Oct 23, 2013

Haratin: Panafrican Congress Condemns Mauritania’s Slavery Practices

This year’s [2013] Munich Panafrican Congress resulted in a unanimous condemnation of the Mauritanian State, following a powerful speech against slavery by president of the IRA-Mauritania, Biram Dah Abeid. In contrast to what is commonly believed, slavery still represents a harsh reality in Mauritania.

Below is an article published by the IRA-Mauritania: (Translation by UNPO), updated 24/10/13

At the Munich Panafrican Congress, which takes place every two years in the capital of the German federal state of Bavaria, the Assembly of the Mauritanian State was condemned for its tolerance and support to groups who indulge in slavery practices in Mauritania.

The president of the IRA-Mauritania, Mr. Biram Dah Abeid, delivered a powerful speech against slavery, reminding the participants that, in contrast to what is commonly believed, the antiquated transatlantic forms of slavery and black slave trade in Arab countries still exist in Mauritania. He also informed the participants about the pervasive discrimination and black slave trade committed by dominant Mauritanian groups that still feed the Arab-Eastern slave trade.

In this context, the leader of the IRA - supporting his claim with evidence - vigorously denounced the instrumentalization of Islam by the judicial and political authorities of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, aimed at justifying this crime against humanity, i.e. the enslavement of black populations (see the United Nations Declaration in Durban). He appealed to Muslim countries and especially to Arab countries to put pressure on Mauritania to conform to the principles of the holy book, the Quran, through the banning of false books used as a black code in the name of Islam. He demonstrated the insidious character of “Mauritanian Apartheid”, which is based on a kind of “black code” and taught in judicial, administrative, military and religious schools in Mauritania.

President Biram Dah Abeid also explained why he had burned books codifying slavery in his country in April 2012: These texts do not reflect real Islam, but the perpetuation of the slavery system by the dominant power of the Arab-Berbers in Mauritania. According to him, this is why no perpetrator of this crime has so far been condemned by the Mauritanian justice, despite existing laws criminalizing slavery in Mauritania.

He informed the participants that Mauritania had just been classified as the most pro-slavery State in the world by a research institute (first rank worldwide).

He reminded that black Mauritanians were victims of genocide, ethnic cleansing and deportation between 1986 and 1992 in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

He informed the participants of the stubborn refusal of the Mauritanian authorities to recognize the IRA as an anti-slavery NGO, and of the harassment and arbitrary arrests committed mostly by the Mauritanian government against himself and the members of the organization.

He asked for the creation of a large international coalition in order to end the racist and pro-slavery system in place in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

The president of the IRA was widely welcome and the participants unanimously voted a resolution condemning the Mauritanian government for its attitude with regard to slavery.

At the end of his visit the president of the IRA participated in the ceremony commemorating the genocide committed by the Germans against the Héréros and Namas in Namibia. He expressed his solidarity with and support of his organization to the fair demands of the Héréros and Namas peoples for the recognition by Germany of the genocide perpetrated in Namibia and the need for reparations.

The Munich Panafrican Congress is one of the largest gatherings of activists from the Panafrican diaspora. This year it has hosted distinguished guests such as:


•        His Excellency Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile, member of the executive board of the ANC and              Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the South African Republic in Germany

•           Usutuaije Maamberua, Member of the Namibian Parliament and Representative of the Héréros

•           Biram Dah Abeid, President of the IRA-Mauritania

•           Eloi Coly, Director of the “Maison des Esclaves” of the Ile de Gorée

•           Moctar Kamara, President of the High Council of the African Community in Germany

•           Ida Hoffmann, historical character of the SWAPO and Representative of the Namas

•           Nkosinathi Biko, son of Steve Biko and Director of the Steve Biko Foundation

•           Denis Goldberg, one of the historical leaders of the armed branch of the ANC

•        Marianna Mballe Moudoumbou, Spokesperson of the Panafrican Women Empowerment & Liberation    Organization



Moctar Kamara,

IRA Mauritania, German Section                                                                               Berlin, 22nd October 2013