U.S., UN Refuse to Speak Honestly About Compelling Evidence of Genocide in South Kordofan


Evidence of mass graves in and around Kadugli, South Kordofan is now overwhelming; it includes definitive satellite photography of three large sites and reports by numerous independently interviewed civilians from the region (see | http://www.satsentinel.org/press-release/satellite-sentinel-project-documents-new-eyewitness-reports-and-visual-evidence-mass-graves-sudan/). Evidence also comes from interviews conducted in June by human rights investigators of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS); these findings appear in an internal UN human rights report whose findings have previously been suppressed by UN/New York. They were leaked to me and others, originally by someone who was evidently quite unhappy with UN silence about the deeply disturbing contents of this report. Given the immensity of the atrocity crimes revealed in this extensively documented but still officially unreleased report (“UNMIS Report on the Human Rights Situation During the Violence in Southern Kordofan” | http://www.sudantribune.com/UNMIS-report-on-the-human-rights,39570), it is imperative that the UN make clear who knew what, and when.

These terrible incidents and the weak UN response in Kadugli have already been likened, rightly, to the ghastly failure of the UN at Srebrenica, where some 7,000 Bosnian men and boys were rounded up in July 1995 by Serbian army and paramilitary units under the command of (recently captured) Ratko Mladic—and executed while Dutch peacekeepers looked on helplessly. Indeed, two days after Srebrenica was overrun by Mladic’s forces, 4,000 – 5,000 Bosniak Muslims were expelled by the Dutch from their base—as Mladic had demanded (some 15,000 – 20,000 additional Bosniak Muslims had sought safety outside the Dutch base). The events of Srebrenica have occasioned much painful self-reflection by the Dutch over the past decade and a half, and a recent decision (July 5, 2011) by a court in The Netherlands ruled that the Dutch government was responsible for several of the deaths (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14026218/). And notably from the standpoint of international law, Major General Radislav Krstic was convicted of the crime of genocide for his role in the Srebrenica massacre. His conviction by the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was upheld by an Appeals Chamber review of “Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic,” Case No. IT-98-33-T. This lengthy and superbly argued Appeals Chamber review is a seminal document in international legal interpretation of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and has particular relevance for the situations in South Kordofan and Darfur (http://www.icty.org/).

Given the extremely strong evidence of genocide in South Kordofan, and the Khartoum regime’s long history of genocidal assaults on marginalized populations in Sudan, the process of assessing awareness of and response to the UNMIS human rights report needs to begin immediately—for the UN, the US and the Europeans, and the African Union.

In particular, we need to know about the credibility of the skepticism expressed by U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman and UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos; we need a clear account of what Ban Ki-moon’s secretariat knew and how it responded to reports that made clear atrocities were being committed in Kadugli and elsewhere in South Kordofan from the very beginning of the conflict that Khartoum instigated on June 5. And we also need to know what was seen by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, particularly its Under-secretary Alain Le Roy. And finally, we need to know what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew when she made her recent remarks about Sudan (http://www.tnr.com/article/world/91861/hillary-clinton-south-sudan-crisis-abyei-kordofan/). We need to know what all these various international actors and parties knew—and when they knew it.

The task is challenging. For example, on June 28, in an interview on the PBS NewsHour, Lyman was asked, “Would you say atrocities are occurring by the North Sudanese forces against civilians there?” Lyman’s evasive and disingenuous answer speaks volumes about his character as a diplomat and the larger U.S. response to events in North Sudan:

“We certainly have reports of that. Because we don’t have a presence there, we haven’t been able to investigate it fully. There are certainly reports of targeted killings. There are some reports from the other side also. What we’ve asked for is a full investigation.”

And to the follow-up question (“By whom [should the investigation be conducted]?”) Lyman responded:

“Well, by the UN would be the best. The UN presence has not been sufficient to get out and stop this or to investigate it.”

(http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/06/sudan-envoy.html/)

Lyman certainly knew when he offered this answer that there would be no UN investigation beyond what was being completed by the human rights personnel attached to UNMIS, which had already been confined to its base and ordered out of South Kordofan by Khartoum the day following the independence of South Sudan on July 9. Saying “the UN presence has not been sufficient to get out and stop this or to investigate it” is merely to state the obvious, not to offer any meaningful reply about how the U.S. will actually respond to the now conspicuous human catastrophe in South Kordofan.

