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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/aasg/press/end-african-slave-trade

Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 20:07:00 -0500
From: American Anti-Slavery Group 
Organization: American Anti-Slavery Group
To: Kenneth McVay OBC 
Subject: Muslim slavers

Abolitionists call on U.S. to help end African slave trade

Abolitionists call on U.S. to help end African slave trade
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
    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
    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
    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
    "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

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