267 Southern Sudanese Slaves Liberated

March 11, 2009

Government Efforts to Abolish Slavery in Sudan Falter

WASHINGTON and AWEIL, Sudan, March 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 267 African Sudanese slaves were freed from captivity in a CSI-sponsored liberation action spanning the end of February and first days of March.

All 267 liberated slaves were Southern Sudanese victims of government-sponsored war crimes. They were captured by militiamen during Sudan’s 22 year-old civil war, pitting the Arab/Islamic-based Government of Sudan against the secular Black African-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (1983-2005). Sudan’s President Omer El Bashir openly declared this war an Islamic jihad against non-Muslims. According to traditional Islamic law (Shariah), it is permissible to enslave or kill non-Muslim civilians in the course of violent jihad.

Interviews with the freed slaves reveal a consistent pattern of physical and psychological abuse, including rape, beatings, death threats, forced conversion to Islam, work without pay, and racial and religious insults. Among them were:

Abuk Lual Wek(27 years old): I lost my eye when my master, Mohammed Ali, had me circumcised. I physically resisted the operation. My master’s brother beat me and struck my eye. I lost consciousness. By the time I regained my senses, my private parts had been cut. My master used me as a concubine. I had four children by him. But he took them away from me and gave them to his relatives. I am Christian, but he renamed me Alima and used force to try to turn me into a Muslim woman.

Atak Anei Achien (13 years old): My master was Hammad Bashir. He made me call him “Father”. But he often beat me with a bamboo stick and sometimes raped me. Hammad’s children were given good clothes, but Hammad gave me rags. My job was to look after cows in the cattle camp.

Aweng Kenyang Kenyang (36 years old): An Arab cut off my finger with a knife when I struggled to escape capture. He became my master. I am a Christian, but he forced me to behave as if I were a Muslim. Four of my children were enslaved with me. They are now teenagers. They remained behind. The retriever said he would try to bring them back to me. I pray every day he will succeed.

Tong Garang Kuan(15 years-old): I can’t remember my mother and father. Mohammed Ali made me look after his goats. Once I lost a goat. He became angry and hit me on my foot with the blade of a hoe. He gave me no medical help. For one year it has been swollen and infected. I had to call Mohammed Ali “Father”. But he raped me. (CSI representatives took Tong to Dr. Luka Deng’s field clinic in Mabil for treatment. If antibiotics fail to clear the infection, Tong’s foot may have to be amputated.)

The CSI-sponsored liberation action was undertaken by Arabs belonging to Arab-Dinka peace committees which operate in the borderlands of Darfur, neighboring Kordofan and Southern Sudan. It was conducted against a background of rising tension within Sudan on account of the International Criminal Court’s indictment of the country’s President Bashir on account of war crimes.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005 between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA ended 22 years of government-backed slave raiding in Southern Sudan. However, it failed to provide an effective mechanism for the liberation and repatriation of slaves. At least 35,000 Southern Sudanese slaves remain in bondage, according to an estimate of a member of the Khartoum government’s Committee to Eradicate the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWAC), James Aguer.(1)

The President of autonomous Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, declared in a parliamentary speech three years ago that his government “remains deeply committed to the retrieval of Southern Sudanese women and children abducted and enslaved in Northern Sudan.”(2) Two years later, the Government of Southern Sudan paid CEAWAC one million US dollars to fulfill President Kiir’s Commitment.(3) However, since then, CEAWAC has liberated and repatriated only 135 slaves.(4)

At the end of 2008, Dr. John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International (CSI-USA), urged President-elect Barack Obama to signal support for the reintroduction in the 111th Congress of H.R. 3844: Eradication of Slavery in Sudan Act 2007 as a “cornerstone of [his] policy to terminate genocidal conflict in Darfur, to reinforce the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, and to bring peace, stability and equitable development to both Northern and Southern Sudan.”

Slavery is recognized in international law as a “crime against humanity.”

CSI has been in the forefront of liberating Sudanese slaves since 1995.

(1) Skye Wheeler, “Misseriya and Dinka Grapple with History of Child Abduction”, Aweil, November 14, 2008.

(2) CSI Press Release, April 17, 2006.

(3) BBC, “Slave Rescue Bid Resumes in Sudan,” March 5, 2008.

(4) CSI Field Trip Report, March 2008.

SOURCE Christian Solidarity International

Source: newswire

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