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West African nation Mauritania jailed and tortured Anti-slavery Activists, says Campaigner

Slavery is a historical practice in Mauritania, which became the last country worldwide to legally abolish it in 1981

Anti-slavery activists
Mauritanian anti-slavery protesters march to demand the liberation of imprisoned abolitionist leader Biram Dah Abeid in Nouakchott, May 26, 2012. VOA

DAKAR, Oct 02, 2016: Mauritanian anti-slavery activists jailed last month have been tortured in detention and transferred to a remote desert location in an “intensification of repression” by the state, a leading campaigner said.

The West African nation in August jailed 13 members of the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) for up to 15 years for their role in June protests by residents of a slum in the capital Nouakchott, many of whom are former slaves.

Slavery is a historical practice in Mauritania, which became the last country worldwide to legally abolish it in 1981.

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Today some 43,000 people — or at least one percent of the population — live as slaves, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. Yet other estimates put the number as high as 20 percent in a country that is a focus of activism by the modern anti-slavery movement.

The 13 activists have been tortured and were this week moved to the desert north where they are cut off from their families, doctors, and lawyers, according to members of the IRA in the northern town of Zouerate who were informed of the relocation.

Mauritanian government officials did not respond for requests to comment.

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“This intensification of repression is equal to the intensification of the fight [against slavery],” Biram Dah Abeid, head of the IRA and an opposition politician, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dakar, Senegal.

anti-slavery activists
Mauritanian Politician and Advocate for the Abolition of Slavery, Biram Dah Abeid (right in the photo,in beige suit). Wikimedia

“Our colleagues suffered physical and psychological harm,” he said, adding that people cannot even visit the prisoners’ families for fear of being watched by the government.

The activists said they were not present at the protests and that the trial was an attempt by the state to discredit the IRA.

Anti-Slavery International called the sentences a “devastating blow” to the Mauritanian anti-slavery movement.

A European Union delegation said last month it was concerned by “credible allegations” of torture and violations of legal procedures in the case against the activists, and urged the Mauritanian authorities to investigate.

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The Haratin, who make up Mauritania’s main “slave caste,” are descended from black African ethnic groups along the Senegal river. They often work as cattle herders and domestic servants.

The West African nation criminalised slavery in 2007 and a new law passed last year makes the offence a crime against humanity and doubles the prison term for offenders to 20 years.

The jailing of two slave-owners in May and the release of Abeid and activist Brahim Bilal, who had been in prison for 18 months after taking part in an anti-slavery march, were hailed as a turning point in the fight to end the practice.

But Abeid, who has been jailed several times and came a distant second in a 2014 presidential election, said the moves were merely “an illusion” of progress. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)