Slavery in Sudan

Last updated

Slavery in Sudan began in ancient times, and recently had a resurgence during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005). During the Trans-Saharan slave trade, many Nilotic peoples from the lower Nile Valley were purchased as slaves and brought to work elsewhere in North Africa and the Orient by Nubians, Egyptians, Berbers and Arabs.

Contents

Starting in 1995, many human rights organizations have reported on contemporary practice, especially in the context of the Second Sudanese civil war. According to reports of Human Rights Watch and others, during the war the government of Sudan was involved in backing and arming numerous slave-taking militias in the country as part of its war against the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). [1] It also found the government failed to enforce Sudanese laws against kidnapping, assault and forced labor, or to help victims' families locate their children. [1]

Another report (by the International Eminent Persons Group) found both the government-backed militias and the rebels (led by the SPLA) guilty of abducting civilians, though the abducting civilians by pro-government militias was "of particular concern" and "in a significant number of cases", led to slavery "under the definition of slavery in the International Slavery Convention of 1926". [2] [3] The Sudanese government maintained that the slavery is the product of inter-tribal warfare, over which it had no control. [1]

According to the Rift Valley Institute, slave raiding and abduction "effectively ceased" in 2002, although an "unknown number" of slaves remained in captivity. [4] [5] "Slave" is a racial epithet directed towards darker-skinned Sudanese. [6]

History of slavery in the Sudan

Slavery in the region of the Sudan has a long history, beginning in the ancient Nubian and ancient Egyptian times and continuing up to the present.

Prisoners of war were a regular occurrence in the ancient Nile Valley and Africa. During times of conquest and after winning battles, Egyptians were taken as slaves by the ancient Nubians. [7] In turn, the ancient Nubians took slaves after winning battles with the Libyans, Canaanites, and Egyptians. [8]

Soon after the Arab conquest of Egypt, the Arabs attempted to conquer the kingdoms of Christian Nubia on multiple occasions, but utilizing strategic warfare, the significantly smaller Christian Nubia defeated the larger Arab forces. Eventually, given their unsuccessful efforts, the Arabs signed the 600-year Baqt treaty with the Christian Nubian kingdom of Makuria. As a part of the treaty, the Nubians, already involved in the burgeoning East African slave trade, agreed to trade 360 slaves annually to their northern neighbors in exchange for spices and grains.[ citation needed ]

Sudanese tribesmen raid a Dinka village in around 1870 Die Gartenlaube (1872) b 345.jpg
Sudanese tribesmen raid a Dinka village in around 1870

After the Nubian kingdoms' fall in 1504, the Ottomans conquered most of Nubia, while the Funj conquered much of modern-day Sudan from Darfur to Khartoum; the Funj began to use slaves in the army in the reign of Badi III (r. 1692–1711). [9] Later, Egyptian slavers began raiding the area of southern Sudan. In particular, the ruler Muhammad Ali of Egypt attempted to build up an army of southern Sudanese slaves with the aid of the Nubian slavers. Attempts to ban slavery were later attempted by British colonial authorities in 1899, after their victory in the Mahdi War.

According to British explorer and abolitionist Samuel Baker, who visited Khartoum in 1862, six decades after the British authorities had declared the slave trade illegal, slavery was the industry "that kept Khartoum going as a bustling town". [10] Baker described the practice of slave raiding of villages to the south by Sudanese slavers from Khartoum: An armed group would sail up the Nile, find a convenient African village, surround it during night and attack just before dawn, burning huts and shooting. Women and young adults would be captured and bound with "forked poles on their shoulders", hand tied to the pole in front, children bound to their mothers. To render "the village so poor that surviving inhabitants would be forced to collaborate with slavers on their next excursion against neighboring villages," the village would be looted of cattle, grain, ivory, with everything else destroyed. [10]

