Entrenching Impunity
Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur

VI. The Sudanese Military: Implementing the Policy of Attacks on Civilians

In collaboration with the militias and regional civilian officials, the Sudanese military constitute the vital third link in the triangular network of actors responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the massive campaign of international crimes in Darfur. The record of the Sudanese military in Darfur demonstrates that the crimes against civilians were part of a policy that can only have been created by the Sudanese political and military leadership in Khartoum.

The Sudanese military structure in Darfur has a fairly straightforward chain of command: the Western Military Command is responsible for the operations of the Sudanese army in Darfur, with the overall commander reporting to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Abbas Arabi. Chief of Staff Arabi reports to Minister of Defence Maj. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih, who reports to President El Bashir, a Lieutenant General and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces.

The Western Military Command of the Sudanese armed forces is headquartered in Fashir, North Darfur, where the 1st Infantry Division is based. Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fazey, 6th Division commander based in Fashir since January 2004, told Human Rights Watch that Fashir was the command and control center for all army operations in the three states of Darfur.93 Nyala, in South Darfur, is the headquarters for the 16th Infantry Division which operates in South Darfur, but the force commander in Nyala apparently reports to and receives orders from the headquarters in Fashir.94 Brigades are located in the major towns of each state, from where they deploy and coordinate battalions based in smaller towns—not necessarily in accordance with state boundaries. For instance, in northwest North Darfur, the brigade stationed in Tine supervises three battalions: one each in Tine itself, Girgira and Karnoi.  In the southern part of North Darfur, the 7th Infantry Brigade is based in Kebkabiya, and its area of operations includes the Kebkabiya area itself and south to the northern slopes of Jebel Mara. The 96th Infantry Brigade is based in Zalingei and covers the remainder of the area on the southern slopes of Jebel Marra, administratively part of West Darfur, in conjunction with brigades based in Nyertite and other locations.

To date, Human Rights Watch has not been able to identify all of the senior military commanders from the Sudanese armed forces who led or participated in the attacks in Darfur, but it is believed that most army troops and commanders operating in North Darfur were from the 1st and 6th Infantry Divisions, under the command of army headquarters in Fashir. In South Darfur, the 16th Infantry Division was responsible for most of the army operations around Nyala (see below).

The air force is apparently directed from a command and control center in Khartoum. Air crews of helicopter gunships are rotated from state to state.95 Aerial movements and support are closely coordinated with the army forces on the ground during attacks; according to Major General Fazey, only he and the force commander of the entire operation in Darfur can order or authorize the deployment of helicopters.96

Various commanders of companies, battalions, brigades, and divisions operating in Darfur may be responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The analysis below focuses on one major offensive in South Darfur in late 2004, and illustrates the high degree of planning and coordination of the crimes by the Sudanese military, but the role of the Sudanese army in this offensive is far from unique. Although Human Rights Watch has not been able to identify all the key military personnel involved in the military operations throughout Darfur, a few individuals are named below (and in Annex 1). Ultimately, the responsibility for the crimes committed by the Sudanese military lies with President El Bashir as the commander-in-chief, Chief of Staff Abbas Arabi, former Minister of Defence Maj Gen Bakre Hassan Salih, and other key military staff.

A. South Darfur, December 2004: Anatomy of a Government Offensive against Civilians

    Gunships were everywhere. In every attack there were gunships. And of course the Antonovs doing the [reconnaissance], directing the fire.
    —Former AMIS military observer97

Involving the militias

By late February 2004, it was clear that the SLA was mobilizing a new front in South Darfur.98 South Darfur is the state with the largest population of Arab nomadic groups, mostly located in the southeast and southwest parts of the state as well as in Nyala, the state capital.99 The SLA had established itself in the area in early 2004 by attacking police stations and other government targets, causing the Sudanese government to withdraw the police and PDF from the villages. It may have believed that these security forces might defect to the SLA, which in some cases they did.100 By late April 2004, the SLA controlled large areas of rural South Darfur, such as most of the rural area of Shariya province, northeast of Nyala.

