The Risk of Exaggeration
Facing Responsibility
Local Settlements
"Should we call it slavery? Yes, because there is slavery in Sudan, by any definition. Also, Sudanese people know exactly what slavery is, from their own history. It is just that many do not want to come to terms with it. To call it anything else would lift the pressure on the government to cooperate in ending the practice." 
(Sudanese Lawyer - Asma Abdel-Halim) 

The Sudan Government is guilty of enough crimes for its critics not to need to exaggerate or distort its record.

Unfortunately this is precisely what some of its opponents are doing in the slavery debate. There is a danger that wrangling over slavery can become a fatal distraction from abuses which are actually part of government policy - which slavery is emphatically not. 

Unless properly understood, the issue can become a tool for indiscriminate and wholly undeserved prejudice against Arabs and Muslims. Its misrepresentation is a gift to the Bashir-Turabi regime in its search for solidarity abroad. Top

An individual who is captured may subsequently become a hostage, or a forced labourer, or a slave, depending on a variety of local circumstances. 

The criteria of "ownership" and "sale" which define an act of slavery are met in some, but by no means all cases. To call all captives "slaves" is to cry "Wolf!" and risk destroying the credibility of the human rights lobby. 

It is not practical to attempt to isolate simply those cases which strictly adhere to the definition of slavery, and the whole cluster of related abuses obviously needs to be addressed as a whole. Top

Yes, there is slavery in Sudan, and it is a crime. But the issue is a slippery one: slavery slides off into issues such as hostage-taking. The government is - largely - turning a blind eye rather than actually promoting the practice. 

Meanwhile, the real crime of the Sudan Government - its vast and brutal programme aimed at the social dismemberment of traditional societies and the political subjugation of those who survive the onslaught - is too readily overlooked. Top