Biram Dah Abeid: "You have managed to get the trophy of the first slave state in the world!"
Upon his return to Nouakchott on 31 October 2013, Biram Dah Abeid, President of IRA-Mauritania, delivered a poignant and inspired speech full of sarcasm, "congratulating" Mauritania's leaders on turning the country into the number one worst country regarding prevalence of slavery (Global Slavery Index, 2013). IRA's undying efforts to combat slavery were relayed to officials all across Europe during the month-long trip Biram was returning from - and this speech gives evidence of the pursuit of IRA's actions in Mauritania and abroad.
Message to pro-slavery supporters of the society and the state in Mauritania
Today, I would like to address the Mauritanian elites and the political class; I am addressing the supporters of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the “Coordination of the Democratic Opposition” (Cod) and the ”Convention for a Peaceful Alternation” (Cap). I am also addressing the scholars, judges and judicial police officers. I am addressing the Arab-Berber community and the Haratin politicians. Let me congratulate all these people; congratulations to all of you on the courage, determination and spirit of sacrifice that you have shown in the battle for the maintenance and reproduction of slavery, in the war against the attempted emancipation, conducted in spite of the efforts of IRA-Mauritania and all the abolitionist movements.
Yes, you all deserve to be congratulated. In fact, you have managed to get the trophy and the title of the first slave state in the world. In so doing, you have made the nation, the flag and the whole population famous. You have made them famous on the international stage. Through your legendary piety, your patriotism, your clear-sightedness, you have won a memorable victory in the war conducted by IRA, since 2008, against the system of racial domination. We have been working towards the re-foundation of a Mauritania without masters and servants but, once again, you have beaten us. We will never stop complimenting you on this enviable place on the international stage that you have managed to achieve, after a hard fight, for our country. Therefore, I cannot fail in my duty to pay homage to your most recent victims, the soldiers of the anti-slavery struggle, who were beaten up, tortured, starved, stigmatized, imprisoned, or who are still languishing in the jails of the last slave state world, Mauritania. There are Dah Ould Boushab (Dar Naim prison), Abdallahi Ould Hemdy and Slama Ould Seyid (Rosso prison), Cheikh Vall and Samba Diagana (Kaédi prison).
The History of Mauritania will remember, like the future generations, that none of you, no party, has shown oneself unworthy of one’s commitments, because all of you have lived up to your commitment to turn MAURITANIA INTO THE FIRST SLAVE POWER ON THE PLANET.
Your leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, deserves to be reelected before the first round of the presidential election in 2014, after giving oneself heart and soul, since his coming to power, to the battle against the supporters of a Mauritania without slavery, which is what we have been fighting for. Proof of this is that he forbade IRA-Mauritania and decided that it should be prevented from leading, in a peaceful and popular but also legal and religious way, the eradication of slavery and ethnic inequalities. The President also prohibited the RAG party (Radical Party for a Global Action), the only anti-slavery mass organization in the country; and, by doing so, the power also pleased Haratin political party leaders who asked it to do so and who are supported by two ministers: Mr. Mohamed Ould Boilil, Minister of Internal Affairs and Telecommunications, and Mr. Sy Adam, Minister Secretary General of the Presidency.
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is also the President of Mauritania whose merit is second to none, from a pro-slavery point of view; isn’t he the most repressive head of state against the anti-slavery movement? Elites and Arab-Berber communities consider him as the savior of the masters and of their descendants, against the danger of the Haratin, against the danger of awareness and awakening. In the footprints of Colonel Maawiya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, he represents the virtue of courage. Many politicians envy him, like Ahmed Ould Daddah, Ould Deddew, Ely Ould Mohamed Vall and Sidi Oul Cheikh Abdallahi, for imprisoning the largest number of anti-slavery Haratin and of devoting to them, on average, a trial each year during his mandate, which is ending. He repressed and tortured dozens of them. He ordered to exclude them from their jobs, both in the public and private sectors. He also used colossal sums of money to bribe foreigners and nationals in order to conduct a disinformation campaign involving lies and corrupt people bearing false witness against the anti-slavery activists. He also accomplished another feat, and not an insignificant one, by ordaining from a legal and religious point of view that the fight against slavery is synonymous with apostasy. According to their undeclared vision of the life of this world, slavery is a sixth pillar of Islam; therefore, the God's only holy books are those of Cheikh Khalil and his exegetes or, in other words, the medieval books that code, authorize and legitimize slavery. Ould Abdel Aziz declared his willingness to sentence IRA members to death for endangering the sacredness of slavery. Mauritania, nation of slavery and country of discriminations, could only generate such a president.
Ould Abdel Aziz is stealing the limelight from other presidential candidates, both Moor and Haratin politicians. A bidding race has started, with each aiming to show himself more pro-slavery than the Head of State, fighting to maintain their place in the race to vote – the race to power.
Two notorious exceptions are Hamidou Baba and Moustapha Ould Abeiderrahmane, whose egalitarian positions lack neither clarity nor recurrence. All Mauritanian political parties, no exceptions made, are refraining from criticizing the slave codes and are encouraging the ongoing inquisition against abolitionists. Since then, the Cod and Cap parties – acting as little satellites gravitating around the Head of State – have also refrained from denouncing slavery’s persistence and proliferation – and have done so for all of Ould Aziz’s time in office.
Worse even, all political parties, such as RFD, APP or Tawassoul, are campaigning to denigrate abolitionists through the intermediary of their leaders and the rumors they spread. Their perfidious positions are being adapted and refined in terms of deviousness as the flow of stories of slavery denounced by IRA are made public and presented to the tribunals and the police.
Here and now, with much less humor and more gravity, truth and sincerity, I am warning President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and his government against their tentative to avoid the important questions on slavery, racism, and economic, social and cultural exclusion. Even though elections might be regular and transparent, they are far from being the only source of democracy. What to say, then, of elections with no guarantee of transparency? What to say of the upcoming November 23 elections, destined to camouflage a century-old fossilized, and yet very much alive, system based on social precedence and material predation?
Yes, sisters and brothers, the elections, for those who are participating, are but a subterfuge destined to feed – at the lowest price – politicians stripped of all motivation of establishing a real State of Law. The pseudo-legitimacy the ballots allows them to obtain gifts and sinecures from an oligarchic power through the sharing of undeserved salaries and fees – to the detriment of average Mauritanian citizens who crumbles under misery and ends up accepting it little by little.
I am warning the present power against the perilous and useless decision to maintain the ban against IRA and the RAG party – proof of the fiasco that is the continued political and diplomatic denial of the existence of slavery.
I am warning the hegemonic Arab-Berbers and their Haratin admirers about the necessity to reconsider their positions on slavery and its victims, on Negro-African Mauritanians, on peasants, on dockworkers, on day-workers of the mines, and on maritime centers. We will reach a point where things will become unbearable, where these motors of the economy will no longer accept marginalization and will win a thousand times over!
I am warning, also, the different military and paramilitary corps against the continued use of traditional and retrograde politics, and against frustrations and the exploitation of Haratin officers, sub-officers and troops who are – all at once – the armed wing of the State, the kingpin of the country’s stability, and the state’s cannon fodder.
I haven’t come back from my trip carrying threats or blackmail; I have simply come back to remind all – and especially the undecided – that time is nigh for the great confrontation between the righteous and the executioners, between humanity and barbarism, between truth and counterfeit.
The time has come to choose the right side of the fence – and to stick to one’s choice.
Long live the freedom at work, down with cowards’ caution, down with the wisdom of the resigned!
Biram Dah Abeid
31 October 2013