Human Rights Action
The Baltimore Sun incident raises as many questions as it answers. Why did Minister Farrakhan's remarks prompt an investigation? Is the intention to discredit Farrakhan or to attract sympathy and understanding for people in Sudan?
When Baltimore Sun journalists "bought" a "slave" in the small town of Manyiel, in northern Bahr al-Ghazal, they were inside an area controlled by the rebel SPLA - which has taken a strong stand against slavery and has particular- ly welcomed the stance adopted by Christian Solidarity International. Top
Would the SPLA permit a real slave market to exist on the territory it controls?
The "seller" was not auctioning the children to the highest bidder: he was returning them to the families from whom they had been taken. These families were destitute and could not raise more than a very small sum of money.
A profit-hungry broker would have looked elsewhere forwealthy buyers. The "slave-trader" they portray is more accurately a go- between, a representative in a prearranged settlement. Top
One western observer who takes a pro-Sudan government line is right-wing libertarian David Hoile, who formerly promoted the public images of Renamo in Mozambique and Inkatha in apartheid-era South Africa.
In an "Open letter to Baroness Cox and Christian Solidarity International" David Hoile emphasises instead the abuses - including abductions and forced labour - carried out by the SPLA. He lays the blame for slavery on the former civilian government of Sadiq al-Mahdi, and overlooks the mass of evidence of complicity by the National Islamic Front. Top
He attacks Christian Solidarity International, whose evidence does not seem to prove its claim that the government actually organ- ises raids for the purpose of enslavement, using this premise to conclude that the government is working hard to free slaves and is entirely innocent.
Although his personal view was published by the London-based Sudan Foundation,
which is independent but sympathetic to the government, Mr Hoile also worked
for Westminster Associates, contracted in 1996 to improve Sudan's international
public image. [He now heads the equally pro-NIF "British-Sudanese Public
Affairs Council" and "European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council"] Top