The De Facto Injustice

By Yekalo Ghebremicael, 21, who is studying Law at the Adi Keih College of Arts and Social Science. He lives in Asmara, Eritrea. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Among all the creatures of the world, only human beings are created in the image of God. So, man was the only creature that took the image of his creator. But,why God chose man to have his image? Why not to dolphins, crocodiles, and other living things. The reason is simply vivid, he adores him so much.

God also gave man the power and domain over all living things, the power to rule, dominate and control them as he commands. But, it is compelling to ask, can man do this to another human being? Once Gllen remarks that, man can’t do that because individuals possess powers of reason which are a reflection of God, moreover, they act in the world holding the same status as delegates or lieutenants of God. Thus, succinctly, man charging the issue of race, religion, nationality, or ethnicity can’t encroach, enslave, and disparage another human beings since the rank he and other human beings poses in the world are the same, they are ‘the lieutenants’.

Unfortunately, for thousands of years man had lost the way and strove to act as a Field Marshal of all and engaged himself in encroaching, enslaving, and demeaning other lieutenants. Slavery, various wars, lamentable excruciating religious and ethnic conflicts, were some of the conspicuous phenomena that shows man awful act in the previous centuries. Man seems to forget the evident fact that his rank is only lieutenant and can’t dominate the other lieutenants, in which by all odds deserve full enjoyment of their rights.

It was on Friday, 8 June 2018, that I read a very alarming and shocking news in the Guardian that slavery still persists in the face of the earth, not slave-like-situations but real-slavery. The vicious crime that I thought it was dead and documented in the books of history as one of the most heinous historical crimes, is still alive in northwestern part of the African continent, Mauritania.

In the face of this in 2015 the Global Slavery Index reported that there are still 43,000 slaves in Mauritania, which ranked the country at the peak level for having the highest proportion of people in slavery in the world. The issue of slavery in Mauritania is between the “Black Moors” or Haratine and the lighter-skinned “White” or Beydan, the slaves and the enslaver’s one, respectively.

The government of Mauritania more often than not contends that they bring the issue of slavery to an end before decades and praise itself for eradicating the practice, however, still de facto slavery persists and the Haratines continue to be the servants of the Beydan.

There is no any problem with rendering services to others, so long as it is done on will or as of employment with due regard to all rights of the servant, it is what we do for a living. But, the difficulty comes when someone compels another individual to work and render service for him without the individual’s consent, deprived of any emolument and by discounting the individual’s right. Which is not reasonable and just.

This is what still persists in Mauritania, individuals are forced to work on farms or in homes with no possibility of freedom, education or pay. Bruce Hall describe the situation of Haratians as remarkably severe. Haratians are lowered as less humans and insignificant peoples in which they have been unfairly and unjustly classified and exploited by the Beyadn. The Haratin lacks equal opportunity and privilege with his Beyadn counterparts rather he is compelled to see himself as a lesser class of human who is bound to be below the Beyaden.

According to Global Slavery Index in Mauritania the slaves and their descendants are the full property of their masters, thus they can be bought and sold, rented out and given away as gifts. Besides the women slaves are subject to sexual assault by their masters. This is utter injustice, prejudice, discrimination, oppression and racism which has to be tackled instantaneously.

So far, the argument has been that, Haratian has been the primary victim of slavery in Mauritania. The Haratian present situation is more dreadful and deplorable in all its facets, in which they lack civil, political, social, cultural, and economic justice.

Haratian, the lieutenants, by the mere fact of their existence they possess certain fundamental rights which are inviolable, inalienable and imprescriptible at any circumstances, which are commonly known as human rights. But, regrettably, the Haratian’s were denied still those fundamental rights upon and within their national societies.

The UDHR, adopted on 10 December 1948, and other international and regional instruments call for absolute equality and justice and they determinedly denounces all kinds of injustice. All those international and regional instruments daunt any kind of discrimination, they condemn slavery, and staunchly censure individuals who held other individuals as of a property. Besides, they guarantee individuals to exercise their rights without any formidable hurdles.

In order the concept of justice entirely to exist in one society elements like righteousness, equality and impartiality must appear in the very fabric of its legal order for all its citizens. Not only appear but they must be also applicable to all individuals irrespective of their differences. Nevertheless, hardly ever, law might appear fare, just, and objective in the code where it was written but there might be times where it could be unfair and unjust if its applicability fail to address certain issues or if its practical application lacks authoritativeness.

Once, Martin Luther King Jr. recorded that there is a network of mutuality and all individuals are tied in a single garment of destiny. For this reason, he emphatically asserted that he can’t sit idly in Atlanta because the injustice that took place in Birmingham would threaten the justice that was found in his part of the world and it wouldn’t portend nor herald a glad tidings to the whole world as well, so he categorically decided to play his part in aborting the injustice before it spread to his home town.

And the same applies here, due to the net of mutuality and owing to the patent fact that I, with the Mauritanians, share the same unsettled and turbulent continent and more prominently with the belief that all individuals are the lieutenants of God, I can’t vacuously stand in Eritrea and watch silently what is happening in Mauritania to the Haratine’s, at least as what King had done, I have to man up to abort the injustice that is caused to the Harratine’s and advocate for the deference of their rights and this essay competition is beyond an accurate platform to do so.

When I told one of my friends that I am going to write an essay about the issue of slavery in Mauritania within the context of Kings quote about injustice, he asked me quizzically, “Why would you bother about them, it is obvious that the ‘injustice’ that you call wouldn’t come to Eritrea, and did you find that the only option, you have plenty of options to write within that context?”

The point which my friend does not comprehend is that all individuals are created in the image of God and they deserve utmost respect for their rights under any circumstance. And with regard to the option, there are plenty of points to discourse from theoretical to practical basis, but the issue of slavery is so compelling in a way it is a vicious crime that could be inflicted to a man and it is a concern to the whole world as well.

Kings quote is denoting about a legal system with unfair and unjust structure, a system which lacks authoritativeness to accuse individuals who commit a heinous crime to others, a system which fail in its practical application to get rid of prejudice, discrimination, oppression, racism, and inequality which are key indicators for one undemocratic and unjust society and also pointers of political, social, cultural or economic injustice.

Farther, it seems an instant and swift call of time that you, me and the whole world to denounce and convict the wicked crime that is inflicted on the Haratians by rising various international instruments and the very nature of humanity. As a matter of fact we are living in 21th century, a century where the literate are more in number than the illiterate and a century where humanity is a concern for the whole world. Besides, we aren’t like our forefathers and we all have an honourable obligation to condemn slavery wherever we see it.

Thus, we have altogether to act to create a just and equal society, a society where individuals enjoy their imprescriptible rights and a society where there is full-fledged deference of humanity.  And we need to be decisive to raise our voice as higher as possible to shun injustice whenever we see it, for the reason that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and more importantly we individuals share the same unchallengeable and immutable rank, we are only lieutenants of God.

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