Slavery in Sudan

Slavery in Sudan

Since 1995, international rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and CASMAS have reported that slavery in Sudan is a common fate of captives in the Second Sudanese Civil War. Pro-government militias have been known to raid non-Muslim southern villages (particularly those of the Dinka) and loot them both for property and for slaves. [ [ Slavery and Slave Redemption in the Sudan (Human Rights Watch Backgroudner, March, 2002) ] ] [ [ Sudan Q & A ] ] 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. [ [ BBC NEWS | Africa | 'Thousands of slaves in Sudan' ] ] mentions that hundreds of thousands have been abducted into slavery, fled, or are otherwise unaccounted for in a second genocide in southern Sudan.cite web
url =
title = The Sudan Genocide: An Overview
accessdate = 2006-10-07
publisher =
] According to the American Anti-Slavery Group, black Africans in southern Sudan have been abducted for centuries in the Arab slave trade, but the slave raids by militia armed by the federal government of Sudan increased significantly after the 1989 military coup led by Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who is the current president of Sudan.cite web
url =
title = Country Report: Sudan
accessdate = 2006-10-07
year = ©2006
work = Slavery in Africa
publisher = American Anti-Slavery Group

However, the [ 2002 report] issued by the International Eminent Persons Group, acting with the encouragement of the US State Department, found the SPLA as well as pro-government militias guilty of abduction of civilians. [cite web
url =
title = Factfinding Report Confirms Sudan Slavery

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. [cite web
url =
title = Fraud and Bigotry: Attempts to Resurrect Claims of
accessdate = 2006-10-07
date = 2006-06-23
publisher = Embassy of the Republic of Sudan

Christian Solidarity International Claims that there are 200,000 slaves in Sudan, while Save the Children puts the number at 7,000. 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. [cite web

Reports of 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.

Though slavery never completely died out in Sudan, there has been a relatively recent upsurge in slave-taking that has its roots in Islam. According to John Eibner, an historian and human rights specialist writing in Middle East Quarterly:


According to Middle East expert Daniel Pipes:


John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International, as quoted by the American Anti-Slavery Groups, discusses slavery in Sudan. He states:cquote|"It begins when the armed forces of the government-backed mujadeen, or allied militias, raid a southern Sudanese village. They kill men on the spot, beat the elderly, and capture the women and children. Raiders and their victims start the horrific march to the North. Children are executed when they cry. People who try to run away are shot. The young girls are taken by soldiers into the bush and gang raped.

"Each victim later becomes one of two kinds of slaves, a house slave or a field slave. House slaves cook, clean, fetch water and firewood, and do other household chores. The field slaves cultivate the land, weed, and tend to livestock. Children usually tend cows and goats. But all slaves are mocked, insulted, threatened, and beaten into submission.

"Some masters are simply interested in labor and do not convert slaves to Islam. Other masters teach slaves Islam and give their slaves Muslim names. Many female slaves are subjected to genital mutilation or circumcision - a rite of passage for some Muslims, but something not practiced by the Dinka." []

According to CBS news, slaves have been sold for $50 apiece. []

According to CNN, Christian groups in the United States have expressed concern about slavery and religious oppression against Christians by Muslims in Sudan, putting pressure on the Bush administration to take action. [] CNN has also quoted the U.S. State Department's allegations: "The [Sudanese] government's support of slavery and its continued military action which has resulted in numerous deaths are due in part to the victims' religious beliefs." []

Writing for "The Wall Street Journal" on December 12, 2001, Michael Rubin said:

cquote|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 labor in Libya)...

Fraudulent reporting

The Report of a Canadian Assessment Mission which was published in February, 2007 was drafted by the Canadian Special Envoy to Sudan, John Harker:cquote|Reports, especially from CSI, 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 [cite web
] .)...
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, early trips of slave redemption, where charities bought the freedom of slaves, were successful in freeing thousands of slaves. CSW says some of their representatives 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. [cite web
url =
title = CSW-USA Slave Redemption Policy
accessdate = 20056-10-07
year = 2002
month = March
work = Sudan mormon Persecution Profile
publisher = mormon Solidarity Worldwide
] The European Sudanese Puplic 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". [ [ - ABDUCTEE

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