April 5, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The statements made by South Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun telling Sudanese troops not to bring back rebel fighters alive are "extremely worrying", the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Navi Pillay said Thursday.
- U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (Reuters)
South Kordofan has been the scene of continuous battles since June 2011 between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and rebels from the Sudan people Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). The conflict began in the wake of elections that saw incumbent Haroun winning against SPLM-N candidate Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu.
The SPLM-N accused the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of rigging the vote did not recognise the outcome. Later, fighting broke out after the SPLM-N alleged that SAF sought to forcibly disarm them. But Khartoum accused the SPLM-N of triggering the fighting after attacking a police stations in South Kordofan and seizing weapons.
A preliminary report produced jointly by the OHCHR and the now dissolved UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in August 2011 described a wide range of alleged violations of international law in South Kordofan’s capital town of Kadugli.
Reported violations included “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property,” as well as massive displacement.
Khartoum described these allegations as "false" and "lies".
Last week, the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV aired video footage showing Haroun ordering government fighters in his state not to bring back any prisoners.
"You must hand over the place clean. Rub it, crush it and sweep it. Don’t bring them back alive. We have no space for them" the undated film showed Haroun saying at what al-Jazeera says was a base freshly captured by SAF from SPLM-N.
An army commander standing near Haroun then says: "Don’t bring them back, eat them alive" amid laughter by the group in the video.
"Don’t create an administrative burden for us [by bringing back prisoners alive]" Haroun said.
The top United Nations human rights official today warned that those comments could amount to a serious crime and lead to an escalation of violence.
“We have long been seriously concerned about the possible violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states,” Pillay said. Fighting between the SPLM-N in Blue Nile broke out in August 2011.
“Such comments are extremely worrying in this context and could amount to incitement” she added.
But Haroun this week accused al-Jazeera of editing the video to distort what he said and vowed to sue the news channel.
“We urge all parties to the conflict to refrain from attacks against civilians and to refrain from making inflammatory statements that could amount to incitement to commit gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law,” Pillay said.
In 2007, Haroun became the first Sudanese official to be charged by the ICC in connection with crimes allegedly committed in Darfur. At the time he held the position of state minister for humanitarian affairs though the crimes he was indicted on were committed while he was the state minister for interior.
The charges against him constitute some 50 counts of atrocities including murder, mass rape and torture.
Sudan has refused to hand him or any other citizen to the Hague-based court.
Al Jazeera English | Sudan governor to troops: ’Take no prisoners’ | 31 March 2012
Al Jazeera English | ICC’s Luis Moreno-Ocampo speaks to Al Jazeera | 31 March 2012
Al Jazeera English | Sudan government adviser Rabi Abdel Atti speaks to Al Jazeera | 31 March 2012