Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lawyers in Sudan's Darfur region are investigating reports of slavery during the conflict

Joseph Winter:

"There are many cases of abductions," a Sudanese lawyer told the BBC.

They are too afraid of possible reprisals from either militias or state security agents to give their names but say there is strong evidence.

"It is happening but on a smaller scale than in the south," one Sudanese human rights worker said. Some 11,000 people were enslaved in the north-south war.

Arab pro-government "Murahaleen" militias rode their horses into southern villages, killing men, raping women, looting anything they found and burning the huts.

The Darfur conflict broke out just as the war in the south was coming to an end and eyewitness reports bear a striking similarity of atrocities committed by the militias, known in Darfur as the Janjaweed.

One of the worst affected parts of south Sudan was Bahr al-Ghazal - just south of the border with the largely Arab north and not far from South Darfur.

Sudanese human rights workers say some members of the Arab Rezeigat community have been in both the Janjaweed and the Murahaleen but most of the Janjaweed are from different Arab tribes.

Sudan's veteran anti-slave campaigner James Aguer, however, says they are exactly the same groups, just with a different name.

Slavery Continues Still Today

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