Large-Scale Civilian Attacks Represent “Worst Instance of Violence in Recent Years”
(NEW YORK) – Elements of government forces, along with armed militias, are carrying out multiple large-scale attacks against civilians in North Darfur in what represents the worst instance of violence in recent years, Amnesty International said in 10 Years On: Violations Remain Widespread in Darfur, a briefing released Wednesday.
Border Guards, who are under the authority of the Sudanese Military Intelligence, have been involved in attacks that have reportedly killed more than 500 people so far this year.
According to the U.N., roughly 100,000 people have been displaced since violence broke out on January 5 when an officer of the Border Guards and leader of the Rizeigat tribe both laid claim to a gold-rich piece of land in Jebel ‘Amer, a region in North Darfur.
Amnesty International is calling upon the Sudanese government to ensure a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into these allegations.
“Any member of the Border Guards who is reasonably suspected of involvement in committing such attacks must be immediately suspended from their posts,” says Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director. “They should be charged and prosecuted in fair proceedings, which comply with international standards of fair trial, without resorting to the death penalty.”
Amnesty International is also urging the U.N. to adequately monitor and report back on the allegations of government forces attacking civilians which to date they have labeled “inter-communal violence.”
Government forces and militias are still present in the area and continue to cause insecurity, but the latest large-scale attack took place on February 23 when hundreds of gunmen attacked the town of El Siref, where 60,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) had taken refuge.
Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that armed men arrived on 150 camels, 200 horses, and in more than 40 four-wheel drive vehicles to attack the town.
53 people were killed and 66 injured, most civilians, including women and children. Attackers also burned down houses and other civilian buildings. Villagers fought back with AK rifles, killing 17 of the attackers, most of whom carried government-issued documents, identifying them as members of the Border Guards.
In addition to naming Border Guard officers who participated in attacks, civilians described the use of heavy weapons, such as Dushka-type heavy machine-guns, RPGs, and grenade launchers against them– equipment used by government forces in the area and not normally available to civilians.
Amnesty International’s briefing also includes information on indiscriminate aerial bombardments, ethnically targeted attacks, torture of human rights defenders, and the violent suppression of demonstrations.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.