Mauritania Arrests Anti-Slavery Protestors
In response to police in Nouakchott, Mauritania, beating and then arresting peaceful protestors on July 30, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"While freedom of assembly and expression are guaranteed by Mauritania’s Constitution, authorities have repeatedly trampled those fundamental rights, especially when faced by activists protesting the widespread practice of slavery in the country," said Robert Herman, vice president for regional programs. "Freedom House calls for the unconditional release of the 22 arrested protestors, and urges the government of Mauritania to respect citizens’ right to peacefully demonstrate."
More than 100 demonstrators took to the streets July 30 to demand the release from custody of Biram dah Abeid and Brahim Ould Bilal, president and vice president of anti-slavery organization l'Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste (IRA). In January, they were sentenced two years imprisonment for staging a public awareness campaign against the practice of slavery in southern Mauritania. Abeid and Bilal were transferred to a remote prison, in Aleg. A third activist, Djiby Sow, president of the anti-slavery organization Kawtal, was also imprisoned but released in June due to health problems.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.