Ongoing Violence Ravaging North Darfur, Young Girl Raped by Militiamen

 

Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is outraged to hear of the rape of a young girl by gunmen in military uniforms in the Tawila locality on Tuesday in North Darfur. News of this violent crime comes at the heels of reports of more gunmen in military uniforms attacking civilians, looting, and burning of villages in North Darfur — tactics that are emblematic of the genocidal violence that continues throughout the region. DWAG condemns these malicious acts in the strongest terms and calls for the Interim government to take immediate action to stop the violence, protect women, and hold those responsible accountable. Heinous crimes such as rape must not be let go without serious consequences for the perpetrators. DWAG also urges the US government and the member states of the UNSC council to hold Sudan accountable for its failure to protect civilians and bring perpetrators of these cruel crimes to justice. 

DWAG will remain vigilant to and committed to continuing to draw attention to the situation. DWAG stands in solidarity with the people of North Darfur and demands the government and international community to take immediate action to ensure the protection of civilians.

Joint Letter to Demand ICC Handover

Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers, Republic of the Sudan

His Excellency Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Republic of the Sudan

Nasredeen Abdulbari, Minister of Justice, Republic of the Sudan


26 August 2021

Re: Transfer of ICC Suspects to The Hague

Your Excellency Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Members of the Sovereign Council and Members of the Council of Ministers,

We were deeply encouraged to learn that the Council of Ministers approved in June the transfer of three individuals currently in Sudanese custody to the International Criminal Court (ICC). We are now writing to urge the Sovereign Council to follow suit and swiftly facilitate the handover of Omar al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun, and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein.

We commend the transitional government for the historic steps that it has already taken to cooperate with the ICC, including by facilitating the ICC Prosecutor’s first visit to Darfur in connection with the ongoing case for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Ali Kushayb. We particularly welcome the Council of Ministers’ historic announcement that Sudan intends to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC, joining 123 other States in standing against impunity.

Transferring al-Bashir, Haroun and Hussein to the ICC will further demonstrate the Sudanese transitional government’s commitment to implementing the Juba Peace Agreement and ensuring accountability for those who commit the most severe violations of human rights and mass atrocities, and will be timely ahead of the opening of the UN General Assembly in September, when Sudan’s leadership will make a speech on the international stage alongside other world leaders.

According to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, an estimated 400,000 people were killed, countless women and girls were systematically raped and subjected to other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and more than 2.5 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes.1 Former president Omar al-Bashir and the other individuals facing ICC arrest warrants should not be permitted to evade justice for their alleged crimes committed in Darfur, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. All perpetrators of such serious crimes should be held accountable.

In Resolution 1593, the UN Security Council stated that “[t]he Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur shall co-operate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court.” Transferring suspects wanted by the Court, as provided for under Resolution 1593, will help demonstrate Sudan’s commitment to returning to the rules-based international order, as previously indicated by the government’s approval of the ratification of key human rights treaties.

The 2019 Constitutional Document mandates transitional authorities to “[h]old members of the former regime accountable in accordance with law for all crimes committed against the Sudanese people since 30 June 1989.” But two years after Sudan’s revolution, no proceedings have been initiated to try al-Bashir, Haroun, or Hussein for their role in serious international crimes committed in Darfur. The complexity and high costs of prosecuting the highest-level suspects for atrocity crimes would be a significant challenge for the Sudanese judicial system.

We encourage the transitional government to now translate its recent commitment to ending decades of impunity into action by transferring the ICC’s outstanding fugitives without delay. Victims should not be made to wait any longer for justice.

We would be pleased to engage further with any Members of the Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers on this matter or on any other issues that are within our field of expertise.


Yours sincerely,

1. Act for Sudan

2. Activists for Human Rights – Canada

3. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)

4. Al-Hadatha Newspaper

5. Ali Abdalla Ali Keitan, Sudanese Rural Association for Peace and Development (SRAPD)

6. Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment (KACE)

7. Al-Nawa Organization for Environment, Peace and Sustainable Development (NEP)

8. Amnesty International

9. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists – Egypt

10. Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law – Sierra Leone

11. Cinema Darfur

12. Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia

13. Climate Counsel

14. CSW

15. Darfur Bar Association

16. Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation (DNMD)

17. Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG)

