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Sudan rejects Security Council request to investigate alleged mass rape Tabit

November 20 - 2014 KHARTOUM (Updated 20:00)

Sudan will not allow another investigation into the alleged mass rape of about 200 women by Sudanese military personnel in the village of Tabit in North Darfur. The government has officially rejected a call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to allow another investigation by Unamid, after the first mission of the peacekeeping operation failed.

According to Sudan Tribune, the foreign ministry undersecretary Abdalla El Azrag, in press statements on Wednesday, asked the UN chief to investigate mass rape in countries other than Sudan, underscoring that such practices do not take place in his country.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern at allegations over the mass rape in late October of 200 women and girls in Tabit, North Darfur, calling on the Government of Sudan to conduct a thorough investigation.

In a press statement, the Security Council called on the Sudanese Government to fulfil its obligation to allow –in accordance with its agreement with the UN and the African Union (AU) concerning the status of the UN-AU Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid) and relevant Council resolutions– the “full and unrestricted freedom of movement without delay throughout Darfur to Unamid, so as to enable them to conduct a full and transparent investigation, without interference, and verify whether these incidents have occurred.”

Further to the statement, the Security Council called on Khartoum to ensure accountability if the allegations are verified.

Rumours

On Tuesday, the acting head of Unamid, Abiodun Bashua, said the mission intends to conduct another investigation in Tabit to put an end to recent “rumours”, underscoring that the investigation is in the interest of the government, of Unamid and of the people of the village who were affected by these rumours.

El Azrag said the foreign ministry of Sudan officially informed Unamid that raising this issue of the mass rape again may have dire consequences. He stressed there are no guarantees that the angry villagers would not clash with the mission’s team.

Last Sunday, the Sudanese government said it denied Unamid’s team access to Tabit, saying it is sceptical about the motives behind its insistence to visit the village for the second time. The Sudanese army vehemently denied the rape accusations, describing reports about the incident as “baseless and without justification”.

Undersecretary Abdalla El Azrag, however, told the UN “not to waste [its] resources on investigating claims made by a radio well-known for its fabrications”. He was alluding to Radio Dabanga, which was the first media outlet to report the mass rape allegations. The government had previously complained about the incredibility of the radio station.

The Sudanese Minister of Information wants “to create a number of radio stations to attract listeners", after it has admitted that attempts by the Sudanese government to prevent broadcasts by Radio Dabanga have failed.

The Sudanese minister of information, Ahmed Bilal, pointed on Tuesday in the Council of States the need “to create a number of radio stations to attract listeners and compete with Radio Dabanga, which incites the people”. He replied to criticism of council members. One of the members, Abdul Jabbar Abdul Karim, accused the state media of not highlighting the facts and lacking integrity and credibility, acknowledging that Radio Dabanga and the Alrakubh website are the most popular news sources for citizens. Karim criticised the State for spreading Turkish and Mexican soap operas.

Oath of silence

Witnesses have reported to Radio Dabanga that on Monday, the new military commander of the garrison at Tabit summoned all male residents older than 20 to a meeting at the Grand Mosque near to the market square.

“The commander called on the men to take oath that none of them will utter one word about what the army did in Tabit on 31 October. He also told them he will not allow the army to be present when Unamid or any other agency comes to visit the area.”

The commander reportedly told them that he will ensure strict discipline among the soldiers not to harm or commit any act against any of the witnesses.

The sources explained that on the commander’s insistence, all the men swore the oath of silence.

By last Friday, the Government completed the relocation of all forces associated with the incidents in Tabit, replacing them with new forces under the leadership of the new commander. Citizens say access to Tabit is “very difficult for non-residents as a result of military portals where careful inspections are carried out to verify the identities of visitors to the village, the reason for their visit and relationship to the residents.

(Sources: Sudan Tribune, Radio Dabanga, UN News Centre)

File photo

Related: 'Time running out for probe into Darfur rapes': former Unamid spokesman (17 November 2014)


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