Thursday, July 18, 2002
Arab masters raping boy slaves
Sudanese: 'If you refuse [sex], sometimes they would shoot you'
By Mandi Steele
Adolescent boy slaves in southern Sudan report that their Arab masters routinely rape them, according to Freedom Now World News, which just returned from the embattled African nation.
In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily, Maria Sliwa, reporter for Freedom Now and sociologist, discussed the widespread abuse of Sudanese slaves by their Muslim captors.
Sliwa interviewed Denka chiefs, Arabs and former slaves while on a recent "fact-finding trip" in the slave regions of southern Sudan.
"The most marked thing that I noted was the admission of rape by a number of the young boys," she said.
Redeemed slave Deng Ayuel told Sliwa through a Denka translator, "I watched the Arabs rape my two sisters, and I watched many slave boys being raped as well. They would often take a girl or boy and do whatever they wanted with them sexually. I, too, was raped many times by my master and his Arab friends."
There have been previous reports of female slaves being gang raped in Sudan, but Sliwa discovered that many male captives were also being gang raped. She felt it was important to let others know in the hope that slavery in Sudan might eventually end.
"The more this information gets out, the better," she said.
"This type of sex is very strange to us," Deng Deng, another freed slave, testified. "Many times during rape, boys would cry so loudly that the Arabs would stuff rags in their mouths so they could not be heard. I witnessed this often. If you refuse [sex], sometimes they would shoot you." Deng Deng said he was beaten many times because he was a Christian and wouldn't convert to Islam.
The boys described their masters taking them to a "special place" right before a rape would occur, says Sliwa. As they were being taken to this place, the boys would try to escape but would be hunted down like animals, she explains.
The rebels of southern Sudan, a mostly Christian and animist region, are fighting for autonomy from the radical National Islamic Front regime, which aims to impose Islamic law on the entire country. Since 1983, about 2 million people have died from the fighting and war-related famine.
Sliwa described how the National Islamic Front takes slaves, saying, "Sometimes government soldiers attack a town. They want to make it into their town. They want to take it away from the civilians. … Then they take the women and children, and they kill a lot of the elderly."
Those taken are then tied up and forced to walk to "slave centers," says Sliwa, where they are auctioned off or traded to Arab masters. Both the Arabs that capture the civilians and the Arab masters are "quite brutal" to them, she says.
"Not in every single case, but in most cases, they're being victimized and raped by both the captors and the masters and the masters' Arab friends," Sliwa told WND.
Accompanying Christian Solidarity International, to various redemptions in southern Sudan, Sliwa learned how black Denka slaves are freed. Certain Arabs called "retrievers" work with the Denka and CSI to free some of those who have been taken captive. Sliwa says a while back the Denka told the Arab retrievers that to have use of the Denka land to water their cattle, they would have to help free some of the Denka slaves. These retrievers make their money through raising cattle, thus they agreed to help the Denka, she says.
"The retrievers are actually horrified, because they go into these Muslim towns and they see how these women and children are treated," said Sliwa.
"It's very rare for a Muslim to speak out against another Muslim … but these guys were speaking out against them."
From her interviews with Arab retrievers, Sliwa learned that sometimes the slaves have to be bought from their masters, and other times the slaves are so old and disabled that the masters simply give them away. If an Arab is having sex with a female slave, the wife may find out and take the slave to the retrievers herself, she adds.
"The way the wife usually finds out is the slave has an Arab baby," explained Sliwa.
The National Islamic Front has been threatening the Arab retrievers because the government doesn't want them to have anything to do with the Denka, Sliwa says.
"They don't want the Arabs and Denkas being friends," she told WND.
"Many of the freed male slaves come to the chiefs and tell us they were repeatedly raped by their Arab captors," Nhial Chan Nhial, paramount chief of Akon, said to Sliwa. "This affects their minds badly. They are subject to fits of crying, mental problems and are often unable to marry later on in life."
Sliwa is convinced that the International Criminal Tribunal needs to convict the Sudan government for their crimes against the black Africans of southern Sudan and that the U.S. government should investigate the rape and murder offenses being committed. The media outlets also have a responsibility to get the news of these crimes out to the rest of the world, she says.
While noting that there are human-rights groups and different church organizations working to help the people of Sudan, Sliwa said, "I think we can all do more."