SUDAN: INTERNATIONAL CHARITY FIGHTS TO FREE SLAVES



(19 Dec 1997) Arab/Eng/Ger/Nat

An international charity is fighting to free thousands of slaves captured from their homes in southern Sudan, who have been taken into the north by the Sudanese government’s Popular Defence Force.

Christian Solidarity International raises money to buy the freedom of young slave boys and girls who are forcibly taken from their southern village homes into the Islamic north where many never see their families again.

Raiding parties believed to be conducted by the Popular Defence Force (P-D-F), the northern government militia, are still attacking vulnerable villages in the south, which is locked in an ongoing civil war with the north.

The C-S-I is active across the world especially in areas of conflict and one of the foremost agencies which is trying to focus international attention on the slave trade in Sudan.

Walking to freedom after years of enslavement, these youngsters are only a handful of the lucky few whose freedom was purchased by the Swiss based charity, Christian Solidarity International.

In most parts of the world slavery and the slave trade have been consigned to the pages of history, but in the Sudan, slavery for some is a living reality.

Northern Sudanese Arab groups still continue to raid southern Sudanese villages to capture people who are then sold as slaves in the north.

It is believed Sudan’s Popular Defence Force is the main culprit, raiding the villages and kidnapping women and children.

And slaves’ testimonies reveal a consistent pattern of beatings, sexual abuse, forced Islamisation and denial of sufficient food and shelter.

Most will never see their families and homes again, but these youngsters are some of the fortunate ones who will get a chance to try and put their ordeal behind them and start afresh back home.

C-S-I believes there are thousands of slaves in the north and only a handful get brought back to the southern region where the charity is able to purchase their freedom from slave trading middle men.

These slave traders, like Ahmed El-Noor Bashir (assumed name), take great risks in buying up groups of slaves and bringing them back to the south because they know they can make money selling them back.

Once back, a rate is agreed between the charity and the slave trader.

Also present, is a rebel government representative of the (S-P-L-A) Sudan People’s Liberation Army – a faction which has been battling the north for autonomy in one of Africa’s longest on-going civil wars.

The south is the stronghold of the S-P-L-A and the C-S-I need their backing in order to operate here.

The cost of buying each individual’s freedom is one hundred U-S dollars.

The slave trader will probably have bought each slave for around 60 U-S dollars.

One young girl whose nightmare came to an end was 13 year-old Akuac. She had been enslaved for six years and despaired of ever seeing her home and family again.

She talked about the horror of her ordeal in slavery which included being circumsized and beaten.

SOUNDBITE: (Dinka)
“The master said if you are not circumcised, I will kill you because you are still holding the ideas of your people and may try to escape back to them.”
SUPER CAPTION: Akuac Malong (Dinka), Freed Slave

Many of the other slaves had similar stories to tell, but now they at least can try to put the experience behind them.

Ahmed El-Noor Bashir (assumed name) said he believed he was acting in the interests of humanity by selling the slaves back. He is half Dinka – the local people – and half Arab, but needs to make a living.

SOUNDBITE: (Arabic)

SOUNDBITE: (English)

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