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(en) Buying the freedom of slaves in Sudan - a critique

From Aaron <aaron@burn.ucsd.edu>
Date Wed, 4 Mar 1998 04:01:14 -0500
Cc misc-activism-progressive@moderators.uu.net, marxism-news@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Note: the following is a response to an article [included below] that I
received recently via the streetkid-l mailing list. But the points I am
making should be of interest to all concerned with the question of charity
vs social struggle.
 - Aaron

--------------- Begin Forwarded Message: ---------------
>Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 03:11:56 -0500
>To: streetkid-l@jbu.edu
>From: Aaron <aaron@burn.ucsd.edu>
>Subject: Re: SK-L: SDN: Buying the freedom of slaves in Sudan
>I just came across the post reproduced below among my thousands of unread
>e-mail messages. Because it provides such a clear example of what is wrong
>with non-political humanitarianism, I feel that it is worth commenting on.
>The criticism should be obvious: If you buy back kidnap victims from their
>(direct or indirect) kidnappers, you are making the business of kidnapping
>even more profitable!
>Of course, the individual child who is bought back (and that child's
>family) will benefit greatly. But how humane is it to benefit that child
>(and that family) if doing so means that two or three other children (and
>their families) will, as a result of the effort to save the first child,
>suffer the fate from which the latter has been rescued?
>Assuming the situation in the Sudan to be truthfully described in the
>article, I would suggest a couple of better ways to use that money to
>diminish the practice of enslaving these children:
>1) Give the money -- or arms and supplies bought with it -- to whatever
>force is fighting against the government and army that are committing
>these crimes.
>2) Pay a bounty for the killing or maiming of anyone involved in this
>horrific form of child abuse.
>But it may be a diversion anyway for an International -- and presumably
>Western-dominated -- Christian organization to be concentrating its
>efforts on the relatively small number -- thousands -- of children
>suffering at the hands of an Islamic government in Africa. Millions of
>children in Iraq are suffering -- and at least half a million have already
>died -- at the hands of the United States and the hundreds of millions of
>children throughout the world are dying or living in misery as a result of
>economic policies imposed by world imperialism! But the suggestions
>enumerated above still apply, mutatis mutandis, to these larger-scale
> - Solidarity,
> - Aaron
>---------------- Original post follows ---------------
>>From: DEBRA@OLN.comlink.apc.org (Debra Guzman)
>Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 13:03:00 +0100
>Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
>## author     : hmageed@SEAS.SMU.EDU
>## date       : 21.12.97
>[This article has been excerpted.]
>Buying the freedom of slaves in Sudan
>BAHR EL GHAZAL, Sudan, 20.12.97 (CNN): A global charity is
>fighting the internationally condemned slave trade in Sudan
>in its own way -- by buying the freedom of slaves and
>reuniting them, mostly boys and girls, with their families.
>Christian Solidarity International estimates...tens of
>thousands of children and adults have been snatched from
>their homes in the southern part of the African nation and
>brought to the north by suspected members of the northern
>government militia, known as the Popular Defense Force.
>The practice stems from the lengthy civil war between forces
>loyal to the government in the predominantly Arab-Muslim
>north, and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army in
>the mainly Christian and animist south.
>The conflict and related famine have killed an estimated 1.3
>million people since the mid-1980s, when the SPLA took up
>arms to end what they see as domination of southern Sudan by
>the north.
>The southerners are said to be seeking autonomy and an end
>to Islamic Sharia law.
>CSI has so far managed to buy the freedom of dozens of
>slaves for about $100 apiece or three cows per person, the
>organization said.
>Among those freed through CSI intervention was 13-year-old
>Akuac Malong, who was enslaved for six years and had
>despaired of ever seeing her home and family again. She was
>abducted from her village of Madhor, in the southern
>province of Bahr El Ghazal.
>Malong related a terrifying tale of beatings and circumcision.
>"The master said, 'If you are not circumcised, I will kill
>you, because you are still holding the ideas of your people
>and may try to escape back to them,'" the girl recalled.
>Other slaves who were rescued had similar tales.
>One CSI representative strongly criticized the Sudanese
>government in Khartoum.
>"The government is aiming to completely destroy the social
>fabric of the Dinka people in this area. They regard them as
>enemies, because they resist the forced Islamisation and
>forced Arabisation policies of the regime." John Ebner said.
>"I am horrified...the government in Khartoum have not any
>measures to end slavery," said Dinka lawyer Peter Nyot Kok.
>He has been supporting the cause of his people from abroad,
>but returned to witness the release of several former
>The Associated Press contributed to this report.
>--------------- End of Forwarded Message ---------------


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