For the world to notice the war of oppression...


July 22, 1996

IT IS TIME for the world to notice the war of oppression and extinction that the government of Sudan is waging against the peoples of the south of Sudan.

This is not just to crush a rebellion that resists the clamping of sharia, or a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law, on people who are Christian or animist as well as darker-hued than the rulers in Khartoum. The enslavement and trade in human beings, as a form of payment to militia to raid the south, is one tactic in this war.

The Sun's reporter Gilbert Lewthwaite and columnist Gregory Kane wrote vividly in June on purchasing freedom for two boys who had been kidnapped and enslaved for six years. They reported the words of other former slaves. These articles left no doubt.

The NAACP and Congressional Black Caucus have called for stronger sanctions to force the government of Sudan to end slavery. That regime, which says it forbids slavery, has defensively announced its own investigation and invited human rights monitors to visit. Those who did in the past were under heavy supervision in areas controlled by the government and, needless to say, found no slavery.

Now Louis Farrakhan, minister of the Nation of Islam, has responded. He called for Christian and Muslim leaders and journalists to visit Sudan to "verify" the account. "The Baltimore Sun is not a news source I should accept as gospel," he told an interviewer from his movement's own publication, the Final Call.

It was Mr. Farrakhan's March 14 challenge that Mr. Kane and Mr. Lewthwaite answered. "If slavery exists, why don't you go as a member of the press, and you look inside Sudan, and if you find it, then you come back and tell the American people what you found?" They did. So now he wants someone else to verify it.

The government of Sudan is a revolutionary regime allied to Iran. The spiritual leader widely considered the true ruler is Hassan al-Turabi, while the nominal chief of state is Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir. Minister Farrakhan refuses to be embarrassed by his support of them, or theirs of him.

Mr. Kane and Mr. Lewthwaite paid $500 each, in lieu of five cows, to purchase the freedom of Garang Deng Kuot, 10, and Akok Deng Kuot, 12. If Mr. Farrakhan wants to send emissaries who will find no such thing, that is what they will find. But at least he is taking notice.

Pub Date: 7/22/96

Taking notice of Sudan slavery; Farrakhan's response: Asked to be shown, was shown, asks to be shown again.

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