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Sudan security accused of using “excessive force” to quell Darfur protest

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February 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - A Sudanese advocacy group has called for an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of two people and the wounding of dozens of protesters at a demonstration earlier this month in Zalingei in Central Darfur.

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Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, have been blamed for killings, widespread rape and abductions during the 11-year conflict in Darfur (FILE)

The UK-based Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO UK) has accused forces from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and their allied militia of using excessive force to quell the protest on 16 February, in which 24 people were injured.

The incident occurred when internally displaced people (IDPs) in Zalingei’s Hameidia camp staged a peaceful protest against a peace and social justice conference organised by the Darfur Transitional Authority (DRA), which was attended by the head of the DRA, the UNAMID chief and the Central Darfur governor.

SUDO UK said Sudan’s western Darfur region had been the scene of a number of serious incidents of aggression involving security forces and the feared Janjaweed Arab militia.

In a separate incident on the same day, the Imam of Zalingei Mosque was attacked by members of the NISS while he was attending Sudan independence day celebrations at Zalingei stadium. SUDO UK said the Imam was beaten and kicked until he fell to the ground before other members of the public intervened on his behalf.

Ethnic clashes between rival Arab groups have caused hundreds of deaths in Darfur over the past year.

On 19 February, an unknown number of people were killed after fresh fighting broke out in Um Dukhun, on the Chad border, between the Salamat and Ta’aisha tribes after the killing of the Salamat Nazir (chief).

A number of IDPs from Otash camp near Nyala, including the camp’s chief sheikh, were attacked and left for dead by a group of Janjaweed on 20 February while returning from their farms north of Nyala. Those injured were taken to Nyala hospital for treatment, with the sheikh later transferred to Khartoum due to the severity of his injuries. The same militia group later attacked Doma IDP camp, although residents there managed to fight the militia fighters, killing one and arresting another.

SUDO UK has called on the Sudanese government to arrest the perpetrators of the attacks on Otash and Doma camps and bring them to trial.

“The Sudan Government should do its utmost to prevent clashes between ethnic groups and to ensure that earlier reconciliation agreements are maintained,” the group said in a statement. “The government has an obligation to protect the lives and security of all peoples of Sudan,” it adds.

SUDO UK has urged the joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to take tougher action to ensure it fulfil its mandate, including its obligation to “prevent attacks against civilians, within its capability and areas of deployment, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of the Sudan”, calling on the agency “to monitor, verify and promote efforts to disarm the Janjaweed and other militias”.

More than 1.4 million people have been displaced in the Darfur conflict, which erupted after marginalised non-Arab groups launched an insurgency against the Khartoum regime. Now 11 years on and the security situation in Darfur remains volatile.

The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) signed by a rebel coalition in 2011 promised development, power-sharing arrangements and compensation for those who suffered during the war, but most of the conditions remain unfulfilled.

(ST)

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