Modern-day slavery

The "modern wave" of slavery in Sudan reportedly began in 1983 with the Second Sudanese Civil War between the North and South. It involved large numbers of Sudanese people from the southern and central regions, "primarily the Dinka, Nuer and Nuba of central Sudan," being captured and sold "(or exploited in other ways)" by Northern Sudanese who consider themselves as Arabs. [11] [12] The problem of slavery reportedly became worse after the National Islamic Front-backed military government took power in 1989, the Khartoum government declared jihad against non-Muslim opposition in the south. [13] The Baggara were also given freedom "to kill these groups, loot their wealth, capture slaves, expel the rest from the territories, and forcefully settle their lands." [14]

The Sudan Criminal Code of 1991 did not list slavery as a crime, but the Republic of Sudan has ratified the Slavery Convention, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, and is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). [1] Nonetheless, according to the imam of the Ansar movement and former prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, jihad

requires initiating hostilities for religious purposes. [...] It is true that the [NIF] regime has not enacted a law to realize slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of jihad does allow slavery as a by-product [of jihad]. [15]

Human Rights Watch [16] and Amnesty International [17] first reported on slavery in Sudan in 1995 in the context of the Second Sudanese Civil War. In 1996, two more reports emerged, one by a United Nations representative and another by reporters from the Baltimore Sun , just one of many "extensive accounts of slave raiding" in Sudan provided by Western media outlets since 1995. [Note 1]

Human Rights Watch and others have described the contemporary form of slavery in Sudan as mainly the work of the armed, government-backed militia of the Baggara tribes who raid civilians—primarily of the Dinka ethnic group from the southern region of Bahr El Ghazal. The Baggara captured children and women who were taken to western Sudan and elsewhere. They were "forced to work for free in homes and in fields, punished when they refuse, and abused physically and sometimes sexually". The government of Sudan "arm[ed] and sanction[ed] the practice of slavery by this tribal militia", known as muraheleen, as a low cost way of weakening its enemy in the Second Sudanese Civil War, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which was thought to have a base of support among the Dinka tribe of southern Sudan. [1]

According to a 2002 report issued by the International Eminent Persons Group, (acting with the encouragement of the US State Department) both the government-backed militias and the rebels (led by the SPLA) have been found guilty of abducting civilians, but "of particular concern" were incidents that occurred "in conjunction with attacks by pro-government militias known as murahaleen on villages in SPLA-controlled areas near the boundary between northern and southern Sudan." The Group concluded that "in a significant number of cases", abduction is the first stage in "a pattern of abuse that falls under the definition of slavery in the International Slavery Convention of 1926 and the Supplementary Convention of 1956." [2]

Estimates of abductions during the war range from 14,000 to 200,000. [19] One estimate by social historian Jok Madut Jok is of 10–15,000 slaves in Sudan "at any one time", the number remaining roughly constant as individual slaves come and go—as captives escape, have their freedom bought or are released as unfit for labor, more are captured. [20] Until 1999, the number of slaves kept by slave taker retains after the distribution of the human war booty was usually "three to six and rarely exceeded ten per slave raider". Although modern slave trading never approached the scale of nineteenth-century Nilotic slavery, some Baggara "operated as brokers to convert the war captives into slaves", selling slaves "at scattered points throughout Western Sudan", and "as far north as Kharoum". Illegal and highly unpopular internationally, the trade is done "discreetly", and kept to a "minimal level" so that "evidence for it is very difficult to obtain." "Slave owners simply deny that Southern children working for them are slaves." [21]

According to a January 25, 1999, report in CBS news, slaves have been sold for $50 apiece. [22]

Writing for The Wall Street Journal on December 12, 2001, Michael Rubin said: [23]

What's Sudanese slavery like? One 11-year-old Christian boy told me about his first days in captivity: "I was told to be a Muslim several times, and I refused, which is why they cut off my finger." Twelve-year-old Alokor Ngor Deng was taken as a slave in 1993. She has not seen her mother since the slave raiders sold the two to different masters. Thirteen-year-old Akon was seized by Sudanese military while in her village five years ago. She was gang-raped by six government soldiers, and witnessed seven executions before being sold to a Sudanese Arab.

