Unrelenting Violence in Darfur: Recent Reporting by Radio Dabanga

Violence, especially sexual violence against girls and women, remains unchecked in Darfur; violence associated with the ruthless Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its campaign of “disarmament,” also remains a threat throughout Darfur. The militia force is undisciplined and given a free hand to steal, intimidate, extort, rape, and murder. Much of this occurs under cover of Khartoum’s ghastly “disarmament” campaign for Darfur.

The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which took up its civilian protection mandate exactly ten years ago, has never seemed more impotent and unresponsive to civilian needs. It has proved utterly impotent in halting the predations of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Khartoum’s primary militia force in Darfur. Having been officially incorporated into the Khartoum regime, the RSF enjoys total impunity in committing its massive and widespread predations.

And yet UNAMID is all the international community is willing to offer to protect the 3 million people internally displaced in Darfur or refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad.Coupled with declining humanitarian resources and continuing regime hostility to international relief efforts, the future looks unspeakably grim for the non-Arab/African people of Darfur who make up the overwhelming majority of those displaced—and the some 600,000 people who have died from the direct and indirect consequences of violence over the past fifteen years.

The new budget proposed by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime—promising catastrophic effects on poorer civilians throughout Sudan, and in certainly Darfur—has led to the beginning of countrywide protests. Two have been killed so far (the first a secondary student in el-Geneina, West Darfur), many have been injured, and there have also been a great many arrests. Violence in recent weeks has been especially prominent in Central and South Darfur (UNAMID has of course not established the base at Golo that was part of the withdrawal agreement with the Khartoum regime made last June; there are no signs that it will become active anytime soon in this extremely volatile part of Central Darfur).

But violence is pervasive, if largely unseen in Darfur; Radio Dabanga is our only regular, detailed source of information, and it can only be partial in its coverage.

It is difficult to recall that ten years ago Darfur was a cause célèbre among activists, human rights groups, anti-genocide campaigners, journalists, and even politicians. Today Darfur’s agony is shamefully, disgracefully invisible…

Dispatches from Radio Dabanga, December 28, 2017 – January 11, 2018 (many dispatches report multiple violent incidents against civilians)

• Darfuri student killed in Sudan protests against price hikes | January 8, 2018 | EL GENEINA / NYALA / ED DAMAZIN / KHARTOUM

On Sunday, the third day of demonstrations against the 300% price increases that hit the country last week, a student was killed in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina.Other parts of the country witnessed protests as well, When demonstrators in El Geneina set fire to the local headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party in the city, government forces opened fire on the crowd. Secondary school student El Zubeir Ibrahim Sikiran was killed instantly. Eight others were wounded. Dozens were detained.

The West Darfur authorities ordered the formation of committee to investigate the killing. All schools are closed for a week.

Sudan imports many food items and most of the medicines needed. In 2015, Sudan imported more than two million tons of wheat at a cost of $1.5 billion. The recurrent flour crises during the past few years have been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency.

Rapid Support Forces

On Sunday morning, secondary school students demonstrated also in Nyala, capital of South Darfur. They chanted slogans against the doubling of the bread price. Others blocked the main three streets in the city with burning tyres for several hours. The South Darfur authorities deployed large numbers of militiamen belonging to the Rapid Support Forces in the centre of the capital to support the state police. In Ed Damazin,people took to the streets on Saturday morning. The security forces used tear gas and excessive force to break up the demonstrations that moved from various neighbourhoods of the Blue Nile State capital to the city market. A student reported to this station that two houses in El Zuhour district burned down during the violence. Dozens of demonstrators, among them a number of students of the Blue Nile University, were held, and have been taken to an unknown destination.

The Rapid Support Forces are extremely well armed and equipped by Khartoum; they operate with total impunity.

On Friday and Saturday, Khartoum, Atbara, and Sennar witnessed small protests in a number of neighbourhoods as well. A demonstration of students of the University of Khartoum on Sunday afternoon was immediately halted by police forces who closed the nearby streets, and used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Students told this station that many of them suffered from breathing problems because of the excessive use of tear gas. An unknown number of students were wounded. Dozens were detained.

“Sabotage”

On Sunday, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Babikir Digna, told the press in Khartoum that his Ministry “will not hesitate to crack down on any subversive demonstration against the price hikes.” “We will suppress any sabotage attempts,” he stressed, and added that peaceful demonstrations are permitted after obtaining a permission from the authorities in advance, “just as in any other country in the world.”

[This comment about “allowing peaceful demonstrations” is of course a cruel joke, but one that the international community seems inclined to credit, at least partially—ER]

• Central Darfur: Military Intelligence detain five, firewood collector killed | January 8, 2018 | NIERTETI

Members of the Military Intelligence in Nierteti in Central Darfur detained five people last week.

A resident of the Northern Nierteti camp for the displaced was shot dead while collecting firewood on Saturday.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a camp sheikh said that on Tuesday, Haydar Idris Suleiman, a 25-year-old secondary school student living in the Northern Nierteti camp for the displaced was taken by Military Intelligence agents to the town’s army garrison without providing a reason. “On Saturday, they returned and took Hafiz Abdelrahman (24) and Adam Khamis (21) with them.” A listener reported that a camp resident named Siddig and a resident of Nierteti were detained by Military Intelligence agents from the town’s market on Saturday as well.

[Military Intelligence remains the ultimate security forces authority in Darfur, as it has from the beginning of the genocide; the RSF is the militia “muscles” of Military Intelligence—ER]