Sunday, 28 July 2013


                                   BLACK          SOCIAL           HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Slavery in Sudan began in ancient times, and has continued to the present day. During the Trans-Saharan slave trade, many from below the Sahara were purchased as slaves and brought for work in North African and the Orient by Nubians, Egyptians, Berbers and Arabs.
Since 1995, many human rights organizations have reported on contemporary practice, especially in the context of the Second Sudanese civil war. Both the government-backed militias and the rebels (led by the SPLA) have been found guilty of abducting civilians, according a 2002 report issued by the International Eminent Persons Group, acting with the encouragement of the US State Department. According to the Rift Valley Institute's Sudan Abductee Database, over 11,000 people were abducted in 20 years of slave-raiding in southern Sudan.
The Sudanese government has claimed that the slavery is the product of inter-tribal warfare, over which it had no control. Human Rights Watch, rejects this and states that the government is involved in backing and arming numerous militias in the country. It has also found the government has failed to enforce Sudanese laws against kidnapping, assault and forced labor. Police rarely help victims' families in locating their children. While the Sudan Criminal Code of 1991 does not list slavery as a crime, Sudan has ratified the Slavery Convention, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, and is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR).
However, many Christian and non-Christian groups, have stated that the situation suffers from inaccurate reporting and that slave numbers are sometimes exaggerated and many slave stories have been fabricated. Italian missionary, Father Mario Riva and others who have witnessed "slave redemptions" have claimed that the process was a fraud as some of the "freed slaves" were collected by the SPLA with the promise of receiving money.

History of slavery in the Sudan

Slavery in the Sudan has a long history, beginning in ancient Egyptian times and continuing up to the present.
Prisoners of war were regularly enslaved by the ancient Egyptians, including Nubians.
Soon after the Arabs conquered Egypt, they attempted to conquer Nubia; their efforts were unsuccessful, and in 652 they signed a treaty with the Nubian kingdom of Makuria, the Baqt. Under this treaty, the Nubians agreed to supply 360 slaves annually to their northern neighbors.
After the Nubian kingdoms' fall in 1504, the Funj came to the fore; these began to use slaves in the army in the reign of Badi III (r. 1692-1711). Following their own fall, the area again became a field for Egyptian slavers; notably, the ruler Muhammad Ali of Egypt attempted to build up an army of Southern Sudanese slaves. Slavery was banned by the colonial British after they conquered the region.

Modern day slavery

In 1995, Human Rights Watch first reported on slavery in Sudan in the context of the Second Sudanese Civil War. In 1996, two more reports emerged, one by a United Nations representative and another by reporters from the Baltimore Sun.
The president of Christian Solidarity International, John Eibner, argues that the Arab-Muslim state of Sudan started reviving modern-day slavery starting in the mid-1980s. He claims that this slavery is a result of a jihad led by the state against the non-Muslim population.
According to CBS news, slaves have been sold for $50 apiece.
Writing for The Wall Street Journal on December 12, 2001, Michael Rubin said:
What's Sudanese slavery like? One 11-year-old Christian boy told me about his first days in captivity: "I was told to be a Muslim several times, and I refused, which is why they cut off my finger." Twelve-year-old Alokor Ngor Deng was taken as a slave in 1993. She has not seen her mother since the slave raiders sold the two to different masters. Thirteen-year-old Akon was seized by Sudanese military while in her village five years ago. She was gang-raped by six government soldiers, and witnessed seven executions before being sold to a Sudanese Arab.
Many freed slaves bore signs of beatings, burnings and other tortures. More than three-quarters of formerly enslaved women and girls reported rapes.
While nongovernmental organizations argue over how to end slavery, few deny the existence of the practice. ...[E]stimates of the number of blacks now enslaved in Sudan vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands (not counting those sold as forced labour in Libya)...
The issue was the subject of a Channel 4 dramatised documentary, I Am Slave in August 2010, in which none of these religious conflicts were highlighted.

Charities and controversy

According to CNN, many groups in the United States have expressed concern about slavery and religious oppression in Sudan, putting pressure on the Bush administration to take action. Many charities have gone further and started to "redeem" slaves, by purchasing them from slave traders and, supposedly, setting them free. In 1999, UNICEF called the practice of redeeming slaves 'intolerable', arguing that these charities are implicitly accepting that human beings can be bought and sold.
UNICEF also said that buying slaves from slave-traders gives them cash to purchase arms and ammunition. But Christian Solidarity said they purchase slaves in Sudanese pounds, not dollars, which could be used to purchase arms.
The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission, which was published in February, 2007, was drafted by the Canadian Special Envoy to Sudan, John Harker:
Reports, especially from CSI [Christian Solidarity International], about very large numbers were questioned, and frankly not accepted. Mention was also made to us of evidence that the SPLA were involved in “recycling” abductees..
The Harker Report further documented the deliberately fraudulent nature of many “slave redemptions.” Sometimes a “redeeming group” may be innocently misled but other groups may be actively committed to fundraising for the SPLM/A and deliberately use “slave redemption” as a successful tactic for attracting Western donors.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide states that while early trips of slave redemption, where charities bought the freedom of slaves, were successful in freeing thousands of slaves, later trips fell through because of fraud. CSW representatives say they discovered a man who was defrauding organizations that were trying to redeem slaves, and later a man came to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army and confessed to having a part in defrauding these organizations. According to CSW, Dr. Samson Kwaje says he doubts that even 5% of the supposedly freed people were in fact slaves, and that many were instructed in how to act and what stories to tell. Eventually, according to CSW, many slaves were released for free, putting cons out of business. As a result of the fraud, CSW has suspended its "slave redemption program" indefinitely.
The European Sudanese Public Affairs Council has questioned whether the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army is a reliable source for determining the existence of slavery calling them an "authoritarian organisation".
Also, Jim Jacobson, spokesman for Christian Freedom International, said:
"Our objective -- and I believe the sincere objective of others -- was to carefully investigate legitimate claims, redeem on a case-by-case basis, report our findings, and seek international pressure to end the hideous practice of slavery. But what started as an act of mercy has turned into a debacle...Selling slaves is now more profitable in Sudan than narcotics. Slave redemption activities are now enriching slave traders, slave dealers, and slave masters." He added that slave traders use the money generated by selling slaves to buy guns and hire people to conduct more raids on villages and take more slaves".)...
Human Rights Watch says that:
"Press reports cite SPLA officials admitting that some of the children whose freedom was purchased were not slaves, and that at least one “middleman” was an SPLA officer in disguise. The SPLA official spokesperson said that the SPLA made quite a large sum of money from cash conversion alone".

Nevertheless, the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan denies that there is slavery in Sudan, saying that these reports are attempts to shed a bad light on Muslims and Arabs, and that slave redemption programs are fraudulent attempts to make money. According to the Embassy of Sudan, there are documented instances of people, who were not slaves, being gathered together and instructed to pretend they were being released from slavery.