18. Darfur24 Newspaper

19. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

20. Dr. Hassan Hamza Esmail Ali, Assistant Professor

21. Dr. Mutaal Girshab, Human Rights Expert, MENA region

22. Elhag ali Warrag Sidahmed Warrag, Chairperson, The Democrat Newspaper

23. Environmental Activists (Demands Groups)

24. Freedom House

25. Global Diligence

26. Herak Midanik

27. Humanity for Development and Prosperity Organisation (HDPO)

28. Human Rights Advocacy Network for Democracy

29. Human Rights Concern – Eritrea

30. Human Rights Watch (HRW)

31. Independent Human Rights Investigators – Liberia

32. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

33. Investors against Genocide

34. Jewish World Watch

35. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) – Sudan

36. Justice Africa Sudan

37. Justice Centre for Advocacy and Legal Consultations

38. Krinding IDP Camp al-Geneina

39. Madania News

40. Mahagoub Abdullah Doud, Lawyers for Justice Centre

41. Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur

42. MENA Rights Group

43. Mr. Osman Hassan Salih Ahmed, Lawyer

44. Najlaa Ahmed, Human Rights Advocate

45. Never Again Coalition

46. Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court

47. Nubia for Prosperity (NFP)

48. Omdurman’s Women’s Initiative for Women and Child Protection

49. Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)

50. PAX

51. Project Expedite Justice (PEJ)

52. Rafat Abbas, Nonviolent Activist and Facilitator

53. REDRESS

54. Rights for Peace

55. Sheroog Cultural Forum

56. SOAS Centre for Human Rights Law Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)

58. Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD)

59. Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)

60. Sudan Development Organization (SDO)

61. Sudanese Archive

62. Sudanese Defenders Center for Legal Aid

63. Sudanese Human Rights Group (Huqooq)

64. Sudan Human Rights Violations Monitor – Huqooq

65. Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO)

66. The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ – Kenya)

67. The Sentry

Another Victory for Justice in Sudan

 

 Interim Government Signs New MoU With ICC

On July 12, International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Mr. Karim Khan during his visit in Khartoum, has announced that the interim government of Sudan signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ICC which includes the implementation of pending arrest warrants of all of the ICC indictees. This upcoming week, the Council of Ministers and the Sovereign Council will meet to discuss the draft law to ratify the Rome Statute. While neither the interim government nor the ICC has confirmed a date for the extradition of the indictees currently imprisoned in Sudan, this development ensures that the trials of al Bashir, Harun, and Hussein are inevitable. Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) welcomes this promising step towards international justice for Darfur. These agreements must be followed up with swift action in congruence with the terms of the Rome Statute. As stated by Prosecutor Khan, “After almost 17 years since the referral of this situation, the Government of Sudan and the ICC owe to the victims of atrocity crimes in Darfur justice without further delay.”

Prosecutor Khan further announced that the ICC will open an independent, full-time office in Khartoum after Sudan joins the Court to investigate cases and gather evidence for imminent trials of Ali Kushayb, al Bashir, Hussein, and Harun. The office will work cooperatively with the interim government to facilitate evidence collection and the transfer of al Bashir, Hussein, and Harun. The Spokesperson for the United States Department of State, Ned Price, called specifically for the necessity of joint action between the Prime Minister Hamdok’s Council of Ministers and the Sovereign Council on the transfer of al Bashir to the ICC. General Hemeti, member of the Sovereign Council and leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has publicly expressed his support for Sudan’s cooperation with the ICC. While there is cause for optimism, we must keep in mind that General Hemeti’s RSF was one of the most deadly weapons in al Bashir’s arsenal against the people of Darfur. The RSF continues to be implicated in hundreds of civilian murders and attacks on displaced people in Darfur. Al Bashir’s transfer may reveal incriminating evidence against the general or other members of the Sovereign Council. DWAG strongly cautions the ICC, international and regional actors against taking for granted the recent developments as a leap of faith for compliance with demands for justice. They must not cease applying pressure on the interim government to fulfill the terms of the Rome Statute and uphold their promises of justice to the people of Darfur and Sudan at large

While all these positive developments are taking place in Khartoum, violence and more displacement continues across Darfur. It’s imperative that the interim government takes every effort to ensure that security and stability are equally prioritized. It is particularly important to create an enabling environment where victims can be protected from retribution and grant full access to participate in all the ICC proceedings. 

DWAG appreciates the steadfast continuation of Prosecutor Bensouda’s fight for Darfur by Prosecutor Khan. We urge him to relentlessly pursue accountability for the heinous crimes in Darfur in current and potential future indictees. Impunity of perpetrators currently in government must not be tolerated any longer.

