Sudan: Nuba Farmer Killed for Crops in South Kordofan

Um Barambita — Last week, a farmer was killed by militiamen of the Popular Defence Forces in Rashad locality in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan.

The Kampala-based Sudanese human rights watchdog HUDO reported in a press statement on Tuesday that farmer Mohamed Ahmed El Tahir (32) was shot dead because he refused to hand his harvest to the militiamen.

On Wednesday December 4, three armed men riding on camels and wearing uniforms of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) militia entered sesame farms in the neighbourhood of Shag El Kitir village, 9 km north-west of Um Barambita in Rashad locality (formerly known as Abu Kershola locality).

The gunmen ordered El Tahir and two fellow farmers to hand them their harvested sesame. The two other farmers complied but El Tahir refused. In response, one of the intruders took his gun and shot him in his chest and legs. The farmer died instantly.

The incident was reported at the police of Um Barambita, but no investigations were done, "as happened with many other crimes committed by the Popular Defence Forces", the organisation said.

In the statement, HUDO expresses its serious concerns "about the situation of civilians in conflict areas" and calls on the Sudanese authorities to urgently investigate the case. The perpetrators must be brought to trial and the behaviour of the police of Um Barambita should be questioned.

HUDO further urges the Sudanese government to disarm all civilians and dissolve the PDF militia.

Arab herders

The Popular Defence Forces is a "semi-military force formed from Sudanese citizens", established in late 1989 by the new Islamist regime under the leadership of President Omar Al Bashir. The PDF in the Nuba Mountains are mostly composed of Arab herders' tribes that are known to look down on African Nuba farmers.

Last month, HUDO reported twice about PDF militiamen attacking farmers in South Kordofan's Habila locality. Eight people were killed on November 2 and 3 in clashes between farmers and herders. About 30 were wounded, some of them seriously. In mid-November, militiamen wounded several people and torched a number of houses near Habila town.

Darfur, in particular in the northern part of the region, is witnessing similar tensions between farmers and herdsmen, and attacks on farms by militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces. On Wednesday, residents of Tawila in North Darfur took to the street in protest against the continuing attacks by militant herders in the area. North Darfur's Kabkabiya witnessed a demonstration against the repeated attacks on farmers and their farms by herders and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia.

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