I’ll return to the question of whether an international investigation of allegations of genocide could be conducted, with or without UN sanction; but we must bear in mind that any Security Council resolution authorizing such a thorough and unfettered UN investigation will be vetoed by China, which would regard such a precedent with horror, as well as deeply threatening to its relationship with Khartoum.

But the first question is whether or not Lyman knew what UNMIS human rights personnel knew. Was the special envoy to Sudan, representing the President of the United States, unaware of what was being compiled and then assembled at the very end of June in the 20-page UNMIS report? Was he not concerned enough by these extant “reports” to request U.S. satellite surveillance of the Kadugli area? It was precisely such surveillance by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP, at http://www.satsentinel.org/) that revealed three large mass gravesites on July 14, graves dug between June 17, when the earth on this spot was untouched, and July 4, when SSP revealed three conspicuous, capacious, and nearly identical plots of significantly turned earth. Dug in the midst of heavy military activity and following a vast number of summary executions, these mass gravesites have only one plausible explanation. Certainly if the Obama administration is skeptical it may investigate further: the U.S. has much greater satellite capacity than is available to SSP and faces no restrictions on degree of resolution (as SSP does by virtue of U.S. law).

Importantly, nearly all the eyewitness accounts in the UNMIS human rights report have been fully corroborated by subsequent accounts: from news organizations (several from the Nuba Mountains), from Nuba sources, from the Satellite Sentinel Project. (I offered an overview and synthesis of this evidence on July 14, at http://www.dissentmagazine.org/atw.php?id=497/). How could Lyman so blithely profess agnosticism about these extremely alarming accounts, especially given Khartoum’s history of genocidal counterinsurgency? SSP reports the presence of irregularly shaped white bags heaped together near the mass gravesites, consistently corresponding to human dimensions. Why hasn’t Lyman requested high-resolution satellite confirmation of what these white bags are? Several eyewitnesses, independently of each other, have confirmed that they are being used for the many corpses that litter Kadugli.

What of the more than 7,000 Nuba people who were forcibly removed from UN protective custody at US headquarters in Kadugli on June 20, and who remain unaccounted for? [Note added October 13, 2017: these people were never accounted for and we must assume they were among the many thousands massacred in Kadugli in June 2011]. The UNMIS report confirms what an earlier UNMIS internal situation report (sit rep) had detailed of actions by Khartoum’s Military Intelligence and security services: impersonating Red Crescent personnel, these brutal men compelled the removal of Nuba civilians from the UN protective perimeter (this was reported by Associated Press on June 23, 2011).

[Emphases in quoted text and notes from October 13, 2017 are all in blue italics—ER]

The UNMIS human rights report declares that its authors had “verifie[d] [the allegation of forcible removal] through multiple interviews of IDPs within the UNMIS Protective Perimeter” (53). We presently have no knowledge whatsoever of the location of these people. The UNMIS human rights report declares that by 5pm on June 20, “approximately 75 percent of the 11,000 IDPs in the vicinity of the Protective Perimeter had vacated the areas… At the time of this report, there are no IDPs in the UNMIS Protective Perimeter…” (54). Why aren’t these UN reports sufficient to compel Lyman to ask for U.S. satellite surveillance? Can there be any reasonable doubt about the accuracy of either UN account? Is Lyman not worried that there are potentially thousands of Nuba in the large mass graves identified by SSP?

Perhaps Lyman has a plausible alternative explanation for why, between June 17 and July 4, 2011—during heavy military operations—Khartoum’s forces would be moving earth at three side-by-side and parallel sites, of nearly identical dimensions (five meters by twenty-five meters), and of a size large enough to hold many thousands of bodies, depending on the depth of the excavation. But in the absence of such an explanation, and in light of an apparent unwillingness to request U.S. satellite confirmation of what is occurring at this site, he and other Obama administration officials appear inert before the strongest evidence to date of massive ethnically targeted human destruction.

The same questions must be asked of Valerie Amos, head of UN humanitarian operations. On July 15 Amos declared in a prepared statement: “We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations of extra-judicial killings, mass graves and other grave violations in South Kordofan” (http://reliefweb.int/node/426208/).

