JANUARY 28, 2011 ~ SUDANESE GOVERNMENT STILL PERPETRATING HUMANITY CRIMES AGAINST OWN CIVILIANS IN DARFUR ~ WHERE'S THE MEDIA?
EVEN MSNBC HAS REPORTED THE STORY IN EGYPT. AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT, BECAUSE THEY ALMOST NEVER REPORT NEWS OUTSIDE THE USA. TAKE DARFUR, FOR EXAMPLE. MOST OF THE MSNBC POLITICAL SHOWS NEVER MENTION DARFUR. RACHEL MADDOW HAS, BUT EXTREMELY RARELY.
RECENTLY AND EVEN IN THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, WHICH IS NOT SO "RECENT", THE GOVERNMENT OF SUDAN HAS BEEN BOMBING AND BURNING DOWN DARFUR VILLAGES. The USA government has been ineffective in this issue for the last two years under President Obama (as well as the eight years of George W Bush's Presidency) and US Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration's words have played into the hands of the very government behind the crimes against humanity - the genocide on the Darfuri people.
January 27, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese army on Wednesday carried out an aerial bombardment on rebel-controlled areas in north Darfur and threatened to "burn down" a base of the UN-AU hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in the area.
Troops of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) clashed a day before on Tuesday with rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid Al-Nur joined by combatants of the disaffected SLM faction of Minni Arkoi Minnawi in Tabit area, 45 kilometers from El-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur state.
On Wednesday, SAF forces resumed bombardment of Tabit area, which prevented a UNAMID’s verification team based in Shangil Tobaya from accessing the area, the hybrid operation said today.
The mission further reported that at 06:00pm (local time) approximately 200 SAF soldiers, on 40 vehicles, surrounded the mission’s base in Shangil Tobaya and the adjacent makeshift camp.
The commander of SAF forces, who detained four people in the area, initially said they were there to persuade displaced persons to return to their homes. Moreover, the SAF commander later threatened to "burn down" the makeshift camp and the UNAMID site if the peacekeepers continued to interfere. UNAMID said SAF forces had eventually left after its peacekeepers held their grounds.
The standoff between SAF and UNAMID comes at a time when the mission faces international calls to act as aggressively as its mandate authorizes it to act in protecting civilians.
Members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday received a briefing via a video link by UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari and later criticized the Sudanese authorities for curtailing the mission’s right to access areas in the region.
The US envoy also appeared unhappy with the mission’s failure to function in accordance with its mandate to protect civilians.
"UNAMID is a Chapter 7 mission, with a robust protection of civilians mandate. And the United States view and the view of many members of the Council, as expressed today and on numerous previous occasions, is that we expect UNAMID, as one of the UN’s largest and most costly operations, with one of the most robust mandates passed by this Council, to be very active and, when necessary, aggressive, in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians," Rice said.
Internally Displaced Persons from Darfur told Sudan Tribune that the recent violence displaced thousands of people as the government troops and militias continue to harass the civilians and burn their villages.
A female teacher from Tabit reached by Sudan Tribune after their arrival to Zamzam IDPs camp near El-Fasher said since the bombing of 25 January, the villagers, 17000 families, fled to Zamzam, and Rwanda camps near Tawilla.
"People are homeless in the valleys and roads as the army block the roads," she said, adding "this is the new policy of peace".
A local chief from Al-Salam IDPs camp told Sudan Tribune that the Sudanese troops burnt down seven villages in the area located south-west of El-Fasher on the period of Saturday to Tuesday of this week.
Oumda Atem Osman said the army detained 80 people from Abu Zarka area in north Darfur. He further said their belongings and properties were looted by the militiamen who attacked the villages jointly with the army.
He further deplored the position of the peacekeepers on the ground adding that in the areas of Tawilla and Korma the militiamen seized the harvest of farmers but the UNAMID members were unable to stop them.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) today denounced the growing violence against civilians in Darfur and urged the international community to not forget Darfur by focusing only on the independence of South Sudan.
"While the international community remains focused on South Sudan, the situation in Darfur has sharply deteriorated," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "We are seeing a return to past patterns of violence, with both government and rebel forces targeting civilians and committing other abuses."
UNAMID is the largest U.N.-funded peacekeeping mission established in 2008 under VII of the United Nations Charter to protect civilians in Darfur region. The mission’s current strength stands at 88% of its total 26,000 authorized strength, but it says its job to secure the remote area is difficult in the absence of a peace deal between Khartoum and rebels.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s official news agency SUNA reported on Thursday that SAF’s commander-in-chief of the western military zone had declared the areas of Tabit and all areas in east Mara Mountains “completely devoid” of rebel forces.
Darfur conflict broke out in 2003 after rebels belonging mostly to African ethnic groups took up arms against the government. At least 300,000 people died and 2.7 million lost their homes since the conflict erupted, according to UN estimates.
Source: radio dabanga
January 28, 2011
A Sudanese army force of 200 soldiers on 40 vehicles surrounded the exit of an UN – African Union military camp yesterday in Shangil Tobaya. A senior officer at the head of the force then threatened to burn down the military camp and an adjoining refugee camp. The threat came at about 6:00 p.m., after the UN forces unsuccessfuly tried to prevent the army from threatening and arresting refugees at the neighboring camp. The army arrested three people in the camp.
