Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest Number 24 | 13 September 2015 (in two parts)

This twenty-fourth installment of Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest focuses on events of the past two weeks, including violence and insecurity in North Darfur and the continuing deterioration in humanitarian conditions. It is primarily, however, an extended excerpting from the extraordinary research conducted by Human Rights Watch ("Men With No Mercy": Rapid Support Forces Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan," Human Rights Watch | September 9, 2015). It confirms what has been reported by Radio Dabanga in the previous 23 installment of this News Digest, and the dispatches of the past two weeks also confirm that the violence chronicled by Human Right Watch continues undiminished (HRW research extended from May 2014 to July 2015). 

 

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And although the focus of the HRW report is on violence, primarily by the Rapid Support Forces, that violence-as Radio Dabanga has so often reported-creates conditions that threaten and compromise humanitarian relief to the more than 2.5 million displaced persons, as well as rural and town populations that are increasingly being attacked by the RSF, as are the camps for displaced persons.

A measure of the brazenness of the RSF, which enjoys the fully backing of the security services and the most senior officials of the Khartoum regime, is the blocking of streets in both the major town of Atbara, and Khartoum's "twin city" Omdurman (see Part 2). Despite what has been reported constantly by Radio Dabanga, and with unrivaled authority by Human Rights Watch, the UN, the African Union, the U.S., Canada and Europe have never seemed more powerless in bringing about the changes necessary if Sudan is to escape the 26 years of brutal tyranny by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party, and its endless wars on its own people.

 

As a direct consequence, throughout Darfur and indeed much of Sudan, various humanitarian indicators continue a relentless deterioration. Additionally, the most recent report from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) presents a truly terrifying portrait of malnutrition throughout Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where most of the region is indicated as suffering from Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that are above the emergency humanitarian threshold; large excerpts from the report and commentary may be found here. Huge swathes of eastern Sudan, Blue Nile, and other areas also have GAM rates.


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As the Sudanese economy continues to implode, the regime becomes more extravagant in its fabrications of economic data. The official exchange rate between dollars and Sudanese pounds is 6.1 Sudanese Pounds to the dollar; the currency black market rate is now over 10 Pounds to the dollar. The regime's Central Bureau of Statistics reports an inflation rate of 11 percent; but the explosion of prices in food and other basic commodities and services makes utter nonsense of that figure, which goes unchallenged by a wholly compliant, indeed subservient International Monetary Fund. Sudanese economists outside the regime, and indeed outside Sudan, estimate that the inflation rate is closer to 50 percent than 10 percent (in July 2014 the regime itself reported an inflation rate of 46.8 percent).

 

But it is on the brutal realities of orchestrated militia violence in Darfur that we must focus in the wake of the report by Human Rights Watch, and the Radio Dabanga dispatches that confirm that this violence continues.

 

[For previous Radio Dabanga Digests, see:

 

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 13 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ia

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 14 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1II

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 15 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ji

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 16 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1JU

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 17 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Kp

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 18 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1L7

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 19 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Lm

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 20 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1LM

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 21 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Mv

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 22 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1MX

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 23 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Nr

 

Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 24 |http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NH  &   http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NJ

 

Per usual, Sudan Tribune has again been the source of several key reports on Darfur and the growing political crisis. Because the News Digest now appears on a biweekly basis, dispatches will often be reduced further in editing-many appearing with only the title, the URL (always embedded in the title), and perhaps a key sentence-and commentary will typically be briefer. This is especially true for the digest, which gives over so much space to the Human Rights Watch report: there are is very little editorial interpolation or commentary. The dispatch is divided into two parts: Part 1 given over to very full excerpts from the Human Rights Watch Report; Part 2 contains the most relevant dispatches from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune.


[All emphases in all quoted material (in bold) have been added; all editorial comments are in italics, in blue, with my initials following; a useful and quite recent administrative map of Darfur appears here.

 

[I] The realities of Khartoum-orchestrated militia violence in Darfur 


From "'Men With No Mercy': Rapid Support Forces Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan," Human Rights Watch, September 9, 2015http://www.hrw.org/node/280756      (All emphases in bold have been added---ER)


SUMMARY

The Rapid Support Forces (al-Quwat al-Da'm al-Sari' in Arabic, or RSF) is a Sudanese government force under the command of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). The RSF was created in mid-2013 to militarily defeat rebel armed groups throughout Sudan.

 

The RSF led two counterinsurgency campaigns in the long-embattled region of Darfur in 2014 and 2015 in which its forces repeatedly attacked villages, burned and looted homes, beating, raping and executing villagers. The RSF received support in the air and on the ground from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and other government-backed militia groups, including a variety of proxy militias, commonly known as Janjaweed.

The first campaign named "Operation Decisive Summer" took place primarily in South Darfur and North Darfur between late February and early May 2014. The second, "Operation Decisive Summer II," took place primarily in and around Jebel Marra, the mountainous region located primarily in Central Darfur, between early January 2015 and the onset of the rainy season in June 2015.

 

Based on research conducted between May 2014 and July 2015, this report describes serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law perpetrated by the RSF and other Sudanese government forces during the two RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns in Darfur.  Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 151 survivors and witnesses of abuses in Darfur who fled Sudan to Chad and South Sudan, 16 who were interviewed inside Darfur, and an additional 45 victims and witnesses in Darfur by telephone.


Human Rights Watch found that the RSF committed a wide range of horrific abuses, including the forced displacement of entire communities; the destruction of wells, food stores and other infrastructure necessary for sustaining life in a harsh desert environment; and the plunder of the collective wealth of families, such as livestock. Among the most egregious abuses against civilians were torture, extrajudicial killings and mass rapes.


