Feb 12, 2016

Biram Dah Abeid’s Wife and Colleague Raise Awareness in European Institutions


A Haratin delegation from Mauritania visited Brussels on 8 and 9 February to raise further awareness about the situation of their community in the European institutions. This trip was part of a larger tour of Europe that had as goal to pressure the international community concerning the wrongly imprisoned anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, who is currently in need of better health care.

The delegation consisted of Mrs Leila Ahmed Khliva, Biram Dah Abeid’s wife, who travelled with their 8-month old baby, as well as the representative of IRA Italy, Mr Yacoub Diarra. During their visit, they met with a journalist from La Libre Belgique, Mme Cros, and a team from the European External Action Service. They also had a few meetings at the European Parliament, with the team of some MEPs who have been particularly supportive in the past few months. In these meetings they raised a number of points:

First of all, they wanted to raise awareness of the current situation concerning slavery and racial discrimination in Mauritania. The key problem lies in the need for the government to actually be willing to implement all the legislation and mechanisms that it has put in place and to actually combat slavery and its consequences. Mrs Khliva and Mr Diarra underlined how this needs to start with the official recognition of the existence of slavery, which the Government insists in denying.

Secondly, they wanted to ask the EU and the international community to pressure the Mauritanian government for the release of Biram Dah Abeid. Furthermore, Leila Ahmed Khliva asks the EU and the international community to put pressure on the Mauritanian government to ensure that her husband receives the medical assistance he needs while in prison and that results of analysis are disclosed to him and his family.

Thirdly, they ask the EU and the international community to ensure that the Mauritanian government gives a just and fair trial to Biram Dah Abeid and his fellow activists. During their visit, they were able to go through the government’s suspicious manner of dealing with Biram Dah Abeid’s trial as well as several procedural violations and a general lack of transparency in the judiciary proceedings.

Fourthly, IRA asks the EU and the international community to pressure the Mauritanian government to allow its formal registration as an organisation, which has until now been denied.

All the meetings showed a clear interest and willingness of European officials, politicians and journalists to help with the situation of the Haratin. Following these two days of meetings, Ms Leila Ahmed Khliva continued her journey around Europe, to join Amnesty International in a series of meetings in Paris. UNPO will keep advocating for the Haratin cause, in cooperation with IRA and with the network of supportive politicians and activists that keeps enlarging.

You can also read an article about Ms Khliva’s campaign to raise awareness of the Haratin and her husband’s struggle on Italian major newspaper Corriere della Sera.