Many freed slaves bore signs of beatings, burnings and other tortures. More than three-quarters of formerly enslaved women and girls reported rapes.

While nongovernmental organizations argue over how to end slavery, few deny the existence of the practice. ...[E]stimates of the number of blacks now enslaved in Sudan vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands (not counting those sold as forced labour in Libya)...

The Sudanese government has never admitted to the existence of "slavery" within their borders, [24] [25] but in 1999, under international pressure, it established the committee to Eradicate the Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC). 4,000 "abducted" southerners were returned to South Sudan through this program before it was shut down in 2010. [26]

End of trade

According to the Rift Valley Institute, slave-raiding, "abduction … effectively ceased" in 2002. "A significant number" of slaves were repatriated after 2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, but "an unknown number" remain in captivity. [4] The Institute created a "Sudan Abductee Database" containing "the names of over 11,000 people who were abducted in 20 years of slave-raiding" in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state in southern Sudan, from 1983 to 2002. [4] [5] The January 2005 "North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)" peace treaty that ended the Sudanese civil war [27] put an end to the slave raids, according to Christian Solidarity International, but did not provide a "way home for those already enslaved." [28] The last Human Rights Watch "Backgrounder on Slavery in Sudan" was updated March 2002. [1]

Christian Solidarity International slave redemption efforts

Efforts to "redeem" or to buy the freedom of slaves in Sudan are controversial. [1] Beginning in 1995, Christian Solidarity International began "redeeming" slaves through an underground network of traders set up through local peace agreements between Arab and southern chiefs. The group claims to have freed over 80,000 people in this manner since that time. [29] Several other charities eventually followed suit.

In 1999, UNICEF called the practice of redeeming slaves 'intolerable', arguing that these charities are implicitly accepting that human beings can be bought and sold. [30]

UNICEF also said that buying slaves from slave-traders gives them cash to purchase arms and ammunition. But Christian Solidarity said they purchase slaves in Sudanese pounds, not US dollars that could be used to purchase arms. [30]

As of 2015, Christian Solidarity International stated that it continues redeeming slaves. On its website, [29] the group stated that it employs safeguards against fraud, and that allegations of fraud "remain today unsubstantiated".

See also

Notes

  1. According to researcher Jok Madut Jok, extensive accounts of slave raiding since 1995 can be found in US magazines and newspapers: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, as well as The South African Mail and Guardian, and a number of European and Canadian magazines and newspapers. "Many of them have also tried to expose the role of the government in slave taking." [18]
    In Sudan itself "systematic and instrumental journalistic writing" on slavery has come from Bona Malwal (a Sudanese journalist and former government minister), who pioneered the campaign to expose the practice in the 1980s as editor of the Sudan Times, [18]

Related Research Articles

Sudan Country in Northeast Africa

Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, Libya to the northwest, Chad to the west, the Central African Republic to the southwest, South Sudan to the south, Ethiopia to the southeast, Eritrea to the east, and the Red Sea to the northeast. Sudan has a population of 44.91 million people as of 2021 and occupies 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it Africa's third-largest country by area, and also the third-largest by area in the Arab League. It was also the largest country by area in Africa and the Arab League until the secession of South Sudan in 2011, since which both titles have been held by Algeria. Its capital is Khartoum, while its largest city is Omdurman.

Human rights in Sudan

Sudan's human rights record has been widely condemned. Some human rights organizations have documented a variety of abuses and atrocities carried out by the Sudanese government over the past several years under the rule of Omar al-Bashir. The 2009 Human Rights Report by the United States Department of State noted serious concerns over human rights violations by the government and militia groups. Capital punishment, including crucifixion, is used for many crimes. In September, 2019, the government of Sudan signed an agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open a UN Human Rights Office in Khartoum and field offices in Darfur, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and East Sudan. In July 2020, during the 2019–2021 Sudanese transition to democracy, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari stated that "all the laws violating the human rights in Sudan" were to be scrapped, and for this reason, Parliament passed a series of laws in early July 2020.

