May 3rd, 2013
04:00 AM ET

Mauritanian anti-slavery activist wins human rights award

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - A Mauritanian anti-slavery activist, Biram Dah Abeid, will be honored on Friday by the human rights group Front Line Defenders. Abeid, who is the head of a group called IRA Mauritania, was featured last year in the CNN documentary "Slavery's last stronghold." Mauritania, a desert country in West Africa, was the last country to abolish slavery; and an estimated 10% to 20% of its population lives in some form of slavery, according to Gulnara Shahinian, the UN's special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

The Mauritanian government has denied slavery's existence in the country but does operate a program for formerly enslaved people.

Abeid was selected from 100 nominees in 40 countries, according to Front Line Defenders. The award, given to "human right defenders at risk," will be presented at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, and will be given by Irish President Michael Higgins.

"Biram Dah Abeid has been threatened, defamed and harassed because of his work defending human rights and against slavery in Mauritania," the group says in a press release. "He has been arrested and ill-treated on several occasions and in April 2012 he was 'disappeared' for several weeks into a secret, high-security government facility, without being able to contact his family and without any legal assistance. It is believed he would have been killed but for the international outcry. He was released in September 2012 but has chosen to continue his work inside Mauritania.

"Despite the constant harassment and threat of arrest Biram has sworn to continue the struggle until slavery is finally eliminated in Mauritania."

His 2012 detention followed a demonstration in which Abeid reportedly burned religious texts that condone slavery.

Front Line Defenders produced a YouTube video with more information about Dah Abeid's work in Mauritania.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. philip Ernyam

    That nice

    May 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  2. philip Ernyam

    but it is not good to violent the fundamental human right

    May 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  3. Choice

    Slavery is very bad cos we all are humans.

    May 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  4. Akinjol mayo

    Slavery is nt good at all. Anti-slavery keep ur work tight!

    June 15, 2013 at 2:23 am | Reply
  5. Joseph boima-freetown

    All slave abolitionists should be honoured and compensiated especially those who suffered in sierra leone like the sengbeh pieh family

    June 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Reply
  6. Koumba Sy

    In Nouackchott and even in the small villages, little children, the so called Talebin children of the coranic school are obliges to beg. All over the city between dangerous traffic you see them. It's against the human rights and against the children rights. My heart is filled with pain for all of these children. They are slaves of their coran teacher.

    September 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply

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