Eyewitness Account Of Civilian Atrocities In Sudan

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Human Rights Watch says since the start of armed conflict, the RSF and predominantly Arab allied militias have carried out repeated attacks on towns and villages in the West Darfur state. The Rapid Support Forces raped several dozen women and girls in West Darfur’s capital and those fleeing fighting in recent weeks. Attacks in the city of El Geneina began on April 24, causing numerous civilian deaths and injuries, and forcing over 366,000 people to flee to nearby Chad.

GENEINA AUGUST 24: Human Rights Watch says since the start of armed conflict in Sudan between the army and the Rapid Support Forces on April 15, the RSF and predominantly Arab allied militias have carried out repeated attacks on towns and villages in the West Darfur state.

The attacks have mainly targeted areas inhabited by one of the main non-Arab communities, the Massalit. For more, Esther Githui-Ewart spoke to Mohamed Osman, a Sudan researcher for the Horn and East Africa at Human Rights Watch. Osman worked alongside other HRW colleagues and gave an eyewitness account of the civilian atrocities in Sudan.

The Rapid Support Forces, an independent military force, and allied militias in Sudan raped several dozen women and girls in West Darfur’s capital and those fleeing fighting in recent weeks. Sexual violence committed in the context of an armed conflict is a war crime, and if part of a widespread or systematic attack can amount to crimes against humanity.

Since the start of armed conflict in Sudan between the Sudan Armed Forces and the RSF on April 15, the RSF and predominantly Arab allied militias have carried out repeated attacks on towns and villages in the West Darfur state. These attacks have mainly targeted areas inhabited by one of the main non-Arab communities, the Massalit.

Attacks in the city of El Geneina began on April 24 and continued through late June, causing numerous civilian deaths and injuries, and forcing over 366,000 people to flee to nearby Chad.

“The Rapid Support Forces and allied militias appear responsible for a staggering number of rapes and other war crimes during their attack on El Geneina,” said Belkis Wille, associate crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch.

In almost all instances reported to Human Rights Watch, those responsible for the rapes also committed other grave abuses including beatings, killings, looting, or burning homes, businesses or government buildings.

The survivors all said that the attackers explicitly mentioned their ethnic identity and used ethnic slurs about the Massalit or non-Arabs more generally.

International humanitarian law, called the laws of war, prohibits parties to an armed conflict from deliberately harming civilians. Common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and customary international humanitarian law, both of which apply to all warring parties in Sudan, prohibit rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Rape committed by combatants can constitute a form of torture. Rape and other sexual violence committed in the context of an armed conflict is a war crime, and if part of a widespread or systematic attack by a government or armed group on a civilian population, can amount to crimes against humanity.

Human Rights Watch on August 11 emailed a summary of findings for comment to Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the RSF commander, but at the time of publication has not received a response.

Sudan Crimes: Janjaweed A.k.a Rapid Support Forces

Image: Henry Wilkins/VOA

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