The Sudanese government’s reaction to the increasing SLA presence was swift.  In a March 3, 2004 directive the then-governor of South Darfur, Adam Hamid Musa, ordered Nyala Commissioner Said Adam Jamaa to take specific steps to defend the state.

These steps included the formation of a new security committee. Eight men are listed as members: Jadeen Jood-Allah Dagash (South Darfur minister for culture and social affairs), Mohammed Yacoub Al Umda, Mustaba Abu Nooba, Mahmood Adam Salkyo, Hussein Kabeer Abdallah, Muhammed Abdelrasool Hussein, Mahdi Marji, and Ibrahim Muhammed Abdallah.101  It was no coincidence that these men were selected: most of them are leaders of small Arab tribes that migrated to Darfur from Chad in the past few decades and have been involved in local clashes with Fur and other groups over access to land in the past decade.102

The function of the new security committee in South Darfur, as described in the memorandum, was to increase “the level of mobilization to ensure that the activities of the outlaws are not brought into the state and to safeguard stability and security.” In other words, the new committee was tasked with recruitment of new militia forces, typically referred to as “mobilization” by the Sudanese government. Mohammed Yacoub al Omda is the omda (leader) of the Tarjam tribe; Mahmoud Adam Salkyo and Hussein Kabeer Abdallah are Saada. Human Rights Watch was told by local community leaders that Yacoub al Omda and Mahmoud Salkyo are key figures in militia recruitment and training, and that Mustapha Abu Nouba is a leader of a Riziegat sub-clan that has been implicated in attacks against villages around Nyala in 2004. These tribal leaders mobilized their tribes to join the government’s campaign.
The memo orders Nyala Provincial Commissioner Said Adam Jamaa “to swiftly deliver provisions and ammunition to the new camps to secure the southwestern part of the state.” This illustrates the pivotal role of not only the state governor in ordering recruitment and supply of arms to the militias, but of the Nyala commissioner, who apparently had the power to distribute these supplies, although whether the supplies came directly via the army or through the Popular Defense Forces commanders, remains unclear.

What followed was a brutal repetition of the events in North and West Darfur.

Military attacks on rebel positions in villages, even if there are villagers present, does not in itself violate international humanitarian law.  However, during military operations an armed force must take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects.  All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid or minimalize incidental loss of civilian life and injury.103  Attackers must distinguish between combatants and civilians, attack only military targets, and not carry out attacks that do not discriminate between combatants and civilians, or which cause disproportionate harm compared to the expected military gain.104

The South Darfur offensive as an example of the military-militia relationship

Two features of the skimpy infrastructure of South Darfur were pivotal for the government’s military response to the rebel presence in South Darfur: the main roads from Nyala north, west and south to Fashir, Kass and Buram, and the railway from Nyala to Ed Daein heading northeast to El Obeid and Khartoum. The roads and the railway were both important logistical supply lines for Darfur. Despite signing the ceasefire agreement in April 2004, the Sudanese government conducted a massive, step-by-step offensive against civilians living in the vicinity of the roads and railway in the second half of 2004. The only difference between this and previous government offensives in other parts of Darfur was that this time, the A.U. mission in Sudan (AMIS) was on the ground, monitoring a ceasefire that was soon shown to be entirely illusory in South Darfur.

The offensive was later publicly justified by the Sudanese government as necessary to fulfill its commitment to improving security pursuant to an ill-conceived “action plan” signed by the Sudanese government and the U.N. in early August 2004.105

The first part of the offensive consisted of the systematic displacement of civilians from villages in areas south of the railroad, initially using government-backed militia. The communities living south of and along the Ed Daein-Nyala railroad were among the first to suffer attacks.  The SLA had attacked the police station and several government offices including the zakat (alms) office in Yassin,106 south of that railroad, in January 2004, and looted weapons, cash and other supplies in its typical modus operandi.107 According to residents of Yasssin, after the SLA attack, “the government withdrew all the army and police and left the citizens without any protection.”108 Yassin residents said that they expected the government would send reinforcements, but when none were forthcoming a delegation of community leaders went to Nyala to ask the government to send troops.  “The government said the area was in peace and we didn’t need them,” a displaced person from Yassin told Human Rights Watch.109

In July and August 2004, dozens of villages in the Ma’aliya, Sani Afando, and Yassin areas were attacked by government-backed militias drawn largely from the Shattiya sub-tribe of the Southern Riziegat based around Ed Daien. The attacks, in which civilians were killed and their property systematically looted or destroyed, displaced thousands of villagers north, across the railway into SLA-controlled areas, and west, into Kalma camp and the Nyala environs.