Baggara Arabs Arab ethnic group

The Baggāra or Chadian Arabs are a grouping of Arab ethnic groups inhabiting the portion of Africa's Sahel mainly between Lake Chad and southern Kordofan, numbering over six million. They are known as Baggara in Sudan, and as Shuwa Arabs in Cameroon, Nigeria and Western Chad. The term Shuwa is said to be of Kanuri origin.

The Janjaweed are a militia group that operate in western Sudan and eastern Chad. Using the United Nations definition, the Janjaweed comprise Sudanese Arab tribes, the core of whom are from the Abbala background with significant recruitment from the Baggara people. This UN definition may not necessarily be accurate, as instances of members from other tribes have been noted.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal State of South Sudan

Northern Bahr el Ghazal is a state in South Sudan. It has an area of 30,543 km² and is part of the Bahr el Ghazal region. It borders East Darfur in Sudan to the north, Western Bahr el Ghazal to the west and south, and Warrap and the disputed region of Abyei to the east. Aweil is the capital of the state.

Second Sudanese Civil War Conflict from 1983–2005 for South Sudanese independence

The Second Sudanese Civil War was a conflict from 1983 to 2005 between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. It was largely a continuation of the First Sudanese Civil War of 1955 to 1972. Although it originated in southern Sudan, the civil war spread to the Nuba mountains and the Blue Nile. It lasted for 22 years and is one of the longest civil wars on record. The war resulted in the independence of South Sudan six years after the war ended.

Nuba peoples African ethnic group

The Nuba people are various indigenous ethnic groups who inhabit the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state in Sudan, encompassing multiple distinct people that speak different languages which belong to at least two unrelated language families. Estimates of the Nuba population vary widely; the Sudanese government estimated that they numbered 2.07 million in 2003.

Rizeigat tribe

The Rizeigat, or Rizigat, or Rezeigat are a Muslim and Arab tribe of the nomadic Bedouin Baggara people in Sudan's Darfur region. The Rizeigat belong to the greater Baggara Arabs fraternity of Darfur and Kordofan and speak Chadic Arabic. They are primarily nomadic herders and their journeys are dependent upon the seasons of the year. They are a branch of the Juhayna group. They are divided into the Abbala (camel-herding) Rizeigat, who live in northern Darfur and Chad, and the Baggara who inhabit south-east Darfur. In turn they are divided into several large clans, notably the Mahamid, Mahariya and Nawaiba. The ecological differences between the north and south of Sudan allowed for two different types of nomadism to evolve: camel herders in the north and cattle herders in the south.

Messiria tribe

The Messiria, known also under the name of Misseriya Arabs, are a branch of the Baggara ethnic grouping of Arab tribes. Their language is the Sudanese Arabic. Numbering over one million, the Baggara are the second largest ethnic group in Western Sudan, extending into Eastern Chad. They are primarily nomadic cattle herders and their journeys are dependent upon the seasons of the year. The use of the term Baggara carries negative connotations as slave raiders, so they prefer to be called instead Messiria.

The famine in Sudan in 1998 was a humanitarian disaster caused mainly by human rights abuses, as well as drought and the failure of the international community to react to the famine risk with adequate speed. The worst affected area was Bahr el Ghazal in southwestern Sudan. In this region over 70,000 people died during the famine.

