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Sudanese Forces Raped, Murdered and Burned Civilians Alive in Darfur, Human Rights Group Says

Sudanese Forces Raped, Murdered and Burned Civilians Alive in Darfur, Human Rights Group Says

Displaced Sudanese girl Hawa Sliman Idriss, 13, who was raped last Friday by unidentified armed men, sits at her shelter at Otash Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Nyala, southern Darfur, March 18, 2009. | (Photo: Reuters/Zohra Bensemr)

Sudanese security forces have killed, raped and burned civilians alive during two military campaigns in Darfur that left thousands of people displaced from their homes, a prominent human rights organization has claimed.

A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses Sudan's Rapid Support Forces, which are under the command of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services, of committing "widespread and systematic" crimes against civilians that include mass rape, torture and murder when the forces were ordered to carry out counterinsurgency campaigns in 2014 and 2015 in Darfur.

"The RSF led two counter-insurgency campaigns in the long-embattled region of Darfur in 2014 and 2015 in which its forces repeatedly attacked villages, burned and looted homes, beating, raping and executing villagers," the HRW report stated.

The first of the two RSF campaigns occurred between February and May of 2014 in North and South Darfur and was given the name "Operation Decisive Summer." The second counterinsurgency began in January of this year in the mountainous central Darfur and ran through June under the name "Operation Decisive Summer II."

Special Prosecutor for Crimes in Darfur Yasir Ahmed Mohamed (R) and his team talk to women during an investigation into allegations of mass rape in the village of Tabit, in North Darfur, November 20, 2014. The joint peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID has been trying to gain access to visit Tabit since earlier this month to investigate media reports of an alleged mass rape of 200 women and girls in Tabit. Mohamed and his team began initial investigations into the allegations on Wednesday. | (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

HRW interviewed over 151 survivors and witnesses who fled to Chad and South Sudan. Among those interviewed include women who were victimized in the rapings and troops that defected from the RSF.

Beyond the rapes, torture and murders, the counterinsurgency campaigns displaced entire communities from their homes after fighters destroyed wells, food stores and other necessary pieces of infrastructure needed to live in a desert environment. On top that, the RSF forces allegedly stole wealth and goods, such as livestock, from civilian families.

The report adds that many of the victims were killed after they tried to stop fighters from raping the women or because they refused to give up their property.

"[The government soldiers] confiscated our belongings. They took our livestock. They beat the men. And then they raped us," 38-year-old Mahassan from the Golo area told HRW in July. "They raped us in a group. Some women were raped by eight or 10 men. Seventeen women were raped together. All of us were raped. Even the underage girls were raped."

A 19-year-old Sudanese military defector named Ibrahim, who admitted to killing a young woman, told HRW that his commanders showed "no mercy."

"I am deeply sorry," Ibrahim said. "But you must understand that this was not my endeavor, I was under the command of men with no mercy. I wish I could turn back the time."

While most survivors fled to camps for internally displaced persons, HRW reported that United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has received reports that as many as 130,000 individuals have fled to areas that are out of the reach of humanitarian agencies.

"The RSF violations of international humanitarian law amount to war crimes," the report asserts. "The mass rape and killings and other abuses appear part of widespread and systematic attacks on civilian populations that may constitute crimes against humanity."

Voice of American News reports that the Sudanese government has denied the HRW allegations that RSF committed mass murder and mass rape.

Although the Sudanese government is denying the charges, President Omar al-Bashir, has a terrible record when it comes to human rights violations. Bashir has already been indicted by the international criminal court for genocide, war crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

"Of course it is true. I am very glad that HRW released this report. It was long needed," Faith McDonnell, director of religious liberty programs at the U.S.-based Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post. "Those of us in the Sudan advocacy community have known this was true both in Darfur and in Nuba Mountains. These RSF jihadists are like Sudan's form of ISIS, with the blessing of the Sudanese government."

"And the other important point is that these RSF are the successors to the murahaleen jihadists who conducted slave raids in South Sudan." McDonnell added. "And those forces were created by Hassan al-Turabi, the new [best friend] of some naive American pastors."

Last October, Sudanese soldiers went door-to-door and raped over 221 girls in a three-day onslaught in North Darfur. HWR released a report last winter that featured 27 first-hand accounts of rape and credible information on 194 other accounts of rape from the onslaught.

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