Sunday , September 24 2017
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Joint attacks by the Rapid Support Forces and militias on civilian targets in Darfur

(22 June 2017) From 28 May – 15 June 2017, a number of attacks were perpetrated against civilian targets in North and Central Darfur by the Rapid Support Forces and other government sponsored militias. The attacks took place from 28 May – 6 June 2017 in Ain Siro locality, North Darfur, and from 14 – 15 June in Tor and Nertiti, Jebel Marra. At least 35,000 civilians have been displaced to the neighbouring hills in each area and Kutum, North Darfur.

In Ain Siro, at least fourteen civilians were killed and nineteen seriously injured, and seven villages set on fire and burnt to the ground. In Jebel Marra, at least three civilians were killed and eleven seriously injured. Ten women were abducted from Tor on 14 June and seven men abducted from Nertiti on 15 June. Their whereabouts remain unknown, raising serious concerns for their safety and well-being, as well as the risk for sexual violence.

The attacks were precipitated by fighting in the region between the Rapid Support Forces and the Darfuri rebel groups the Sudan Liberation Movement – Mini Minawi and the Sudan Liberation Movement – Transitional Justice. However, ACJPS has confirmed that there is no rebel presence in any of the villages attacked.

ACJPS condemns all attacks against civilians and calls on the Government of Sudan (GoS) to cease attacks in civilian areas and to stop the burning and looting of villages by its armed militias. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies calls on the GoS to immediately put in place measures to protect civilians in North Darfur State and Central Darfur State and respect customary international law obligations regarding internal armed conflicts which prohibit deliberate attacks on civilians, indiscriminate attacks on civilians even where there may be armed elements amongst civilians, attacks aimed at terrorizing civilians, and attacks against civilian objects. The principle of distinction between civilians and combatants – that is people taking an active part in hostilities – prohibits the targeting of civilians in all circumstances.

Attacks in Ain Siro, Central Darfur

At 6am on 28 May, an unidentified government militia and the RSF in more than one hundred vehicles attacked a number of villages in Ain Siro locality, including Farang East and Farang West.These areas are comprised of thirty smaller villages, including Masteriya, Tanweer, Tajojo, Miri, Takjo, Kola and Tanunu. At least twelve people were killed and ten injured in the attack.

The following day, 29 May, seven villages in Ain Siro, including Farang, Furokat, and Abdelshakur, were set on fire and burnt to the ground by members of the RSF and other government sponsored militia on motorcycle and camels. Seventeen villages had their markets and homes raided and looted, and livestock stolen. Eleven civilians were killed and nineteen injured in the attacks. The names of the killed civilians in Ain Siro area on 29 May are below.

  1. Ahmed Adam Yagoub, (m).
  2. Ismail IshagHasabElkareem, (m).
  3. Mustada Adam, (m).
  4. Mohamed Alzain, (m).
  5. Hawa Adam Ishag, (f).
  6. Haleema Ahmed Mohamed, (f).
  7. Maryem Ibrahim Musa, (f).
  8. Kaltoum Ahmed Mohamed, (f).
  9. Zieneb Adam Soony, (f).
  10.  Mamoud Mohamed Omer, (m).
  11. Ahmed Mohamed Osman, (m).

On 1 June, residents of four villages in Ain Siro villages were robbed by members of unidentified militias as they returned to their villages to check on their homes and belongings.

On 4 June, Dilibah al-Kabeer and Dilibah al-Saghir villages west of Kutum had their markets and homes raided and looted, and livestock stolen. Civilians in the area were robbed of their belongings and displaced to neighbouring markets.

On 6 June, unidentified armed militias raided and looted the markets of Delibat, in the area of Ain Siro. A number of livestock was looted from the area on 4 and 5 June.

Close to the entire population of Ain Siro locality, which is comprised of roughly 30,000 civilian and hosts approximately 50 villages, is believed to have been displaced to Kutum and the surrounding mountains.

No further information is currently available, though ACJPS continues to follow the situation closely.

Jebel Marra

Attacks also occurred on 14 and 15 June in Jebel Marra, led by the RSF and an unidentified government sponsored militia.
Three people were killed in attacks on 14 June, and eleven seriously injured, during attacks on Tor village. At least 5,000 individuals were displaced from the area.

The names of the civilians killed in the attacks are below.

  1. Mohamed Adam Hamid, (m).
  2. Mustafa Wad-Mastor, (m).
  3. Suleiman Ishaq, (m).

Ten women were abducted from Tor. The women’s whereabouts are currently unknown, raising serious concerns for their safety and the risk of sexual violence.

On 15 June, an unidentified government sponsoredmilitia on horseback and with camels alongside the RSF and Border Guards attacked six villages (Sulu, Waru, Faki Yaha, Luku, Fata Karga, and Kajawarai) in Rukaero locality of Jebel Marra region. The markets and homes were raided and looted, and a number of livestock were stolen.

Later in the day on 15 June, the same militias attacked Nertiti area, abducting seven men. Their whereabouts are currently unknown. Their names are below.

  1. AbdelkarimAbdelmajid, (m).
  2. Adam Abdelshafi, (m).
  3. HarounAbdelshafi, (m).
  4. Ahmed Adam Mohamed, (m).
  5. Ibrahim AbakrKhames, (m).
  6. Ahmed Adam Khames, (m).
  7. Siddig Hassan, (m).

