Sudan paramilitary to blame for most atrocities: Amnesty
Thursday, 3 August 2023 (18:04 IST)
Both the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), locked in a vicious conflict since mid-April, have committed extensive war crimes, London-based Amnesty International said in its latest report on Thursday.
The report listed crimes ranged from sexual violence against women and girls to attacks targeting minorities in the restive Darfur province, as well as attacks on a Coptic church in a Khartoum district.
Who is the main perpetrator?
Amnesty pointed its finger at the RSF as the prime perpetrator of most atrocities it documented. The rights group nevertheless stressed it also documented crimes by the military, led by army General Abdel Fattah Burhan.
"These paramilitary groups that have committed a very large percentage of the abuses. They are not the only perpetrator. But according to what we've been able to document until now, they are the main perpetrator," Donatella Rovera, one of the authors of the report said in reference to the RSF.
Rovera told DW that the RSF fighters were more present on the ground in various neighborhoods of the capital, Khartoum. The paramilitaries have positioned themselves since the start of the fighting in densely populated areas, which have consequently made such areas targets for the armed forces' aerial attacks.
What happened in Darfur?
The RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militias, which former autocrat Omar al-Bashir heavily relied on to quell a 2003 uprising in Darfur.
In the recent conflict, Amnesty said the RSF, alongside its allied Arab militias, targeted the African Masalit community in Darfur, prompting reprisal attacks against Arabs suspected of siding with the militias.
The rights groups particularly detailed the violence it noted in the West Darfur province. It documented the killing of civilians and the looting and destruction of homes and facilities such as the main hospital and market.
The province's governor, Khamis Abdalla Abkar, was killed on June 14 following his detention by the RSF. Amnesty said his killing prompted an exodus of several Masalit members to neighboring Chad, turning the east of the country into an open camp for those who fled.
Reports of sexual violence
The report also documented widespread sexual violence against women and girls as young as 12 years old. Women were being raped, with many of them held in conditions "amounting to sexual slavery," the report said. Most of the attacks were reported in Khartoum and Darfur.
"It is difficult to know exactly how widespread it is because of the stigma and because of the difficulty of reaching survivors," Rovera told DW. She said she had spoken to both survivors, their families and medical personnel who provided them with care, confirming it was a "widespread phenomenon."
Most sexual attacks were blamed on the RSF and its allied Arab militias. The paramilitary group denied the accusations, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Responding to the report, the military said it had established a unit in an effort to minimize civilian harm during the fighting.
Rovera said the international community must hold both parties to account, adding that "absolute impunity" was fueling further attacks.
She also called on the international community to provide those stuck in Sudan and the refugees who fled abroad with the aid.
Rovera also pushed for opening legal and safe pathways for those wishing to flee, which she stressed was "not the case at the moment."