ARAB SLAVE TRADE
Our friend and colleague John (last name intentionally withheld) of C.S.I. recently returned from a research trip to Bahr El Ghazel in Sudan. During this trip he redeemed 58 slaves near Manyiel by purchasing them from an Arab slave trader and then returning them to their families. John provided us with this report:
There is a market at Manyiel at which Riziqat Arab traders are permanently present. This is the principal meeting place between the local Dinkas and the Arabs when they come from the North to graze their cows and goats. Among the 'goods' that are bought and sold at Manyiel are people. Arab traders bring Dinka slaves back from the North and sell them to their families.
In five previous fact-finding visits to the Nyamlell-Manyiel area since May 1995, CSI has accumulated an abundance of evidence to prove beyond doubt that chattel slavery is a thriving practice in Sudan, and that the Government of Sudan (GOS) actively encourages it. The evidence obtained in October and November of this year confirms our previous findings about the pattern of the slave trade in the area. For years, the GOS has:
1) Armed Arab militias in southern Darfur and southern Kordofan with automatic weapons, and enlisted them into the Popular Defence Force (PDF);
2) Incited them to violence, saying that the Southerners in SPLA-controlled areas are enemies of Islam, and as such may be killed, tortured and enslaved with impunity;
3) Instructed the PDF to attack particular villages and towns; and
4) Promised the raiders the right to keep whatever booty they can take, including human beings as slaves, in lieu of payment from the Government, in accordance with its doctrine of jihad.
The slave raids take place mainly in northern Bahr El Ghazal from where the PDF can quickly retreat northwards out of reach of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) which controls most of Southern Sudan. The raiders generallv do not have mechanised transportation but travel through the bush on horses, camels and by foot. As a result the PDF cannot mount major operations in the area during the muddy rainy season. Instead the raids tend to occur during the dry season when the PDF has maximum mobility. During the raids, the PDF commit much gratuitous violence. Torture is commonplace. Old men and women who are unfit for heavy labour are generally beaten and robbed of their possessions. Younger men are routinely shot dead on the spot as they cannot be trained into useful and harmless slaves. Children over the age of five or six and young women are captured as slaves. The women slaves are made to carry on their heads and backs the booty of their captors. Whatever cannot be carried away is burned leaving survivors completely destitute. Some slaves will remain in the North with their captors, while others are sold to new owners. Most boy slaves are made to tend cows and goats. Most girls and young women have to perform domestic labor, such as cleaning, grinding grain and fetching firewood and water. Many of the girls and young women are sexually abused by their masters. Most of the slaves are forced by their master to change their cutural identity and become Muslims. This involves being given a Muslim name and having to perform Islamic rituals. Many boy slaves are circumcised when they come of age. Some girls are subjected to ritual female genital mutilation. Severe beatings are the norm when a slave displeases his or her master.
Nur, the Arab trader who sold CSI the slaves spoke openly about the slave trade:
"The slave raids are undertaken by the PDF, with support from the regular army. The PDF raids are organised in Meiram and Muglad. In addition to the regular army, two NIF organisations, one called 'Birr' (Benevolence) and the other called 'Jihad' (Islamic Striving or Holy War), supply the PDF with horses, weapons and ammunition. These militias on horseback then accompany the military train from Khartoum. In the South, they burn villages and catch slaves. The GOS knows everything they do. Those who go on the raids do so mainly for gain. They take slaves and sell them to cattle owners for about one cow. I don't know how many slaves are in the North, but there are many. Most of the cattle owners have at least one slave. Most of the slaves are treated brutally and are in a terrible condition. If a slave resists his master he can be burnt alive. I condemn totally slavery and related atrocities. It is not right for Muslims to take slaves. I am doing a good thing by bringing children back. I do it to help them."
Nyibol Tong, from Wotar Wol, a young mother about 27 years old with four children. She testified of her experience as a sex slave:
"I was caught together with my baby and three other children when Arab militia raided our village. My husband was shot dead. They forced me to carry their booty on my head, while I struggled to carry my baby on my back. My three older children were taken away from me and given to other masters. I have not seen them since then. My master's name was Jedaam Mohammed. He lives in Daraft. He is a rich man, and owns a big house and many goats and cows. I had to work for his wife. They often punished me. I did not have to become a Muslim because they thought I was too old to change my ways. Jedaam is about 30 years old. Athough he has a wife, he used me as his concubine. For some time, his wife did not know this because they usually slept in different rooms. Jedaam's wife found out about his sexual relations with me when he made me pregnant. She was very angry. Jedaam lied to her and said that I was made pregnant by another man. My new baby's name is Aching. I was able to leave Jedaam and his wife because an Arab trader took me away."
19 year old Adeng Makuei was captured in the PDF raid on Wotar Wol in Jan. 1995, and was also a slave in Darafat. She testified:
"I was captured together with my cousin when we were at the cattle camp. They made me walk for five days, carrying many heavy things. My master's name was Ahamedan Mohammed. I had to wash laundry, grind sorghum, clean the house and fetch water. He gave me the Muslim name 'Fatima'. Abamedan Mohammed is an old man. I and his other female slaves were give to his son as concubines. I tried to resist having sex with him, but he beat me up. I found out that he was going to cut my genitals, so I ran away. Now that I am no longer a virgin, it will be hard for me to find a husband. I will probably be given to an old man. My cousin is still a slave at the home of Ahamedan Mohammed."