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The destruction of villages in Darfur is again as comprehensive as in the early days of Khartoum's genocidal counter-insurgency war


Many civilians were killed by the RSF when they refused to leave their homes or give up their livestock, or when they tried to stop RSF fighters from raping them or members of their family.

 

The RSF violations of international humanitarian law amount to war crimes.  The mass rape and killings and other abuses appear part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilian populations that may constitute crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are serious offenses, including murder, torture and rape, committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population. As Human Rights Watch research has found, the RSF committed rape in numerous towns and villages over an extended period of time, making them widespread.  First-hand accounts of orders from commanders to commit crimes and the RSF's repeated use of abusive practices indicate that they were systematic.


The attack on the town of Golo, in central Jebel Marra, was emblematic of RSF atrocities. The Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) rebel faction had contested control of Golo at various times since the Darfur conflict began in 2003, but during the past year the town had been firmly under government control.

 

On January 24 and 25, 2015 the RSF took over the town, burning buildings and looting. Human Rights Watch interviewed 21 people who had been in Golo and neighboring villages at the time.  Nearly everyone interviewed said that they witnessed killings, rape, and widespread beating and looting.

 

Nur al-Huda, a young woman from Golo, told Human Rights Watch that she was in her compound with her father and sisters when the RSF attacked: "They killed my father. My father was defending us so that we would not be raped and he was beaten to death. ... After they killed my father they raped the three of us.  Me and my two sisters. ... After they raped us they stole everything."


During the three weeks after they attacked Golo, the RSF continued to rape scores of women and girls in the town and many more in the neighboring village of Bardani. Many of the women were gang raped, often in front of community members who were forced to watch. Those who resisted were killed.   The naked bodies of many dead women were later discovered in the streets; other women were burned alive. The survivors of the Golo mass rape have not had access to medical or psychosocial services.

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Tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped over the past twelve years


Many survivors of RSF attacks fled to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in government-controlled territory or the hills and mountains outside of government-controlled areas. Those who fled to IDP camps are almost entirely dependent on the international community for a modicum of protection and subsistence; survivors who fled to the hills, primarily in Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra, are often unable to return to their farms with no access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Both groups remain vulnerable to further abuse.


Human Rights Watch also spoke with five defectors from Sudanese government forces: two RSF members, two SAF soldiers, and one Border Guard. Four of the defectors participated in attacks in Jebel Marra or East Jebel Marra. All five defected to the rebels after having participated in RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns, during which time they witnessed serious abuses by soldiers. Four of the five said commanding officers ordered their units to carry out atrocities against civilians. One admitted to committing serious crimes himself.

 

The numerous abuses documented in this report demonstrate the continuing need for an effective and rapidly responsive international force that can help protect civilian populations in Darfur from attack. The abuses also demonstrate that the current African-Union-United-Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNAMID, has been hamstrung in its performance and in the implementation of its core mandate to protect civilians.

 

Although UNAMID's mandate includes reporting on human rights abuses, the mission has failed to release any detailed documentation about abuses against civilians during either of the RSF-led counterinsurgency campaigns. Several reports of the UN secretary-general to the UN Security Council have referred to attacks by the RSF causing civilian displacement; however, there has been no indication of magnitude of the other serious abuses, such as sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, and burning of villages.


Human Rights Watch calls on the UN Security Council, the AU Peace and Security Council, and UNAMID to take concrete steps to protect civilians in Darfur from further abuse, including sanctioning individuals responsible for attacks on civilians, to expand and ensure access to humanitarian assistance for victims, including medical and psychosocial care for victims of sexual violence and other forms of trauma, and to press for cooperation with the International Criminal Court's investigation and prosecution of grave international crimes in Darfur . . .

 

Rapid Support Forces Attacks on Civilians since 2014


The RSF's first counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur, called "Operation Decisive Summer," took place primarily in South Darfur and North Darfur and was carried out between late February and early May 2014. The second campaign, "Operation Decisive Summer II," has been conducted primarily in Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra; it began in early January 2015 and major operations appear to have ceased by the onset of the rainy season in in June 2015. During both campaigns the RSF received Sudanese government air support and often fought with Sudanese military forces as well as other paramilitary and militia forces.


Human Rights Watch has documented during both operations apparent crimes against humanity - that is, widespread and systematic abuses by the RSF that are part of an attack against a civilian population. The abuses include killings, mass rape and torture of civilians; the forced displacement of entire communities; the destruction of the physical infrastructure necessary for sustaining life in the harsh desert environment including wells, food stores, shelter, and farming implements; and the plunder of the collective wealth of families, mainly livestock.


The RSF frequently killed civilians who challenged the RSF abuses: those who refused to leave their homes, refused to give up their livestock, or resisted being raped or attempted to defend their family members from being raped.

 

Many survivors of RSF attacks fled to displaced camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in government-controlled territory or the hills and mountains outside of government-controlled areas. Those who fled to IDP camps are almost entirely dependent on the international community for a modicum of protection and subsistence; survivors who fled to the hills, primarily in Jebel Marra and East Jebel Marra, are often unable to return to their farms with no access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Both groups remain vulnerable to further attacks by government forces.

 

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), al-Quwat al-Da'm al-Sari' in Arabic, are a Sudanese government force under the command of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) . . .


Full text, with links and photographs, at | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NH

Eric Reeves 

Smith College

Northampton, MA  01063 

ereeves@smith.edu

413-586-3781

www.sudanreeves.org

 

http://sudancommunitycompensation.org