A Christian human-rights group says it helped free 191 slaves captured during Sudanese government-sponsored raids against black villages in the primarily Christian and animist south.

The slaves, mostly women and children, had been forced to serve Arab masters living in the north of the country, which is under rule of a radical Islamist regime, said Switzerland-based Christian Solidarity International.

The group worked together with the Arab-Dinka Peace Committees at Warawar and Manger Ater this month to secure the release.

CSI’s practice of slave redemption — buying them back to set them free — is controversial among some who argue that while it obviously helps those who are released, it also fuels demand for the trade.

But John Eibner, CSI’s executive director in the U.S., told WorldNetDaily “the issue is largely gone away.”

“The area where most of the slaves have been taken for the past two years has been at peace,” he said. “There has been no systematic slave trading. If our redemption of slaves created a market, there would be more now than ever.”

He explained that the slave trade is largely a tactic of warfare by the Khartoum regime rather than an economic interest.

“There has been a peace initiative and the government feels it’s not in its interest to continue to sponsor the slave raids,” Eibner said.

Instead, Khartoum has turned its focus on the western region of Darfur, inhabited mostly by Muslims who do not support the radical regime.

Severe abuse

Interviews with the slaves confirmed a pattern of severe physical and psychological abuse, including female genital mutilation and rape, CSI said.

Some of the boys also reported being raped by their masters.

CSI wants the U.N. Security Council at its meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, which end today, to order the Khartoum government to halt all raids against communities and to emancipate, repatriate and compensate all enslaved women and children.

The group also urges the Security Council to impose an oil and arms embargo against the government and to establish an international tribunal prosecution for those responsible for slavery and related crimes against humanity in the country.

“The barbaric enslavement of women and children has been tolerated for far too long by the U.N. and individual member states including the United States,” said Eibner.

Eibner, who returned this week from Sudan, said, “Inaction or empty gestures will only lead to further erosion of the U.N.’s credibility as a guarantor of the most basic human rights.”

Sudan’s Arab Muslim regime has used raids and enslavement as a war against black communities that resist its policies of Arabization and Islamization.

The country’s cleric-backed National Islamic Front regime in the Arab and Muslim north declared a jihad on the mostly Christian and animist south in 1989. Since 1983, an estimated 2 million people have died from war and related famine and many millions more have become refugees. The Khartoum government denies slavery exists in Sudan.

In northern Bahr El Ghazal, the region most affected by slave raiding, community leaders estimate more than 200,000 women and children have been enslaved.

President Bush’s administration and both houses of Congress have described Khartoum’s rape, pillaging and slaughter of blacks as genocide.

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