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Violent incidents continue as Darfur court is accused of ‘double standards’

Displaced in Zamzam camp sit-in to demand peace and security in Darfur held in August last year (Social media)
Displaced in Zamzam camp sit-in to demand peace and security in Darfur held in August last year (Social media)

Two people have been killed and four injured in a number of violent incidents in West Darfur, North Darfur, and River Nile state this week, and nine displaced people have been imprisoned for involvement in violent protests in Central Darfur last year.

In Central Darfur, the Zalingei court sentenced nine displaced people from the camps of Murnei and Ronga Tas for two to three years in prison. The charges were in relation to protests that took place last February which resulted in the killing of a displaced person and the wounding 13 others. The Zalingei police headquarters were also burnt down.

The coordinators of the camps for displaced people condemned the ruling, describing it as “unjust”, and accused the transitional government of applying “double standards”.

Violent incidents

On Tuesday evening, a displaced woman was killed by gunmen in in the area southeast of Misterei in West Darfur. The Darfur Displaced and Refugees General Coordination reported in a statement on Wednesday that Halima Ushur was shot dead by gunmen near a water well.

A man was injured in a separate incident in West Darfur this week. No further details are currently available.

Two farmers, Adam Haroun and Rashid Mousa, were shot and two others were kidnapped by armed shepherds near Tabit, North Darfur, on Thursday. A citizen from the area told Radio Dabanga that dozens of armed shepherds riding vehicles, camels, and motorcycles attempted to bring their livestock into local farmland. They were confronted by the farmers. He said that a report was filed with the authorities in Tabit and those who were injured were transferred to the local health centre.

A listener from North Darfur reported to Radio Dabanga that villager Madras Ahmed sustained serious bullet wounds when unidentified gunmen shot at him in the area of Sarafaya this week.

The incidents of inter-communal violence reported in Darfur doubled during the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to the security incidents database maintained by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

On December 27, the Peace Support Committees Coordination organised a protest vigil in Khartoum against the ongoing violence in Darfur. Mohamed El Taayshi, the member of the Sovereign Council tasked with the coordination of the peace process, received a memo about recent human rights violations in Darfur.

El Taayshi addressed the protestors and affirmed that “the transitional government bears full responsibility for protecting people in conflict areas and the whole of Sudan”.

Mining waste dispute

On Thursday, Ghazali Osman was shot dead by a policeman in Abu Hamed, River Nile state. Relatives of Osman told Radio Dabanga that a dispute arose between him and another man over mining waste, and the police quickly intervened and took the waste to the authorities. They said that Osman went to the location where the waste is being held at around three o'clock in the morning in an attempt to take it back. The policeman who was guarding the building then fired several shots, killing Osman.

Traditional mining is carried out by excavating the soil that contains gold. The soil is then milled and treated with mercury, which extracts about 30 per cent of the gold in the rocks. The leftover soil is treated with cyanide to extract the remaining gold. The soil left over after the first treatment with mercury, known as “karta”, is moved to factories or labs that belong to companies that purchase the karta from private mines.

This process results in highly toxic industrial waste. Traditional miners, small companies and gold labs dispose of these wastes by pouring them directly into valleys and streams, leading to heavy pollution in the environments surrounding the mining areas. This has long term health consequences.

Protests against traditional gold mining have increased in recent years in several states in the country, especially South Kordofan, North Kordofan, North Darfur and Northern State.

Sudan is reportedly the second-largest producer of gold in Africa and the ninth in the world. The production however is driven by unregulated, artisanal (individual subsistence) mining.

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