Friday, May 27, 2016

God Moves Powerfully in Mauritania!

Biram Dah Arbeid and Brahim Randhane

In your prayers, please take a moment to thank God for powerful movement toward justice in Mauritania, as we celebrate court verdicts of innocence and guilt in the battle to end slavery in that corner of Africa.

On October 12, 2014, Trinity United Church of Christ hosted Championing Freedom: An Interfaith Initiative to End Slavery in Mauritania. This forum was the culmination of diligent efforts by a partnership of Trinity UCC’s Africa Ministry, Masjid Al-Taqwa, and the Abolition Institute (collectively known as Championing Freedom).

A significant outcome of our efforts led to a City of Chicago City Council Resolution denouncing slavery in Mauritania, and acknowledging the work of Championing Freedom.  This document was presented at the forum, and an original copy was also delivered to the world renown Mauritanian anti-slavery leader, Biram Dah Abeid (who has visited the U.S., including Trinity UCC, as a guest of Abolition Institute).
As Mr. Abeid’s international profile increased, so has the Mauritanian government’s concern. In December of 2014, during a public rally in protest against slavery and racial discrimination, the government arbitrarily arrested Mr. Abeid and his colleague Brahim Randhane.  They were both charged with “inciting hatred” and sentenced to 2 years in prison.

With help from numerous national and international protest actions (including phone calls, email campaigns, fundraising, social media campaigns, rallies, etc.), on May 17, 2016 the Mauritanian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Abeid and Mr. Randhane. 

This ruling is all the more incredible and historic, when considered in the context of another ruling by the Mauritania Slavery Courts just the day before, when they convicted and sentenced to prison a slave-owner.  This ruling included a demand for “meaningful restitution” to the enslaved women, who had been victimized by this perpetrator. This was the first time there has been a conviction for slavery that culminated in the actual imprisonment of the perpetrator!

Our celebration is that much sweeter because the legal fight to free Mr. Abeid and Mr. Randhane was led by a lawyer of SOS Esclaves (the leading Non-Governmental Organization fighting slavery in Mauritania), Maitre Mohameden Elid, a brother of Haratine ethnicity – the ethnic group most often enslaved and oppressed by Mauritania’s elites.

While the struggle to end slavery in Mauritania is nowhere near over, this victory is a major paradigm shift in the way cases are being handled by the Mauritanian courts.  Quoting Mauritanian-born, New York activist, Bakary Tandia, the victory of Maitre Elid is the “equivalent of Thurgood Marshall winning the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.”

For more information on fighting slavery in Mauritania, visit the following web sies:

Lynda Holiday Lawrence
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

1 comment:

  1. Please forgive the excited post. The legal fight to convict the 2 slave masters was led by Maitre Mohameden Elid. The victory to release Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Randanhi was led by Brahim Ould Ebetty.