History of Darfur

Throughout its history, Darfur has been the home to several cultures and kingdoms, like the mythical Tora or the Daju and Tunjur kingdoms. The recorded history of Darfur begins in the seventeenth century, with the foundation of the Fur Sultanate by the Keira dynasty. In 1875, the Anglo-Egyptian Co-dominion in Khartoum ended the dynasty. The British allowed Darfur a measure of autonomy until formal annexation in 1916. However, the region remained underdeveloped through the period of colonial rule and after independence in 1956. The majority of national resources were directed toward the riverine Arabs clustered along the Nile near Khartoum. This pattern of structural inequality and overly underdevelopment resulted in increasing restiveness among Darfuris. The influence of regional geopolitics and war by proxy, coupled with economic hardship and environmental degradation, from soon after independence led to sporadic armed resistance from the mid-1980s. The continued violence culminated in an armed resistance movement around 2003.

Abeed or abīd, is an Arabic word meaning "servant" or "slave". The term is widely used in the Arab world as an ethnic slur for Black people, and dates back to the Arab slave trade. In recent decades, usage of the word has become controversial due to its racist connotations and origins, particularly among the Arab diaspora.

Racism in Sudan is a complex matter due to the racial mixture of various populations. Sudanese Arabs are among the 600 ethnic groups who live there, and there are elements within Arab Sudanese society that view black people and blackness with disfavor. Sudan is dominated by a light-skinned, Arabic-speaking elite, while black Africans often face oppression and marginalization. Sudan has been in the Arab League since 1956. Skin whitening is relatively common among some Sudanese. The preference for light skin in Sudanese society is rooted in the legacies of slavery and colonialism. Skin color is not the sole determining factor in distinction between Sudanese Arabs and Sudanese Africans. The extent that a person has Arab ancestry, speaking the Arabic language, and practicing Islam can be associated with being "Arab" and "non-black" and can determine social status. Sudanese conceptions of race differ from conceptions of race in the Western world. Many dark-skinned Sudanese, such as former president Omar al-Bashir, would be considered "black" in a country such as the United States but are considered "non-black" within Sudan.

Racism in Africa is multi-faceted and dates back several centuries.

Sudan is a source country for men, women and children trafficked internally for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Sudan is also a transit and destination country for Ethiopian women trafficked abroad for domestic servitude. Sudanese women and girls are trafficked within the country, as well as possibly to Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, for domestic servitude. U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in "Tier 3" in 2017.

Christian Solidarity International

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is a Christian human rights NGO that is "committed to defending religious liberty, helping victims of religious repression, victimized children, and victims of disaster." It is based in Switzerland, with affiliates in the United States, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, South Korea, and the Netherlands.

Demographics of South Sudan Overview of the demographics of South Sudan

South Sudan is home to around 60 indigenous ethnic groups and 80 linguistic partitions among a 2018 population of around 11 million. Historically, most ethnic groups were lacking in formal Western political institutions, with land held by the community and elders acting as problem solvers and adjudicators. Today, most ethnic groups still embrace a cattle culture in which livestock is the main measure of wealth and used for bride wealth.

Mayom County County in Unity, South Sudan

Mayom County is an administrative region in Unity of South Sudan to the west of Bentiu. The county headquarters is Mayom town.

John Eibner

John Eibner is an American Christian human rights activist. He is the CEO of Christian Solidarity International-USA. He also served on the board of the American Anti-Slavery Group, and is a member of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London.

