Sudanese Slaves Freed; Obama Urged to Support Anti-Slavery Legislation

December 24, 2008 - 11:40 AM
More than 200 Christian and animist slaves being held by Muslim militia in Darfur were released and sent back to their homes in Southern Sudan in time for Christmas.

Children in Darfur being held as slaves by Muslim Janjaweed militia, Dec. 2008. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – An international Christian group that works in Sudan reports that it has helped to free more than 200 slaves from captivity in Darfur and neighboring Kordofan and returned them to their homeland in Southern Sudan.
 
Christian Solidarity International said the slaves, many of whom were Christians, reported rape, forced conversion to Islam, beatings, death threats, work without pay and racial and religious insults – as captives under Islamic Shari’a law.
 
One 13-year-old, Majak Akol Wek, said his mother and brother were killed by slavers.
 
“I had to call my master ‘father.’ He renamed me ‘Juma.’ My head and leg are scarred from the violence of my master and his children. I was born into a Christian family. But to survive I had to behave like a Muslim.”
 
All of the freed slaves had been captured by Arab militias during Sudan’s civil war of 1983-2005, pitting the Islamic Government of Sudan against the Christian and animists of Southern Sudan.  

Aluth Mawien, 18, told of being captured when she was a little girl.
 
“During the march to Darfur, I saw the Arabs slit the throat of my older brother. My master gave me the name ‘Amda.’ A few years ago, he had me circumcised (i.e., female genital mutilation). My face got scarred when my master poked me with a burning log.”
 
The slave-raiding Arab militias were used by the Khartoum government as instruments of its openly declared jihad against Black non-Muslim communities in the northern Bahr El Ghazal region of Southern Sudan.
 
A 22-year-old, Peter Deng Akon Duar, said he was enslaved when he was about 10.
 
“I still have scars on my wrists from the ropes that bound my hands,” Duar said. “My real parents gave me the Christian name Peter, but my master, Aghbash Ali, called me Dumas and forced me to pray like a Muslim. When I failed to prevent goats from destroying his crops, Aghbash Ali stabbed me with a knife on the leg and arm. I was forced to call him "father." He made me watch when he raped another slave. He tried to rape me too.”
 
An estimated 35,000 Southern Sudanese remain enslaved today. A 2005 peace agreement ending the North-South civil war, failed to provide for the liberation and repatriation of slaves.
 
Since 2003, the Islamic Government of Sudan has been arming and organizing Muslim militias, with the backing of the Sudanese army, to engage in a genocidal campaign imposing Shari’a law against the people of in its rebel Darfur province.
 
To date, the conflict in Sudan has led to the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians and creation of more than 2.7 million refugees and internally displaced persons.
 
Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Diane Watson (D-Calif.) co-sponsored legislation (H.R. 3844) in 2007 calling for the establishment of an independent United States Commission to Monitor Slavery and its Eradication in Sudan.
 
Dr. John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, is urging President-elect
Barack Obama to support the reintroduction of the legislation in January, when the 111th Congress begins.
 
"We call on the president-elect to make H.R. 3844 the 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."