SPEAK UP AND DEMAND PROTECTION FOR THE PEOPLE AND THE WOMEN OF DARFUR – NOW! SILENCE IN THE FACE OF THE MASS RAPE OF 200 WOMEN AND GIRLS IN NORTH DARFUR IN JUST ONE DAY IS INTOLERABLE.
The shocking incident:
Friday, October 31st, the residents of Tabit were terrorized by government soldiers from the nearby military garrison south of El Fasher in Northern Darfur.
The soldiers first arrived in town on Friday morning. The military commander falsely accused the Tabit citizens of kidnapping one of his soldiers and gave them until evening to return him. They returned at 8pm and rounded up the villagers, beating them with their rifle butts and separating the men and women by force. Then the soldiers stayed until 4:00am the following morning, raping approximately 200 women and girls. Eighty of their victims were school girls; 105 of the girls were unmarried; the remainder were married. It was a horror that the people of Tabit were not prepared for. The commander of the soldiers returned to the village the following day, admitted that his soldiers has done wrong and then apologized. It is shocking and unacceptable that this incident happened a few kilometers from the headquarters of the United Nation-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Although the purpose of UNAMID’s presence in Darfur is to protect the people, the ONLY semblance of any rescue, as reported by the people of Tabit, was the few UNAMID personnel who arrived 5 days AFTER the rape to ask the villagers what had happened – and then they left! This is beyond devastating to me and millions of Darfuri women. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident; it is a systematic pattern of the long standing genocidal attacks against the people of Darfur since 2003.
I appeal to you to join me and the Darfur Women Action Group’s team to petition the UN Security Council in supporting the victims of Tabit and hold the perpetrators of this horrendous crime accountable.
1. Demand immediate investigation into the mass rape of 200 women in Darfur
2. Demand that the UN provide immediate medical and psychological treatment for the victims
3. Hold accountable the government soldiers (the rapists) for their brutal crimes
4. Adequate compensation to the victims must be provided.
Hear my story and the stories of suffering of the people of Darfur and please sign my petition.
The long suffering of the people of Darfur:
Eleven years ago, the Government of Sudan began a genocidal campaign in Darfur.
Over 300,000 civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed. While there are external refugee camps in neighboring countries, over three million Darfuris remain in Darfur in concentration-like camps and are not able to return to their homes. Rape has been and is still systematically used as a weapon of war and terrorization. Countless women and girls have been victimized and left to suffer in silence with no subsequent medical care, coupled with shame and fear of ostracization, to say nothing of unwanted pregnancies. Humanitarian organizations have been expelled and the efforts of the few that have been allowed to remain have been severely restricted by the Sudanese Government; this is the same government which has consistently used starvation as an instrument for repression and death. After eleven years of militia campaigns led by the Government of Sudan, the violence continues, including ongoing aerial bombardment of villages, particularly in the inaccessible Jebel Marra area. Consequently, civilians remain prone to constant attacks led by the Sudan Air Force, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), janjaweed militia, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur, still pursues his genocidal policy. This is a result of the international community and the UNSC not fulfilling their responsibility to bring him to trial.
