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Former Sudanese Slave Addresses Human Rights Issues

November 9, 2011

Human Rights Activist and United Nations Watch Freedom Award recipient Simon Deng described his harrowing and life-changing experience as a captured slave in northern Sudan as part of his effort to bring awareness to this international issue during a talk at Lasell Tuesday.

Deng, who was born in southern Sudan, was captured as a child during the aftermath of military raids on his small village and served as a domestic slave for a family for 3 ½ years before his escape.

During his talk on November 8, Deng described the harsh living conditions he faced as well as the events that have shaped Sudan, bringing attention to modern day slavery there.

"I was not allowed to have friends. My friends were my patience and my hope," said Deng, who eventually traveled to the U.S to become a citizen.

Today, Deng speaks to audiences across the U.S. and around the world to bring attention to these and other human rights issues.
On Tuesday, Deng explained the conflict between Northern and Southern Sudan describing how the government in Northern Sudan has imposed Islamic Law, despite the fact that much of Sudan is Christian. According to Deng, the northern Sudan government murdered 1.5 million Southern Sudanese people and took many of the children as slaves, forcing many Sudanese to become refugees in their own country.

Deng also spoke on his disappointment in national governments to intervene in the Sudanese conflict. He encouraged Lasell students to get involved to ensure genocide does not occur again and to learn about what is going on in the world, to make it a safer place for all.

"We live in a world that is coming together and becoming one," he said, "By inviting me here today, you have given me the change to be the voice of the voiceless."

Deng began a humanitarian aid mission in southern Sudan and Darfur in 2006, when he met with Sudanese officials. He also launched the Sudan Freedom Walk to call for an end to slavery in Sudan. The walk stretched from the U.N. in New York City to Washington, D.C. He repeated this walk in 2010 to raise awareness about southern Sudan's 2011 historic referendum on independence.

-Amanda Comeau


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