ACJPS condemns all arbitrary attacks on civilians and calls on the Government of Sudan (GoS) to cease attacks in civilian areas and:

  • Officially and publicly condemn arbitrary attacks, unlawful killings, and sexual violence and make clear that these acts are absolutely prohibited and will be prosecuted.
  • Launch an independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attacks in North Darfur and Central Darfur and guarantee that their findings are published promptly and within a clear timeframe. The findings of investigations established by the Sudanese authorities on previous human rights violations in Darfurhave never been published.
  • Put in place tightened restrictions on the use and supply of arms and ammunitions. A concerted effort to control arms and ammunition in the region should be launched, as well as controls over the use of government vehicles and ammunition and the presence of militias and weapons in public places.
  • Repeal all legal provisions granting immunities to police officers, members of the National Intelligence and Security Services, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and RSF.
  • Establish a compensation fund for the families of the victims.
  • Ensure that any victims of sexual violence have access to appropriate medical and legal services.
  • Guarantee full humanitarian access throughout Darfur.

ACJPS also calls on UNAMID to fulfill its mandate to contribute to the protection of civilian populations under imminent threat of physical violence, and prevent attacks against civilians within its capability and areas of deployment. UNAMID’s capacity is already threatened by a significant upcoming drawdown in its military and police officers. 

ACJPS calls on the international community, particularly the European Union, United States, and African Union, to publicly and privately press the Sudanese government to meet its legal obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, and end deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians, torture, rape and looting. The Sudanese government should ensure unfettered access by UNAMID peacekeepers and humanitarian actors to all parts of Darfur including those most affected by conflict.

Background

The attacks in Ain Siro and Jebel Marra were precipitated by clashes between the Sudan Liberation Movement–Minni Minawi (SLM–MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council, led by Nimir Abdelrahman. The Government of Sudan (GoS) and insurgent groups traded accusations of who instigated the fighting and breached a unilateral ceasefire declared last year and renewed recently. One of the main objectives of the ceasefire had been the protection of civilians, along with provision of unhindered humanitarian access to affected populations.

In 2015 the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan characterized the Government strategy in Darfur as one of “collective punishment” and “induced or forced displacement” of communities from which the armed opposition groups are believed to come or operate. Arbitrary detention, torture and extra-judicial killing cases continue to be documented.The majority of individuals from Ain Siro are from the Zaghawa ethnic group, and the majority of civilians in Jebel Marra are from the Fur ethnic group, both of whom been particularly targeted by the Sudanese government since the outbreak of the conflict in 2003.

Initially a paramilitary group, the RSF now functions as a regular force of the Government of Sudan following the passage of the 2016 Rapid Support Forces Act, which integrates the RSF into the Armed Forces of the country, and provides for the commander of the RSF to be appointed by the President. The RSF has led a number of brutal counterinsurgency campaigns, supported by aerial bombardment, against civilian populations since their creation in mid-2013. ACJPS documented the RSF’s involvement in the burning and looting of Mouli village, approximately 15 kilometers south of El Geneina, on 9 and 10 January 2016.

Through the recently launched “Khartoum Process”, the European Union has provided millions of euros to the GoS to combat migration flows from the Horn of Africa to Europe. These funds are likely to trickle down to Sudanese forces such as the RSF through the GoS’ administration of the fund, and be used for small arms and weapons. In September 2016, the RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (“Hemeti”) called for the EU to voice their support for the RSF’s work after arresting more than 300 migrants near the Libyan border. The RSF has led a number of brutal counterinsurgency campaigns, supported by aerial bombardment, against civilian populations since their creation in mid-2013. In January 2016, ACJPS documented the RSF’s involvement in the burning and looting of the nearby village of Mouli, approximately 15 kilometers south of El Geneina, on 9 and 10 January 2016.

ACJPS reported on 13 June 2017 the torture and ill-treatment of internally displaced person (IDP) Abdelmagid Abdalla Bakheet, (m), 27 years of age, who was reportedly subjected to torture by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Kutum, North Darfur whilst detained from the evening of 7 June to the morning hours of 10 June. Mr. Bakheet was arrested and detained by the NISS after he collected food and clothing in Kasab IDP camp to be distributed to recent IDPs to Kutum, displaced by fighting in Ain Siro and Gara, North Darfur.

Mr. Bakheet was refused medical treatment in a state run hospital as he was unable to provide form 8, a state document needed to obtain post-trauma medical assistance to record physical injuries related to criminal acts. Police had refused to provide form 8 to relatives of Mr. Bakheet, presumably under the presumption that a medical report attached to form 8 could potentially be used for a future criminal case leveled against the NISS. Mr. Bakheet was subsequently taken to a private clinic and treated for his injuries. Mr. Bakheet’s inability to obtain form 8 severely compromises the prospects of him launching any form of criminal complaint in the future to seek justice amidst an environment in which there are already no effective remedies for torture survivors.

Contact: Mossaad Mohamed Ali/ Emily Cody: +256 779584542/ +256 788695068 (Kampala), or info@acjps.org.