Amnesty Letter-Writing this Sunday
The Amnesty International team at UCM has selected two international human rights cases for a letter-writing campaign this Sunday, Feb, 4th.
The first is about the persistence of defacto slavery on a large scale (70,000 to 700,000 people, depending on sources) in the West African country of Mauritania, just south of Morrocco. It was the last country in the world to officially declare slavery illegal, in 1980-81, but the practice has persisted in rural, illiterate areas where many slaves don’t know about their rights to leave their masters. It became a crime to buy and sell slaves only in 2007, but only two slave-owners have been successfully prosecuted with short jail terms, while anti-slavery activists have been imprisoned for longer periods for peaceful protests. Our letter to the President of Mauritania urges the government to free these protesters and support their demands for an anti-slavery education program and more active prosecution of slave-owners; there is also a letter to two imprisoned protesters held in jail in the capital city of Nouakchott.
The second letter brings to light the forced eviction of the indigenous Sengwer tribe families from their forest homelands in west Kenya by Kenya Forest Service guards, which is against the Kenya constitution. One Sengwer leader was fired at a month ago and over 50 huts were burned, and a journalist was shot and beaten last year for taking photos of forced displacement actions by the KFS. Our letter is to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya calling for an end to the evictions and to allow an Amnesty team to inspect the eviction areas and interview victims of this illegal government campaign.
Letters and pens will be set up in the hall for signing, with a donations jar for postage costs. Please join us following the service.