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Modern-Day Abolitionist

Modern-Day AbolitionistTufts senior Tommy Calvert helped free 6,000 slaves in Sudan as part of an international effort to address human rights issues in the war-torn country.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.03.02] Tufts University senior Tommy Calvert -- who attends classes just a few blocks from a former stop on the underground railroad -- is part of a growing group of modern-day, international abolitionists. The San Antonio native recently returned from a trip to the war-torn nation of Sudan, where he and several other activists freed 6,000 slaves.

"From April 6 to 13, Calvert got to see firsthand the slavery and genocide fueled by oil development in Sudan," reported U.S. Newswire. "His rescue mission to Sudan was led by Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International, whose Underground Railroad program of local Arab and African activists has helped redeem over 85,000 black slaves."

The trip left a powerful impression on the Tufts senior.

"I met with victims of some of the worst atrocities in the world," Calvert said in the newswire's report. "I saw scars from slashings on a pregnant woman's stomach. I talked to a boy whose nose had been cut off by his master when he lost a goat. I took the testimony of teenage girls who had been repeatedly gang-raped."

According to The Boston Globe, the activists purchased the freedom of 3,000 enslaved women and children, and negotiated the release of another 3,000 slaves is Sudan -- which has been devastated by a 19-year civil war.

"The war in Sudan is religiously charged -- the government is Muslim and a significant number of victims in the conflict are Christian -- drawing international attention from Christian leaders," reported the Globe. "The slaves are mostly southern Sudanese, either Christian or followers of traditional African religions who have been kidnapped by Muslims of northern Sudan."

For Calvert, the trip to the African nation was the continuation of a lengthy campaign to combat slavery in Sudan.

"In 1999, Calvert launched a student-led divestment campaign, calling on mutual and pension funds to divest from Talisman Energy, a Canadian oil giant whose partnership with the Sudanese government is fueling slave raids and genocide," reported the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). "In response to a Calvert-organized protest, the professors' pension fund TIAA-CREF -- the largest fund in the world -- divested from Talisman."

Calvert's campaign attracted national attention, following reports by ABC News and newspapers around the country.

"In response to our divestment protests, Talisman would always claim life was fine around their [oil] rigs," Calvert said in a report released by the AASG. "But I just met with hundreds of women and children who would beg to differ. Western investors must understand that their shares in Talisman directly finance a genocide against African civilians. Investing in Talisman is investing in terrorism."

Images courtesy Christian Solidarity International

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