President Kiir of Southern Sudan calls for retrieval of slaves
By Michael Ireland
SOUTHERN SUDAN (ANS) — President Salva Kiir of Southern Sudan, in a parliamentary speech delivered in Juba on April 10, declared that his “government remains deeply committed to the retrieval of Southern Sudanese women and children abducted and enslaved in Northern Sudan.”
In response, the Executive Director of Christian Solidarity International (USA), Dr. John Eibner, appealed to U.S. President George W. Bush, urging him to back President Kiir’s efforts to liberate and repatriate Black Southern Sudanese Slaves who are still in bondage.
According to a media advisory obtained by ANS, the appeal called on President Bush to establish an independent U.S. Commission to Monitor the Eradication of Slavery in Sudan , to make emergency funds available to facilitate the release of located slaves, and to help President Kiir’s government establish an effective mechanism for slave liberation and repatriation.
Despite the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005 by Sudan ‘s Islamist President Gen. Omer Bashir, and the late Chairman of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army Col. John Garang, Sudan ‘s slavery crisis remains unresolved. Tens of thousands of Black slaves remain in bondage in Northern Sudan , according to conservative estimates.
During 22 years of civil war, Islamic militias of the Government of Sudan systematically raided Black, non-Muslim villages near the border with the North. CSI interviews with liberated slaves reveal a clear pattern of physical and psychological abuse, including rape, beatings, female genital mutilation, forced conversion to Islam, Arabization, racial and religious insults.
The United Nations once placed high hopes on Gen. Bashir’s establishment in 1999 of the showcase Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC). But CEAWC’s results have been meager.
CEAWC itself has located and documented over 8,000 Black slaves from Southern Sudan — just a fraction of the total number of enslaved. But this year it has liberated and repatriated less than 300 slaves.
According to a senior CEAWC official, the Khartoum government has suspended financial support for slave liberation activity. Moreover, Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militias continue to abduct and enslave Black women and children in Darfur (Northern Sudan), as documented in the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General, dated January 25, 2005.
Five years ago, at the beginning of the United States current Sudan peace initiative, President Bushs Special Envoy, former Sen. John Danforth, identified the eradication of slavery — an internationally recognized crime against humanity — as an issue about which the American people care deeply and as a pre-condition for a just and lasting peace.