The Sudanese army filmed the testimonies of people questioned by Unamid in Tabit, North Darfur on 9 November.
A website linked to the government's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has published a video clip that shows Unamid officers interviewing a local elder. Surrounded by numerous children, he confirms that the army entered the town in search of a missing soldier. The Unamid delegation was inquiring about the alleged mass rape that took place on Friday 31 October in Tabit.
The clips shows Unamid investigators inquiring about the rape in broad daylight in the middle of a street in Tabit on Sunday 9 November.
The chaotic conversation is led by two investigators on behalf of Unamid, who both ask different questions at the same time. A translator translates another question. In the clip, the 74-year-old elder, Abdalla Hai Abdelrahman Abdalla Hassan, confirms that soldiers “coming from the mountains” came to search for a missing soldier. The tape does not show him denying any rape case.
'Soldiers' presence not disputed'
The journalist Alladin Aldafaina, who accompanied the Unamid interrogation mission to Tabit, wrote in his blog that Tabit “has become a volcano of anger”.
“It is clear that those who did not flee the scene and remained in the village –women and children and some men scattered here and there– are hanging around in silence. There is much suspicion. It is clear that nobody can escape from the barrel of a gun.”
After receiving information about the mass rape, Unamid tried for nine days to get a government permit to visit Tabit – ample time to obliterate all evidence. It was not until 9 November that a Unamid convoy of four vehicles was allowed to travel from El Fasher to Tabit.
The Unamid team was received by Maj. Saad Alshakawi from the nearby garrison. After checking the team’s credentials, Alshakawi allowed them into Tabit. However, the Unamid team was not aware that the previous night, Alshakawi chaired a meeting in Tabit and warned civilians not to give the Mission any information about the alleged rape.
The Mission was divided into four sections before spreading through Tabit, each of them walking with a group of five armed soldiers. One of the soldiers from the National Intelligence and Security Services had a camera and filmed the whole investigation. Another soldier took notes of everything that happened. The remaining soldiers stopped civilians and did not allow them to speak. This took place in clear view, but Unamid did not contest the behaviour of the army.
'This is the story of Tabit, and this is what happened in Tabit. And this is the reason for the silence in Tabit. No one may disclose information about how the army entered houses, and what happened inside those houses. But neither has anyone denied that soldiers entered the houses and imposed their own authority,' the journalist concluded.
Transcript of questioning by Unamid Mission into alleged Mass Rape 9 November in Tabit (North Darfur):
Unamid: We understand the soldiers came and they beat them [the villagers] because they were looking for a soldier.
Abdellai: Yes, we heard that, but it is not true. When we heard that, we felt very strange.
Unamid: Do you have a soldier here, in the home?
Abdellai: He lives there! [pointing in direction of grass-thatched house]
Unamid: We heard they came and they made a problem?
Abdellai: That is also what we heard.
Unamid (concludes): Ah, also heard it from Radio Dabanga.
Abdellai: When we heard this we were shocked, because the people who were speaking were removed to El Fasher nine months ago?
Unamid 1: Who transferred them?
Unamid 2: The women who said they were raped are not in Tabit?
Unamid 1: So here there are no soldiers anymore?
Abdellai: There are soldiers in the mountains.
Unamid 1: There were soldiers coming here to look for the missing soldier?
Abdellai: Yes, they missed the soldier and they came here and asked about him.
File photo: Unamid peacekeepers
Sudan security thwarts Khartoum anti-rape vigil (12 November 2014)
Security Council doubts Unamid report on Darfur mass rape (11 November 2014)
Denial of Darfur rape case by Unamid shocks Tabit victims (11 November 2014)
Commander admits to mass rape by soldiers in North Darfur (3 November 2014)