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ICC NOTE: This ex Sudanese slave recalls the horrors of being a slave in Northern Sudan during the Civil War. He says that this agenda, to Islamize the Sudanese people is alive and well today.

September 5, 2006

Ex-Sudanese Slave Recounts Horror of His Abduction and Treatment in Northern Sudan

For the full article go to ASSIST News

By Mark Ellis

NEW YORK (ANS) — As a nine-year-old boy tending his family’s goats he witnessed his village burned by the Sudanese Army and many killed. Abducted and enslaved in northern Sudan less than a year later, he endured nightmarish treatment by his captors that made him feel like an animal.

“I had a lovely family,” says Simon Deng, founder of Sudan Freedom Walk and a speaker for the American Anti-Slavery Group. (iAbolish.com) His father, a farmer in the village of Tonga , sent his children to Christian school. “We witnessed houses burned down constantly by government troops from northern Sudan .”

Growing up, he received an explicit warning from his parents. “We were told if you see the Arab troops coming you have to run for your life,” Deng recalls. Once while he tended his family’s goats he heard the unmistakable rumble of German-made troop transports. When they rolled to a stop, soldiers poured out and began to burn most of the huts, kill the men, and steal any livestock they could grab.

Miraculously, Deng and his family escaped death. They decided to move to the relative safety of a larger city—Malakal, and rented a house near the Nile River . They befriended an Arab family that lived next door and the children often played together.

One day, one of the men next door announced he was traveling to northern Sudan by steamboat, and asked nine-year-old Deng to help with his suitcases. After everything was loaded, the man asked if Deng would stay and watch his luggage while he ran a quick errand in the marketplace.

Deng sat dutifully watching the man’s belongings as the minutes ticked by. Suddenly the boat started to leave the dock and the man had not returned. Terrified, Deng started to cry. A few minutes later—with the ship well underway—the man reappeared and tried to calm the boy down.

“Don’t cry…it’s impossible to turn this boat around,” he said. “We have to go to the last destination in the north, where they have other boats going south. I will put you on a boat going south,” he promised.

Sadly, the man deceived his young companion. “He tricked me,” Deng realized later. “He had things in his mind I didn’t know.”

When the steamer arrived in Kusti, Deng discovered there were three other children on the boat abducted by the same man. “He took us to his village and when we arrived everybody was very excited that he had come from the south and brought slaves.”

Deng struggled to comprehend what was happening. “We were confused kids, not knowing what was going on.”

“He gave me to one of his relatives as a gift,” Deng recalls. “From then on I didn’t see the man again. That was the beginning of the nightmare.”

Beatings, threats and terror became powerful weapons of intimidation. “If they called me and I didn’t say ‘yes’ loudly, I was beaten,” Deng says. “I had to say yes to everything; I forgot how to say no.”

The family would not let Deng eat with them. Instead, he waited until they finished, and if there were any table scraps left over, that became his meal. If there were no leftovers, he didn’t eat.

“I was treated worse than an animal,” Deng recalls. “I had to get the grass to feed the animals. I had to clean the place of the animals. I didn’t have a bed, so I slept in the place of the animals.”

In the midst of this inhumane treatment, his slave masters held out a carrot. “They always asked me if I wanted to be treated like a human being,” Deng recalls. “They said if I converted to Islam I could become their son and be given an Arab name.”

Afraid to say no, Deng told them he would let them know later. “I was buying time,” he says. The thought of converting to their faith terrified him. “How could I become a Muslim and become their son when I know for sure I have a lovely mother and dad and brothers and sisters?” he asked himself.

Today, Deng struggles to describe his homecoming, mimicking the Apostle Paul’s reticence to describe his glimpse of heaven. “Everyone was filled with joy, but at the same time they couldn’t believe someone they thought was dead showed up in front of them,” Deng recalls. “Everybody was happy but everybody was crying.”

Deng faults the western press for not covering the crisis sooner. “Because the Arabs were killing infidels in the name of Islam nobody wanted to talk about it,” Deng notes. “Their mission was to loot cattle, kill men and women, burn villages and take the young ones into slavery. Even fellow Christians didn’t want to talk about it. People were afraid of being accused of being anti-Islam or anti-Arab.”

Despite a peace agreement signed between northern and southern Sudan in January 2005, war continues in the Darfur region of the country, where Arab militias allied with the north engage in ethnic cleansing. The fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands, with many seeking refuge in neighboring Chad .

“It’s still going on today,” Deng notes. “They want everyone to become a Muslim,” he says. “The child born today in Darfur doesn’t know if he or she is a Muslim and most important never committed any crime. We can’t be silent as human beings when atrocities are being committed before our own eyes.”

As a former victim, Deng has an acute awareness of their pain. “How can I live in freedom and go to sleep at night when villages are still being burned, women raped, and kids taken into slavery?”