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IRD Congratulates Anti-Defamation League Honoree Simon Deng: Urges Help for Thousands Still Enslaved

Contact: Loralei Coyle, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell


WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Simon Deng, a Sudanese Christian who spent over three years of his childhood as a slave, was honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at its 12th annual Concert Against Hate, Tuesday evening, November 14, 2006. Deng was one of four who were chosen to receive the ADL's Ina Kay award at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC. The award recognizes those who have set an example of overcoming hatred, prejudice, intolerance, injustice, or extremism.


Faith McDonnell, director of IRD's Church Alliance for a New Sudan, hailed the choice of her friend and colleague Mr. Deng:


"By honoring Simon, and telling his story, the ADL has become a voice for the people still enslaved in Sudan. Thousands of black African Southern Sudanese have been forgotten by most of the world, abandoned to the hellish existence of a slave in northern Sudan or the Middle East.


"At age nine the young Sudanese was torn from his family, abducted by a relative of his Arab neighbor. Deng was then taken to northern Sudan and 'given' as a gift to a farmer. His new 'family' treated him like an animal. He was beaten regularly, and threatened with mutilation or death if he tried to escape or otherwise disobeyed. He managed to escape, three and a half years after his kidnapping.


"Although the North/South peace agreement has brought some stability to the South, including a cessation of slave raids, little effort has been made to find those Sudanese who were taken as children and have grown up in slavery. And now many believe that the ongoing genocide in Darfur has included similar enslavement of women and children."


"IRD's Church Alliance for a New Sudan will continue to be a voice for the enslaved in Sudan alongside of such heroes as Simon Deng and Cong. Chris Smith, who introduced legislation to create a commission to investigate the fate of those who were abducted into slavery, and develop a plan to free them and return them to their homes.


"Human beings, precious to God and created in His image, should not be abducted, branded like animals, enslaved, and forgotten."


The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.