News/SWITZERLAND: CHRISTIAN GROUP BUYS FREEDOM OF 5,514 SUDAN

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Subject: News/SWITZERLAND: CHRISTIAN GROUP BUYS FREEDOM OF 5,514 SUDAN
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Dec 22 1999 - 13:55:30 EST


So what do y'all think about this? I, for one, am totally bothered by
it.....this plan just seems to cause more people to kidnap and sell people.
There is a very good article that critiques this whole thing is in the
Atlantic Monthly. I can go & look up the issue number if any of you are
interested.

Melanie....

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12-22-99 SWITZERLAND: CHRISTIAN GROUP BUYS FREEDOM OF 5,514 SUDAN SLAVES.
GENEVA, Dec 22 (Reuters) - A controversial Swiss-based Christian human
rights group said on Wednesday it had bought the freedom of 5,514 more
black African slaves in Sudan during a secret mission last week.
In a statement, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) said the latest
redemption of mainly women and children brought to 20,961 the number of
slaves freed through its programme since 1995.
"The slaves, mainly Christian and animist women and children from the Dinka
tribe, were brought out of captivity in northern Sudan and returned to
their homeland in the south by eight networks of Arab retrievers," the
Zurich-based group said.
CSI accuses the armed forces of Sudan's National Islamic Front, mainly its
Popular Defence Force, of capturing Christians and animists in raids which
it says are part of the regime's jihad, or Islamic holy war, against
minorities who resist its policies of "forced Islamisation and
Arabisation".
CSI has come under fire for allegedly fuelling the slave trade. The head of
the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, Carol Bellamy,
has said the practice "encouraged more trafficking and criminality".
In October, a key U.N. body, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),
withdrew CSI's accreditation because it had allowed Sudan rebel leader John
Garang to address the human rights forum last March during speaking time
allotted to it as a non-governmental organisation.
The CSI statement said more than 100,000 people remain in bondage in
northern Sudan as slaves or are "subjected to slave-like practices in (the)
Sudanese government's concentration camps - often euphemistically called
'peace camps' for the displaced".
CSI said it had paid Arab middlemen a fixed fee of 50,000 Sudanese pounds
per slave in its latest operation. "This amount currently has the local
value of two goats, or $50," CSI said.
"During the raids, villages are torched, men are shot dead, the elderly are
beaten and abused, and women, children, cows, goats and food stores are
captured as war booty," the group said.
"The women and child slaves are forced to walk for days to the North. On
the way, beatings, public executions and gang rape are commonplace.
"In the North, the slaves are divided among their captors. They are
routinely subjected to forced labour, sexual abuse - including female
genital excision - forced Islamisation, beatings, death threats and racist
verbal abuse and a meagre diet," it added.
The Khartoum government denies slavery exists as such but says it is trying
to stamp out abductions for forced labour.
(C) Reuters Limited 1999.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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