Monday, August 11, 2008

Freeing One Mauritanian Slave (4 of 4)

This concludes the three-part translation of the French documentary "Slave Hunters", on modern-day slavery in Mauritania. For the two preceding chapters, see part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Part 3:

Chasseurs d'esclaves_3/3
Uploaded by tchelsoo

0:01: The rescue team is trying to convince Bilal's enslaved sister that she is free to leave. The sister refuses: "Mr police officer I wish to press charges against my brother."

The brother is yelling now: "You are a slave!"

The sister answers, "Bring me witnesses."

"Since when is there a need for witnesses to prove servitude?"

0:43: The police officer takes charge. "Listen: slavery has been declared illegal. Every one is free. They want you to flourish, to have your own home, your own family. If you are in need of something, you can even call on the state to help."

1:09: The rescue team are frustrated. "She is indoctrinated. She's been worked over mentally. How do you expect her to come? She's scared. When she sees police for the first time, she's scared of them. It's perfectly normal..." Aminitou tries to get the sister into the car, to talk. She keeps protesting that she's already free, that she's not a slave.

2:24: Aminitou: "I'm here to see you as a sister, I have nothing to gain. I'm a woman like you. I am part of the community."

2:43: Brother Bilal goes to fetch his sister's two children from the tent.

3:00: Her master's wife shows up, asking about their slave. "She's not coming back. Talk to the prefect if you want to know more."

3:32: The sister is in the car, but furious. "You're saying that this woman is my mistress, but that's false." Biram confronts the mistress: "Tell her goodbye and get out of here."

4:12: The reporter is indignant with the police officer, she demands to know why he doesn't arrest the slave's mistress as a criminal. He stammers out excuses. Aminitou the anti-slavery activist is sanguine about it all: "Our problem was to free the person. The rest is the work of the administrators. ... It's their job. If they don't do it, then we'll talk to them." The sister is hysterical with emotion as the caravan drives off the master's encampment, back to the city.

5:05: Biram reflects on what just happened. "It was practically a kidnapping. Thankfully, a legal kidnapping. For a good cause. But justice does not work. Not a single slavery case has ever been followed up. Zero arrests. ..."

6:00: An interview with a former slave owner, who saw reason and freed his one slave. [I'll skip this story-within-a-story for now, and translate it later, maybe as a separate post, or as an addendum in the comments section.]

13:03: The caravan is now in Nouakchott, in Biram's home. Bilal's sister Habbi seems calmer now. The children are finally dressed, and they rest with their mother. "Do you feel free now?", the reporter asks Habbi, "Do you still feel like a slave?" Habbi shakes her head, no. "So, you were indeed a slave?" "Yes." "Why didn't you say so [back at the camp]?"

14:00: Habbi: "I was afraid of what might happen to me if I admitted that they were my masters."

Reporter: "So you're happy that [your brother] Bilal went to save you?"

Habbi: "Of course."

14:20: Her brother Bilal beams a smile that viewers who have made it this far won't soon forget.

Biram: "So, Bilal, are you happy now?"

Bilal: "Yes, really happy!"

Biram: "What are you feeling?"

Bilal: "Good. Now all I want is for her to find her place and feel good here."

Biram:"You're worried that she will return to her masters?"

Bilal: "Yes, it's true that I'm afraid that she will go back. She's stubborn. And psychologically, she's still in chains. Because of what she's been through, she's very fragile."

15:05: Biram: "Don't lose hope. Consider her in convalescence. She's sick, and so you will cure her. Be gentle with her. And guard her well."

15:25: Narrator: Habbi started a new life. Free. But she will not bring herself to bring charges against her masters. Liberty is a difficult apprenticeship. [Closing credits]


One slave in Mauritania is now free... how many more remain, still in bondage? And what will become of them?

That's the question I have for General Mohamed ould Abdel Aziz, leader of the military coup in Mauritania.


truepeers said...

Thanks for doing all that work, Charles; very interesting.

Charles Henry said...