Outrage as Sudan army display ‘severed RSF heads’

Redacted still from the now-viral video on X, formerly Twitter (see link below)

Several prominent figures have expressed a widespread chorus of condemnation and outrage to the Dabanga verification team, following a viral video purportedly depicting a group of Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers displaying the severed heads of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers. The macabre video apparently depicts SAF soldiers displaying the heads and jeering at the RSF. Towards the end, a man playing an accordion adds a ghoulishly jovial atmosphere to the clip.

In a press briefing on February 16, the SAF’s official spokesperson states that an investigation was underway regarding the video depicting two heads belonging to “members of the Dagalo terrorist militia”.

If implicated, individuals found to be part of the SAF will be “subject to trial”. The press statement maintained the army’s commitment to abiding by the laws of war and operational ethics, in contrast to the “militia’s behaviour throughout the conflict”.

Hisham Omar, a university professor and civil activist, expressed profound concern over the trajectory of the conflict, accusing the “Islamic movement of resorting to excessive violence” and calling for unity among civil forces. He laments the “unbearable and unethical nature of the atrocities” depicted in the video.

Mohamed Zakaria, the official spokesperson for the FFC-Democratic Bloc, denounced the video as unacceptable, stressing the need for a transparent investigation into the incident. He emphasises the importance of adhering “to international law and humanitarian principles”, demanding accountability for those responsible.

Nour El Sadig, a prominent member of the Communist Party of Sudan described the acts depicted in the video as “chilling and inhumane”. She calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice at the International Criminal Court, warning against further escalation of violence.

Legal expert El Moez Hadra highlighted the legal implications of the acts, categorising them as “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Hatem Elias, a member of the Lawyers Against Hate Speech platform, emphasised the role of hate speech in fueling the conflict, warning of its threat to social peace.

Journalist Mohammed El Masdar condemned the violations as “atrocious and dehumanising”, holding the SAF responsible and calling for a thorough investigation.

Darfur Justice Platform member Abuobeida Awad, described the acts as a major crime with disastrous consequences for Sudanese society, adding that the SAF have a history of similar violations.

The circumstances surrounding the decapitations remain unclear. Journalist Mat Nashed, in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), condemned the incident, labelling it a “war crime” and pinpointing Omdurman as the video’s setting.

Accordion ‘soundtrack’ to ghoulish video.

Since the start of the conflict, particularly in the first few months, allegations of violations against international law have also been levied against the RSF and affiliated Arab militant gunmen, particularly in West Darfur.

Notably, two significant mass assaults targeting the non-Arab Masalit community have been recorded since the conflict’s inception last year.

The first occurred in El Geneina between May and June, with the West Darfur Rebel Bloc reporting approximately 2,000 fatalities and 3,000 injuries. This onslaught also claimed the life of Khamees Abakar, the Wali (Governor) of West Darfur, marking a harrowing escalation in ethnic violence.

The second notable assault occurred in the town of Ardamata, where the RSF allegedly summarily executed 66 Masalit men on November 5, with additional victims reportedly burned alive during a six-day siege. The RSF, however, refuted these allegations, attributing the conflict in West Darfur to “remnants of tribal conflict.”

Calling for dialogue and investigation, the RSF urged the establishment of committees to foster communication and coordination among conflicting parties and communities.

View the redacted video on X here. Trigger warning: Contains disturbing imagery, viewer discretion is advised.

* This article was updated on February 22 at 15:48 to reflect reactions obtained by the Dabanga verification team:
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