Tens of thousands of civilians in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region were forcibly displaced as government forces burnt, shelled and systematically looted their homes between January and May 2017, Amnesty International said today, after interviewing dozens of victims and eyewitnesses.
Civilians belonging to the Shilluk minority told Amnesty International how government troops and allied militias stole anything they could get their hands on in the aftermath of attacks, from stored food supplies to furniture and even the front doors of houses. One village chief described the destruction as though the area had been “swept by a flood.”
“Even considering South Sudan’s history of ethnic hostility, the mass displacement of the Shilluk ethnic minority, almost in its entirety, is truly shocking,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.
“Whole areas of the Shilluk heartland have been ravaged, with civilians’ homes burnt and their belongings and food stores looted. This leaves them with little prospect of returning home, given the region’s growing humanitarian crisis and their fears of renewed violence.”
The Sudanese authorities must immediately release prominent human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam and his colleague Hafiz Idris Eldoma, and halt its misguided assault on dissenting voices in the country, said Amnesty International as their trial begins in the capital Khartoum today.
Dr Mudawi and Hafiz are facing six trumped-up charges, including 'undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state', both of which carry either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
“Dr Mudawi has continuously been harassed by the Sudanese government for his human rights work in Darfur and across Sudan for more than a decade. Unfortunately, this latest round sees the harassment take a more sinister turn as both he and his colleague Hafiz potentially face the death penalty,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“Human rights work is not a crime, so Dr Mudawi and Hafiz must be immediately and unconditionally released. Their arrest and continued incarceration is a miscarriage of justice, plain and simple.”
By Ahmed Elzobier, Sudan Researcher at Amnesty International
Three Sudanese human rights defenders were released from jail on 6 March after paying a fine of 50,000 Sudanese Pounds (about 7,700 US dollars) each.
Khalafalla Al-Afif Mukhtar, Midhat A. Hamdan and Mustafa Adam had been sentenced to one year in jail and a fine, but were released after nine months on time served after paying the exorbitant fines. The crimes they were found guilty of? Two of them were convicted of dissemination of false information and one for espionage.
All three are members of TRACKS, a human rights organization that provides training on a range of themes including human rights and information technology to civil society in Sudan.
Over the last two years, TRACKS’ offices have been raided twice, on 26 March 2015 and 29 February 2016. On 22 May 2016, NISS officials detained several of its staff and members and charged them with a number of offences including crimes against the state.
Member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) must demand a proper investigation into alleged chemical attacks by Sudanese government forces in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, said Amnesty International today, as the OPCW’s Executive Council begins its four-day meeting in The Hague.
In a shocking report published in September 2016, Amnesty International revealed credible evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons, against civilians, including very young children, from January to August 2016.
“These brutal attacks left an estimated 200 to 250 people dead and scores more with horrific injuries, and the OPCW must fully and independently investigate them. Failure by member states to trigger the investigation would be a monumental and shameful abdication of duty,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
The Sudanese government must end politically-motivated and sometimes deadly attacks on Darfuri students at universities across the country, said Amnesty International today as it released a report covering a wave of attacks spanning three years.
“Dozens of students have been killed, injured and expelled from universities since 2014 for organizing around and speaking out against human rights violations in Darfur,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“This continues an appalling pattern that continues to see Darfuri students being subject to arrest, detention, as well as torture and other ill-treatment, since the conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003, often compromising their continued access to higher education.”
“These deliberate and shameful attacks on students are totally unacceptable and must be brought to a speedy end.”
The arrest of award-winning Sudanese human rights activist Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is further proof of the government’s intolerance of independent voices, said Amnesty International after his employer confirmed today that state agents arrested him in Khartoum on 7 December.
He was arrested by National Intelligence Security Service agents at the University of Khartoum, where he works as an engineering professor, and taken to an undisclosed location, where he is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
He has not been informed of the reasons for his arrest or charged with any offence.
“Mudawi’s arbitrary arrest underscores the government’s desperate attempts to extinguish the last embers of dissent in the country. This wanton repression and disregard for human rights must come to an end,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Amnesty International is building a network of digital volunteers to help uncover human rights violations and abuses in the conflict-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur as part of a revolutionary crowdsourcing project launched today. Within hours, some 4500 digital volunteers were already on the job spending a combined 525 hours analysing already over 33,000 square kilometres of satellite imagery
The Decode Darfur interactive platform will enable Amnesty International supporters to analyse thousands of square kilometres of satellite imagery in remote parts of Darfur where bombings and chemical weapons attacks are suspected to have taken place – just by using their phone, tablet or laptop.
“This is an ambitious, revolutionary project that marks a fundamental shift in the way we view human rights research – and gives anyone with internet access the chance to help expose some of the world’s gravest injustices,” said Milena Marin, Amnesty International’s Senior Innovations Campaigner.
Member states of the international body responsible for monitoring the use of chemical weapons must trigger an investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, revealed by Amnesty International last month.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council will start a three-day meeting at the organisation’s headquarters in the Hague today. Many of the members who will be present at the meeting, including France and other EU member states, have expressed their alarm over the chemical weapons allegations.
“Expressing concern and consternation will not suffice, we need to see concrete steps towards an independent investigation. We have credible evidence of horrific injuries, and estimates of up to 250 deaths, caused by dozens of suspected chemical weapons attacks against civilian populations over the past nine months,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.
The UN Security Council must take action over the conflict in Darfur, Amnesty International, after the Sudanese government rejected evidence presented by the organization implicating their forces in the apparent use of chemical weapons against civilians.
The Amnesty International investigation, Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air, points to the repeated use of chemical weapons in the remote Jebel Marra region of Darfur this year. Between 200 and 250 people may have died as a result of the attacks, many of them very young children.
“Images of children suffering from horrific blisters and burns, reports of bombs emitting plumes of coloured smoke, and of people vomiting and struggling to breathe – these are the macabre hallmarks of chemical warfare, gathered in our report and crying out for an international inquiry,” said Tirana Hassan.
An Amnesty International investigation has gathered horrific evidence of the repeated use of what are believed to be chemical weapons against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in one of the most remote regions of Darfur over the past eight months.
Using satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors and expert analysis of dozens of appalling images showing babies and young children with terrible injuries, the investigation indicates that at least 30 likely chemical attacks have taken place in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur since January 2016. The most recent was on 9 September 2016.
The brutal killing of an 18-year-old Sudanese university student by intelligence agents yesterday must be urgently and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said today, as repression of students in the country intensifies.
Abubakar Hassan Mohamed Taha, a first year engineering student at the University of Kordofan in Al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan State, died of a gunshot wound to the head. Another 27 students were injured, five of them seriously.
“This violent attack is yet another shocking episode in a series of human rights violations against university students across Sudan and underlines the government’s determination to put out the last vestiges of dissent,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“The reprehensible violence by state agents against the students must be thoroughly and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”