[12 May 2015 correction: corrects error in full Arabic name for “Hemeti” (a nickname with childhood origins) reported in Radio Dabanga dispatch. Hemeti’s full name is “Mohammed Hamdan Ahmed,” although this name is attributed to a colonel in the RSF, not the actual leader and brigadier general of the RSF. To make matters more confusing, unfortunately, Hemeti is also know as “Muhammad Hamdan Dalgo”]
A dispatch from Radio Dabanga of today (May 12) makes clear that the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum no longer has any intention of concealing the fact of its genocidal destruction in Darfur. The Rapid Response Forces (RSF) are now the militia army that is doing the bulk of regime’s fighting in North Darfur, where violence is greatest. Radio Dabanga and others have chronicled their brutal predations not only in Darfur but other parts of Sudan, including South Kordofan. They are the spearhead of civilian destruction; and if this were not clear from their relentlessly brutal attacks, it is made perfectly clear in an account offered by Omda Mukhtar Bosh of Camp Rwanda, North Darfur. In the Radio Dabanga dispatch we learn what the Omda (chief administrator) was told by RSF Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed, who commands a substantial force of men and vehicles:
A commander of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces has told people in Tawila locality, North Darfur, that it is a military area now and anyone present there will be a legitimate target for the paramilitary troops—including their money and livestock… “[Omda Mukhtar Bosh reports that RSF Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed] said that East Jebel Marra now has become a theatre for military operations and that whoever is present there, all his money, property and livestock will be seized from them.” (my emphasis; entire dispatch appears below)
Either people leave the area to create a free-fire zone—which it now is in any event—or they will see their wealth and means of living taken from them, leaving them without the means to sustain themselves. The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide foresaw such tactics in ethnically-, religiously-, or racially-targeted human destruction:
Deliberately inflicting on the [targeted] group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part… (Article 2, clause iii)
In an internal report, not officially released, UNICEF found that among children in North Darfur, 28 percent were suffering from Acute Malnutrition, and thus at acute risk. The threshold for a Global Acute Malnutrition humanitarian emergency is 10 percent. In short, the Acute Malnutrition rate in North Darfur is almost three times the humanitarian threshold for children under five in a conflict zone.
RSF Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed’s declaration should be shocking, given the extreme dangers that attend displacement in Darfur: he has announced that he and his forces intend to commit massive, ongoing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and—given the ethnic make-up of the populations that have been previously targeted and are likely to be targeted under these new “Rules of Engagement”—genocide.
Khartoum’s Rapid Response Forces are the new “Janjaweed”
Let’s be very clear about what has happened here: a militia force openly embraced and amply supported by the regime in Khartoum is declaring that it will have as a policy in the conduct of war killing or displacing civilians and pillaging of what meager property (mainly livestock) they may have. All that is necessary is that they be in a “theatre of military operations.” As all well know, the civilians who will be the focus of this “military policy” will be the non-Arab or African tribal groups of the region, even as they have been the targets of violence since conflict began in 2003.
By way of its proxy military force—the new Janjaweed—Khartoum is declaring that it is willing to countenance civilian destruction as deliberate “military policy.” Those who cheered so loudly a decade ago when the “Responsibility to Protect” was unanimously endorsed by the international community at the UN in New York (September 2005) have had little to say about Darfur. Now might be a good time to begin.
The forced displacement that has followed from RSF depredations continues on a massive scale; many people will not survive in such conditions
Radio Dabanga (Tawila, North Darfur | May 12, 2015)
“Tawila is military area, people may be targeted”: militia commander, North Darfur
A commander of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces has told people in Tawila locality, North Darfur, that it is a military area now and anyone present there will be a legitimate target for the paramilitary troops—including their money and livestock. On the other hand, the force claims it has returned stolen livestock to their rightful owners.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Omda Mukhtar Bosh of the internally displaced camps in Tawila reported that a RSF commander presented his demands during a meeting with displaced people of Rwanda camp on Sunday.
RSF troops are numerous and very heavily armed
“He said that East Jebel Marra now has become a theatre for military operations and that whoever is present there, all his money, property and livestock will be seized from them.” The commander, Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed, heads a paramilitary force of about 100 armed Land Cruisers, allegedly on its way to fighting the armed movements in East Jebel Marra.
RSF claim returning livestock
In related events, pro-government militiamen stole cattle from three villages in East Jebel Marra on Monday. People in Kokor, Susawa and Hillet Mandi were assaulted by the men. According to camp leader Bosh, the RSF said that it restored more than 2,000 stolen livestock by pro-government militias from villages in the mountainous region on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The inhabitants of these seven villages fled towards Tabit, which less than 100 km south of El Fasher city.
The fate of too many civilian sites in Darfur
Bosh explained to Radio Dabanga that people in the region have expressed their doubts about this story, “a game to improve the image of the militia.” He accused the RSF of following prior agreements with other pro-government militias—led by Badur Abu Kineish—to steal the villagers’ cattle, only to return them to their owners later.
“The people believe that they are the ones stealing their property.” The omda said that Tawila’s [regime-appointed] commissioner Abdelhadi Abdallah strongly defended the RSF during the meeting. [emphasis in last sentence is mine]
Cattle are killed, looted, or extorted by means of threats of violence