6 December 2012

Sudan: Mass arrests of civilians in Nuba Mountains


The Sudanese government continues its atrocities against civilians in the Nuba Mountains region. A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding, yet the international community watches in silence

"My Father is 70 years old. He has no interest in politics and suffers from a kidneys problem. But the Sudanese army and security forces arrested him two weeks ago in our village near Dillanj (Nuba Mountains), and we do not know his fate. I am afraid for his life", said son of one of the detainees.

Since the beginning of November, the Sudanese government embarked on a violent military campaign in Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan state. The campaign declared by both the leader of the Sudanese Armed Forces in South Kordofan and the state governor Ahmed Haroun- the man wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur - announced that the new offensive "we will clean South Kordofan". South Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroon continued to order the incoming troops to "sweep them, eat them raw, and bring them alive", according to the Sudan Tribune newspaper report on 18 November. The newspaper reported that the military leader Mohamed Hammad of the 14th Division in Kadugli told the new support troops that "South Kordofan will witness a cleaning campaign for the region".

The "cleaning campaign" started with arrests of civilians in Kadugli; women were the first to be targeted. When the security forces arrested dozens of women to investigate with them about their relation with the rebel movement fighting the government in Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan state , the Sudanese Peoples Liberations Movement/North (SPLM/N), it was clear that most of the arrested women had never been involved in politics. The only common thing they share with the rebels is that they are all from Nuba ethnic group, the indigenous peoples and historical citizens of Nuba Mountains/ South Kordofan state. The security forces arrested the women in the morning and released them at night in the first week of November. But in the second week, those women arrested by security forces never came back home. At least 34 women are in detention in the military base of the 14th Division of the Sudanese Armed Forces led by Major Mohamed Hammad.

The arrests continued during the past weeks and have spread to other cities of Nuba Mountains other than the capital. Dillanj is the second largest city in the state and witnessed in the past weeks mass arrests and forced disappearances of 65 Nuba men and women from the Oncho tribe of Nuba ethnicity. Among the detainees is a 70-year-old man, whose son told us that his father's life was at risk after the security people transferred all the detainees to the 14th Division military base in Kadugli where they will likely be in endanger of torture and ill-treatment, based on the previous record of that base.

During the recent war in Nuba Mountains, thousands of Nuba were forced to leave their homes and villages because of the nonstop aerial bombardment and land attacks which targeted civilians. Ahmed Haroun, the indicted governor of Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan state is leading the scorched-earth operation in the region.

The people of Nuba Mountains are living in constant danger of arbitrary detention as a new method of intimidation and terror to force them to leave their villages. The catastrophic humanitarian situation could worsen as the Sudanese government has denied aid agencies access to region. Even the small local NGOs fled the area after the recent violence escalation in Kadugli. The silence of the international community and the lack of serious actions to protect civilians and stop the war crimes in the region is leading to the worsening of the situation.

Osman Naway is a human rights defender and blogger from Nuba Mountains and the director of Arry Organization.

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