January 12, 2011
Juba and Washington - 397 Southern Sudanese Slaves were liberated and returned to their country just in time to witness Southern Sudan's referendum on independence from Northern Sudan. Their liberation was facilitated by CSI's slave liberation program. Freed slaves reported to interviewers from CSI and the American Anti-Slavery Group that they had been subjected in captivity to a wide range of abuse
including mutilations, rape, death threats, beatings, forced conversion to Islam, and racial and religious insults. Many also witnessed the execution of disobedient slaves.
Most of the liberated slaves had been captured as jihad war booty of Arab tribal militias - sponsored by the Government of Sudan - during the North-South civil war of 1983 - 2005. Some of the children had been born into slavery.
Over 35,000 Southern Sudanese slaves, mainly from the Dinka tribe, remain in bondage in Northern Sudan, according to a senior member of the Government of Sudan's recently dissolved Committee for the Eradication of the Abduction of Women and Children.
These slaves were prevented by their masters from returning to the South to participate in the South's referendum on independence.Dinka Chief, Akok Atak Deng, who had lived as a free Southerner in Ashraf in Darfur (Northern Sudan), provided CSI with the names of 18 slaves, whom he had personally redeemed from bondage, but were prevented by Northern Sudanese police from returning to the South in advance of the referendum on the grounds that they were still the property of their masters.
He estimated that there were still approximately 300 slaves left with Muslim masters in the Ashraf area.Chief Akok also claimed that many free Dinkas, including Catholic lay leader Peter Garang Amet, were prevented by police from joining the pre-referendum exodus to the South. The police, according to Akok, said they would have to remain in the North and vote against independence for Southern Sudan.
In the run-up to the referendum, Dr. John Eibner, CEO of CSI-USA, warned President Barack Obama that the persistence of Sudanese slavery and the racial and religious bigotry that underpin it "blights the prospect of a sustained peace between Northern and Southern Sudan."
Contact: Val Sawelenko, tel. - 805 777 7107
SOURCE Christian Solidarity International-USA