Apr 30, 2012

Haratin: Anti-Slavery Leader Arrested

Mauritanian authorities have arrested Biram Ould Dah in a move that appears to follow public pressure after the nonviolent activist burned copies of teachings that advocated the practice of slavery. The move is the latest to raise attention to Nouakchott’s decades-long inaction in stamping out slavery. 

Below is an article published by Radio Chine Internationale:

Biram Ould Dah, president of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA), was arrested by the police on Saturday night [28 April 2012] in his house in Nouakchott, Xinhua learnt from a reliable source. This happened after members of his organization burnt a religious book that, in their view, is in favor of slavery practices.

A close source from Biram’s family claimed that he had been arrested by the riot police. “He was surrounded by his bodyguards who did nothing to prevent his arrest”.

The anti-slavery activist was taken to an unknown destination.

Earlier on that same day, hundreds of Mauritanians protested in front of the Republic’s Presidency against the desecration of religious group by  Biram and his supporters. The demonstrators requested the punishment of the people responsible of this blasphemous act.

On Friday [27 April 2012], supporters of the IRA burnt Islamic books from the Malikite rite applied in Mauritania.

They consider the traditions of the Malikite and Sesoulema rite to be “supporting a slave spirit”.

IRA remains the only organization of civil society that is not allowed by Mauritanian authorities. In the past, they tolerated actions of the IRA against cases of presumed slavery.

Mauritanian law condemns slavery that, according to the official version, only exists under sequel forms, today fought by specialized programs financed by the government.