Last week, 102 Black African slaves were liberated from Baggara Arab masters and returned to their homeland in Southern Sudan in an action supported by Christian Solidarity International (CSI - http://www.csi-int.org).
Most of the liberated slaves - mainly boys and young men - had been captured by Sudanese government-sponsored militias during two decades of civil war, pitting the Arab-Muslim dominated Government of Sudan against the predominantly Black African Sudan People's Liberation Front (SPLA).
Interviews reveal a strong pattern of physical and psychological abuse. The overwhelming majority of the liberated slaves had been subjected to beatings, racial and religious insults, forced labour and denial of the freedom to practice any religion other than Islam.
Most of the girls and women had been subjected to sexual abuse. Among the slaves were: 16-year-old Agor Deng. Agor was repeatedly raped by her master, and his associates. He and his wife excised her finger nails with a knife after she failed to obey an order to grind grain.
They also forced her, using death threats, to pray like a Muslim. 30-year-old Garang Akot Wiir. Garang's right arm and leg were partially paralysed after having been beaten and tied up tightly for 24 hours as punishment for attempting to escape. He was renamed Abdelrazik Ezzadin by his master.
45-year-old Achol Loc Wiel. Achol was shot in her leg during a slave raid. She also lost her husband and three children during the slave raid and forced march to Northern Sudan. Achol was gang raped by her master's friends. She was also forced to abandon the practice of her Christian faith and pray like a Muslim.
The liberation and documentation of the 102 slaves was the result of cooperation between Arab-Dinka Peace Committees, the civil authorities in Aweil State, local churches and CSI. The Sudanese Episcopalian priest, Rev. Tito Athian - a longstanding local CSI partner - expressed joy at the liberation of the slaves, stating: "Thank you for helping bring back our people from slavery. Now they are free to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and choose their own religion."
After witnessing several CSI slave liberation actions, including last week's, anti-trafficking consultant and author of The Jubilee Prophecy, Aaron Cohen, said: "I have seen first hand, in 23 countries, the positive changes good programmes can have in the lives of enslaved people. CSI has created in Sudan a sustainable and effective programme which has liberated thousands of slaves, inspired anti-trafficking legislation, and brought hope to people in bondage. CSI's pioneering work in Sudan is an excellent example to all abolitionists."
(ED: And there was us, thinking slave trading was a thing of the past...)