CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been torn apart by civil war for more than a decade. A military coup that toppled the government in 1989 led to even more bloodshed. An estimated 1 and a half million people have been killed since.
In March of this year, elections were held for the parliament and the presidency, but the killing continues. There are two warring sides in this all but obscure conflict. On one side the government made up of mainly Islamic Arabs rules from the Northern capital of Khartoum and wants to impose Islamic rule on the entire country: On the other side, the non-Arab Christian and Animus tribes in the South, fighting against that.
The U.S. Government includes Sudan on its list of nations that report and harbor terrorists. Also for years, the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and various international humanitarian organizations have reported human rights violations by both sides in the conflict.
They have also charged the Sudanese army and others connected to it with ignoring slave trafficking. Dr. Kevin Vigilante, a human rights activist, traveled to Sudan last year with a delegation looking into human rights violations. Using a hidden video camera, he conducted interviews with children who said they had been abducted and sold into slavery. The children told him of being tortured by their slave owners.
This young girl said she has a disfiguring scar after being branded on her thigh. This boy showed where his owner would cut the Achilles tendons of other children so they couldn't run away. Dr. Vigilante also discovered a military camp where he said 228 abducted Christian children had been taken. He said they were being forced to convert to Islam and prepare for battle as child slave soldiers. Independent Television News acquired this footage of a similar camp.
More allegations of slavery were reported in a three part series published in the Baltimore Sun this past June. It was the work of two journalists, Gregory Kane and Gilbert Lewthwaite, who spent a total of seven days investigating allegations of slavery in Sudan.
As a part of their investigation, they purchased two half brothers who they said had been held as slaves for six years. The young boys were then reunited with their family. For its part, the Sudanese government has issued vigorous denials about allegations of slavery.