“We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations…”? This is preposterous skepticism, and betrays a highly defensive attitude in the face of evidence that makes all too clear that Amos has not made any serious effort to come to terms with the evidence of mass graves and the various atrocity crimes reported by the UN itself. For the UN human rights report, again focusing on the early days of military action when UNMIS still had some mobility, is a savage indictment—one that Amos certainly would not want to acknowledge having known of while saying nothing. Certainly the introduction to the report is quite unambiguous about what the UN had witnessed in the several weeks prior to the compiling of the report:

Monitoring has also revealed that the Sudan Armed Forces, paramilitary forces and Government security apparatus have engaged in violent and unlawful acts against UNMIS, in violation of International Conventions and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) including: verified incidents of shelling in close proximity to UN property, resulting in damage; summary execution of a UN national staff member; assaults on physical integrity of UN staff; arbitrary arrest and detention of UN Staff and associated human rights violations including ill treatment amounting to torture; harassment, intimidation, and obstruction of freedom of movement; and intrusion on UN premises including the UNMIS Protective Perimeter established to protect civilians internally displaced as a result of the conflict. The international community must hold the Government of Sudan accountable for this conduct and insist that those responsible be arrested and brought to justice.

The ethnic targeting of Nuba is made explicit in the UNMIS human rights report as well:

Interviews with witnesses and victims reveal that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and security forces have a list of Nubans wanted for being sympathetic to the SPLM/A, which supports the allegation that people in Southern Kordofan were targeted based on ethnicity. Witnesses also mentioned that persons of Nuban descent and “other dark skinned people” were being targeted by SAF and Arab militias. (49)

And those contemplating a possible future UN presence in South Kordofan, including a human rights investigating team, should bear in mind just how UNMIS was treated:

Throughout the conflict in Southern Kordofan, the SAF, Popular Defence Forces, and the Central Reserve Police Forces have treated UNMIS with gross contempt and a total disregard of its status as a UN body with the privileges and immunities set forth and contained in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Government of Sudan, as well as international conventions on the status of the UN, its staff, and assets, to which Sudan is a signatory. In addition to the killing of one UNMIS independent contractor, the SAF and PDF have intimidated UNMIS staff and subjected them to degrading and inhuman treatment, which has left as many as 45 staff held up in forced imprisonment in the UNMIS Kadugli Team Site, physically debilitated and psychologically traumatized. (44)

Examples of this gross mistreatment of a UN-authorized force are many:

On 7 June, an UNMIS truck was stopped at a checkpoint near the UNMIS Sector IV compound. Three of the ten IDPs who had been assisting UNMIS personnel with loading supplies for IDPs were pulled out of the truck and beaten up by SAF personnel. An UNMIS staff member who attempted to intervene was threatened at gunpoint by one of the soldiers who asked him ‘do you want to stay or leave.’ The UN personnel drove off with the seven remaining IDPs. The fate of the three IDPs remains unknown. (61)

On 16 June, four UNMIS military observers on patrol were detained, interrogated, and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment for two hours. They were intercepted by SAF personnel near the SAF 14th Division Headquarters while en route to Kadugli town to verify reports of mass graves. The military observers were taken to the SAF-JIU 5th Division Headquarters where they were subjected to lengthy interrogation regarding the purpose of their monitoring mission, searched and forced to remove their shirts. A SAF Captain instructed the UNMOs to line up and be killed. He removed the safety of his AK-47, and just as he was about to point the weapon towards the UNMOs, a SAF Major entered the room and ordered him not to shoot [emphasis added]. Immediately following the intervention the officer with the gun shouted “UNMIS leave Southern Kordofan, if not we will kill you if you come back here.” The team was released and told not to return back to Kadugli town. (62)

On the evening of 22 June, SAF surrounded the UNMIS Team site compound in Kadugli with three heavy artillery gun-mounted vehicles pointed at the compound from three points, including the front gate. This occurred following the arrest and interrogation of six UNMIS national staff early in the day by SAF military intelligence at the Kadugli airport. These developments have left UN national staff, especially those of Nuban descent, in a state of fear, some psychologically traumatized. (65)

There are other powerful observations made by the UN human rights report:

