Message-ID: <32E56834.CF3@user1.channel1.com> Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 20:07:00 -0500 From: American Anti-Slavery Group
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: American Anti-Slavery Group To: Kenneth McVay OBC Subject: Muslim slavers RELIGION NEWS SERVICE Abolitionists call on U.S. to help end African slave trade By KIM A. LAWTON Abolitionists call on U.S. to help end African slave trade By KIM A. LAWTON c. 1996 Religion News Service WASHINGTON -- A coalition of modern-day abolitionists and church leaders has called on the U.S. government to help end the buying and selling of Africans in a thriving chattel slavery market. The headline could have been written 150 years ago, but in fact, the events took place Tuesday (Dec. 17) as members of the Abolitionist Leadership Council urged President Clinton and Secretary of State-Designate Madeleine Albright to make the freeing of slaves in Sudan and Mauritania a top foreign policy priority in the coming year. "America must be a place of moral leadership. If we turn from this task, if we continue to abandon those who are torn from their families and forced into slavery, we betray a most worthy element of our common history," said Charles Jacobs, research director of the American Anti-Slavery Group and a board member of the Abolitionist Leadership Council (ALC), a New York-based umbrella group of 11 organizations working to end the enslavement of blacks by Arabs in North Africa. At a Washington news conference, the ALC, which was established in late October, called on U.S. officials to "condemn in the most forceful terms the enslavement of blacks in Sudan and Mauritania and put the governments of Sudan and Mauritania on public notice that the continued enslavement of black people will not be tolerated by the American people." Jacobs was joined by African-American church leaders and human rights activists who raised concerns that the U.S. government, the religious community and average Americans have shown little interest in the plight of millions of women and children in Sudan and Mauritania who are sold into slavery, branded, raped, tortured and forcibly converted to their masters' religion. The United Nations Human Rights Commission and numerous independent human rights investigators have reported that millions of ethnic and religious minorities in Sudan and Mauritania are sold as slaves and concubines to wealthy masters. According to Gaspar Biro, U.N. special rapporteur on Sudan, the situation is particularly grave in Sudan, where slavery is used as a weapon in the civil war between the predominantly Arab National Islamic Front government based in Khartoum, and the largely black Christian and animist populations of the south. During military raids, southern women and children are abducted and sold into slavery, some for as little as the equivalent of $15. Earlier this year, Biro reported "an alarming increase" in the number of cases of "slavery, servitude, slave trade and forced labor" in Sudan. Government officials in Sudan and Mauritania deny that the practice of slavery is officially condoned, although both nations have refused to cooperate with international investigations. At Tuesday's news conference, Jane Alley, a Sudanese refugee now living in the United States, described a 1990 raid in her village, when her neighbor was shot to death. Her neighbor's three children, ages 6 to 11, were abducted and never heard from again. Alley and her children hid behind a bush as their hut was burned down by government soldiers. "This was just one incident," said Alley, her voice trembling with emotion. "But think about the thousands of children and women in Sudan who have been captured in more or less the same way and taken into bondage every day." John Eibner, spokesman for Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a Christian human rights group based in Zurich, Switzerland, showed reporters videotape from a recent trip to Sudan where he purchased 28 slaves to return to their families. Eibner's organization works with exiled Sudanese Roman Catholic Bishop Macram Max Gassis to raise money in the West in order to redeem slaves and reunite them with their families. In Eibner's videotape, a weeping girl, who appeared to be about 7 years old, displayed the oozing sore on her leg where her masters strapped her to a horse. One woman described how her master offered her as a concubine in exchange for five cows, while another described being beaten and raped by her master. "I am here today because chattel slavery in Sudan is not a dying practice of the ancient past ... but thriving today," Eibner said. In a December 17 letter to Clinton and Albright, CSI President Hans J. Stuckelberger asked that the U.S. Defense Department release satellite photos showing the movement of military trains and militia groups that conduct slave raids. The letter also asked the United States to insist that the U.N. secretary general intervene with the government of Sudan to secure the release of all slaves. Several of the activists particularly criticized the church community for failing to fight the international slave trade. "American churches do not bestir themselves, though a main target of slave raids in Sudan is the beleaguered Christian community, and though Christian slaves are forcibly converted to Islam," said Jacobs. The Rev. Chuck Singleton, pastor of Loveland Church in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has formed a new federation of black churches whose stated goal is to eradicate slavery in Africa by the year 2001. The group, called the Congress on Modern Pan African Slavery (COMPAS), is planning a July 1997 conference in Chicago to address the issue. Singleton called on people from all churches to join his effort. "Stand up to your creed," he said. "The silence of the world community is a shame before God and humanity." == 30 == Copyright 1996 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be reproduced without written permission.
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