Violence erupted in South Kordofan on 5 June 2011, pitting the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) against members of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement – Northern Sector (SPLM-N). The attacks have resulted in significant loss of life and have caused the forced displacement of over 70,000 civilians. Despite reaching a framework agreement on 28 June between the parties regarding political and security arrangements, fighting has escalated in different cities and serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law continue to be perpetrated against civilians, mostly based on ethnicity and perceived political affiliation.
According to testimonies collected on the ground, areas densely populated by members of the Nuba group have been subjected to aerial bombings by the SAF, accompanied by ground attacks by the SAF with the support of affiliated paramilitary groups such as the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), the Central Reserve Forces and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). These attacks include targeted summary and extrajudicial killings against perceived supporters of the SPLM-N and members of the Nuba ethnic group, arbitrary arrests and detentions, house-to-house searches, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, destruction of churches and looting. Recent reports also indicate the existence of mass graves in Kadugli. Humanitarian access remains severely circumscribed, with aid distribution restricted to national organisations, many who lack capacity to reach South Kordofan’s displaced communities. Local host communities have been prevented from distributing aid by police and the NISS. There have also been reports of displaced communities being coerced to return to their homes in Kadugli.
“The crimes being perpetrated since 5 June against civilians in South Kordofan may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity” declared Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “There is an urgent need for international action to ensure the parties put an immediate end to these atrocities. The international community has the duty to attain a comprehensive and sustainable solution of the conflict, which addresses both political and military matters,” she added.
Omar al Bashir, President of Sudan, and Ahmed Haroun, newly elected governor of South Kordofan, have publicly supported and encouraged the SAF’s military actions in South Kordofan. FIDH, ACJPS and SUHRM recall that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for both al Bashir and Haroun for war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Darfur, as well as an additional arrest warrant for al Bashir for genocide perpetrated in the same region. They remain at large. “The role played by Omar al Bashir and Ahmed Haroun in the ongoing violent attacks in South Kordofan is reminiscent of their role in the Darfur conflict. This is an unbearable example of the threat to peace and security which can emanate from the failure to address accountability” declared Osman Hummaida, ACJPS’ Executive Director. “In this context, execution of the outstanding arrests warrants is critical for the sake of both justice and peace,” he added.
In addition, FIDH, ACJPS and SUHRM are deeply concerned over information regarding the reinforcement of SPLM-N troops in the region and the decision of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to fight alongside them. JEM participation in the ongoing conflict in South Kordofan could not only jeopardize the peace process in Darfur, but could also have the potential to seriously deteriorate the security and human rights situation throughout the country.
FIDH, ACJPS and SUHRM call on:
The SAF, SPLM-N and other armed groups which are parties to the conflict in South Kordofan to immediately put an end to the serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law perpetrated against civilians, including aerial bombings from the SAF;
The Government of Sudan and the authorities of South Kordofan to allow full and unhindered international humanitarian access to victims ;
The African Union Peace and Security Council, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to publicly condemn the serious violations being perpetrated in South Kordofan, as well as recalling to the State of Sudan its primary responsibility to protect civilians and to warn those responsible for serious violations that they will be held accountable before competent bodies;
The League of Arab States to publicly condemn the serious violations being perpetrated in South Kordofan, to call upon the parties to allow humanitarian access to the affected areas, to recall the State of Sudan its primary responsibility to protect civilians and to warn those responsible for serious violations that they will be held to account before competent bodies ;
The United Nations Security Council to ensure an international investigation is deployed, with unfeterred access to the region in order to shed light into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in South Kordofan; and to ensure those responsible be arrested and brought to justice before competent mechanisms ;
The States Parties to the Rome Statute and UN Member States to fully cooperate with the ICC to ensure execution of the arrest warrants.