24 November 2000
On 20 November, the day after US Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice's arrival in Marial Bai to meet with victims of slavery, the armed forces of the Government of Sudan executed seven black African school boys following a mid-morning slave raid on the nearby Guong Nowh Community Elementary School, according to Simon Wol, the Civil Commissioner of Aweil West County. Government soldiers also enslaved 24 other children, including six girls. Two boys who escaped from their captors "Abraham Malong Chan and Dut Uchala Mel" reported witnessing the execution of their friends, Santino Ngor Kuel, Peter Manyok Deng, Kuac Deng Kuac. The two escapees reported that soldiers shot the three boys in the head to instil fear and obedience in the other children. All the children were forced to watch the killings. Local people subsequently found the discarded bodies of four other captured boys who had been similarly murdered.
The raid on the Guong Nowh School was reportedly undertaken by an approximately 600-strong unit of Government troops belonging to the Popular Defence Forces (PDF). The unit left their garrison at Aweil Town on 18 November with a view to raiding for slaves and cattle on the west side of the Chel River. High waters, however, prevented them from crossing the river. Following the attack, the Government troops retreated to the garrison at Wedweil on the Khartoum-Wau railway line.
This month, President Omer Bashir signaled the beginning of a new season of slave raiding, when he urged 12,000 PDF troops at a mobilization rally in the western town of Nyala to continue the jihad in Southern Sudan. (AFP, Khartoum, 17 November 2000)
Commissioner Wol issued a statement to CSI on 23 November, calling on UN Secretary General Kofi Anan to break his silence on slavery in Sudan and to demand that the Sudanese Government immediately return slaves to their homes and prosecute those responsible for these grave criminal acts against the civil population.
Slavery is defined as a crime against humanity in international law. The current UN Special Rapporteur on Sudan, Leonardo Franco, and his predecessor, Dr. Gaspar Biro, have condemned the Government's PDF troops for playing a central role in the revived Sudanese slave trade. CSI estimates that over 100,000 black African women and children have been enslaved since 1983 by the armed forces and allied militias of the Arab-dominated Government of Sudan.