Sudan Human Rights and Humanitarian Bulletin for February 2014
Sudan Human Rights and Humanitarian Bulletin
Issue No 8
01 – 15 February 2014
The Sudan Human Rights and Humanitarian Bulletin (Sudan HRH Bulletin) is a fortnightly report on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan issued by Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC). Information in this Bulletin is compiled from different sources, including interviews with eye witnesses and victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Prime sources for some information in this Bulletin are Radio Dabanga http://www.radiodabanga.org and the weekly Humanitarian Bulletin on Sudan issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) http://unocha.org/sudan
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The human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan continued to deteriorate during the first two weeks of February 2014. Military operations, including aerial bombardment, were reported in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile States. No plans for cease-fire were declared as a good will gesture in preparation for the political talks called for by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which started in Addis Ababa on 13 February 2014. To the contrary, intensive aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Air Force against civilian areas was reported in South Kordofan State on the same day that the talks started. The first contingents out of over 6,000 Janjaweed militiamen equipped with more than 1000 military vehicles arrived in Darfur from North Kordofan State. The arrival of such an army of militiamen, notorious for their massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, indicates the beginning of a new phase of violence and atrocities against civilians in Darfur. The humanitarian situation is aggravating in many parts of Sudan and there are multiple reports about a lack of access to food and other basic needs. An increase in the numbers of civilians in need of urgent relief material has also been reported as the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable groups in the armed conflict- affected regions is steadily rising.
There are reports of an influx of thousands of civilians from the Republic of South Sudan into Sudan’s border regions, including the contested Abyei area. Civilians fleeing the armed conflict in South Sudan arrive in Sudan in a desperate humanitarian situation. In the absence of any support from governments and relief agencies, these persons constitute the most vulnerable groups in Sudan. The numbers of such persons is expected to increase since the fighting that erupted in South Sudan in December 2013 continues unabated, despite ongoing efforts for a negotiated peaceful settlement.
Abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms have been reported in Sudan during the period under review. The ongoing human rights violations include assaults on freedom of the press and freedom of association, torture, unlawful arrest and detention of government policy opponents. An unknown number of political dissidents and pro-democracy activists are detained without trial or court sentences in different parts of Sudan. Some political detainees are held under harsh conditions in detention facilities run by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) or the Military Intelligence. Some of these detainees are held for prolonged periods without judicial purview and in violations of existing Sudanese laws which set a specific period of time during which the security forces can detain people. In Darfur there are reports that militiamen are also detaining people without judicial supervision. Violations of fundamental rights and liberties in Sudan are committed by the government apparatus against the background that Sudan is a state party to the core body of regional and international human rights and humanitarian law, and, as such, it is under legal obligation to respect the rights and liberties provided in these instruments.1
1 Sudan is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Sudan is a contracting party to the Geneva Conventions on International Humanitarian Law. It is also a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and, as such, it should refrain from any practice or act which defeats the object and purpose of the Rome Statute.
A. Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1. Violations of Civil and Political Rights
Mr. Tajeldin Ahmed Arga Ali, a 26 year old Blogger from Darfur, has been held incommunicado by the NISS since 24 December 2013. He was arrested in Khartoum while attending a public meeting addressed by President Omar Al-Bashir and his Chadian counterpart Idris Deby. The arrest took place inside the Friendship Hall where Mr. Arga confronted the two Presidents and publicly blamed them of being responsible for the killing and destruction occurring in Darfur and accused them of distorting reality about the situation in the region. Since his arrest Mr. Arga has not been seen in public and there are serious fears about his safety and security of person.
On 11 February 2014, NISS agents stormed the premises of El-Shurooq Cultural Forum in Gedaref town, eastern Sudan while members of the Forum and the public gathered for a debate on a book entitled “Development and Sustainable Peace in Eastern Sudan.” The security agents confiscated the equipment of the Forum and the personal belongings of some of its members, including the laptop and mobile phone of Mr. Gaffar Khadir.
On 5 February 2014, the NISS agents unlawfully ordered the arrest and detention of Sheikh Khamis Ishag Abdel Moula, leader of the Kanjarde District at Murnei IDP camp in Central Darfur State. He was accused of being behind the IDPs’ resistance of government plans to dismantle the camp and transform it into a permanent residential area. Four other IDP leaders were also arrested and detained for different periods. Some IDPs elders such as Sheikh Khamis Allajabo were tortured and shackled. All attempts to secure their release on bail have failed. Residents of Murnei camps (estimated at about 127,000) have rejected the government plan to restructure the camp as the plan does not only provide for the destruction of homes, but it also requires each IDP household to pay the equivalent of US$113 as urban planning fees.
