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.”