Repeated actions against slavery critics in Mauritania

The six imprisoned human rights activists must be set free (Press Release)

Balla Touré, spokesperson of the anti-slavery organisation IRA, is on of the six arrested critics, who were arrested.

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) calls for the release of six human rights activists of the anti-slavery organization IRA who were arrested in Mauritania last week. “The Mauritanian police is once again trying to silence human rights activists and criminalize slavery critics,” said Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Africa consultant, in Göttingen on Monday. “In Mauritania, it is dangerous to advocate for human rights, although the country is trying to give the impression of being a constitutional state.”

The authorities justified their harsh actions by stating that the human rights activists had allegedly been involved in protests by slum dwellers. On June 29, former slaves (Haratin) who have been living in a slum on the outskirts of Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott for 20 years, had protested against their imminent forced relocation. They are supposed to be gone before the Arab Union Summit in July, so that the guests from abroad can be shown an immaculate cityscape. The IRA was also blamed for the partly violent protests. The state media had launched a campaign, calling the organization “subversive” and “a threat to national security” on state television as. Shortly after, the police carried out raids against the IRA-leaders. Among the arrested IRA-members are Vice President Amadou Tidjane Diop, the spokesman Balla Touré, and Abdellahi Matalla Seck, the IRA-representative of the capital’s suburb.

Recently, on May 17, 2016, the Supreme Court of Mauritania had rebuked the country’s law enforcement agencies and ordered the immediate release of IRA-president Biram Dah Abeid and his deputy Brahim Ramdhane, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for being involved in an anti-slavery demonstration. They had served 18 months of their sentence. Last Thursday, the US State Department honored the two activists with a prize, calling them “heroes in the struggle against human trafficking”.

Despite the several international awards, the Mauritanian authorities have been refusing to recognize the IRA as a non-governmental organization (NGO) for the past six years. In 2011, Biram Dah Abeid received the Weimar Human Rights Award, following a proposal by the STP.

Header Photo: Alakhbar