Mr. Bakri Aduma Abubakar has been held in detention by the Border Guards in Juruf area, southeast of Sirba Locality, West Darfur State, since 5 February 2014. He is being held in the militia camp in a deplorable situation under the supervision of Militia Commander Isa Hussein Duruj.
The trial of 63 presumed members of the SPLM-N in a Special Criminal Court in Sinja, Sennar State, continued under harsh conditions. The defense lawyers considered the process to be flawed and indicated that the key defendant in this case, Mr. Munnalla Hussein, has been accused of killing six people whereas two of them, Mr. Hamid Osman and Mr. Hamed Abdo, were in fact attending the court proceedings as defense witnesses. The defense further indicated that all the people claimed to have been killed by Mr. Hussein are in fact alive. There are 86 defendants in this case of whom 23 defendants are being tried in absentia, including the SPLM-N Chairman Mr. Malik Agar and its Secretary General Mr. Yasir Arman. The defendants are facing charges under articles 21, 25, 50, 51,186, and 187 of the Sudanese Penal Code as well as articles 5 and 6 of Anti-terrorism Act and article 26 of the Ammunition Law of 1986. If they are found guilty, the defendants face capital punishment.
2. Freedom of Expression and the Press
The confiscation of newspapers and the arrest and intimidation of journalists as a means to curtail freedom of expression have been reported during the period under review. On 6 February 2014, the security forces arrested Mr. Bakri Al-Madani, Editor- in-Chief of Al-Hurra newspaper in his office in Khartoum. He was later transferred to Wad Madani in Al-Gezeera State, about 150km from Khartoum, for interrogation. On 4 February 2014, NISS agents confiscated the daily issues of 3 independent newspapers (El-Ayam, El-Sahafa, and Alwan). The papers were confiscated after the print which inflicts financial loss on the publishers.
Harassment and Sexual Violence against Women
Incidents of rape and sexual violence against women and girls were reported in Darfur during the first two weeks of February 2014. Three armed, government-controlled militiamen reportedly raped two displaced young women, including a 14-year old girl on 12 February 2014. The women live in Kassab IDP camp, Kutum Locality, North Darfur State. On 3 February 2014, armed militiamen abducted and gang-raped a 12 year-old school girl near Rwanda IDP camp, Tawila Locality, North Darfur State. The girl was abducted while she was on her way home from school. The physically and psychologically traumatised girl was admitted for medical treatment in hospital in El- Fasher. On 1 February 2014, three armed militiamen wearing military uniforms attacked and raped a young woman from Deleig IDP camp in Wadi Salih Locality, Central Darfur State. The woman was attacked in the Jebel Mount Keija area while she was on her way back to the camp after collecting firewood. DRDC is concerned that rape, as the most serious assault against women, has been treated with total indifference in Darfur. It has reached endemic proportions to the extent that in Kalma IDP camp, South Darfur State, some 150 cases of the rape of women and girls were documented between June 2013 and January 2014. This abhorrent crime is being committed by militiamen and the security forces with total immunity. Since its deployment into Darfur in January 2008, the African Union and United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been incapable of protecting women and girls from falling victims to rape and sexual violence.
On 13 February 2014, two police officers (Col. Amin Saeed and Lit. Ibrahim Salama) severely beat up and injured Ms. Ilham Abdel Aziz Karar in Wad Madani, El-Gezira State. It is to be noted that Ms Karar, a lawyer, was mistreated by police despite her immunity under law. It is reported that Ms. Karar had protested the detention conditions of one her clients and filed an application for his release which provoked the policemen to verbally and physically abuse her.
Government backed Janjaweed militiamen have committed a series of crimes and human rights violations against civilians in El-Obeid, capital of North Kordofan State and the villages in its vicinity since their arrival in the area in the second week of January 2014. On 5 February 2014, Janjaweed elements seriously wounded Saleh Idris, a 62-year old local trader and his 71 year-old assistant Mr. Aldigail, when they drove a car onto his shop in Fartangul East village, south of El Obeid. The critically wounded men received medical treatment in El-Obeid hospital and were later transferred to Khartoum for treatment. In Hashaba village, south of El-Obeid,
Janjaweed elements killed a civilian and raped his wife. In Al-Salahin neighbourhood, Janjaweed elements robbed local traders and refused to pay fees for services they had received. The presence of the Janjaweed in North Kordofan State was met by fierce protest from the local people and generated a nationwide outcry which forced the government to order them to leave North Kordofan yet redeploy into South Darfur State.
The number of people fleeing the conflict in South Sudan into Sudan since the beginning of January 2014 is growing. According to multiple sources, including the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Sudan, between 20,000 and 23,300 refugees from South Sudan have arrived on the bordering areas such as Kilo 10 in Al Salam and Al Alagaya in Jebelein, in the White Nile State. The presence of some South Sudanese victims of the armed conflict was also reported in West and South Kordofan, and Blue Nile States as well as in Khartoum. Sudan has declared that it has no plans to establish refugee camps and announced that the South Sudanese may settle anywhere in the country without restrictions.
B. Security and Humanitarian Situation in Darfur
The security and humanitarian situation in Darfur is degrading rapidly. Military operations, especially aerial bombardment of civilian targets as well as ground attacks are intensifying especially in South, North and Central Darfur States. Criminal activities and atrocities committed by armed militiamen against civilians, especially the IDPs, are rampant and have far reaching consequences on the safety and well-being of the affected populations. Violent clashes between members of the military, security formations and the government-controlled militia groups were also reported in West and South Darfur States.
The humanitarian situation is alarming coupled with an increase in the number of civilians in need for urgent relief assistance in different parts of Darfur. There is a need for immediate intervention to ensure that UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations are allowed unhindered access to the needy populations. All indicators show that a major humanitarian crisis of large proportions in Darfur can only be averted through a robust humanitarian intervention to deliver food and protect civilians.
On 8 February 2014, an army soldier was killed and four others wounded in clashes between the Sudanese army and a self-proclaimed militia group named the “Arab Spring Forces.” Two civilians were reportedly injured during this fight. The skirmish took place in Badi area, about 20km northwest of Abu Karinka in East Darfur State.
An extensive fire of unknown origin but thought to have been caused intentionally by arson has destroyed 335 houses and 20 shops in two villages (Halouf and Abu Hamra) in Mershing locality, South Darfur State. More than 2,000 families were affected and their financial losses in terms of buildings, livestock, equipment, crops and other material are estimated at about US$370,000. The phenomenon of arson fires has been on the increase in many parts of Darfur.
Inter-tribal tension involving members of Ma’alia tribe is increasing often as a result of criminal activities and the collapse of law and order in the area. An inter-tribal confrontation between the Ma’alia and Hamar was reported on 5 February 2014 in Sharif area, Adila Locality on the borders between East Darfur and West Kordofan States. There were reports of murder, abduction and the #####ng of livestock. As a reminder on 24 January 2014, six Rizeigat tribesmen were killed and at least two Ma’alia tribesmen were wounded in Khamsat area, Adila Locality, East Darfur State. This violent clash was provoked by the theft of livestock in the area. Similar clashes in the area cannot be ruled out due to the large concentration of armed men from the two tribes in the nearby Abu Jabra and El Jalabi in Adila and Bakhit in Abu Karinka Localities.
Mr. Mousa Jiddo was seriously wounded and ten others were reportedly missing after militiamen attacked a commercial vehicle on 10 February 2014 in Hajar Tomat area, Kutum Locality, North Darfur State. The missing people include the vehicle’s driver Mr. Ali Ismail. The militiamen robbed the passengers of their money and other valuables and fled with the goods loaded on the vehicle. In two other robberies committed in southwest of Assalaya, East Darfur State, two people were killed and ten others wounded. During this attack, militiamen opened fire on two commercial vehicles that were returning from the market loaded with goods and passengers. The drivers of the two vehicles, Mr. Mahmoud Ibrahim, and Mr. Babiker Abu, died on the spot. Five passengers were injured, including Mr. Abubakar Abdul Baki and Mr. Omar Adam.
On 10 February 2014, three civilians were killed and several others wounded in inter- tribal violence in Saygoun, Tullus Locality in South Darfur State. The conflict erupted between the Fellata and the Salamat tribes and was apparently provoked by banditry. Tension is mounting in the area due to the mobilization of fighters from both sides and the situation could degenerate further.
On 3 February 2014, militiamen plundered the weekly market of Sargeila in Tullus Locality, where they looted merchants and shoppers of their money, mobile phones, luggage and goods. The stolen belongings are considerable as local people from various areas such as Tullus, Gireida, and Buram visit the weekly market. In Fata Borno camp in Kutum Locality, militiamen attacked the camp residents on 2 February 2014 and committed a series of atrocities and abuses. They beat and tied-up three IDP men (Adam Idris, Kamal Kubash and Abdallah Ibrahim Jabir). They also robbed their victims of their belongings, including money, mobile phones and shoes.
Tension has mounted in Tawila town and traders and the local people were forced to remain in their homes for about five days following threats by militiamen to burn down the Rwanda IDP camp. The incident was provoked by the killing of a militiaman in a robbery attempt against residents of the IDP camp on 1 February 2014.
During the first week of February 2014, armed herdsmen launched a series of attacks against the farmlands in Birkat Seira in Saraf Omra Locality, North Darfur State. They destroyed a large area cultivated with winter crops such as onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and okra. It was also reported that assaults and raids by militiamen against IDPs are intensifying in the area. On 3 February 2014, armed militiamen attacked Mr.
Ahmed Yahya, Mr. Sharif Abdel Majeed, Mr. Aila Yusif Adam, and Mr. Haidar Ibrahim Zaroug and robbed them of their belongings.
On 3 February Ms. Kaltouma Musa Abakar was killed and five other people (Ms. Nima Osman Adam, Ms. Mona Abakar Ismail, Mr. Abdel Rahman Mahmoud, Mr. Idris Ahmed Abakar, and Mr. Islam Eisa) were injured when a vehicle used by the Border Intelligence Brigade intentionally smashed into a number of shoppers in the marketplace in Kabkabiya twon.
On 1 February 2014, at least four members of the Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira), including a police officer, were killed and two others injured in a clash with government- backed militiamen. The killings took place in Sangata area, south of Kass Locality, South Darfur State, when militiamen ambushed a police convoy. The militiamen stole and fled with an all-terrain vehicle used by the police convoy, which was armed with a Dushka machine gun and a considerable amount of ammunition.
On 1 February 2014, militiamen shot and killed Mr. Farah Turin, an IDP man resident in Gireida. A few hours following this killing, militiamen attacked a commercial vehicle on its way from Nyala to Gireida causing serious bodily harm to the driver. The militiamen abused the passengers, robbed them of their belongings and money and fled with the vehicle.
2. Humanitarian Needs in Darfur
The humanitarian situation in many parts of Darfur is worsening and early signals of famine are being reported. Numerous sources are pointing out to a looming famine across Darfur due to the failed harvest season, rampant insecurity, the systematic destruction of farmlands by pro-government herders and the government policy to limit the presence of independent relief organizations, including UN agencies either by expelling them from the country, suspending their activities or limiting their ability to deliver services through hostile administrative measures. Late in January 2014, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in North Darfur State warned the authorities that in 2014, the State will be facing a food gap estimated at more than half of the State’s annual food needs. Another factor aggravating the food scarcity situation among the IDPs in Darfur is the reduction of food rations distributed by relief agencies. The World Food Programme (WFP) ceased the distribution of food in some of the IDP camps claiming that these settlements are no longer classified as IDP camps but as rural gatherings that only need annual support with ‘seeds for planting.’ The IDPs affected by this absurd measure are residents in Mershing as well as Kubum and Um Labasa IDP camps in Kubum Locality and in Haboba and Duggo Dosa camps in Shattai Locality. In Teiga area, which hosts more than 7,000 IDPs, the hunger situation and the health conditions are precarious.
To further tighten its grip on independent relief organizations, the Government of South Darfur State though the Humanitarian Aid Commission decreed in early February 2014 that permission to operate in the State will only be issued to foreign relief organisations that operate in partnership with a Sudanese organisation. Reregistration of national relief organizations will only be possible if the organization clearly indicates to the authorities the sources of their incomes and the services on which it is spent. The
decree threatened relief organizations that do meet these criteria that they will be deleted from the South Darfur official records. In addition, deliberate attacks against relief organizations and intimidation of their staff have been reported during the first two weeks of February 2014. On 8 February 2014, armed militiamen raided the stores of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Fata Borno, Kutum Locality, North Darfur State. The militiamen abused the guards on duty and ran away with 40 large sacks (about 100kg each) of sorghum and fled.
In Muhajeriya town and Abu Dangal village in Sheiria Locality, East Darfur State, about 16,500 civilians displaced since March-April 2013, are in need of urgent assistance. This IDP group includes 7,000 people in Muhajeriya and 9,500 in Abu Dangal village. They share meagre provisions with the local people such as food as well as health, sanitation and education services. The hospital in Muhajeriya is unable to meet the needs of the local communities because of a shortage of health personnel, essential drugs and appropriate medical facilities. Regarding education, some 830 children in Muhajeria cannot attend school due to inadequate facilities.
The nutrition, health and sanitary situation in the rural areas and the IDP camps all over Darfur are worsening due to a lack of adequate food, hospitals and health centres. On 3 February 2014, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Sudan revealed that 40% of the children in Sudan suffer from chronic malnutrition. The World Health Organization (WHO) reached a similar conclusion in September 2013 and declared that child mortality due to malnutrition has reached 40% in Sudan and that more than 1.8 million of the country’s children live with high rates of chronic malnutrition. The Sudanese authorities, including the Federal Ministry of Health acknowledged the problems faced by the health and nutrition sectors in Sudan and that the malnutrition rates among children are largely above the global standards. According to international standard malnourishment response mechanisms, a state of emergency should have been declared in Darfur since the malnutrition rate has reached double the usual rate of 20%. These findings are significant as children constitute 65% of the population in Darfur and most of them are living in IDP camps. A total of 1.2 million children in Darfur do not have access to basic services and half of them do not go to school. UNICEF concluded that the health sector in Darfur is “risky” and that despite efforts to improve the situation, pregnant women in the region die for “illogical reasons”, only because there are no midwives and health centres.
Meanwhile, in El-Sareif Locality, North Darfur State, at least 34 people have died from acute jaundice syndrome between January 2013 and mid-February 2014. According to the State’s Ministry of Health, some 2,572 cases have been reported during this period and the most affected areas are Abuseniena and Umjamina villages where IDPs from Jebel Amir have settled. In South Darfur, there have been reports from organizations like Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res-Belgium (MSF-B) that since 5 February 2014, cases of acute jaundice syndrome have been registered in Kalma, Dereig and El Sareif IDP camps in Nyala Locality. Eight cases were confirmed, while six cases were diagnosed as Hepatitis E.
3. SecurityandHumanitarianSituationinSouthKordofan,WestKordofanandBlue Nile States
The security and humanitarian situation in South and West Kordofan and the Blue Nile States continues to be a source of worry due to ongoing fighting between the government army and the SRF. Military operations, including aerial bombardment of civilian targets, intensified in the first two weeks of February 2014 with a large number of reported casualties. On 13 February 2014, nine civilians were killed and thirteen others injured in two separate attacks by the Sudanese Air Force against Um Dullu and Tabaniya villages, Um Doreen County, South Kordofan State. During the attack on Tabaniya the primary school and farmlands were targeted and as a result 13 cows perished. Other areas that were subject of regular aerial bombardment are Buram and Heiban Counties in South Kordofan State. On 8 and 9 February 2014, a Sudanese army military jet bombarded Abri, near Dalami and Heiban towns in South Kordofan State. One man was killed and two others were injured. On February 2014 a military jet reportedly attacked El-Dar and Damadogo villages in Buram locality. Mr. Timo Touse was killed during the aerial bombardment while Mr. Salem Kuku a 27-year old and Zainab Tromba a 13-year old girl were wounded. A number of cattle perished and vast tracts of farmland and pasture were burned as a result of the aerial bombardment.
Criminality and militia activity is reportedly on the increase in South Kordofan State. On 11 February 2014, armed militiamen killed a 12-year old herder boy near Hillat Barno in South Kordofan State. The militiamen attacked the boy in an attempt to rob the cattle that he was tending and as he resisted they threw a hand grenade at him.
There were reports regarding the use of anti-personnel landmines in the war zones in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States. According to the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, at least five people were killed, including one of its staff members, and 19 others wounded in a landmine explosion in South Kordofan State on 12 February 2014. The explosion was reported in Gadir area, about 25km west of Abu Jubaiha. Nineteen people including six Red Crescent Society workers were injured. The blast was detonated by a vehicle carrying civilians and aid workers that were reportedly on their way to provide medical treatment to civilians wounded, following an attack by gunmen in the Karida area. As a reminder, 19 people were wounded in the Blue Nile State, when a landmine was detonated on 6 January 2014. The incident took place in Dokan village in Kurmuk Locality while several people were travelling in a commercial vehicle. Sources at Al-Damazin Hospital confirmed that six of the victims, including women and children were seriously injured and some of them needed to undergo complicated surgeries, especially limbs amputations.