Alarming situation of human rights in Darfour province

55 persons were killed in Mulli village

Urgent Appeal

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the mass killings, which took place in the Mulli village in the Darfour province, Sudan, on 27 April 2003, and is particularly concerned by the alarming situation of human rights in the region.

According to our information, uniformed militiamen, reportedly led by the government-sponsored Arab militia, attacked a Massaleet market in Mulli. 55 persons were killed, 53 were injured. The Massaleet leaders claim that few days before the attack, government security forces and police had patrolled the Darfour area and had confiscated weapons from Massaleet members, leaving them with no means to defend themselves.

This massacre took place in the frame of the ongoing conflicts between the Four, Zaghawa and Massaleet tribes on one hand and with Arab militia from the Darfour region. This conflict is officially said to be a tribal one, centered around competition for land between pastoralists and crop farmers, as a consequence of the severe draught in the area. Some others say that it is part of a governmental strategy to depopulate the region for economic matters.

According to the annual report of the Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT), before this last attack, "at least 130 people have been killed by Arab militiamen since May 2002 in the Four, Massaleet and Zaghawa villages, and about 60 Four villages in the region had been depopulated by militia attacks from Arab tribes". This situation led to the formation of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M), composed by the Darfour tribes, threatening peace in the region and the security of the civilian population.

The FIDH strongly condemns these attacks, whose victims are mostly civilian population. The FIDH is also particularly worried about the attitude of the Sudanese government, which does not condemn those killings and arrests. Moreover, in connection, with the recent fights between tribes, many civilians were arbitrarily arrested detained and even tortured by government authorities. .

On Thursday 24 April 2003, persons from the Massaleet tribe have organized a peaceful demonstration against the government failure to protect them against Arab militia, attacks. 7 persons were reportedly taken to the security forces office in Nyala, where they still remain in custody. There is no information regarding their conditions in detention, however, the FIDH has genuine fears concerning their physical and psychological integrity since, according our information, the pro-government media has accused them of being in support of Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M). And, those involved in crimes related to robberies, banditry and tribal conflict are dealt with by Special Courts, which exist only in Darfour, whose proceedings violate the international provisions relating to due process of law, and which are empowered to hand down draconian punishments such as amputation, execution, and execution followed by crucifixion.

Thus, on 26 April 2003, 24 people belonging to the Arab tribes of Darfour, were sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted of armed robbery.

In these regards, the FIDH:

- Urges the Sudanese authorities to strictly respect the fundamental standards of international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, which bind them, notably their obligation to protect civilian populations under all circumstances.

- Urges the government to start demilitarization program in the region by notably collecting weapons

- Urges the Sudanese authorities to set up a dialogue between the government and the different tribes in order to achieve peace solutions

- Orders the immediate release of civilian people in the absence of valid legal charges, or if legitimate charges exist, bring them before an impartial tribunal and guarantee procedural rights at all times, in conformity with the provisions set up in the international covenant on civil and political rights relating to due process of law.

- Recalls its total opposition to the death penalty and calls upon the government to abolish such sentence, as demanded by international provisions on human rights

- Condemns the attitude of the Member States of the UN Human rights Commission, which refuse, despite of the alarming situation of human rights in the country, to adopt a resolution on Sudan at it 59th session

- Urges the international community to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate the mass killings and arrests, which took place in the Darfour area.

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