| 21.3°C Dublin

'Tireless' rights activist honoured over anti-slavery campaign

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has presented a prestigious human rights award to a campaigner against slavery in a west African country.

Biram Dah Abeid won the 2013 Front Line Defenders award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.

He is the president of the anti-slavery NGO Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement in Mauritania.

Mr Higgins said Biram Dah Abeid had worked tirelessly and at great personal cost to ensure the voices of those enslaved were heard and that liberation became a reality. "In his own words: 'we refuse to ask for provisional freedom and we do not ask for mercy,'" he said.

"In order to protect the rights of one, there must always be consideration of the rights of others, so that those who would seek to treat another human being as property have no moral authority and that a young woman, kidnapped, sold five times and kept behind barred windows in a cramped brothel might imagine a different life," he said.

Yesterday's event in Dublin City Hall was also attended by Front Line Defenders' chairman Denis O'Brien and executive director Mary Lawlor.

"It is entirely fitting that we honour Biram Dah Abeid's work to end slavery in Mauritania in this room dominated by the statue of Daniel O'Connell – the Liberator – who worked to end Ireland's own version of slavery with the ending of the penal laws and Catholic emancipation," Ms Lawlor said.

Irish Independent