August 18, 2022

Solidarity with Abdellahi and Moussa

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From Freedom United

Yesterday marked 365 long, brutal days since our friends Moussa Bilal Biram and Abdellahi Matalla Saleck were transferred to a remote and unsafe region of Mauritania – to a prison well-known for housing violent death row inmates – called Bir Moghrein.

Today, on International Human Solidarity Day, we take a moment to think about what these men are enduring to help end modern slavery. We remember our responsibility to stand up for those whose voices are suppressed. And today, we urge you to call on Mauritania to deliver justice for anti-slavery activists Moussa and Abdellahi.

These men are being persecuted simply for speaking out against modern slavery. They are leading members of the Mauritanian anti-slavery organization the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and have been convicted of, among other charges, incitement of riots and violent rebellion against the government. However, no evidence of these crimes was provided at trial.[1]

Since IRA-Mauritania was founded in 2008, the Mauritanian government has refused to legitimize the group’s work to end slavery and regularly arrests its members. Moussa and Abdellahi have reportedly been tortured during their detainment and have injuries consistent with being bound in painful positions for hours at a time.[2]

We are calling on Mauritania to immediately relocate Moussa and Abdellahi to a prison in the capital city Nouakchott.

But relocating Moussa and Abdellahi to Nouakchott is just a first step on the path to justice for these men. They are innocent of these bogus crimes and their detainment, especially to a region like Bir Moghrein where visiting is impossible, is completely unwarranted. While awaiting their Supreme Court hearing – the body with the power to order their unconditional release – Abdellahi and Moussa must have access to healthcare, their lawyers and loved ones. We ultimately want to see Abdellahi and Moussa fully exonerated and released.

In 2005, the United Nations established December 20 as International Human Solidarity Day, identifying solidarity – unity of feeling or action – as a fundamental value necessary to affect social change today because “those who suffer or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most.”[3] That’s why it’s important now that you stand up for Moussa and Abdellahi and get them relocated while awaiting their Supreme Court hearing.

This isn’t the first time that the Mauritanian government has tried to silence anti-slavery activists. In 2014, many of you supported our campaign for the release of IRA President, anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid. Nearly 400,000 Freedom United supporters like you took part and our support and pressure to revisit his case made a huge impact! Mauritania’s Supreme Court ruled in Biram’s favor in May 2016 and he was freed.[4]

Today we ask you to join us in solidarity and call for Moussa and Abdellahi’s safety and freedom.

Standing with Moussa and Abdellahi,

Joanna and the Freedom United Team

P.S. We have developed this campaign with several partners across the world. Click to find out about the organizations joining us.

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