British government then headed by the monarch Queen Elizabeth II,” she continued in her statement. “This support came through political cover, weapons, bombs, planes, military vehicles and supplies the British government sent to kill us and protect their interests in the oil reserves on our land.”
She said the war “has shadowed our entire lives and continues to affect it, because we’re still mourning incalculable losses and still rebuilding everything that was destroyed.”
Anya’s tweet, coming almost as Queen Elizabeth II died and calling her part of a “thieving raping genocidal empire,” spurred online reaction — some supporting her, and other condemning her — before Twitter removed it as a violation of its content rules.
CMU then tweeted that the university does “not condone the offensive and objectionable messages” she posted, adding that they “do not represent the values of the institution, nor the standards of discourse we seek to foster.”
“Some may not approve of how a survivor of state violence expresses their opinion of those who harmed them, but all should know that ‘colonizer’ is not an abstract word to me,” Anya wrote to PublicSource, adding that the British monarchy is complicit and for her, it’s not “something I’ve only read about in history books.”
Anya continued that conversations among Igbo “today still include who was lost, who was displaced, where people ran, where bodies are buried. They do not include kind, respectful or temperate sentiments about the people who murdered our relatives and destroyed our lives.”
A PublicSource inquiry to CMU, asking whether the university had taken or planned any additional action in relation to Anya’s tweet, was not immediately answered Friday.
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