A new Human Rights Watch report reveals that in October 2014 Sudanese army forced raped over 200 woman and young girls in an organized attack in Tabit, Northern Dafur, Sudan.
This 48 page report entitled “Mass Rape in Dafur: Sudanese Army Attacks Against Civilians in Tabit”creates the urgency that the United Nations and African Union should take urgent steps to protect civilians for further criminal violations. The report states that Sudanese army raped at least 221 women and girl children over 36 hours from October 30th.
Africa director at Human Rights watch: Daniel Bekele termed these atrocities as ‘a new low’ in the catalogue of atrocities in Dafur, stressing that the government must end such denials and immediately give peacekeepers and international investigators access to Tabit.
Although the report published yesterday, it is not the first time rape allegations hit the media platform. November 2nd last year, a Netherlands-based station called Radio Dabanga reported mass rape of which the government denied and refused to give peacekeepers access to the area. They later gave access a week after the report yet according to Human Rights Watch, security forces ensured that it was brief which resulted in them unable to carry out a credible investigation.
Although there were restrictions, Human Rights Watch managed to speak to over 50 residents and former residents of Tabit telephonically, further interviewing human rights monitors, government officials, and staff of the AU-UN Hybrid Mission in Dafur.
According to their findings, Sudanese army forces carried out three military operations where soldiers went house-to-house, sacked property, arresting men, beating residents and raping women and girl children in their homes. They report documented 27 seperate incidents of rape, and confirmed 194 cases. Two unidentified army defectors separately admitted that their superior officers ordered them to rape women.
On the 30th of October, soldiers invaded Tabit and forced large groups of male inhabitants out of Tabit, leaving women and female children alone in their homes. None of any rebel forces were in sight throughout the 36 hours of these attacks.
One of the rape survivors described the horrid attack on her and her three daughters, two of whom are less than 11 years old. “Immediately after they entered the room they said: ‘You killed our man. We are going to show you true hell,’” she said. “Then they started beating us. They raped my three daughters and me. Some of them were holding the girl down while another one was raping her. They did it one by one.”
Another survivor stated that soldiers brutally beat and dragged her out of her house. When she gathered the energy to return back to her home, she found out that they gagged and raped three of her daughters, all minors.
The report also exposes the atrocities done by the Sudanese government, such as detaining and torturing Tabit residents who spoke of the attack and threatening to imprison others that would speak of them. One man, who was overheard talking to a relative and taken to a military intelligence prison, told Human Rights Watch: “They said if I talked about Tabit again that I was going to be finished.… They kicked me. Tied me and hanged me up. They beat me with whips and electric wires.” Tabit has also become more of an open prison – with authorities controlling movements of those that leave and enter the town.
“Sudan has done everything possible to cover up the horrific crimes committed by its soldiers in Tabit, but the survivors have fearlessly chosen to speak out,” Bekele said. “The UN Security Council and the AU should demand that Sudan stop these attacks, urgently act to protect Tabit’s residents, and conduct a credible investigation.”With the swelling of information coming forward with the atrocities in Darfur, and government concealing such information, Human Rights Watch calls on the UN and AU to allow peacekeeprs access to enter the area and at least provide medical services and provide an investigation into sexual abuses. They also urged the International Criminal Court to investigate this and charge those necessary.
Interestingly enough, President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir is Africa’s only sitting head of state wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – displacing over 3 million Dafuris and killing over 300 000 men women and children. All charges pending by the ICC.