Two holdout rebel movements sharply criticise the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) for not protecting the displaced of Kalma camp in South Darfur during a violent crackdown on protests against the visit of President Al Bashir on Friday.
According to the Kalma camp coordinator, five people were killed and 26 people sustained injuries when security forces dispersed various peaceful protests in Kalma against Al Bashir’s visit to the camp. Unamid medical staff intervened immediately and assisted with the treatment of the wounded.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) describes the “massacre” on Friday as “an evil attack on unarmed displaced” in Kalma camp.
“Having failed to secure a propaganda visit to the camp, Al Bashir used his militia to surround the displaced with more than 260 armoured vehicles, and deployed low-flying helicopters to terrorise the peaceful protestors,” Abdullahi El Tom, JEM spokesman said in a statement on Saturday.
“The protests of the displaced and their rejection of the presidential visit are understandable. After all, the displaced are there in the first place because of Al Bashir’s actions; their villages have been burned and they were driven from their lands. What is bizarre and utterly inhumane is the response of the authorities to the botched visit.
“Six displaced people were killed and more than 24 injured in the assault. Needless to say, not one of the attackers was injured. The assault was one-sided; the displaced engaged in legitimate demonstrations were ‘armed with nothing but leaflets, banners’, and photos of relatives massacred by the intended visitor.”
“Unamid made no effort to protect the displaced, a mandate that justifies its presence and international financial support in the first place.”
The JEM spokesman further points to the statement of Unamid on Friday, in which the peacekeeping mission expressed its deep concern “about clashes between government forces and internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing at Kalma camp [..]”, and urged “all conflicting parties to exercise utmost restraint”.
He reacted by saying that “It is hard to reflect on the horrific ordeal of the Kalma displaced without a deep sense of disappointment, if not outright shame, about the response of Unamid to the massacre.
“Of course Unamid did what it is good at: Compiling a timid report about the incident, coupled with a declaration that it is ‘deeply concerned’.
“Callously, Unamid made no effort to protect the displaced, a mandate that justifies its presence and international financial support in the first place. Much worse, Unamid did its best to appease and please the perpetrator, Al Bashir, by equating him with his victims. It appealed to both sides, perpetrators and victims alike, attackers and the attacked equally, to exercise self-restraint. No wonder the displaced of Darfur have long lost faith in Unamid,” the statement concludes.
In a separate statement on Saturday, the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) says Unamid “should protect civilians not vindicate perpetrators.
“Unamid failed to call a spade a spade, and to squarely hold the government responsible.”
Pointing to the “barbaric and savage massacre” in Kalma camp on Friday, SLM-MM chairman Minawi states that “we are once again surprised by the weak position of Unamid and its ineptitude action shown by only issuing such a weak statement that equates the victims and the perpetrators”.
“Unamid failed to call a spade a spade, and to squarely hold the government responsible,” he said.
“How come Unamid calls for restraint while it knows that what happened are not ‘clashes between government forces and displaced people’ as its statement claims. Unamid knows this is an unprovoked attack by the government militias of more than 260 military vehicles mounted with heavy machine guns.”
The SLM-MM further calls upon Unamid “to show necessary courage, stop surrendering to the government, and carry out its mandated mission of protecting civilians”.
According to Minawi, “It is high time for the international community to hold the Sudanese government responsible, and for Unamid to help the international community by disclosing the truth about [what is happening] on the ground.”