IRA – USA is organized as a non-profit corporation in Washington DC to fight against slavery, racism, and gender oppression in Mauritania.
multi-media education and USA based and Mauritania-based educational projects. We are currently anticipating a project in Nouakchott to provide literacy and basic life skills education to escaped slaves.
legal aid — we work with those who have suffered human rights abuses, especially slavery, and with Mauritania-based human rights defenders. See here for the Ould Mkhaitir case, a case of death sentence because of alleged blasphemy, apostasy and hypocrisy.
IRA – USA operates with pro bono labor. We are currently seeking volunteers and funds for programs.
Donations to IRA -USA are tax deductible. You can donate by contacting us, or by using our paypal link.
Lenyonga Jennifer Fomunung is a current summer associate with IRA-USA for Summer 2015. She is a National Achievement scholar, and received a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in Mandarin from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 2014. She has had experience in East Asia, and extensive experience in West Africa, as a Cameroon-born immigrant. She is currently a rising second-year law student at the Georgetown University Law Center, and is expecting to receive her Juris Doctor degree in Spring 2017.
Michael Hayworth is currently volunteering with us as a development professional and web-developer. He is a lawyer in Toronto Canada, has run campaigns for Walkfree and for many years worked as a development professional for Amnesty International in Australia.
Suzanne Reichardt began as an intern at IRA – USA in the fall of 2014. She is an international studies bachelor of arts student at American University. In the spring of 2015 she edited and helped to publish Mauritania Look 2014.
Carl Ross, an environmentalist and human rights activist, provides expert guidance for our congressional outreach.
Isabel Wade is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California studying International Relations and French with a focus on human rights. A passionate advocate against slavery, Isabel travelled to Mauritania in 2014 to research slavery and what U.S. policy should be towards the country. Isabel has also worked with Polaris Project, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, and Challenging Heights. She is assisting with outreach and website maintenance.
IRA Board of Directors
Biram Dah Abeid, Honorary President of IRA – USA
Dah Abeid is a Mauritanian politician and advocate for the abolition of slavery in Mauritania. In 2008 he founded the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA-Mauritania). In May 2013, Biram Dah Abeid received the Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Rish of the Irish NGO Front Line Defenders. In December 2013, he received the United Nations Human Rights Award. You can learn more about Biram’s work in the New Yorker.
Bakary Tandia, Secretary of the Board, IRA – USA
Tandia pioneered United States-based activism for human rights in Mauritania. Working with the American Friends Service Committee and other human rights organizations, he orchestrated U.S. campaigns for Mauritanian leaders and human rights activists between 1998 and 2008. In preparation for the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Tandia worked with Filmmaker and Human Rights Lawyer Michele Stephenson on her documentary, “Faces of Change”. The film highlights human rights violations in Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Mauritania, and United States. Tandia has featured in numerous discussions of this film at screenings in international film festivals.
He also leads workshops for participants in the Human Rights Advocacy Program, Columbia University. Tandia is also a Co-Founder of Abolition Institute, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to the eradication of slavery in Mauritania. He sits on the board of directors of the New York Immigration Coalition and of the Abolition Institute.
Professor Jerry Herman is a professor and lecturer in history at the Camden County College and Southern Illinois University and in communication at Lindenwood University. Professor Herman has been involved with many activism campaigns in the United States such as the Anti-Apartheid, Anti-Slavery campaigns as well as the Voter Registration Campaign in Savanna, Georgia and the Open Housing Campaign in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to being an active member on numerous campaigns, Professor Herman has also published articles in Angola, Mozambique and Mauritania Reader and was the editor of the United States Anti-Apartheid Newspaper. Professor Herman has also travelled and researched around the world in places such a Rwanda as a genocide observer and has been on an Anti-Slavery fact finding mission in Mauritania.
Sykam Sy, Chief Financial Officer, IRA – USA
Dr. Sy was born in Kankossa in the Southeast of Mauritania. He was arrested, with his father, by the military junta led by then-dictator, Maouya Ould Sid’Amed Taya, and detained in Kiffa (the provincial capital) until his deportation with part of his family to Senegal in June of 1989. His arrest and subsequent deportation during his middle school years were part of an unprecedented ethnic cleansing campaign in Mauritania, targeting Blacks. In Senegal, Sikam overcame several challenges, graduated from High School Salutatorian of his Class, and was accepted at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar in 1993. He was Valedictorian of his Class in 1999 and received a Ph.D. in Egyptology (Maxima Cum Laude); he is the first Mauritanian to ever hold the French title of “Docteur des Lettres” in Egyptology.
His experience as a refugee and victim of injustice prompted him to join several Human Rights advocacy campaigns and to dedicate his life to fighting for the voiceless and the most vulnerable among us. In addition to his Human Rights advocacy, Dr. Sy has worked as a researcher, language consultant, and reception and placement provider for a Washington-based NGO. He has served on several boards in Maryland and Virginia.
He is currently a proud resident of Maryland and Baltimore County.
Alice Bullard, President and Chief Executive Officer, IRA – USA
Alice Bullard is a Washington DC based lawyer, with a practice in human rights and environmental law. She has worked with Mauritanian human rights activists since the late 1990s. From 1994 – 2007 Bullard was a professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta Georgia, where she co-founded the Human Rights Initiative with the generous sponsorship of the B Wardlaw Foundation. Her publications include Exile to Paradise, (Stanford University Press, 2000) and Human Rights in Crisis, (Ashgate 2008) and numerous essays. Bullard earned her doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkleley and her juris doctorate from the Georgetown University Law Center. She was a Fulbright Fellow in Paris, France and has received more than twenty national and international fellowships and awards. She is licensed to practice law in Washington DC and Maryland.