12 year old Aschak Mojok was enslaved together with her mother, Achoko Boi, when the PDF raided their village of Panyor in March 1994:
"The raiders came in the middle of the day. They fired many bullets. My mother and I ran as fast as we could... We hid in the bushes, but were caught. They put me on the back of a horse and tied my hands to it. They tied my mother's hands together. She had to walk while I rode on the horse. We travelled like this for four days. We were hungry and thirsty. They gave us only a little water and some remnants of their food. The man who caught us was Yajja Hamath. He took us to his home at Hemedai, near Kariu (Southern Kordofan). I had to stay there, while someone came and took my mother away in a car to another place. When they came for her we both cried and cried. I had to look after Yajja Hamath's goats. I remember many bad things about my time there. Yajja Hamath and his children often heat me with sticks, and I always felt hungry. They did not give me proper food. They always called me by the name Khartuma. I cried a lot there and often had dreams about my mother. One day myy uncle came to buy me back and take me home. I was so happy to leave that place but I am still very sad because my mother is left behind."
One victim of another raid who narrowly escaped death, but not excruciating pain and severe trauma is the 12-year-old amputee Deng Deng Akol. Deng lived in the village of Ameth, between Aweil and Wedweil, near the Wau-Babanussa railway line. He was caught up in a PDF raid at the end of April 1996. Deng told us how he lost his arm:
"The people in my village were very hungry. We were told that a UN food train was coming. This raised hopes. I went to the railway line to get food. A lot of other people went too. As soon as the train arrived we could see that it was not a UN food train. There were a lot of people in uniform. Horses were on both sides of the train. They came to fight and started to shoot. I ran several paces and then was shot in the arm and fell. I stayed there overnight bleeding. There were bodies everywhere. So many died I could not count them. My cousin Apin Akok was one of the dead. The next day after the train went away, my uncle came to find me and took me to Nyamlell. From there, I was evacuated by the Red Cross and flown to Lokichokkio in Kenya where they cut off my arm. I don't like the people who shot us. When I grow up I want to be in the SPLA. "
This visit to northern Bahr El Ghazal has confirmed:
1) The Government of Sudan (GOS) continues to try and transform by force the ethnically and religiously diverse country into an Arab, Islamic state, against the wishes of the vast majority of its population, both North and South. The devastating effects of this policy in the South and the Nuba Mountains are tantamount to genocide.
2) The mass displacement of the population of the South and the Nuba Mountains, by means of aerial & ground attacks on civilians, slavery and the manipulation of humanitarian aid are major features of the policy of genocide, which has already resulted in the deaths of over 1.5 million and the displacement of over 5 million out of a population totalling no more than 8 million in the war zone. The policy of forced Islamisation and Arabisation appears in recent years to have been most violently and systematically pursued in northern Bahr El Ghazal, the Nuba Mountains and the southern Blue Nile.
3) The raids undertaken by the GOS Army, the PDF, and other GOS-backed militias are accompanied by atrocities, such as murder, torture, rape, looting, the destruction of property and the taking of slaves.
4) The institution of chattel slavery continues on a large scale in GOS-controlled areas of Sudan, especially in southern Darfur and southern Kordofan. The number of chatel slaves is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. The slaves, in most cases women and children, are forced to provide domestic and agricultural labour and to provide sexual services against their will for nothing other than the minimum of food for survival. They can be bought and sold. They are generally given Muslim names and forced to observe Muslim rituals. Many female slaves approaching puberty are subjected to ritual genital mutilation.
5) GOS attacks on civilian targets are intended to uproot black African communities which resist its policies of Arabisation and Islamisation, and to drive the population to 'Peace Camps". In these camps, many boys and young men are forced to attend Koranic schools or PDF training camps, where they are indoctrinated to become militant Muslim zealots, to wage war against their own people. In many of these camps, the women are forced to work on mechanised farms and to provide sexual services. Food is generally given on condition of conversion to Islam.
6) The GOS continues to refuse access to the UN and NGOs to SPLA-administered areas in the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and strategically important locations in Bahr Fl Ghazal.
7) The war has devastated the infrastructure of these regions, destroying the economy, the system of education, the health service and the communications network. Starvation and disease stalk the land. The civil authorities, backed by the leadership of the SPLM/A in these areas have made valiant efforts to maintain and to expand essential services.
8) Clans of the Arab Riziqat and Misiriah tribes are increasingly inclined to reject the NIF's call for violent Jihad and to opt instead for local peace and commercial agreements with the black Africans of Bahr El Ghazal and the Nuba Mountains. These local agreements reflect:
--The ability of the SPLM/A authorities to guarantee the security and personal freedom of Muslim Arab traders and settlers in market towns despite having to defend, with extremely limited resources, the local black African population against the attacks of the GOS; and
--The increasing co-operation and political unity between the northern Opposition parties and the SPLM/A, which collectively represent over 90% of the people of Sudan.
9) The SPLM/A administration in the South, the Nuba Mountains, and southern Blue Nile, together with the banned opposition parties, show a serious commitment to the implementation of principles and policies for the promotion of peace and justice in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society.
10) The peaceful coexistence and co-operation between Muslim Arabs and non-Muslim black Africans in northern Bahr El Ghazal is a sign of hope for the future and stands in stark contrast to the brutal and divisive policies currently promoted by the GOS, which have caused, and are still causing, incalculable suffering to the people of Sudan.
Please pray fervently for the suffering Christians in Sudan and for the few missionaries seeking to serve them. Please also protest to the Sudan government and express your outrage at the ongoing slave trade permitted and encouraged by government policy.
Write to: The Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations. Mr Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin 733 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10017 USA
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