EU Urged to Act in Support of Nonviolent Anti-Slavery Activists in Mauritania
Representatives of Initiative de Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste call for European Parliament to support rule of law ahead of trials
Brussels, 10 July 2012 - Brahim Bilal, Vice President of the anti–slavery movement in Mauritania, “Initiative de Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste” (IRA), accompanied by the representative of IRA in Europe, made an urgent visit to the European institutions to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation in Nouakchott that has seen anti-slavery activists arrested and detained for peaceful protest against the ongoing and illegal practice of slavery in the country.
The representatives of IRA took their concerns directly to Pier Antonio Panzeri, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries. Mr Brahim Bilal and Mr Panzeri discussed the situation in Mauritania, notably the persistence of the practice of slavery, as well as the arrest of Biram Ould Abeid, President of IRA, and 6 other activists. The visit was an opportunity to draw attention to the fact that Mr Biram Ould Abeid is facing the death penalty as he stands falsely accused of apostasy and terrorism after burning books which claim that slavery is encompassed by the Islamic faith. His fellow activists are facing sentences of up to 30 years imprisonment.
During the hour long meeting, discussions focused on the importance of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the need to promote and support attempts being made to ensure Mauritania’s government abolished slavery in practice as well as on the statute book. There was also a pressing need to ensure that the right to a fair trial for Biram Ould Abeid and the 6 anti–slavery activists was upheld by the Mauritanian authorities, whose past record have not given activists.
Vice President of IRA Brahim Bilal said at the end of the meeting “Ι would like to thank Mr. Panzeri for his time; he was very helpful and understanding, as well as I would like to thank UNPO for its efforts. We presented the entire situation in Mauritania regarding slavery and the trial of our President Biram Ould Abeid and I am positive the results will help us. It is important to explain to the European deputies that no development can start in Mauritania when the Haratins, that consist the 50% of Mauritanian, are not active because of poverty and lack of awareness.”
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