June 1st, 2012
01:05 PM ET

CNN iReporters send message to Mauritanian slaves: 'We're with you'

By John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee, CNN

(CNN) - Dozens of CNN iReporters recently uploaded videos of themselves telling escaped slaves in Mauritania that "we are with you" in the struggle for freedom. The videos follow a CNN project called "Slavery's Last Stronghold," which documented slavery in the West African country.

Mauritania was the last nation in the world to abolish the practice, and a UN representative estimates 10% to 20% of Mauritanians still live in a form of slavery.

The iReport videos came in from all over the world - and each began with the phrase "we are with you" in Hassaniya, the language spoken by a group of women who attend classes at a center for escaped slaves in Nouakchott, the capital. In the iReport videos, an African-American woman shared a few lines from a slave song her ancestors sang. School children in South Korea chanted "we are with you" in unison. A family gathered in a living room to record a video. Messages also came from Sri Lanka and Germany.

Watch a highlight reel of the clips at the top of this post, and please let us know what you think in the comments.

CNN plans to find a way to show the messages of hope to these women who escaped slavery. By including a phrase in the local language, iReporters ensured that the women who escaped slavery will understand their messages.

Here are two other updates on slavery in Mauritania, following the project:

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Rights group: 21 million now in forced labor
June 1st, 2012
09:58 AM ET

Rights group: 21 million now in forced labor

One of the world's leading workers' rights groups has revised upward its global estimate of the number of people working in forced labor.

Almost 21 million people are now in forced labor, according to the new study from the International Labour Organization.

That is up from a "minimum estimate" of 12.3 million in ILO's similar report in 2005 - but the group says the increase is down to better research methods rather than indicative of a trend.

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Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • The Facts