NPWJ congratulates IRA President Biram Dah Abeid for Winning UN Human Rights Prize

5 Dec, 2013 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 5 December 2013

Today, Mr. Biram Dah Abeid, President of the Mauritanian anti-slavery organisationInitiative pour la Résurgence du mouvement Abolitionniste (IRA), was formally named winner of the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize. This prize, awarded every five years, was created in 1966 to honour and commend people and organizations who have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights. This year, the award ceremony will take place at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday 10 December 2013, on the occasion of the annually celebrated Human Rights Day.

No Peace Without Justice warmly congratulates Mr. Biram Dah Abeid for winning this prestigious award, which demonstrates the UN support to the struggle of IRA and its President for the abolition of slavery in Mauritania – a practice that particularly targets the Haratines, the largest minority group of the country.

Below is the letter addressed to Mr. Biram Abeid and written by Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

Dear Biram,
I wanted to write to you as soon as I heard that you were awarded the prestigious 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize.

As one of the main Mauritanian human rights defenders and Human Rights activist, you fully deserve this prize, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 to recognise the outstanding achievements in human rights by exceptional individuals and organisations. Your personal struggle against slavery and the activities of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania (IRA) merit this important recognition. Your work advocating for the rights of the Haratines – the largest minority group in Mauritania, yet the most politically and economically marginalised as a result of centuries of enslavement by the dominant Arab-Berbers is essential to advance the cause of a democratic and multi-ethnic Mauritania. 

I am honoured, on behalf of No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) to have the privilege to call you a friend, and a comrade of the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty, with whom we have worked closely in recent years in support of your actions against slavery in Mauritania.

You have been often targeted by the Mauritanian authorities because of your work and criticism of the lack of efforts by the government to end slavery and trafficking. In the past few years, you have been arrested and detained several times, in many occasions for several months. Yet, despite the constant harassment and threat of arrest, you have sworn to continue the struggle until slavery is finally eliminated in Mauritania.

Your courage and bravery in ending slavery are a lifelong involvement, and I am delighted that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has recognised it awarding you with the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Prize.

With my warmest regards
Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca
No Peace Without Justice