Every 16th of April we celebrate the day against child slavery to remember Iqbal Masih’s fight to put such a hideous scourge to an end, and his terrible murder in 1995. That day is the perfect reminder of a sad and ongoing truth: even in our 21st century, there are children subjected to different forms of child slavery.
In the year 2022, 27 years after Iqbal’s fateful murder and as a token of the fruitful cooperation and hard work among different associations and organisations, on Thursday the 10th of November, the “Asociación Iqbal Masih contra la esclavitud (AIMCE) / Iqbal Masih Association against slavery (IMAAS)” was officially incorporated, with the aim of establishing a juridically strong backbone to endorse and support the work carried out to further this cause in Spain.
The official incorporation event was attended online by Mr. EHSAN ULLAH KHAN himself, the Pakistani advocate against child slavery who has freed more than one million workers of the brick kiln industry in Pakistan and who also facilitated IQBAL MASIH’s freedom. However, after Iqbal’s murder, Khan was forcefully exiled as dictated by the laws of his country. In the ceremony, he passed on his legacy so that we keep on working on the cause to eradicate child slavery and to fly the flag of peace and education.
After Mr. Khan’s words, the Vicerector of Health Sciences and Social Affairs of the University of Salamanca, Ms. Ana Martín Suárez, took the floor on behalf of the rector himself, who was unable to attend due to prior commitments. In her speech she highlighted the shared concern for the eradication of slavery and the cooperation with the Salamanca Social Work Graduate Bar, as well as the commitment of the University of Salamanca to raise awareness on its efforts to combat child slavery.
On his part, Mr. Enrique Cabero evoked his involvement in supporting this cause in his previous capacity as Vicerector of the University of Salamanca and he commented how it implied a fight for our society as a whole, a fundamental component for dignity and human rights, an opportunity to take action and make of slavery a word that falls into oblivion, a relic from the past. Unfortunately, it is very much alive and many times it is closer to us than we may even suspect.
On behalf of the Salamanca Social Work Graduate Bar, its vicepresident Mr. José Luis Muñoz Ruano elaborated on the involvement of this institution to further Iqbal’s cause and its direct participation in the establishment of the Iqbal Association. Among its many main activities, we can enumerate all those intended to raise awareness and spread knowledge on the life and legacy of IQBAL MASIH as an example of sacrifice and deep belief in freedom and peace, this organization has also created the “Iqbal Masih Award against slavery” that will be presented to noteworthy recipients.
Attendees, both online and face-to-face, insisted on the need to count with an association such as the IMAAS, supported its incorporation and established as some of its fundamental aims:
- Combatting child slavery as well as other forms of oppression and slavery.
- Raising more awareness on IQBAL MASIH in our society, particularly, in the educational field, among children, teenagers and young people.
- Promoting peace through educational mechanisms as a tool to pursue freedom, the respect of human rights-mostly of children- and to combat slavery.
- Empowering children, making their voices be heard and helping them to thrive