Sudan's Slaves
By Michael Coren
Sun Media | November 25, 2003
Women and children abducted in slave raids are roped by the neck or strapped to animals and then marched north. Along the way, many women and girls are repeatedly gang-raped. Children who will not be silent are shot on the spot. In the north, slaves are either kept by individual militia soldiers or sold in markets. Boys work as livestock herders, forced to sleep with the animals they care for.
"Some who try to escape have their Achilles tendons cut to hamper their ability to run. Masters typically use women and girls as domestics and concubines, cleaning by day and serving the master sexually by night. Survivors report being called "Abeed" (black slave), enduring daily beatings, and receiving awful food. Masters also strip slaves of their religious and cultural identities, giving them Arabic names and forcing them to pray as Muslims."
Thus says one leading slavery abolitionist group. A former slave writes of "the rape of girls and boys alike, the forced circumcision of boys and girls, often with them fully conscious and screaming and having to be held down by many people. Sodomy and sadistic torture are common. Living hell."
Another says. "Families were broken up, with children sometimes murdered in front of their mothers as a warning and because they were too much trouble. We cried out to the West, to the countries who said they believed in human rights, but they were indifferent to our agony."
Thank goodness, of course, that this is the stuff of a dark history that can now be comfortably condemned in the privilege of a civilized and complacent modernity. Oh, what awful times they were.
Problem is, it's not some description of the ancient world or an example of the worst excesses of American slavery in the early 19th century. No, it's happening right now, and some of those who have escaped this evil have found sanctuary in Canada. They are willing to tell their stories,
if anyone will listen.
This is the reality of Sudan, a country with which Ottawa has good relations and a nation that is accepted in every major international organization, where it regularly votes to condemn liberal democracies. Because it possesses oil, many foreign governments who scream freedom
seem to become deaf and dumb about the obscenity of slavery.
There has been a civil war going on in Sudan for years, and after years of pain and struggle a peace treaty has been signed between the Islamic government in Khartoum and the black, largely Christian groups in the south. A referendum has been guaranteed to decide whether the south wants independence.
The "yes" vote would be almost unanimous, but the Arab rulers in the north have enforced a waiting period of several years until this plebiscite can take place.
One can only imagine what they will try to do in the time they have left.
They are backed by many Muslim groups and governments the world over and even have supporters in Canada. Major newspapers have featured articles denying that slavery exists in Sudan. It is almost akin to Holocaust denial in its vile spirit. Then again, several Muslim states bathe in those stagnant and infected waters these days.
This horror has taken place for two major reasons. The people of southern Sudan are black, and they are not Muslim. At a time when we hear so much about Islam's treatment by the world, we ought to consider that one of the greatest crimes of this generation has been committed by a Muslim fundamentalist government and army against a black and Christian people who want only their dignity.
In fact, millions have been enslaved, murdered, mutilated and abused in this campaign, far more than have suffered in, for example, what are known as the Occupied Territories in Israel. Odd, then, that so much media time is given to that situation, so little to this.
The world ought to look closely at what takes place in Sudan in the months and years to come. There are very powerful and very bad people who will resist ceaselessly the creation of a separate African and largely Christian state on the edge of the House of Islam.
Let us hope the world does not play the role of hypocrite once again. The stench of the blood is becoming overwhelming.
****Michael Coren is a Toronto-based writer and broadcaster. He can be emailed at and his web site is