We are pleased to finally see our fights take effect in shaping the future of Sudan, however this is not to be considered a cause for celebration. We must continue to speak up and put pressure on leaders in Khartoum and internationally until the promise of accountability, protection, and peace are fully realized. DWAG would like to thank our supporters for never ceasing to speak up in solidarity with the people of Darfur. We ask you to share this statement with your social media networks to amplify our voices in demanding that the interim government must take swift action to match this promising development. Together, we must hold the interim government to the progress made on this day.

Violence Against Civilians Raging While the UN Abandoned Darfur

Two weeks ago on July 17th, a violent artillery attack on the Sortony camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Kabkabiya locality killed 17 people and severely injured 9 more. Thousands were forced from their homes without any international or domestic aid. In the days following the barbaric attack, hundreds of protestors in El Fasher decried the attack against vulnerable men and women and demanded that recently appointed wali (governor) of North Darfur, Nimir Mohamed Abdelrahman, and Prime Minister Hamdok swiftly bring those responsible to justice. In the wake of devastation left by the assault which left thousands without shelter or aid, the interim government has utterly failed to either protect civilians, respond to protesters demands or hold those attackers responsible. With only a public expression of regret from Governor Nimir Mohamed Abdelrahman, the interim government of Sudan has disgracefully attempted to sweep this massacre under the rug. Consequently, on July 30, in the neighboring Tawila locality, an armed attack on IDPs from the Zamzam camp left one person injured, five children missing, and hundreds displaced from their homes. Locals described the heavy artillery shelling that killed internally displaced men, women, and children and wiped out a place they called home for years as carried out by government forces. Left with no place to seek shelter, four displaced children between the ages of seven and eight died from exposure in the unforgiving climate. 

It is well known that no armed tribal groups in Darfur have access to the heavy artillery used in the Sortony attack, providing strong evidence for state-sponsored groups to be the perpetrators. 

These attacks are not isolated incidents; they’re the most recent in a systemic pattern of state-backed genocidal policy that has raged across Darfur for two decades. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have a long, bloody history of perpetrating or being complicit in attacks against innocent civilians. They are also among the few groups capable of such an attack. The RSF, commanded by politically ambitious and corrupt General Hemedti, are rooted in the janjaweed militia which was nationalized under former President Omar al Bashir in order to perpetrate his genocidal campaign in Darfur. In the first seven months of 2021 alone, the RSF have been explicitly implicated or named responsible for 388 casualties throughout the Darfur region. Many suspect them of being accountable for hundreds more or for arming militant tribes with the intention to encourage and enable attacks on the people of Darfur. DWAG condemns the RSF in the strongest terms for their undeniable role in perpetrating the Darfur genocide. While General Hemedti and his forces remain unchecked by the interim government and international community, any hope of peace or security is impossible for the people of Darfur.

From just May through July of this year, DWAG has recorded 30 violent incidents across Darfur and the Two Areas, resulting in at least 165 civilian casualties. In all but two of these incidents, it was reported that no government intervention was enacted to protect innocent civilians. The grotesque pattern shows that this interim government has very little interest in protecting the people of Darfur or stopping the genocide. Instead, Prime Minister Hamdok and his government actively silence the people of Darfur while they regain the favor of the international community through diplomatic gestures and shallow economic reform. 

In the attack on the Sortony camp, seven women and five children were among the 17 casualties. Women, especially displaced women, remain the most vulnerable population in Darfur. COVID-19’s strain on humanitarian aid has made waiting in bread lines and gathering firewood pandemic a breeding ground for rampant sexual assault and abuse according to the most recent UNFPA study on gender-based violence in Sudan. While numbers are impossible to estimate due to stigma and fear of retribution, women and children are targeted at a grossly disproportionate rate to men. The strategic choking of resources and destruction of fragile IDP communities seeks to undermine the security of Darfur communities and terrorize families. DWAG calls upon the interim government to not only ensure security for women in IDP camps, but to provide essential and confidential health and counseling services to victims of sexual violence.

These attacks continue to take place even after al-Bashir’s removal because of the inaction by the international community and the disgraceful decision by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to prematurely withdraw UN forces without any alternative or a reliable civilian protection force in Darfur. The situation in Darfur is a crisis of a global magnitude – millions remain unable to return home and have been forced to settle outside of Sudan. It is dismaying that the international community assumes that the interim government, led by the generals who forced the people of Darfur out of their homes, would one day change their heart and protect their victims. The presence of UN forces in a crisis as internationally known as Darfur and Sudan is extremely important not only to protect civilians, but also to help in creating an enabling environment for justice, peace, and the safe return of IDPS and refugees.

DWAG condemns the interim government in their complicity as perpetrators of the Darfur genocide deepen their foothold in the interim government and refusal to bring those responsible to justice. 

