Documents show Sudan links to ethnic cleansing militia

Special to World
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A U.S. human rights group has obtained documents that detail Sudan's aid to the Janjaweed militia, responsible for the killing of 30,000 and expulsion of 1.2 million black Africans from the Darfour province.

Human Rights Watch released Sudanese government documents that detailed the regime's recruitment, training and arming of Janjaweed. The group released English translations of the official documents dating from November 2003 until March 2004 at a news conference at the United Nations on Monday.

The documents appeared to demonstrate that Khartoum ordered an increase in recruitment and military support to Janjaweed even as the regime denied any connection to the Arab militia. The documents also ordered Sudanese forces to overlook offenses against civilians by Janjaweed.

"The Sudanese government had maintained that the Janjaweed militia are an autonomous entity, that Khartoum has no control over the marauding atrocities committed by the Janjaweed," HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said. "In fact, what these documents show is that the government in Khartoum has been supporting the Janjaweed as a matter of official policy. They have been supporting them through recruitment, through armament, and through a policy of impunity, at least with respect to some of the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed."

The documents appeared to support an assessment by the State Department that the Khartoum regime has trained, equipped and supported Janjaweed in missions throughout Darfour. In early July, Secretary of State Colin Powell and a delegation from the U.S. Congress toured Darfour.

[On Monday, a Sudanese court in Nyala sentenced 10 Arab Janjaweed fighters to amputation and six years in jail for "exacerbating the conflict" in Darfour. At the same time, Western diplomatic sources said Janjaweed units continued to attack black Africans in the province.]

U.S. officials have expressed concern that Khartoum might be incorporating Janjaweed into the Sudanese police and military forces in Darfour. They said Sudan has rejected any demand to prosecute Janjaweed leaders for war crimes.

In a Feb. 12 Sudanese government directive provided by HRW, the office of the commissioner of North Darfur called for increased recruitment and military support to so-called "loyalist" tribes. The commission also ordered a plan to confiscate the homes of black Africans expelled by Janjaweed and transfer them to nomadic Arab tribes.

The following day, Sudanese authorities ordered security units in Darfour to facilitate attacks by Janjaweed militia leader Mussa Hillal. The Feb. 13, 2004 document called on Sudanese units in a North Darfour to "overlook minor offenses by the fighters against civilians who are suspected members of the rebellion."

In a March directive, the office of the governor of South Darfour called on the commissioner of Nyala, the capital of South Darfour, to establish a security committee and increase Janjaweed recruitment to ensure the elimination of Darfour rebels. The governor asked the commissioner to "swiftly deliver provisions and ammunition to the new camps to secure the southwestern part of the state."

HRW did not provide the original government documents. The group said it did not want to endanger the source of the memorandums, described as somebody who has been proven credible.

"The directives issued by government officials illustrate the extent to which the government-backed militias are used as auxiliaries in the military campaign and a fundamental tool and instrument of government policy and military strategy," HRW said in a report.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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