With the reinforcement of SAF, Central Reserve Police and militia elements, the security situation deteriorated on 7 June, with indiscriminate shelling of Kadugli town apparently targeting densely civilian-inhabited areas. This led to the secondary displacement of thousands of IDPs who had taken refuge in churches and hospitals to the UNMIS compound where they were sheltered in an area adjacent to the compound that was set up specifically to receive IDPs and provide them security and humanitarian assistance (Protective Perimeter). The SAF took control of the Kadugli airport, including UN assets located at the airport, and closed all civilian air traffic. UNMIS Human Rights received confirmation that SAF, together with militia elements of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF), a paramilitary force established in 1989 to assist SAF in ‘defending the nation,’ began going from house to house subjecting residents to identity checks. (9)

Eyewitnesses reported to UNMIS Human Rights looting of civilian homes, UN agencies/offices, and humanitarian warehouses, and destruction of property by PDF elements as they fought alongside the SAF. Meanwhile UN Security began the relocation of staff from UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes and INGOs to the UNMIS compound. By the evening Kadugli town, including hospitals, was emptied, as SAF checkpoints were established throughout the town. (10)

These “checkpoints” have figured prominently in the accounts of many Nuba over the past six weeks; their clear purpose is to capture or execute all Nuba, claiming that they have “Southern sympathies.” The looting and destruction of humanitarian warehouses has been repeatedly confirmed: these actions have as their goal the ending of humanitarian assistance to the Nuba Mountains, which are the ultimate focus of this growing campaign of genocide.

It is important to stress that the international response to the concluding recommendation of this human rights report will define any history of the present moment, particularly given the failure in Darfur to give meaning to the doctrine of a “responsibility to protect,” a “responsibility” that obtains even when there are claims of national sovereignty:

The attacks on UNMIS, its staff and assets are so egregious that condemnation is insufficient. The conduct of the SAF, the PDF, the Central Reserve Police Force, and the Government Police, singularly and collectively, has frustrated and weakened the capacity of the UNMIS to implement in Southern Kordofan a mandate given to it by the UN Security Council. The conduct has also resulted in loss of life and injury of UN staff. The international community must hold the Government of Sudan accountable for its conduct and insist that it arrests and bring to justice those responsible.” [emphasis added; [added October 13, 2017: of course there have been no arrests nor any holding of those responsible to account] (74)

So, is Amos even remotely credible when she declares, “We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations”? This thoroughly implausible skepticism confronts us again with the question: who within the UN system knew what and when? Is it conceivable that with such serious allegations building over more than three weeks they would not have made their way back to the UN in New York? To the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR)? To Ban Ki-moon’s Secretariat? Obviously the findings were far too sensitive to be released from within Sudan, even in Khartoum, where the UNMIS human rights team is based. This would have immediately imperiled the presence of remaining, if highly constrained UNMIS personnel in South Kordofan. But there was nothing from the UN in New York—not from UNHCHR, not from anyone in the Secretariat, not from the weak and uninspired Haile Menkerios, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative for Sudanno one said anything. Amos’s silence has been particularly galling, as Julie Flint reports in The Observer today, “causing fury among hard-pressed colleagues on the ground, who have been crying out for much stronger support from the security council, [as Amos] appeared to cast doubt on their reporting” (July 17, 2011)

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/16/sudan-secret-un-reports-nuba ).

History is quickly being obscured by those complicit in this cover-up, so let’s recall first what was known earlier in June, and look further at the specific findings of the UNMIS human rights report. On June 17, 2011 (one month ago), I published in the Washington Post a number of very specific accounts that had come to me and many others in the two weeks following the start of military activities (June 5, 2011 | https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-sudan-genocide-anew/2011/06/17/AGVhCVZH_story.html/ ). I prefaced these accounts by invoking my February 2004 warning in the Post concerning Darfur, which concluded with a prediction that was borne out with a terrible completeness:

A credible peace forum [for Darfur] must be rapidly created. Immediate plans for humanitarian intervention should begin. The alternative is to allow tens of thousands of civilians to die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/2004/02/25/unnoticed-genocide/d9e40128-c203-4614-86fe-b23b1f98edd7/?utm_term=.5b918fb35f8b/)

Reports from the ground in South Kordofan were already numerous and in many respects just as compelling as early reports from Darfur: I referred to “disturbing accounts [that] have emerged of the African people of the Nuba being rounded up in house searches and road checkpoints, and subjected to indiscriminate aerial bombardment,” and concluded by arguing that “all signs point to a new genocide.” I noted out that such genocidal ambition by Khartoum was in fact not without precedent in the Nuba Mountains; in January 1992 a fatwa was issued in Khartoum, declaring—

jihad against the peoples of the Nuba (who practice a range of religions, including Islam). Because the Nuba Mountains are not geographically contiguous with South Sudan (with which the area is militarily, politically and culturally allied), its people were largely left to fend for themselves. [The] regime imposed a total blockade of humanitarian assistance from the south. Many starving Nuba were forced into ‘peace camps,’ where receiving food was conditional upon conversion to Islam. Some who refused were tortured or mutilated. Khartoum’s decade-long campaign killed and displaced hundreds of thousands.

