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  Middle East & Africa
880 Sudanese Slaves Liberated
Thousands Remain Enslaved in Darfur, Kordofan
Special Contribution
By Dr. John Eibner
A village scene in Darfur

MALWAL KON, Sudan — 880 liberated slaves returned to their homeland of northern Bahr El Ghazal, Southern Sudan between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2, 2005.

Of the freed slaves, 607 were assembled in Northern Sudanese towns and villages and transported by truck to Southern Sudan by the Government of Sudan's Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC). They were delivered to registration centers at Gok Machar and Warawar. The outstanding 273 slaves were liberated from Baggara Arab cattle camps by CSI-supported Arab-Dinka Peace Committees, and were documented by CSI staff at Gok Machar and Waragany.

CSI is now providing food and survival kits to both groups of freed slaves, and is helping local authorities reunite them with their families. Local officials have also appealed to UNICEF and other aid agencies for help with the feeding and rehabilitation of returning slaves.

Slavery is a "crime against humanity" in international law. Most of the returning slaves documented by CSI reported gross abuse by their Arab Muslim masters. Among the most widespread forms of abuse are beatings, death threats, work without pay, forced Islamization and Arabization, and racial and religious slurs. The majority of women and older girls said they were raped or gang-raped while in bondage. A minority of the females claim they were subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) — a ritual that is the cultural norm for Baggara Arab women.

Villagers in Darfur

While conditions for the liberation of Southern Sudanese slaves continue to improve - largely on account of the current peace process between the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) — the capture and enslavement of Black women and children by government-backed Arab militias continues in Darfur, Northern Sudan.

In its report to the UN Secretary-General, dated Jan. 25, 2005, the International Commission on Darfur accused Sudanese government troops of committing "crimes against humanity" and other "war crimes" against Black civilians in Darfur. Among the documented crimes are abduction, enslavement, rape and murder.

CSI welcomes the Commission's findings and endorses the recommendation to bring to justice - before an international tribunal — those Sudanese government officials, soldiers and militiamen who are responsible for slavery and other related crimes against humanity.

CSI also urges the U.S. government - which has invested so heavily in the GOS-SPLA peace process — to establish a Task Force to Monitor the Eradication of Slavery in Sudan, within either the State Department's Office of War Crimes Issues or the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

An artist rendition of slavery in Sudan

The irreversible eradication of slavery is a precondition for sustainable peace in Sudan. Tens of thousands of Black Sudanese women and children remain enslaved in Sudan — mainly in Darfur and neighboring Kordofan — notwithstanding the peace agreement signed by the GOS and SPLA on Jan. 9, 2005 in Nairobi.

For more information contact Contact: Dr. John Eibner in Zurich at (41-country code) 44-982-3344, or Rev. Keith Roderick in Washington D.C. at 202-498-8644,






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