End slavery in Mauritania - FreedomUnited.org

Power action against slavery in Mauritania

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Biram Dah Abeid is a leading anti-slavery activist in Mauritania, the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world1. The organization he founded, the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement2 has fought for the freedom of countless men, women and children.

Mauritania fully outlawed slavery in 2007 but has systematically failed to end it in practice, and descent-based slavery remains deeply entrenched in Mauritanian society—so entrenched that one activist reported that “[p]eople think that God created them to be slaves.”1

Arab-Berber people—who represent a minority of the population, but dominate politically and economically—have long enslaved Haratine people of sub-Saharan origin to tend to livestock and work in the home, and the practice continues to this day with ‘ownership’ passed down through families.2

By some estimates as much as 18% of the population is enslaved,3 enduring long days without pay along with traumatic physical and sexual violence as they are forced to do their masters’ bidding.

It has fallen to activists like Biram to fight for peoples’ freedom and they face regular harassment, even imprisonment in their campaigning. Members of the public protesting against their imprisonment have been met with police violence.4

Freedom United has been working with partners to build a huge wave of international pressure on the Mauritanian government to prioritize ending slavery and stop the harassment of anti-slavery activists. Our campaigning with our partner organizations in Mauritania and beyond has seen Biram released from detention. We rallied Freedom United supporters to:

  • send 233,544 messages to the Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Justice Minister Dia Moctar Malal
  • support our coalition letter to the Minister of Justice, Dia Moctar Malal, urging him to listen to our concerns and to give Abeid a fair trial
  • send 1,295 messages to the Mauritania Commissioner for Human Rights
  • back our partner’s statement urging the UN Secretary-General to press for Abeid’s release
  • make 694 calls to Mauritanian Embassies
  • direct 13,212 messages to members of the European Parliament
  • raise US$4,800 for an independent trial observer
  • send 4,768 messages to Biram in prison.

Freedom United also called for justice for Moussa Bilal Biram and Abdellahi Matalla Saleck. Two board members of Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, they were picked up in the capital Nouakchott during a crackdown on anti-slavery campaigning and held in a remote prison, 1,200km away in the Saharan desert, where they were unable to access legal advice or family support. Freedom United brought together a coalition of partner organizations to power up the call for justice and Moussa and Abdellahi were eventually released.

There is little political space in Mauritania to campaign for change to the long-standing discrimination that leaves some communities tied into descent-based slavery. By coming together we can make ending slavery a focus for international attention on Mauritania, supporting activists and creating the political will within the government to undertake meaningful change.

  • February 28, 2020: We’re renewing our call to end slavery in Mauritania and stop the harassment of anti-slavery protesters. 

  • December 31, 2018: After actions from over 233,549 members of the Freedom United community, Abeid is finally released from prison on New Year’s Eve. Read our field report here.

  • December 10, 2018: Freedom United backs a statement by our partners at The Abolition Institute urging the UN Secretary General to call for Abeid’s release

  • October 15, 2018: Freedom United delivers a letter in coalition with our partners to the Minister of Justice, Dia Moctar Malal, urging for the fair treatment of anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid

  • Nov 08, 2014: Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.


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Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Andrew (Andy) Alcock
4 years ago

In the 21st century, it is unacceptable for political leaders to allow slavery and violations against human rights to exist. Until Mauritania corrects these problems, it is totally unacceptable for it to be a member of the UN Human Rights Commission.

Dr. Ayo Maat
4 years ago

United in thought for freedom in Mauritania

2 years ago

I ant no judge Judy but 21 people out of one thousand is bonkers dude. I ant livin there. Nope.

john Bestevaar
3 years ago

Inequality of power is the basis of slavery. So only China can save the world from slavery.

4 years ago

Expulsar a Mauritania de la ONU, o de sus organismos principales…., hasta que no se elimine la esclavitud por completo y de verdad…..
Serà bueno proponer la creaciòn de asentamientos rurales autosuficientes, para que las poblaciones màs castigadas puedan hacer una nueva Vida….
El gobierno de Mauritania, puede apoyar estas iniciativas, y asì ayudar a cambiar el rumbo de su paìs….
Muchas Gracias!

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