In a joint statement with the Association for World Education, Representative David G Littman spoke at the UN Commission on Human Rights on 8 April 2005. He condemned slavery in the Sudan, where over 200,000 women and children have been enslaved over the past two decades, as a crime against humanity. He urged the Government of Sudan and the UN agencies to resume forthwith CEAWAC’s return of slaves to the south.
Joint Statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights
61st Session (14 March – 22 April 2005)
by the Association for World Education, the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
Special meeting: Situation of human right in the Sudan (item 3)
Statement by Representative David G. LITTMAN. Friday 8 April 2005
[The words in square brackets [ ] were not spoken in the four minutes available]
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sir, the Commission has before it the Report of the independent expert [Emmanuel Akwei Addo (Ghana): E/CN.4/2005/11], the 25 January 2005 Report of the International Commission to the Secretary-General, other reports and the recent decision of the Security Council on Sudan. We are also making available our written statement E/CN.4/2005/NGO/106: Darfur, Sudan: Non-Impunity and Prosecution for Genocide.
Sir, in 1995 Special Rapporteur Gaspar Biro described both slavery and racism in the Sudan:
“the total passivity of the Government [of the Sudan]…can only be interpreted as tacit approval and support of the institution of slavery and the slave trade…It should be noted that all these actions have a pronounced racial aspect”. [E/CN.4/1996/62, Ã¯Â¿Â½39].
Our article “U.N. Finds Slavery in the Sudan” gives details [from his Reports on Slavery and the Slave Trade, Forced Conversions and Abduction of Children, Middle East Quarterly (September 1996: pp. 91-94)]
In her [August 2004] Report the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings Asma Jahangir wrote:
“A large number of people whom I met had a strong perception that the Government was pursuing a policy of ‘Arabization’ of the Sudan, and in particular, the Darfur region, allegedly, those of Arab descent seek to portray themselves as ‘pure’ Muslims, as opposed to Muslims of African ethnicity.”
Sir, slavery has been the fate of black Africans over the centuries, whether by Arab slavers or others. Today, this is clearly defined in binding international instruments as a “crime against humanity.” The Islamist revival of slavery since 1983 has been a curse on Sudan, and on mankind in general.
Dinka community leaders, including the Government of Sudan’s CEAWC officials estimate that over 200,000 women and children have been enslaved over the past two decades. The GOS/SPLA peace process has resulted in a welcome suspension of slave raiding in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal.
There is another sign of hope. As I speak to you now, a U.S. Government funded anti-slavery Peace Conference involving Dinka and Baggara community leaders, CEAWAC officials and CSI [Christian Solidarity International] is under way. But slavery, and the racial and religious bigotry that fuels it, live on as a cancer blighting the prospects of a future peaceful and stable Sudan.
We are sure, Mr. Chairman, that the overwhelming majority of delegates are, like us, profoundly shocked by the ongoing enslavement of black African women and children by the armed forces of the GOS and its allied militias both in Darfur and in the Sudanese Ugandan border lands. Moreover, tens of thousands of Dinka and Nuer women and children remain in bondage, to be beaten, raped, genitally mutilated, and enforced to practise an alien religion.
After a slow and uncertain start in 1999, CEAWAC last year started returning significant numbers of Dinka slaves to their homelands in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal – up to 4,000 – which should be added to the tens of thousands liberated with the assistance of CSI. But, Mr. Chairman, we were mortified to learn that it is UNICEF, which (as recently reported by the BBC on 24 March: “Returning Sudan’s stolen children” by Jonah Fisher) has called on the GOS to suspend CEAWAC’s slave retrieval operation. According to James Ague, of CEAWAC, the GOS has registered the names of over 20,000 “abductees” and is poised to return 7,000 before the June rainy season makes ground transport impossible.
We urge the Government of Sudan and the UN agencies to resume forthwith CEAWAC’s return of slaves to the south, and to do so in a manner that respects the dignity and security of those who have suffered so much as victims of the internationally-recognised Crime Against Humanity that is SLAVERY!
Sir, the Commission on Human Rights is the major UN body for human rights law. The end to impunity, prosecution for crimes against humanity and for genocide should be its main focus in the discussion on Sudan. Darfur is a blatant case of genocide that must be called by its name. The hundreds of thousands of Darfur’s victims ask no less.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman