July 20, 2004
Rights Group Says Sudan Aids Abuses
By WARREN HOGE
UNITED NATIONS, July 19 - An international human rights group said Monday that it had Sudanese government records showing that the authorities in Sudan are recruiting, arming and protecting the Arab militias attacking black Africans in the Darfur region in a campaign that United Nations officials have called ethnic cleansing.
Officials in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, have denied reports of complicity with fighters held responsible for the deaths of 30,000 people and the displacement of more than a million. They have answered the international outcry over the crisis with vows to disarm the militias and curb the violence.
"What these documents show is there is a need to go past the fiction maintained by Khartoum that there is a serious distinction between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militia that the government has sponsored," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
In a news conference at the United Nations, Mr. Roth deplored the delay in obtaining a Security Council resolution placing sanctions on Sudan's leaders, and he said the time had come to cease trusting Khartoum's claims that it will head off the problem and its pleas for time to do so.
"The Khartoum government is trying to have it both ways maintaining a faÃ§ade of cooperation with the international community but in fact doing relatively little to rein in the ongoing atrocities in Darfur," Mr. Roth said.
Both Secretary General Kofi Annan and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell went to Darfur this month to pressure Sudanese officials, but a United States-sponsored draft resolution has run into delays on the Security Council from countries interested in giving Sudan time to comply with its promises to act.
Mr. Roth displayed the Arabic documents and English translations of them and said they had been authenticated by Sudanese sources that the human rights group had found reliable in the past.
One, dated days after the Feb. 9 public declaration by the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, to "end all military operations in Darfur," ordered provincial officials instead to increase recruitment and support fighters.
Another, a month later, called for additional "provisions and ammunition." A third laid out plans for resettling lands from which black villagers had been evicted or eliminated.
Mr. Roth said his group had also turned up evidence that instead of disarming Janjaweed warriors, the government was incorporating them into the new police and security forces it was creating in the name of combating the militias.
Mr. Roth ridiculed the draft Security Council resolution, which does not call for sanctions against Sudanese leaders, only restrictions on travel and money of Janjaweed officials. "Freezing bank accounts and restricting travel for people who don't have bank accounts and don't travel won't do any good," he said.
Sudanese Militiamen Are Sentenced
KHARTOUM, Sudan, July 19 (Reuters) - A Sudanese court sentenced 10 Arab militiamen to amputation and six years in jail on Sunday in the first conviction of Janjaweed fighters for looting and killing in the Darfur region, according to a court document obtained here.
The ruling said the militiamen were convicted under articles pertaining to waging war, killing, armed looting and the possession of weapons without a license.
July 19, 2004
Amnesty Says Sudan Militias Use Rape as Weapon
By MARC LACEY
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 - An international human rights group has accused pro-government militias in the Darfur region of Sudan of using rape and other forms of sexual violence "as a weapon of war" to humiliate black African women and girls as well as the rebels fighting the government in Khartoum.
In a report to be released Monday, Amnesty International said the sexual attacks in Darfur amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. But it said it did not have sufficient evidence to show that the Janjaweed, as the government-backed militias are known, have carried out genocide in Darfur, as some critics of Sudan's government maintain.
"The horrific nature and scale of the violence inflicted on entire groups in Darfur appears to be a form of collective punishment of a population whose members have taken up arms against the central government," the Amnesty International report said.
"It may be interpreted as a warning to other groups and regions of what could happen to the local population if certain groups decided to rebel against Khartoum," it added.
Amnesty International called for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for sexual violence against the women of Darfur.
Rape is a cultural taboo in Sudan and families often ostracize victims. Although rape has been so widespread over the last year that many women feel emboldened to discuss it, many others are believed by experts to be denying that it ever occurred.
"The suffering and abuse endured by these women goes far beyond the actual rape," Amnesty said. "Rape has a devastating and ongoing impact on the health of women and girls, and survivors now face a lifetime of stigma and marginalization from their own families and communities."
Sudan ordered Saturday that committees of women judges, police officers and legal consultants investigate rape accusations and help victims through criminal cases, The Associated Press reported.
In many interviews, women recounted vicious rapes by members of the Arab militias. One woman from Silaya, near the town of Kulbus in western Sudan, was five months pregnant when she was abducted with eight other women in July 2003.
"Five to six men would rape us in rounds, one after the other for hours during six days, every night," the woman, who was identified only as S., told Amnesty researchers. "My husband could not forgive me after this; he disowned me."
Amnesty International said it had received many reports of militia men pulling out the fingernails of women to force them to reveal the locations of their husbands. During such interrogations, the women were accused of being rebel sympathizers.
Women have also been subjected to racial insults because their skin is darker than that of the Arabs.
"You blacks, you have spoiled the country," one in a group of women recounted the militia men telling them. "We are here to burn you. We will kill your husbands and sons, and we will sleep with you! You will be our wives!"