Jan 25, 2013

Haratin: Preparations Begin For Anti-Slavery Caravan

Preparations are underway for a “Liberty Caravan” of Haratin slaves and abolitionist activitists who will march across Mauritania.

Below is a press release issued by IRA – Mauritania [translated by UNPO]:

Anti-slavery activists have begun preparations for the 1000km long « liberty caravan » that will soon begin its journey to cross Mauritania from the very east to the most western point of the country. The official launch of the event will be marked by a press conference scheduled for January 24th, 2013 at 9am in the centre of Nema, followed by a march through the main Streets and a public gathering. From Nema, the caravan will leave at around noon towards the next destinations: Timbedra and Aoun. In each town, activists will launch marches and conclude with a public gathering.

The caravan will be passing through Nema, Timbedra, Tintan, Kiffa, Guerou, Magtalahjar, Aleg, Boutilimit, Ouadnaga between the 24th and the 28th, and finally end in Nouakchott with a press conference.

In Mauritania, although several legal texts, of which the Constitution, have abolished slavery, real effort on behalf of the leaders of the country to criminalize this practice has yet to be seen. Higher authorities constantly deny the existence of such a practice. This is added to the fact that the legal texts meant to preserve human dignity and protect Women and Children - but also those banning torture, racism and exclusion - are not observed, leaving the path open for slave owners and ensuring impunity for their despicable acts. The IRA – Mauritania (The Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement) has decided to organise the “March of the Slaves” or the “Caravan of Liberty” for these reasons.

The caravan is a motorized convoy, which will leave Nema in the East of the country and follow the « Route of Hope » until Nouakchott. Militants of IRA – Mauritania and SOS – Esclaves, as well as partner organizations will be present. The convoy will make regular stops in cities and towns on the way to hold marches on foot and public gatherings. The latter will be the occasion to raise themes to develop the victims’ awareness on the inadmissibility of slavery. Authorities and the rest of the actors will be informed of the criminality of slavery and the necessity to apply the law and stop slavery supporters.

The aims of this caravan are to:

-        raise awareness amongst the national and international communities about the realities of slavery in Mauritania,

-        ensure that slaves and former slaves gain assurance and refuse slavery’s practices,

-        push administrative, judiciary and security authorities to understand and accept to put into practice law nº 2007 – 048 of September 3rd, 2007, (which incriminates slavery and represses slavery practices) as well as all the text protecting human dignity in general, and specifically the rights of Women and Children,

-         establish a national dynamic amongst the population and human rights defenders for the definitive abolition of slavery in Mauritania.