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Biram Dah Abeid, Leader of the anti-slavery fight in Mauritania
Feb. 21, 2017

On slavery in Mauritania:
  • “I, a regular visitor of the hellish and life threatening jails of my country where on many occasions I was subjected to bullying and banished to the desert. . . I was born a pariah as an involuntary legacy of my forbears. . .”
  • “I am fighting for a Mauritania without outcasts; one which is respectful of its citizens.”
  • “My father was freed while still in his mother’s womb. . . Later, his first wife and children were sold off. . . Fetuses, children and adults are all caught up in the mores of a system in which children’s identity is passed on through the mothers and they are doomed to be objects.”
  • “We are imprisoned, ill-treated and beaten. Moreover, we are forbidden to engage in a profession . . . We are demonized by the government. We are deprived of constitutional rights, like freedom of expression and freedom of association.”
On being imprisoned and tortured:
  • “On November 11, 2014, I was imprisoned for the third consecutive time as an activist. . . the cause . . . was my sympathy for a protest march . . . [which] led to my arrest, torture, banishment. I was denied medical care. . . We were sent far away from our natural and lawful judges, from our families . . .”
  • “When I was imprisoned, the cynicism of my jailers led them to listen to, and see, the most grievous attacks against me and my friends. To add insult to injury, my family and loved ones were forced to look on without the right to turn way. . . Since this incident in April 2012, I am being nourished by instinct, the courage of people who in the past have fought and resisted against ignominy. . .”

At UN Opening Event, Feb. 20, 2017:

  • “Our government over the past decade has distinguished itself through its show of imprisonment of peaceful dissidents because of their commitment to legality and against discrimination.”
  • “We are looking for a Mauritania that doesn’t exist that will be free of this treatment [slavery].”
  • “My father was freed when he was still but a fetus and he was married, but his wife was a slave and was sold away and this gives you an idea of the trade that goes on with human beings, even with fetuses, with children. . . “
  • “I am fighting against slavery and the social consequences. I have lived . . . since my young years . . . with slaves. I have been a witness of . . . this forced inferiority. I am working for the self-determination of my black brothers and sisters and I am trying to free their desire for a free life.”