Sunday, July 04, 2004

Sudan/Darfur: survey of reports re: involvement of govt of Sudan

I was reading through the various reports on Darfur published in the past few months. I was looking, in particular, for information on the relationship between the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed. I was highlighting sections as I went along and thought I might as well post the bits that I found worthy of the highlighter.

Darfur Destroyed
Human Rights Watch
May 2004

The report has informatiion on a number of attacks, detailing the weapons used and the number killed and injured. To save space, I have excerpted the bits that sum up what witnesses have said rather than the eyewitness testimony itself.
Janjaweed always outnumber government soldiers, but arrive with them and leave with them. It is not clear which force is the commanding force. It is clear that the Janjaweed are not restrained, in any way, by the uniformed government forces who accompany them in army cars and trucks. [Pg. 9]

[...] These brigades are organised along the lines of the Sudanese army and headed by officers who wear the same stripes as generals in the regular army. The only difference between Janjaweed and army uniforms, Masalit say, is a badge depicting an armed horseman that the Janjaweed sport on their breast pocket. They drive the same Land Cruisers as the army and are accompanied by armed bodyguards. They carry the same Thuraya satellite phones as senior army officers.

The government compensates the Janjaweed officers and militia members. The homes, cars, and satellite phones are part of the compensation for the officers. They are also paid monthly stipends or salaries, according to Masalit interviewed separately, at different times and in different places. Four different persons agreed on the exact amounts - £300,000 Sudanese pounds a month (U.S. $ 117 as of mid-2003) for a man with a horse or camel, and £200,000 a month (U.S. $ 79) for a man without – roughly twice as much as a soldier of similar rank. [Pg. 45-46]

[...] The more international criticism the war in Darfur incurs, the more the government denies any involvement with or connections to the Janjaweed. Until recently this was not the case.

On April 24, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail admitted common cause with the Janjaweed, but implied their cause was a just one. "The government may have turned a blind eye toward the militias," he said. "This is true. Because those militias are targeting the rebellion." He repeated government denials that it was not involved in ethnic cleansing and said the estimated death toll in Darfur—several thousands—was greatly exaggerated. "I would say not more than 600 people [have been killed] at most."

In an address to the people of Kulbus on December 31, 2003, President Bashir said his government’s priority was to defeat the SLA rebellion and said "the horsemen" would be one of the weapons it used - alongside the army.

One local leader, a sheikh, pointed to the reasons for the government’s preference for Janjaweed Arab militias over the government’s own army soldiers. "The government trusts the Janjaweed more than the army. There are many Masalit in the army." To face a rebellion of Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa, the government looked beyond the army to a nomadic fighting force that seemed ready-made for its purposes. [Pg. 43]

[...] High-ranking civil servants, themselves not Janjaweed, appear to have a role in recruiting Janjaweed. In a document obtained by Human Rights Watch, the state governor or wali of South Darfur orders commissioners "to recruit 300 horsemen for Khartoum". The letter, dated November 22, 2003, is from the office of the governor to commissioners of mahaliyas [subunit of a province] — one of Nyala and the other of Kas, the capital and a large town in South Darfur, respectively. [Pg. 46]
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Darfur Rising: Sudan's New Conflict
International Crisis Group
March 25, 2004

This report has many of the same details as the Human Rights Watch report. Hadn't seen the following elsewhere ...
Many statements [by Khartoum officials] emphatically deny any relationship [between the government and the Janjaweed] but in the three states of Darfur where officials have to grapple with the implications of Janjaweed involvement in the fighting, they have occasionally admitted that the government indeed created the militia, while adding that it needs to be brought under tighter control. The commissioner of Zaleinge province, South Darfur, told a Khartoum daily in November:
The government has armed this group to fight the rebellion but they opted to carry on their tribal agenda by attacking Fur tribal areas ... they are preventing the people from burying their dead ... the State headquarters is constantly receiving reports of raids and hunting parties by the armed men for survivors in the villages and the surrounding bushes. [Pg. 16]
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Situation of human rights in the Darfur region of the Sudan
By Bertrand Ramcharan, Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
May 7, 2004

The UN mission found that the refugees who had fled to Chad were more likely to report aircraft attacks than the internally displaced persons [IDPs].
28. The mission, itself, did not see evidence of air strikes on villages. However, the weight of witness testimony alleging the use of air attacks, often with much detail, raises considerable disquiet that the Government of the Sudan has, in certain locations, been using aircraft in indiscriminate attacks on population centres. It is not possible to explain with any certainty why such allegations were more frequently heard from refugees interviewed in Chad than from those IDPs with whom the mission met in Darfur. In the opinion of the mission, however, a credible explanation for this disparity is that air strikes were used more intensely in those areas of Darfur in which the Sudanese military, as opposed to the Janjaweed, were at the forefront of operations. These areas were primarily in North Darfur, from which the refugees with whom the mission met had led and which were largely populated by the Zaghawa tribe who, according to the Government of the Sudan, formed the core of the rebels. United Nations security restrictions in place did not permit the mission to visit these locations.

29. Attacks on villages appear often to have taken place at night or in the early morning. Where there were alleged air raids, land attacks invariably followed shortly thereafter. These were carried out either by Janjaweed or Sudanese government soldiers, or a combination of both. The chief visible distinction between these two forces appears to be in their method of transport: Janjaweed were invariably said to use horses and camels, while government soldiers were described as travelling in military vehicles. Both were dressed in combat fatigues and both were well armed (AK-47s, G3s and rockets were often mentioned). From some descriptions, it appears that the Janjaweed were more active in attacks on villages with the military more prominent in attacks on towns, though the primary operational distinction appears to be that the military were significantly more active in the north and the Janjaweed in the south. [Pg. 10-11]
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More stories ... similar allegations about the government's actions in this report from Amnesty International.