“The SAF commander at the scene stated that they were carrying out their duties and intended to persuade the IDPs to return to their original camps. He then threatened to burn down the makeshift camp and UNAMID team site, if the peacekeepers continued to interfere,” UNAMID reported in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
The makeshift camp next to the UNAMID base sheltered thousands of people who had fled during the events of December 2010.
UNAMID also reported that it was unable to complete a “verification mission” from its Shangil Tobaya base to Tabit, where fighting broke out Monday, due to “resumption of aerial bombardment in the area.”
Two Sudan journalists in court, risk death sentence
(Reuters) - Sudan has charged two journalists with trying to overthrow the government, a crime punishable by death, for publishing an article saying the impoverished east of Africa's largest country may secede.
Sudan's oil-producing south voted this month in a referendum on secession from the north, promised under a 2005 peace accord which ended decades of civil war. It now looks set to become independent on July 9.
Many in the north blame the split on Khartoum's failure to share power and wealth with marginalized areas.
The western Darfur region is in the throes of an eight-year insurgency and the east has the country's deepest levels of poverty despite hosting its only port and largest gold mines.
"The accused were practicing their rights to express their opinion freely as guaranteed under the constitution and the many charters of human rights which Sudan has signed," Mutasim al- Amir, one of the defense lawyers, told Reuters on Thursday as the journalists made their first court appearance in Khartoum.
The hearing was postponed as some witnesses were still in the eastern city of Port Sudan, where the accused were first arrested before being transferred to the capital.
Both journalists work for a weekly paper published in the east called Sout al-Bar'out, named after a religious leader.
Khartoum has brought eight charges against them, the most prominent being trying to overthrow the constitutional government, an offense punishable by death.
On January 9, the first day of voting in the south's referendum, the paper published an article saying the marginalization of the east could give rise to calls for secession there.
The editor-in-chief of the paper, Abu Eisha Kazim, and the author of the article, Abdel Gadir Bakash, were arrested the following day, they said.
(Additional report and writing by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Maria Golovnina)
Sudan army bombs Darfur, threatens peacekeepers: UN
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's army bombed rebel positions in Darfur and later surrounded and threatened to burn down a refugee camp and peacekeeping base nearby, the region's joint U.N./African Union mission said on Thursday.
The incident took place as Washington's envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, criticised Khartoum for obstructing peacekeepers and said the international force needed to take a more aggressive stance in the region.
Darfur has been hit by sporadic fighting almost eight years after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of marginalising Darfur.
Violence, while down from the mass killings seen at the start of the conflict, has risen over the past year after rebels walked out of floundering peace talks and one insurgent force, which had signed an accord with Khartoum, went back to fighting.
Darfur's UNAMID peacekeepers on Wednesday sent out a mission to investigate the site of recent fighting between the government and rebels close to the north Darfur town of Thabit, UNAMID said in a statement on Thursday.
"(The) verification mission ... was unable to complete its mission yesterday (Wednesday) after the resumption of aerial bombardment in the area," said the statement.
UNAMID spokesman Kemal Saiki confirmed the bombing was by "the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) air force".
Later on Wednesday, a group of 200 Sudanese government soldiers in 40 vehicles arrived at UNAMID's camp in the nearby settlement of Shangil Tobay, UNAMID said.
"(The soldiers) surrounded the team site's exit as well as the adjacent makeshift camp, where thousands of civilians recently displaced by the December 2010 clashes have settled," read the statement.
The Sudanese army detained four displaced people at the camp, said UNAMID.
"The SAF commander at the scene ... then threatened to burn down the makeshift camp and UNAMID team site, if the peacekeepers continued to interfere. The UNAMID Blue Helmets stood their ground and the SAF troops eventually departed," said the statement.
A U.N. official said the government soldiers had wanted to search the refugee camp for rebel fighters but the UNAMID force there stopped them. No one was immediately available for comment from Sudan's army.
Susan Rice on Wednesday said UNAMID had to be more aggressive in protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarian aid workers had access to needy people in Darfur.
"We expect UNAMID ... to be very active and, when necessary, aggressive in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians," Rice told reporters, adding that Washington has been "frustrated and dismayed by repeated instances of UNAMID being denied access and its freedom of movement restricted."
UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari told the U.N. Security Council via video link that he informed his military and police chiefs on January 4 that the force "would adopt a more robust posture and no longer create the impression of seeking permission for movement."
January 27, 2011
US Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.
The full discussion can be found here.
First Satellite Images Available of SAF Troop Deployments Near Sudan’s Volatile North-South Border
1/27/11 | Enough Project
WASHINGTON, DC — The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed that the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, has deployed company-sized units of troops equipped with light armor and artillery in areas of South Kordofan around the oil-producing Abyei region and other strategic areas along Sudan’s volatile North-South border. However, the project’s first report also indicates that the SAF troops do not appear prepared for imminent forward movement.