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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action
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Sudan: Amnesty International Campaign
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Sudan: Amnesty International Campaign
Date Distributed (ymd): 950208
Amnesty International USA
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
January 25, 1995
SUDAN: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN
ON RIGHTS ABUSES IN SUDAN
NAIROBI -- The United Nations (UN) should create an
international civilian human rights monitoring team as
a first step in breaking the cycle of abuses in both
the government-controlled north and the war-torn south
of Sudan, Amnesty International said today as it
launched its first major campaign of 1995.
"Having international monitors on the ground
would make it more difficult for government and
opposition forces to get away with the killings,
torture and arbitrary detentions that have fractured
Sudanese society and deepened political hatreds over
the past five years," said Pierre San, Secretary
General of Amnesty International, speaking at a
press conference in Nairobi.
With the government blocking the UN's human
rights expert on Sudan from entering the country and
with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and
Development (IGADD) peace process showing little
progress, Mr San said that the need for the
international community to intensify human rights
monitoring has never been greater.
"Sudan's future depends on greater respect for
human rights being established throughout the country,"
Mr San said. "The carnage in the war-torn south is only
half the picture, because even in areas less affected
by civil war, the brutal violation of human rights has
also divided the population."
In arguing for the UN to establish human rights
monitors, he stressed that the human rights disaster in
which thousands have been unlawfully detained and tens
of thousands killed lies at the heart of the
humanitarian emergency facing the country.
"The UN provides relief aid at vast expense to
deal with the consequences of war and human rights
abuse, but this is not enough," said Mr San. "Solving
Sudan's serious human rights problems is a priority."
The organization said such human rights monitors
- report human rights abuses to the authorities
and the UN and follow up individual cases of abuse to
make sure that action is taken,
- provide an independent and impartial body where
Sudanese can report human rights violations, without
fear of reprisals, and
- work with the authorities on improving human
rights policies and practices in the country.
In its 132-page report on the human rights situation in
Sudan since the 1989 coup, the organization shows that
the military government led by President Omar Hassan
Ahmad al-Bashir and both the main armed opposition
factions -- the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)
led by John Garang de Mabior and the South Sudan
Independence Army (SSIA) led by Riek Machar
Teny-Dhurgon -- are guilty of committing gross abuses
of human rights.
Since coming to power, the Sudanese government
has made torture and the detention of suspected
opponents in so-called "ghost houses" -- the security
forces' secret detention centers -- standard practice
throughout the country as it crushes political
opposition and attempts to mould society to its own
version of a radical Islamist agenda.
Many suspected government opponents -- trade
unionists, activists in banned political parties,
students, journalists, Southerners suspected of
supporting armed opposition groups -- are arrested,
tortured, held for short periods, released and then
Despite government denials, Amnesty International
has documented the torture of hundreds of people since
1989 both in the capital, Khartoum, and other towns, as
well as in the southern war-zone. A judge trying
Gaafar Yassin and four others on conspiracy charges in
1994 accepted medical evidence they had been beaten,
burnt, whipped with plastic piping and made to stand
barefoot on hot metal -- but still imposed prison
sentences. This travesty of justice shows how repeated
government purges have made the supposedly independent
judiciary compliant to political manipulation.
Each time prisoners of conscience are arrested,
if only for a brief period, Amnesty International fears
for their safety, such as during the mass arrest of
scores of trade unionists in the northern town of
Atbara in October 1994. Amnesty also remains seriously
concerned about the well-being of 12 southern civil
servants and others detained last month in Juba, the
main town in the south. Their whereabouts are still
In the war zones of the south and the Nuba
Mountains, government forces, the SPLA and the SSIA
(formerly known as SPLA-United) have all been
responsible for the killing and "disappearance" of
thousands of civilians creating a humanitarian
catastrophe of famine and the mass movement of millions
of people. All parties to the conflict have driven
villagers from their land, and looted and destroyed
crops and property.
In June 1994, for example, an Amnesty
International research team in southern Sudan
interviewed survivors of a series of indiscriminate
killings by troops of the government's Popular Defence
Force (PDF) militia along a railway line linking north
and south Sudan. A scorched-earth campaign by
government forces in the area has involved hundreds of
political killings, rape, the abduction of children and
the displacement of thousands of civilians. There was
further killing and looting by PDF last month.
Gross human rights abuses occur during
interfactional fighting among the armed opposition. The
SPLA, which ruthlessly suppresses internal dissent, has
been responsible for hundreds of killings of Nuer
civilians. Prisoners of conscience have been detained,
tortured and killed. In August 1994, SPLA troops
abducted at least 17 men -- among them Carlo Madut
Deng, a doctor who had resigned from the SPLA -- from a
refugee camp in northern Uganda. The men are believed
to have been killed.
After the split in the opposition movement in
1991, the breakaway group, now called the SSIA,
massacred thousands of Dinka civilians and displaced
over 200,000 others. In October 1994, SSIA forces
attacked and looted cattle camps around Akot, killing
over 100 civilians.
Amnesty International's report is entitled "SUDAN: The
Tears Of Orphans", ISBN:#0-93994-95-X; the briefing
is entitled "SUDAN: What Future For Human Rights",
ISBN: #0-939994-96-8. Both publications are available
through Amnesty International USA, Publications
Department,322 Eighth Avenue, New York, New York 10001.
The cost of the report is $10.00 and the cost of the
briefing is $7.00 - both include handling and shipping.
Basic information on Amnesty International is available
by sending a blank email message to
For availability in other countries please contact the
Amnesty International section in your country or
Amnesty International, International Secretariat,
1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ United Kingdom
(Tel +44-71-413-5500, Fax +44-71-956-1157)
This material is being reposted for wider distribution
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the
United States around African issues and the U.S. role
in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a
wide range of groups and individuals. APIC is
affiliated with the Washington Office on Africa (WOA),
a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights
group supported organization that works with Congress
on Africa-related legislation.