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Darfur rebel leader responds to US concern over Jebel Marra violence

February 21 - 2016 WASHINGTON / PARIS
Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW)
Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW)

The USA expressed its deep concern about the increased violence against civilians and the grave humanitarian situation in and around Jebel Marra in Darfur in a press statement on Thursday. However on Saturday, rebel leader Abdelwahid El Nur refuted “the baseless accusations” that his combatants started the fighting.

The statement by John Kirby, Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesman for the Bureau of Public Affairs of the US Department of State, asserts that “initial attacks by the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdelwahid El Nur opposition group on Sudanese armed forces prompted a response by Sudan’s military”.

The response included aerial bombardments, despite the UN Security Council demand that Sudan cease offensive military flights over Darfur. These attacks have forced 73,000 people to flee their homes, and thousands more are trapped in the conflict zone of Jebel Marra without access to aid. “The USA calls on both the Government of Sudan and the armed movements of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) to re-commit to their cessation of hostilities declarations for Darfur and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.”

The USA further stresses that there is no military solution to Sudan’s internal conflicts, and urges the Government of Sudan and the SRF to agree to a comprehensive cessation of hostilities agreement that will allow humanitarian access to Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

“We also urge the government to create an environment conducive to the participation of armed movements and other political opposition parties in a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue that addresses systemic governance issues in Sudan,” the statement reads.

Baseless accusations’

Reacting to the USA’s remarks, on Saturday, SLM-AW leader Abdelwahid El Nur stated that his Movement “was deeply saddened by the baseless and unfounded accusations” by the US State Department, by saying that the SLM-AW initiated the attacks on Jebel Marra.

According to the rebel leader, the US statement is “mainly intended to sharpen the appetite of the Khartoum regime, and boost its morale to continue its scorched-earth policy against the innocent civilians unabated, not only in Jebel Marra or Darfur but in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains as well”.

He blames the USA for “its silence on several tragic incidents” that occurred in Darfur recently, while “the Department is quick to incriminate the SLM, [which is] shameful indeed!”

El Nur insists that the SLM-AW did not initiate the attacks on Jebel Marra. The “US State Department knows [this] full well; more so than any other country. What is strange is that the US State Department sources information from the government of the National Congress Party (NCP) that has perpetrated the ongoing genocide in Darfur since 2003, and committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in other parts of Sudan”.

According to the rebel leader, Khartoum is responsible for “the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, the destruction of more than 5,000 villages in Darfur alone, the displacement of three million people in Darfur, and two million Nubas in South Kordofan”.

He accused the ruling National Congress Party of attempting “to change the ethnic composition of the indigenous populations” in the country, usurp their lands by displacing them, and replace them by newcomers from Niger, Mali, and Chad. The “US State Department knows this undeniable fact.

“As a result we now have more than 174 displaced and refugee camps in Darfur and neighbouring countries,” El Nur said. “These are in fact concentration camps that lack everything: food, water, medicine, and shelter.”

Total silence’

El Nur further regrets the US State Department’s “total silence since the genocidal regime of Khartoum initiated its scorched-earth policy against innocent civilians in Jebel Marra on 15 January 2016.

“The unarmed women and children of Jebel Marra have faced hell on earth for 36 days and nights of unceasing aerial bombardments. Thousands of bombs have been dropped on them by Antonovs, helicopter gunships, and Sukhois, in addition to ground attacks by Khartoum’s forces and its paramilitary troops including the janjaweed militias, the Rapid Response Forces, the Border Guards, and others.

“The western world and the world’s only superpower, the USA, that claim to have concerns about violations of human rights and humanitarian law, have maintained total silence,” the SLM leader stated. He suggested that the western powers are cooperating with Khartoum to fight the Islamic State fighters in Libya. “Moreover, the Sudan Liberation Movement has credible information that the current US administration is working hand-in-glove with some Gulf states to exempt Al Bashir from [prosecution by] the International Criminal Court. National interests make strange bedfellows.”

EU grant

El Nur said that the “biased and untimely accusation coincides with pledges made by the European Commission on 17 February 2016 to give Khartoum €100 million to support the halting of irregular migration [to Europe], while a great deal of this money will [be used to] fund genocide and war crimes in all parts of Sudan.

“The SLM-AW will continue to defend the cause of our people at any cost [..] and achieve regime change in Sudan. The fact that the current US administration wants to normalise relations with Khartoum will not deter us from defending our rights”.

The rebel leader concludes his statement by calling on “the UN Security Council, all peace loving nations, and human rights organisations to put pressure on Khartoum to stop its scorched earth policy and genocide against civilians in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile, and to form fact- finding commissions to investigate the crimes perpetrated against civilians in Jebel Marra”.

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