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UN says 'condemnation is insufficient' for atrocities in Sudan's South Kordofan

A UN report seen by the Enough Project details executions of civilians, assault of UN personnel, and forced displacement of populations, acts that may be war crimes and crimes against humanity.

By Amanda HsiaoGuest blogger / July 15, 2011

In this Digital Globe satellite image made available by the Satellite Sentinel Project Thursday and analyzed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, a dug-up site in Sudan appears to be a mass grave. The group said it had photographic evidence and witness testimony indicating that systematic killings and mass burials are taking place in South Kordofan.

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Since fighting broke out in the volatile Sudanese state of South Kordofan on June 5, accounts trickling out from the largely sealed-off war zone have attested to the Sudanese army, or SAF, and other affiliated government forces killing and committing other acts of violence against its civilians. Information out of the area continues to remain scarce and difficult to confirm.

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In the most comprehensive cataloguing of gross human rights violations committed in the conflict so far, a June UNMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan) human rights report seen by Enough provides gruesome details of brazen executions of civilians, intimidation and assault of UN personnel, and forced returns and displacement of populations, all acts that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Many of the report’s findings point to the deliberate targeting of civilians because of their political and/or ethnic affiliations. The ranks of the SPLA (Sudanese People's Liberation Army) in South Kordofan are largely filled with Nuba, and many Nuba support the SPLA’s political wing, the SPLM (Sudanese People's Liberation Movement). The report documents government forces summarily executing, abducting, detaining, and abusing civilians suspected of being SPLM sympathizers, bombing densely-inhabited civilian areas, and laying land mines in known SPLM neighborhoods. The report notes that witnesses and victims say that government forces have a list of Nubans wanted for being sympathetic to the SPLM/A; another incident in the report says UN staff being detained were “shown photographs of UN national staff and requested to confirm whether they were inside UNMIS compound.”

Here are excerpts from the report:

On 8 June, a man was shot several times and killed in full public view at the Kadugli Police Hospital. He had gone to the hospital in an attempt to try to find his three missing children whom he believed were inside the premises. The victim was an active SPLM member and sat on the SPLM elections committee. According to eye witnesses, two other persons were also shot and killed in front of the Police Hospital in a similar manner. ...

A young woman of Nuban descent informed UNMIS Human Rights that she was arrested in the vicinity of the Kadugli Police Headquarters on 20 June. During her detention she was interrogated about her work with an international NGO and accused of being a SPLM supporter while police beat her with fists, sticks, rubber hoses and electric wires. UNMIS Human Rights noted the bruises and scars on the woman’s neck and back consistent with her statements. ...

On 8 June, UNMIS Human Rights witnessed the movement of four armed men (two armed civilians and two Central Reserve Police) carrying weapons in and out of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter without any intervention from the UNMIS peacekeepers guarding the premises. The armed men conducted identity checks on the IDPs. Eyewitnesses interviewed reported that the armed men abducted three IDPs from the vicinity of the UNMIS Protective Perimeter on suspicion that they were supporters of the SPLM.

“The attacks on UNMIS, its staff and assets are so egregious that condemnation is insufficient,” the report states. Multiple incidents in which UN staff were assaulted, detained, threatened, or even killed, were documented in the report:

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