Mar 21, 2013

Haratin: Tensions Increase Around New Slavery Cases

Picture @TobiasMandt

The discovery of new slavery cases lead to an increase in tensions in the surrounding of the police station of Tevragh Zeina.

Below is an article published by IRA-Mauritania (translation from French by UNPO):

It has been three days now that a palpable tension has become apparent in the surrounding of the Police Station of Tevragh Zeina, where a standoff is taking place between the relatives of Mohamed Salem Ould Mouhamedou Ould Eguigah on the one hand, and the activists and sympathizers of IRA-Mauritania on the other hand. The latter came to support the victim Essa Ould Moussa to bring her case to court and claim for justice in this case of slavery.

As far as the former are concerned, they came to support Ould Eguigah, express their solidarity to a man caught red-handed dealing with slavery practices and an outlaw for crimes that are considered as crime against humanity according to the Mauritanian Constitution.

We would like to highlight the fact that the Mauritanian magistrates and police officers, as well as the governmental officials, keep repeating to every representative of tribal proslavery groups that anti-slavery laws are just a façade to calm down foreign diplomats and that the ephemeral and occasional arrests of persons accused of slavery practices is the work of Biram Abeid and his organization IRA alone. This discourse, broadened by officials to attract proslavery electors, has aroused and sharpened an unmeasured hatred of proslavery segments against Biram and IRA -Mauritania.

This irresponsible discourse could not be more dangerous for civil peace and national unity in Mauritania.
This case of enslavement has brought a new worrying fact, that is to say that the presumed slave owner and his family have dared to utter death threats to members of IRA in their own name and in the name of their tribe. It is all the more serious as this statement has been made in the name of the tribe of the Mauritanian head of State.


Deida Mint Amar Ainany or how a slave driver bequeath her “human livestock”(slaves) to her children.

The defunct Deida Min tamar Ainany was the mother of Mohamed Salem Ould Mouhamedou Ould Eguigah, late Mohamed Ould Meissa and late Mohamed Ould Moctar Vall. Deida distributed her slaves to her children. Mohamed O. Meissa has obtained amongst other slaves, Aichana Mint Beilil, who managed to run away from her master in 1996 and benefited from the protection of SOS-Esclaves and the assistance of Mauritanian Minister of Justice of that time, Mr. Ethmane Sid Ahmed El Yessaa.

Not only did the help of SOS Esclaves and the commitment of the Minister help Aichana to be free, but it also allowed her to get back to her children from whom she was deprived, because of Med Moissa. However, Aichana has never been able to take her master to court and have him sentenced. At the time of her release, Aichana had informed SOS Esclaves that Acha, one of her sisters, and her children are still under the yoke of slavery. She also affirmed that, from time to time, she had to work herself for a certain Mohamed Salem Ould Mouhamedou Ould Eguigah.

The boy, Esseu Ould Moussam, who has lived in slavery with Ehil Mohamedou since his earliest childhood, in company with his siblings, said one week ago to Brahim Ould Samba, an IRA activist, that he would love to free himself from slavery, but that he was too afraid of his masters to do so. The IRA activist has of course encouraged him to turn to justice, and IRA Mauritania is now assisting this victim.  

Esseu Ould Mousseu declares that his mother died some years ago and that he does not even know his father Mousseu. He only saw him once, when he came to bring his little brother EL Id.  His father was sent back empty-handed by Mohamed Salem and since that time, Esseu Ould Mousseu has never seen his father again. Esseu explains that his older brother Daoud O. brahim, his sister Mahmouda and his brother El Id have been watching over the cattle of the family Ehil Mohamedou, in the locality of Breibira, department of Boutilimit, in the South of Nouakchott.

Esseu even goes on to say that he has never been to school, contrary to his master’s children. From his earliest childhood until his liberation on March 16th, 2013, Esseu’s everyday life consisted in cooking, cleaning the house, washing his masters’ clothes, washing the dishes, and doing every kind of chore he was appointed to by his masters, with no salary compensation. He does not have any kind of civil status certificate, does not know how to read or write, and has had as only tutor in his whole life his master Mohamed Salem Ould Eguigah. Esseu expresses his deep willingness to meet and get to know his father Mousseu and to visit his brothers and sisters from which he has been separated since his childhood. He also adds that he would like to work freely and earn his living from his work. Esseu explained to journalists that when his master was arrested, the police officer of Tevragh Zeina set up a period of time for him and his persecutor to briefly meet before the police audition. During this face to face, Mohamed Salem gave order to his victim to lie by saying that he is a Haratin (freed slave) and not a slave, and that he was paid 30 000 ouguiyas a month in return for his work. Esseu Ould Moussen iterated that, for some time, Mohamed Salem Ould Mouhamedou is warning him against a certain Biram who, according to him, captures slaves and sells them to Christians Toubabs.

Besides, Aichana Mint Beilil, who lives in Nouakchott since she was freed and got her children back, came to the police to claim that Esseu Ould Mousseu was indeed the son of her late sister Acheu, who was enslaved by Mohamed Salem Ould Mohamedou. She supports the complaint of IRA and SOS Esclaves against him and his accomplices, and begs for the State to free her nephews and strictly enforce the anti-slavery laws which criminalize slavery and consider it as a crime against humanity.

However, it is worth stating that the family Ehil Mohamedou, supported by the police and the prosecutor of the tribunal in Nouakchott, Cheikh Ould Baba Ahmed, a zealous and famous protector of violators of anti-slavery laws, made sure to fetch Esseu’s oldest borther, the other victim who was appointed to the watch of herds by his master Mohamed Salem Ould.


Nouakchott, 19/03/2013

Communication Commission

IRA Mauritania