In a garish example of anti-democratic, anti-West, collective state hypocrisy, leaders from the BRICS bloc -- representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- meeting in South Africa over three days last week invited four Muslim states and two others to join the bloc, while keeping total silence over the racist and Islamist massacre by heavily armed Arab militias of black African civilians being carried out in West Darfur in Sudan over the preceding weeks.
Global news sources were clear about the racist character of the massacre, which resulted in black African survivors flooding across the border for refuge in neighbouring Chad.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported on July 24 that "atrocities pile up in Darfur after 100 days of Sudan fighting", in which "Arab militias are accused of killing lawyers, human rights monitors, doctors and non-Arab tribal leaders".
A week earlier, Al Jazeera had reported "Fears of ethnic cleansing mount in Sudan's West Darfur".
The Sunday Times in London reported on June 25, under the headline "Escape from Sudan", that "Twenty years after their previous genocide, rampaging 'devils on horseback' return":
"The fighting began in the capital, Khartoum, but perhaps the most catastrophic human cost has been 500 miles away in Darfur, where, in 2003, Arab militias known as the Janjaweed — 'devils on horseback' — carried out the first genocide of the new century. An estimated 300,000 black Africans were killed and about two million people displaced."
Immediately ahead of the BRICS conference between August 22 and 24 in Sandton, Johannesburg, showing scenes on TV of thousands of desperate refugees displaced in neighbouring Chad, , Sky News reported on August 17 that a "humanitarian worker who has a long history of work" in al-Geneina in West Darfur believed that "the city has been ethnically cleansed."
"Shot at while they drowned. Executed in the desert," CNN reported on August 16, in what it described as "Darfur's genocide-scarred history."
Le Monde, on August 3, featured Amnesty International's 56-page report on the massacre, noting that black African women had been raped by Arab militias, "with some of them held in conditions 'amounting to sexual slavery.'"
The racist Arab Janjaweed militias were "bolstered" by arms supplies from the "Russian mercenary group Wagner," thus "unleashing a brutal assault on local tribes that has exacted a heavy death toll," CNN reported.
The Africa Defense Forum disclosed on May 16 that Russia's Wagner Group was supervising gold-mining in Darfur, and smuggling nearly $2 billion in gold out of the country. "Continued authoritarian rule facilitates profits from Sudanese gold mines and the construction of a Russian Red Sea naval base in Port Sudan," Samuel Ramani wrote for the Middle East Institute.
Yet the "great and the good" -- China's President Xi Jinping, Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, with Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the congregation by video to endorse Russia's war in Ukraine -- made no mention of this genocidal massacre.
Instead, the BRICS leaders invited states with the world's longest history of enslaving black Africans to join them. Among these states were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where black Africans were slaves for hundreds of years. Saudi Arabia abolished slavery only in 1962, and in the UAE in 1971. According to Nigerian writer Ayomide Akinbode:
"The Arab slave trade in East Africa is one of the oldest, stretching back 700 years before the European transatlantic slave trade. Male slaves were frequently employed by their masters as servants, soldiers, or labourers, whilst female slaves, notably those from Africa, were long transported to the Middle Eastern countries and kingdoms as concubines and maids by Arab and Oriental dealers...
"Between 650 and 1900, historians estimate that 10 to 18 million Africans were enslaved by Arab slave traders and transported over the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Sahara. Many of the 'Arab' slave dealers, such as Tippu Tip and others, were physically indistinguishable from the 'Africans' they enslaved and sold. Hence, the name 'Arab' was commonly employed as an ethnic designation in historical sources. It is impossible to be specific about actual numbers because of the nature of the Arab slave trade...
"The Arab Slave Trade predates Islam and lasted for over a millennium. Arab slave traders transported Africans from present-day Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and other parts of East Africa to Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Somalia, Turkey, and other parts of the Middle East and South Asia across the Indian Ocean (mainly Pakistan and India). Unlike the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Arab slave traders supplied African slaves to the Muslim world, which, at its apex, spanned three continents from the Atlantic to the Far East."
China's Xinhua news agency reported how Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, who attended the BRICS conference, hailed it as a "commendable step that will facilitate worldwide development while upholding principles of justice."
Justice? Raisi was deputy prosecutor general in a four-member committee codenamed the "death commission" in Iran in 1988, which was responsible for the executions of thousands of political prisoners who were loyal to a banned opposition movement, "on orders issued by Raisi and his three colleagues."
The massacre ordered by Raisi and his three colleagues on Iran's 1988 "death commission" were, in the words of Geoffrey Robertson, president of the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone, "a crime against humanity," and a "genocide," wrote political scientist Hamid Enayat. "However, strong international reaction to the massacre has never materialized."
"In every country in the world, slavery is illegal. And yet it continues to thrive — and Iran has one of the highest numbers of victims.
"Modern slavery includes forced labor, child labor, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Iranians, and particularly Iranian women and children, are vulnerable to these dangers inside the country, especially among poor communities where opportunities for work and education are scarce. Iranians who decide to leave the country for whatever reason — because of economic hardship or persecution — are also at risk of human trafficking and other slavery crimes.
"'Slavery never ended,' says Terry FitzPatrick, the Communications and Advocacy Director at Free the Slaves, an international non-governmental organization and a lobby group that works to eradicate slavery around the world. 'It was never abolished; it was actually outlawed. It was never really eradicated.'"
"When we speak of slavery in the Muslim world," the journalist Hugh Fitzgerald related, "we think of Mauritania (with 600,000 slaves)... Niger (600,000 slaves), Mali (200,000 slaves), and Libya (where slave markets have opened in nine sites during the last two years). Most of us assume that in Saudi Arabia, slavery is no longer tolerated. But most of us are wrong."
Until 2019 and apparently longer, slave markets could be found on Instagram:
"Google and Apple said they were working with app developers to prevent illegal activity.
"The illegal sales are a clear breach of the US tech firms' rules for app developers and users.
"However, the BBC has found there are many related listings still active on Instagram, and other apps available via Apple and Google."
The history of black African slaves in Iran was reported in a major 2016 article by Denise Hassanzade Ajiri in The Guardian, under the title "The face of African slavery in Qajar, Iran," in which she wrote:
"The African slave trade in the Persian Gulf began well before the Islamic period. Mediaeval accounts refer sporadically to slaves working as household servants, bodyguards, militiamen and sailors in the Persian Gulf including what is today southern Iran. The practice lasted, and evolved, through many centuries. In Iran's modern history, Africans were integral to elite households. Black men were mostly eunuchs working inside the king's harem and houses, while black women were servants to Iranian women.
"Despite its ancient roots, the topic of African slavery is rarely discussed or even acknowledged in Iran. This is partly because there has not been comprehensive research on either African slavery of the subsequent use of African domestic servants."
The article featured a series of photos of black African slaves in Iran, such as this one from the 1880s:
"Rarely discussed or even acknowledged in Iran," wrote The Guardian, the issue of the enslavement and oppression of black Africans -- continuing to this day in Darfur and elsewhere -- is an issue suppressed by BRICS.
Paul Trewhela was a political prisoner in South Africa between 1964 and 1967, and a co-founder and co-editor of a banned exile journal, Searchlight South Africa (1988-95).