I also reported the extensive use of aerial military aircraft against civilian and humanitarian targets, a tactic that has a very long history under this regime—in Darfur, South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains throughout the 1990s, and currently in South Kordofan (http://www.sudanbombing.org/). It was also clear, I insisted, that humanitarian access was extremely limited by Khartoum’s restrictions, its commandeering of the Kadugli air field, and by its relentless bombing of the Kauda airstrip in the Nuba Mountains. And I also noted that “on June 8 [the UNMIS] base was raided by Khartoum’s military intelligence, and the United Nations was effectively disabled.”

This was clear more than four weeks ago. Despite Khartoum’s best efforts we have known what was going on, and so has the UN, though it has chosen not to speak out. This is beyond disgrace; and to the argument that silence about large-scale atrocity crimes was justified in New York as a means of keeping a UN presence in South Kordofan, with extremely limited reporting ability soon after hostilities began, I can only shake my head in disgust at such ghastly expedience.

Here it seems appropriate to recall that the initial UN investigation of Khartoum’s military seizure of Abyei (May 20-21) found that these actions were “tantamount to ethnic cleansing” (http://foreignpolicy.com/2011/06/06/sudans-invasion-of-abyei-is-it-ethnic-cleansing-or-isnt-it/); Ban Ki-moon and his office subsequently ensured that this phrase was excised from the final, public version of the report. This was a morally and intellectually corrupt effort to placate Khartoum, a signature feature of U.S. policy as well, even as it is likely that no decision has done more to produce the present catastrophic situation. I concluded my Washington Post essay by noting that the UN Security Council “demanded” on June 3 that Khartoum immediately withdraw its forces from Abyei:

The regime scoffed of course—as it has at previous council “demands,” including those bearing on Darfur. This is bad news for the people of Abyei and for the prospects of a just and peaceful separation of Sudan’s north and south, which is scheduled for July 9. For the Nuba people, such fecklessness spells catastrophe. Too often with Sudan, empty demands and threats signal to the regime that the world is not serious about halting atrocities. Either the international community gets serious about preventing further violence in Abyei and the adjacent region of South Kordofan, or we will again see [as I argued in February 2004 about Darfur] “tens of thousands of civilians . . . die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction.”

A month later, I would change not a word of this. And the UNMIS human rights report bears me out, underscoring as it does that the bombing campaign began in the opening days of the current military and civilian destruction campaign, and has continued throughout:

On 6 June, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) commenced aerial bombardments and intensified ground assaults on civilian populated areas in Um Dorein and Talodi localities. Many civilians fled the towns taking up refuge in the Nuba Mountains. Civilians wounded by the bombardments flocked to hospitals in Kadugli. Civilian movement was curtailed further east in Heiban and Kauda localities, as SAF and SPLA roadblocks from the north and south prevented residents from leaving the town. In Kadugli town, residents in the largely SPLM-inhabited Kalimo area were warned by both the SAF and the SPLA to evacuate the area. In the late afternoon, SAF heavily bombarded the west of town in Al Messanie which continued until the early morning of the 7 June. Residents in the Kalimo neighbourhood reported that the SAF was indiscriminately shelling homes where it suspected SPLA elements were hiding. There were also reports that the SAF was conducting house to house searches and systematically burning houses of suspected SPLM/A supporters. (8)

In a section devoted to “Aerial bombardments” the UNMIS human rights report makes clear just how constant, destructive, and terrifying this bombing has been:

Since the eruption of the conflict, the SAF has carried out daily aerial bombardments into the Nuba Mountains and in several towns and villages populated by Nubans [emphasis added]. The consequences of these bombardments on the Nuban people and in particular civilians, including women and children, are devastating. They have resulted in significant loss of life, destruction of properties, and massive displacement [emphasis added]. UNMIS Human Rights has received photographs of mangled and mutilated bodies of civilians, some cut into halves, including women and children. (39)

