This continues my translation of a three-part French-language documentary on slavery in Mauritania. (Part 1 translated here, part 3 here.)
0:01: Narrator: "Slavery was abolished in Mauritania three times. In 1905, during French colonization, in 1960, as part of its Independance, and in 1980, under military power; but without real application. Now once again, with the recent democritization of the country, the public has re-engaged in eradicating slavery. In 2007, they promulgate a new law: 'whomsoever reduces another into slavery will be punished with imprisonment for 5 to 10 years'. But this was written, it is said, for the sake of the international community. For to criminalize slavery, first it must be recognized. This is not the case."
1:00: Narrator: "Nouakchott, the National Assembly. For the ruling class the word 'slavery' is taboo. Surprising? Not really. The body is essentially composed of former masters.
1:15: Politician #1: "I don't think there are any slaves in Mauritania, no slavery. There are after-effects of slavery."
1:23: Reporter (off-camera): "Does slavery still exist, or not?"
Politician #2: "No, slavery does not exist..."
Reporter: "Yet, you make laws criminalizing slavery?"
Politician #2: "Yes, for those who would be tempted to fall back on old reflexes."
1:41: Politican #3: "This law was demanded by national considerations. This is a demand that some have made, I don't know why, but it was done and it was accepted, to silence their tongues. To shut up those who wish harm on Mauritania. In Mauritania there are no slaves. I defy anyone to prove to me one single case in Mauritania."
2:11: [Paraphrasing the narrator] The caravan halt for the night in an encampment. Here, out in the countryside, far from the capital, their mission is of no interest to anyone. They make light of it. Here, masters have full power over their slaves, especially the power to free them. All it takes is a enfranchisement document; one is brought to the rescue team. [3:07]
3:14: Amanitou: "This is her master's decision to give her her liberty. It's dated August 12 2000." Biram: "It is a personal paper from the master. Without any administrative witness." Aminitou: "It is the master that certifies, in his own handwriting, that he frees his slave at this date." Biram (to the former slave): "But you know that slavery has been abolished. Why do you need this paper?" Former slave: "People have told me that the law was not valid, that only my master's certificate was valid." Biram: "For you, this is a legal document?" [4:01] Former slave: "Yes, it is islamic law."
4:10: Biram: "Here, everyone sees slavery as a dogma of islamic religion. It is part of a quasi-religious submission to a master. There are slaves that say they cannot disobey their masters because if they do they will go to hell. God will punish them. They believe that in disobeying their master they are disobeying God. ... Islam is not pro-slavery, but islam is also not particularly anti-slavery. Islam does not de-legitimize slavery..."
5:00: [Paraphrasing narration] The caravan arrives at Mederdra, to see the prefect of police and obtain his authorization to rescue Bilal's sister.
5:31: A hidden camera records Biram's charges that local authorities are conniving with the master to block attempts at removing the sister. The police say they saw nothing suspicious: "who's to say that this is a case of slavery?" "Whoever says it's not a case of slavery is someone who did not want to make an honest inquiry. And is waiting to hear complaints that will never come, because of how common the crime of slavery is. The keeper of public law and order must initiate an inquiry himself, because he defends society, it is not about waiting for a person to arrive with a complaint." There are new charges that the master gives sheep as bribes to the authorities, to appease them, which is why he's not worried about the police. Eventually the prefect gives his word to resolve the matter.
8:21: Back on the road, and the rescue team arrives, finally, at the master's camp. They are now accompanied by the police officer. "Will he, this time, apply the law?", asks the narrator. The brother, Bilal, is sent to find where his sister might be. The others look around, asking for the master by name. They eventually drifting towards a shephard boy, who gives them general directions. "Has his slave come here today?", Biram asks him. "No, I haven't seen her", he replies.
10:41: Biram turns to the police official: "Commander, you see that there is a slave here!" The officer mumbles "Yes, yes, we will see", in reply, which causes Biram to laugh in spite of himself.
11:41: They find the tent they were looking for. The brother spots his sister inside the tent. From here on the police officer is decidedly uncomfortable, and tries to stall. The anti-slavery activists proceed on their mission, while he fidgets with his paperwork. "I'm not forcing anyone to leave", he says to them.
13:12: His sister makes her appearance. "I don't want to leave", she says over and over. "You're not a slave?" "No!" There's a very heated exchange between her and brother. The police officer intercedes, trying to calm everyone down. "If you're a slave you must go."
13:47: The sister: "I'm not a slave! I'm not a slave! I am free! I am a slave of allah! I am not leaving! The day has not yet arrived when I will leave with you!"
[Continued, and concluded, in part 3, here]