  • DWAG thus calls upon international and regional actors and the United States to hold the interim government of Sudan accountable to their promises as they vowed to protect civilians in Darfur. 
  • DAWG calls on the UNSC to include civilian protection force in their mission in Sudan to be deployed to Darfur to ensure that peace can be realized
  • We call on the United States to not normalize the relationship or provide financial or military support for the regime in Sudan unless they stop their forces from attacking innocent civilians in Darfur and across Sudan.
  • We call on the Biden administration to make clear to the interim government that ending of violence and accountability for genocide committed in Darfur is a prerequisite to their normalization of relation
  • DWAG calls upon Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the US Government to pressure the interim government of Sudan to compel them to uphold their mandate to protect all people of Darfur against military forces working in destabilizing Darfur.

As the US prepares to name the first US Ambassador to Sudan since 1996 to assist the political transition to civilian-led democracy, President Biden must withhold this diplomatic appointment until the interim government is fully led by a civilian government and divested from malignant remnants of the previous regime. An ambassador must not be named until the interim government can meet their promise of accountability and security in Darfur and Sudan at large.

DWAG urges our supporters to speak up and to echo our demands to compel the Biden administration to organize their policy in Sudan around prioritizing the protection of human rights and accountability for the most serious international crimes committed in Sudan. The perpetrators must know that impunity for such crimes is not an option and will not defy our commitment to justice. We ask our supporters to share this statement with your social media network to bring attention to the ongoing attacks and to not let the perpetrators get away with murder without accountabilty. Together, we must demand that our international leaders uphold their legal and moral obligation to protect genocide victims in Darfur or wherever they are and hold those responsible accountable 

Thank you for your never-ending solidarity with the suffering people of Darfur and Sudan at large. With our collective effort and action we can end the suffering and the long impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of crimes in Darfur. 

Sincerely,

Niemat Ahmadi

DWAG president

USAID Administrator Visits North Darfur, Gives $700 Million in Aid and to Assist Reform Throughout Sudan

Administrator Power’s speech: https://www.usaid.gov/news-information/speeches/aug-3-2021-administrator-samantha-power-new-generation-giving-speech-university 

Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) recognizes the actions taken by Samantha Power, Executive Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in her visit to Sudan from July 31 – August 4. During the first day of her visit, Power visited El Fasher and the Zamzam IDP camp in North Darfur. Both sites have been experiencing a surge in deadly attacks and displacement in recent weeks. Power then travelled to Khartoum, where she met with Prime Minister Hamdok to discuss democratic reforms and how the US will continue to support a transition to civilian-led democracy. During her time in Khartoum, Power also met with youth activists and women journalists to address obstacles to justice for atrocities committed during the 2019 coup, women insecurity across Sudan, and government restriction to free media. DWAG commends her efforts to hear and address the concerns of women and the displaced community 17 years after her last visit to the region as a journalist. 

Following her visit, USAID announced a $700 million grant to assist Sudan’s transition to democracy, build capacity of civilian security in Darfur, and increase access to humanitarian aid. The grant gave an additional $4.3 million to support the electoral process and the establishment of an independent electoral commission to prepare for elections in 2024. In Administrator Power’s speech, linked at the top of this article, she announced an additional $56M “of life-saving assistance to help people throughout Sudan’s periphery with emergency healthcare and nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene programs; and funds to seek to protect the country’s most marginalized populations.”

DWAG appreciates Administrator Power’s prioritization of aiding and speaking with women and other displaced people in Darfur. DWAG strongly urges Ambassador Power and the US government to understand that accountability, human security, and deep-seated institutional reform throughout and beyond the transition period are prerequisites for stability in Sudan. The US must exert pressure on the interim government to do their own due diligence before seeking US assistance. Without security on the ground there will not be peace. DWAG recognizes and appreciates the pledge made by Administrator Power, however we also wish to remind the US government that peace cannot be sustainable if Sudan can’t take responsibility of protecting the human right of their own citizens or removing those who perpetrated genocide from power. Sudan must pursue accountability for past and present crimes to pave the way for sustainable peace in Darfur and across Sudan. 

