Mauritanian Anti-Slavery Leader Biram dah Abeid Released from Prison

After 5-months of detention, one of the great human rights heroes of our time, whose case and cause has been taken up by the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), has been released from his unjust and unlawful imprisonment in Mauritania.

Biram dah Abeid is a leader of the international anti-slavery movement and founder and president of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA-Mauritania), an organization that has fought for the freedom of countless men, women and children in a country that remains one of the world’s only bastions of slavery. For being a courageous human rights defender, Biram has been routinely subject to persistent persecution and prosecution.

In August 2018, Biram was imprisoned on an “order from above” intended not only to silence him and criminalize his freedom of expression, but to prohibit his participation in the September parliamentary elections, in which Biram was running as an anti-slavery, opposition candidate. Despite Mauritanian authorities’ attempts to deprive him and the Mauritanian people of their democratic liberties, Biram was elected to Parliament from his prison cell this September.

Now, following his illegal detention and ascension to Parliament, thanks to those who raised their voices and did not relent, Biram has been released from prison. Following his release, in an interview with Africa News where he discussed his future as a parliamentarian, Biram defiantly proclaimed: “I will do everything possible to demonstrate that slavery, racism and torture are set up as a system of management by a small entity around a very corrupt head of state.” Biram has since declared himself a presidential candidate in the June 2019 elections.

As we welcome Biram’s release and applaud his heroism and commitment to justice, we must join him and Mauritanian people in unmasking the duplicity and criminality of a regime which purports to, but has not yet, abolished slavery.

For an Op-Ed written by RWCHR Chair and Founder and Executive Director, Irwin Cotler and Judith Abitan: click here

A photo taken on the occasion of the celebration of the 375th anniversary of Montreal as a “Rights City” in May, 2017, where Biram was invited by the RWCHR to join as a keynote speaker. From left to right: Romeo Dallaire, Biram dah Abeid and RWCHR Chair and Founder Irwin Cotler.

A photo taken on the occasion of the celebration of the 375th anniversary of Montreal as a “Rights City” in May, 2017, where Biram was invited by the RWCHR to join as a keynote speaker. From left to right: Romeo Dallaire, Biram dah Abeid and RWCHR Chair and Founder Irwin Cotler.