Read my story:
Nine years ago, I was forced to leave Darfur in the middle of the night with nowhere to go, leaving behind my beloved family and friends, simply because of being outspoken and standing up for myself and my people. One of the first genocide attack against the indigenous African people started in the outskirts of Kabkabiya, my hometown in North Darfur. Fifty Darfur villages were burned to the ground in one week. Forty nine of my father’s immediate family members were killed in just one day; children were thrown alive into fire. People started fleeing their burned villages and going to the town, seeking refuge. But the government soldiers and the militias denied them entrance, banned the people from burying the bodies of their dead relatives, and chased displaced civilians from the place where they wanted to build a camp by constantly beating them. The people were forced to return to their burned villages. A group of community leaders gathered and started collecting food, medicine and money to assist the needy. The government then arrested and tortured 50 men who were among those helping out, including my brothers, my in-laws, my uncles and many more relatives and friends, most of whom were teachers. For 2 years, no one knew their whereabouts; some of them died in their jail cells. Eventually, I and a group of women took on the role of assisting the needy, particularly the rape victims. And then the government banned the reporting of incidents and the medical treatment of rape victims in its hospitals. But I continued. It was not an easy task for me; every day, I believed I would die, but standing by and watching was not an option for me. Later on, when the attacks escalated, we were harassed, threatened and targeted for death. Most of my group members had to leave the region; some were arrested. I didn’t want to leave Sudan, but many women, including my mother, supported and encouraged me to leave, so that I would be safe in order to speak for them. My mother said to me, “Niemat, you are outspoken. If you stay, we may all be killed and if you leave, you may be safe and can tell the world about what is happening in Darfur and they may do something to help end it.” With that hope of being their voice and after several attempts on my life I left my homeland. To this moment, I have been deprived of seeing my mother for 9 years. Even though I am now a US citizen, I am not able to go to Darfur. And so I created the Darfur Women Action Group – to recognize the courage and the resilience of the Darfuri women in the face of genocide and to be able to speak up for them. Today, in telling my story, it is no longer about me! It is about those who are left behind and still enduring an unimaginable suffering in silence. It is because of people like my old mother and millions of women who have lived for years trapped in a place with not enough to eat, no available medical care and under constant attack. As a survivor of the Darfur genocide living in the United States, this week, I am not only horrified by the mass rape incident and the brutality of the Sudanese government’s army, but I am deeply hurt and dismayed by the silence of the world’s community and media in the face of this shocking incident.
Your voice matters:
As a result of citizen mobilization, in 2007 the UNSC was pressured to authorize UN forces to protect civilians in Darfur under Security Council Resolution 1769, which established UNAMID. The resolution stated the need to protect Darfuri people, “support early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, prevent the disruption of its implementation and armed attacks, and protect civilians, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Sudan.” Today with this petition and your voices, we can again make the UNAMID troops effectively protect the vulnerable and hold the international community accountable for their failure. Today, UNAMID is the largest UN peacekeeping force in the world, but it is failing to protect civilians in Darfur. Further, it has largely been characterized by partiality and allegation of covering up the counts of human causalities and under-reporting the number of rape incidents committed by Sudanese Government forces or janjaweed militias; exposure of these misreports was made by a former UNAMID spokesperson (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52925 -Sudan Tribute, November 3rd, 2014). In addition, it has been reported that UNAMID forces in many cases actually await approval from the Government of Sudan for their actions. UNAMID has not just failed to protect the vulnerable Darfuri population but are failing to protect their own personnel. To date, there have been about 140 UNAMID forces killed in Darfur, resulting in the diminishment of world confidence in the UN’s ability to function in a crisis situation. We believe that in order to be effective, UNAMID must be empowered to protect civilians and protect its own personnel – or it would be better if it withdrew from the region. In the face of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, we can’t stand idly by – what is happening in Darfur now is a crisis of global magnitude that not only affects the people of Darfur but our world peace, regional stability and security at large. It requires global effort. We must speak up and demand action. If the world leaders are failing their responsibility, it’s imperative that we, the global citizenry, speak up and remind them that this is morally unacceptable. The world leaders need to hear our voices.
Why signing this petition matters:
As a result of the global mobilization behind Darfur in 2004-2006, UN forces were authorized and the case of Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court. Now, we need to use our voices again to urge the UNSC to make their troops an effective protection force and support the accountability for those who have committed crimes. The UN needs to have more supervision over its own UNAMID leaders. We, therefore, need your voice to join the Darfur Women Action Group in demanding that the UN Security Council take the following measures to protect the people of Darfur, bring the perpetrators to justice and bring lasting peace to Sudan at large:
1. UNAMID must be given authority and its mandate extended to focus on protecting civilians, to create a safe environment for independent humanitarian operation, and to transparently report on human rights violations, particular rape cases.
2. The UNSC must make public an investigation report regarding UNAMID’s cover up and hold accountable the accomplices among UNAMID’s leadership, who are implicated in falsely reporting the number of casualties of the Sudanese Government attacks in Darfur.
3. The UNSC must make it clear to the Sudanese government that it must stop the use of rape as a weapon of war.
4. The UNSC must authorize unhindered humanitarian access in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan without the approval of the Sudanese Government.
5. The UNSC must support the International Criminal Court to pursue accountability for those who committed and are still committing these heinous crimes and to bring them to trial. Join me and the Darfur Women Action Group team in telling the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) MUST protect civilians in Darfur – or they must be held accountable for their failure!