https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/usaid-head-700-million-to-support-sudan-s-complex-and-daunting-transition 

https://www.altaghyeer.info/en/2021/08/02/hamdok-meets-usaid-exec-samantha-power/

https://twitter.com/powerusaid/status/1421524439422967809?s=24

https://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article69893

https://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article69888

https://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article69886

https://twitter.com/powerusaid/status/1422588502894653440?s=12

Council of Ministers Joins the International Criminal Court

Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is pleased  to share with  our dedicated supporters that the Council of Ministers unanimously passed a draft law for Sudan’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. While the draft law must now go to a vote before the Transitional Sovereignty Council, DWAG is encouraged that the interim government of Sudan has signaled its commitment to establish a sustainable foundation for  justice and accountability not only for the crimes committed against the people of Darfur but across the Sudan. In a statement made via social media, Prime Minister Hamdok noted that “justice and accountability are the firm foundation of the new Sudan committed to the rule of law that we all seek to build.” Perpetrators of the genocide al-Bashir, Harun, and Hussein are now one step closer to facing the International Criminal Court and the people of Darfur are one step closer to receiving the justice they’ve waited so long for. Our tireless fight has just begun to see light. We have a long way to go and millions of steps more in our endeavor to see justice take its course in Sudan. Thank you for taking this daunting journey with us and for your continued support.

Another Deadly Attack on Civilians In Darfur

On July 17, a violent artillery attack on the Sortony camp in the suburb of Kebkabiya left 17 people dead, including seven women and five children. Nine people were hospitalized with severe injuries, including seven women and two children. Nearly 300 shops were looted and many houses were burnt to the ground in the attack. The residents of the camp sought refuge in the caves of Jebel Marra or were left without shelter in East Rokero. Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) strongly condemns this barbaric attack and calls on the interim government and the state’s authority to take immediate and necessary measures to provide protection for the vulnerable and hold the responsible accountable. 

The Coordination of Displaced Persons and Refugees in North Darfur reported that the telephone network was offline during the attack, leaving residents unable to contact those outside the camp or effectively count the victims. The coordination accused regular and unspecified peace-signed forces of perpetrating the attack that lasted for two days. Hundreds of protestors gathered in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, to decry the violence and march in solidarity with the displaced. DWAG amplifies their demands for the state government to bring those responsible to justice and protect Sortony as well as the other Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps overrun by violence and insecurity. In wake of UNAMID withdrawal, the interim government of Sudan has promised peace and protection only to give false hope to the suffering people of Darfur and the international community. Civilians across Darfur have see neither peace nor protection 

The most recent attack on Sortony is the latest in a litany of violent incidents within the displaced community in Darfur. The Kebkabiya locality currently hosts thousands of IDPs, the majority of them women and women-headed households. The Sortony camp was formed near a UNAMID base and after UNAMID withdrew on January 1, 2021, thousands of displaced people have been left vulnerable to attacks. A clash in El Sareif during April forced nearly 3,500 Darfuri from their homes, many of them relocating to the Sortony camp. The BBC reported yesterday on the surge in violence across Darfur and have implicated RSF and other armed forces in contributing to the violence, rather than actively seeking peace and disarming unregulated militias as they promised in the peace agreement. Insecurity devastates the intentionally unprotected displaced populations in Darfur – a pattern which culminates into an organized effort to destabilize camps in Darfur. These attacks are a clear sign of abhorrent negligence by the state government to provide security to vulnerable populations in Darfur. Furthermore, the implication of state-sanctioned forces in the slaughter is unquestionable evidence of the complicity of the interim government in continuing to enable the perpetration of the Darfur genocide.

DWAG urgently demands Prime Minister Hamdok and recently appointed wali (governor) of North Darfur, Nimir Mohamed Abdelrahman, to respond to the IDPs and protestors with immediate action. They must thoroughly investigate local and national forces and hold responsible parties accountable for the attack. 

DWAG calls upon the Chargé d’Affaires Brian Shukan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and the US government to press the government of Sudan and ensure that the interim government holds into account any political or military forces who endanger civilians’ lives and to bring them to justice. 

  • The US must not condone the unrelenting insecurity in Darfur nor deny the role of the interim government in their ongoing oppression of the people of Darfur.
  • The US must make every support or normalization of relations with Sudan hinge on the condition of effective civilian protection, protection of human rights and accountability for the past and present crimes committed against innocent civilians in Darfur and across Sudan.
  • DWAG further calls upon UNSC members to review UNITAMS’s mandate and authorize a civilian protection force to be deployed into Darfur and Sudan at large to provide adequate, uncompromised civilian protection throughout the interim period. With a civilian protection mandate, the UN has the ability to ensure that peace and stability can take root in Darfur, the two areas and across the Sudan.

DWAG urges our supporters to speak up for the people of Darfur and demand that their leaders take concerted action that will end the long suffering in Darfur. Please help us spread the word by sharing this statement to raise alarms and put pressure on both the interim government and international community. We must compel them to meet their obligation for civilians protection and attain a lasting end to genocide in Darfur.