History of slavery in the Muslim world History of slavery in Islamic lands

The Muslim world initially inherited the institution of slavery from pre-Islamic Arabia; and the practice of keeping slaves subsequently developed in radically different ways, depending on social-political factors such as the Arab slave trade. Throughout Islamic history, slaves served in various social and economic roles, from powerful emirs to harshly treated manual laborers. Early on in Muslim history slaves provided plantation labor similar to that in the early-modern Americas, but this practice was abandoned after harsh treatment led to destructive slave revolts, the most notable being the Zanj Rebellion of 869–883. Slaves were widely employed in irrigation, mining, and animal husbandry, but most commonly as soldiers, guards, domestic workers, and concubines. Many rulers relied on military slaves and on slaves in administration - to such a degree that the slaves could sometimes seize power. Among black slaves, there were roughly two females to every one male. Two rough estimates by scholars of the numbers of just one group - black slaves held over twelve centuries in the Muslim world - are 11.5 million and 14 million, while other estimates indicate a number between 12 and 15 million African slaves prior to the 20th century.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Slavery and Slave Redemption in the Sudan. Human Rights Watch Backgrounder". Human Rights Watch. Updated March 2002 (earlier backgrounder dated March 1999). Retrieved 15 October 2015.Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. 1 2 Slavery, Abduction and Forced Servitude in Sudan| US State Department | International Eminent Persons Group | May 22, 2002 | page 7| accessed 26 October 2015
  3. "Factfinding Report Confirms Sudan Slavery".
  4. 1 2 3 Vlassenroot, Koen. "The Sudan Abduction and Slavery Project. Rift Valley Institute". Riftvalley.net. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  5. 1 2 "Thousands of slaves in Sudan". BBC News. 2003-05-28. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  6. "Viewpoint from Sudan - where black people are called slaves". BBC News. 2020-07-26. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  7. Redford, D. B..From Slave to Pharaoh: The Black Experience of Ancient Egypt. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004. Project MUSE
  8. "Ancient Egypt: Slavery, its causes and practice". Reshafim.org.il. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  9. "Africa and Slavery 1500-1800 by Sanderson Beck" . Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  10. 1 2 Quotes from Jok, Madut Jok (2001). War and Slavery in Sudan. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 5. ISBN   0-8122-1762-4.
  11. Jok 2001, p. viii.
  12. John Eibner, the CEO of Christian Solidarity International-USA, also states that modern-day slavery was revived in Sudan in the mid-1980s the Arab-Muslim state of Sudan started reviving. He claims that this slavery is a result of a jihad led by the state against the non-Muslim population.(source: John Eibner. "My Career Redeeming Slaves". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  13. John Eibner. "My Career Redeeming Slaves". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  14. Jok 2001, p. 144-5.
  15. As-Sadiq Al-Mahdi to Mary Robinson, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (Section III: War Crimes), Mar. 24, 1999.
  16. "Children in Sudan: Slaves, Street Children and Child Soldiers," Human Rights Watch, September 1995
  17. "Sudan:‘The tears of orphans’: no future without human rights," Amnesty International, January 1, 1995
  18. 1 2 Jok 2001, p. x.
  19. "Slavery, Abduction and Forced Servitude in Sudan". US Department of State. 22 May 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  20. Jok 2001, p. 1.
  21. Jok 2001, p. 57.
  22. "Curse Of Slavery Haunts Sudan". CBS News. January 25, 1999.
  23. Rubin, Michael (December 12, 2001). "Don't 'Engage' Rogue Regimes". The Wall Street Journal .
  24. "Slavery and Slave Redemption in the Sudan". hrw.org. Human Rights Watch. March 2002. Retrieved 26 October 2015. The government of Sudan has stonewalled on the issue of slavery, claiming it was a matter of rival tribes engaging in hostage taking, over which it had little control. That is simply untrue, as myriad reports coming out of southern Sudan have made abundantly clear.
  25. Khalid (2003). War & Peace In The Sudan. Routledge. pp. 239–240. ISBN   9781136179174 . Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  26. Michaela Alfred-Kamara, "Will Independence Lead to the End of Slavery in Sudan?" Anti-Slavery International Reporter, Winter 2011 PDF
  27. "South Sudan profile - Timeline". BBC News. 27 August 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  28. "Slavery in Sudan. Background". Christian Solidarity International. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  29. 1 2 John Eibner, "Slavery FAQ" | csi-usa.org | accessed 26 October 2015
  30. 1 2 Lewis, Paul (1999-03-12). "U.N. Criticism Angers Charities Buying Sudan Slaves' Release". New York Times .

Further reading