Starting from 5 June, the SAF has conducted daily aerial bombardments in Kadugli, Kauda, Dilling, Talodi, Um Dorein and other parts of the State populated by Nubans including Heiban, Kauda, Julud, Kudu and Kurchi. These bombardments often start from early evening at about 18:00 and last until daybreak. The bombardments have also targeted civilian facilities such as airstrips. On 14 June UNMIS personnel from the Kauda Team Site reported that the SAF launched air strikes on the airstrip and areas close to the UNMIS compound causing damage to structures inside the Team Site. The bombing rendered the airstrip unusable and impeded humanitarian organizations from re-supplying their stocks from Kadugli town or relocating/rotating staff in these areas.

On 25 June, SAF air-strike dropped two bombs on Julud airstrip, just 350 metres from a school, and three kilometres from UNMIS Julud Team Site. As of 27 June, according to UNMO reports from Kadugli and other Team Sites, the SAF was intensifying aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan. On SPLA positions. Following the SAF aerial bombardment of Shivi village, in Dilling locality on 8 June, UNMIS Julud Team Site reported two civilians were killed, one male and one female. Bombs have also been dropped very close to UNMIS Team Sites. On 19 June, UNMIS Kauda Team Site confirmed that seven bombs dropped in Kauda hitting areas south and northwest of the Team Site. (40)

Are Lyman and Amos and other senior UN officials claiming that they did not know of these reports from the ground in Kadugli and Kauda? Are they saying they didn’t credit them? Or are they saying that they did not think them important enough to publicize, given Khartoum’s anger over such truths being told?

The UNMIS human rights report provides not only compelling eyewitness accounts of mass graves and continuous aerial bombardment of civilians, but establishes that many other war crimes and atrocities have been committed:

On 22 June, an UNMIS independent contractor reported witnessing SAF elements fill a mass grave in Al Gardut Locality in Tillo with dead bodies. She reported that SAF elements transported the bodies to the site, dumped them in the grave and using a bulldozer to cover the grave” [emphasis added; SSP also reports the use of heavy earth-moving equipment] (34)

An UNMIS staff member who was detained by SAF at their military facility in Umbattah Locality reported during his detention, that he saw over an estimated 150 dead bodies of persons of Nuban descent scattered on the grounds of the military compound. Some of the bodies appeared to have bullet wounds and he reported a large quantity of blood on the ground. He reported a SAF soldier told them that they had all been shot dead. [emphasis added] (28)

On 8 June, an UNMIS independent contractor (IC) was pulled out of a vehicle by SAF in front of the UNMIS Kadugli Sector IV Compound in the presence of several witnesses, while UN peacekeepers could not intervene. He was taken around the corner of the compound and gunshots were heard. Later he was discovered dead by UNMIS personnel and IDPs. Several sources confirmed that the victim was an active SPLM member. (29)

Through house to house searches and targeted actions at checkpoints and at the Kadugli Airport, the SAF is believed to have engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions of persons affiliated with churches or suspected of being supporters and affiliates of the SPLM/A. Thus far most of those arrested are Nubans. On 7 June a Catholic priest reported that SAF and PDF militia were engaged in house-to-house searches mainly in the Banjadid Locality west of Kadugli town causing civilians to panic…. (43)

Several passages speak to the existence of earlier mass graves, dug even before the three very large sites discovered by SSP (which were dug sometime between June 17 and July 4):

On 10 June, UNMIS Human Rights interviewed residents from Murta village, outside of Kadugli Town, who stated that they saw fresh mass graves located in a valley southeast of the Murta bus station near the Kadugli police training centre. (35)

[Two men interviewed by UNMIS] reported that, following their release from SAF custody, they saw fresh mass graves between the SAF 14th Division Headquarters and Kadugli Market. On 16 June, UN military observers, while on their way between the SAF 14th Division Headquarters and Kadugli Market in an attempt to verify the existence of these mass graves, were arrested, stripped of their clothes, and believed that they were about to be executed when a senior SAF officer intervened. (36)

Again, these mass graves are in addition to those dug after June 17, as reported by SSP.