Jun 03, 2016

Haratin: Biram Dah Abeid Looks Ahead To 2019 Mauritanian Presidential Election

Having successfully taken on the verdict given by the Mauritanian regime, the recently liberated Haratin advocate Biram Dah Abeid has sets his sights on leading it after the 2019 Presidential election. Seen as a strong advocate for equality in a country afflicted by rigid and longstanding oppression, his candidacy could be monumental for the prospects of Mauritania.

Below is an article published by Bawosophma News:

After a year and a half in prison, the Mauritanian anti-slavery activist was released, and he has now to prepare his candidacy for the presidential election in 2019.

Biram Dah Abeid had won when on May 17Mauritania's Supreme Court overturned the judgments that had sentenced him to two years in prison in January 2015 for "membership in an illegal organization, and unauthorized assembly and violence against security forces" . Upon his release, he promised impetuous militant Mauritanians "a struggle without credit against the racist and slave regime" of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. It says there is more slavery in Mauritania, even if its effects persist.

Born in the Senegal valley in 1965, Biram Dah Abeid descended from slaves of white Moors, Beidanes. He belongs to the group Haratins these black Mauritanians who make up 40% of the population but are confined to a status of second class citizens. Having studied both law and history followed by a government job gave him the tools to develop his thesis despite the abolition of slavery, and although many laws and three special courts are supposed to suppress, the numbered enslaved in Mauritania would remain 140,000 slaves a “world record".

In 2008, Biram Dah Abeid founded the Initiative for the resurgence of the abolitionist movement (IRA) and took immediate action. In 2011, he was imprisoned once, then released, and on April 27, 2012, burned public books of exegesis of the Maliki Islam, which is seen to legitimize slavery. He was again imprisoned and subsequently released.

This fight attracts him in 2013 for the institutions and European and American NGOs. Biram Dah Abeid awarded the UN Human Rights. He embraces the struggles of all the oppressed and humiliated within the country, honoring the memory of Haratin officers hanged under President Maaouya Ould Taya or taking up the case for black farmers in their land disputes with the richer Beidane landowners. Thus he was again arrested in a "caravan against property slavery" in Rosso in November 2014. After a year and a half in prison, he's free.

Biram Dah Abeid is a kind of Spartacus in inflamed verb, which earned him arriving second, with 8.7% of votes in the presidential election of June 2014, behind the head of state (81, 9%). But his straightforward remarks and books-burnings have alienated many supporters. It has thus fallen out with Boubacar Messaoud, founder of SOS Slaves. On leaving prison, he told Jeune Afrique that he was preparing for the presidential election of 2019, considering himself "the only force capable of competing with" power.

During his incarceration, his association had prepared the ground by supporting the miners, fishermen and dock workers protesting against a regime blamed for the economic gloom caused by iron prices drop. The IRA cut now seems to become a political party. The financial support from rich countries, motivated by the anti-slavery struggle of Biram Dah Abeid, could dry up facing his attempt to take power in a country where personal interests and governance are mixed in a formidable combination.

Photo courtesy of Bawosophma News