Once the civilian population had been driven out, the Sudanese military established new military camps—in violation of the April 2004 ceasefire—in key strategic positions near the railway and main roads in August and September 2004.110

B. From Adwah to Hamada

Once the military bases were established south of the railway and along the main roads, the main focus of new militia attacks shifted north, around the Nyala-Fashir road, where the SLA controlled most of the territory east and west of the road. Although the Sudanese government labeled the attacks “road clearing,” in reality they were a thinly veiled strategy to remove the civilian population from the area, along with the SLA presence. Several elements were consistently present in the attacks, even where the individuals leading the militias and government forces differed:

  • Aerial support from helicopter gunships and typically Antonovs, with targeted gunship attacks on civilians;
  • Deployment of at least one brigade or company of troops from the 16th Infantry Division either in the attacked location or in the vicinity (for instance along the road to sweep in fleeing civilians and SLA) during each attack;
  • Summary executions and other killings of civilians, rape, and other abuses of civilians;
  • Widespread looting of household goods and livestock by militias and government troops.
  • Include in any peace agreement with the rebel groups provisions reiterating the obligation of all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and abide by international humanitarian law; ensure that there is no amnesty from prosecution for persons implicated in serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The offensive was extremely well planned and systematic in its approach. First the SLA-held town of Adwah (one of the SLA’s larger bases on the west side of the Nyala-Fashir road) was attacked. Then the government forces attacked Marla, a SLA-held town south of the railway, and finally the Ishma-Labado-Muhajariya corridor was attacked, in the heart of SLA-controlled territory. The methodical way in which these strategic locations were attacked illustrates the overall coordination role of the Sudanese government; the offensive was apparently directed from Khartoum.111

Adwah: November 30, 2004

In preparation for the attack on Adwah, the Sudanese government sent several convoys of troops to Duma in the days preceding the attack. The attack began at approximately 6:00 a.m. on November 30, 2004. The village was surrounded and attacked from all directions, surprising both the villagers and the SLA troops who were present in the village. The attack consisted of militia forces on camels and horseback and Sudanese army troops in vehicles. According to several witnesses there were at least fifteen Land Cruisers armed with machine guns, RPGs, and other weapons. Two helicopter gunships and an Antonov were involved in the attack, for reconnaissance. According to one witness, one of the helicopter gunships landed between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. to provide two boxes of ammunition to the attackers.112

Residents of Adwah spoke of civilians, mainly men, being summarily executed and many women being raped by both government soldiers and militia.113 The exact death toll from the Adwah attack is unknown but was likely in the dozens. Between November 30 and December 2, when an AMIS team entered Adwah, those women and girls who had not managed to escape were reportedly held in the town and repeatedly raped. Wounded villagers were also detained in the town without medical care.

The AMIS team sent to investigate on November 30 was stopped on the side road leading to Adwah by a Sudanese government commander, Maj. AbdulRahman Mohammed Ibrahim, and his company of soldiers. Major AbdulRahman told the AMIS team that they could not proceed to Adwah because there was “tribal fighting” there. He also told AMIS that the presence of his troops on the road “was not there because of the attack on Adwah” but to “secure the road.”114 The AMIS team tried another access road to Adwah and there too they encountered a Sudanese army blockade. They noted (and photographed) the fact that government troops were fanned out in position across the road and were stationed as either reinforcements for the troops in Adwah or to intercept SLA or villagers fleeing to Jurrouf, the nearest SLA base, east of Adwah across the main road.115 The AMIS team flew over Adwah the following day and photographed a large number of government vehicles and militia in Adwah.

When the AMIS team eventually gained access to Adwah, the Janjaweed militia and government forces’ looting of the town was still in progress. Photographs from Adwah on that day attest to the looting and killings.

The AMIS team interviewed the leader of one of the Rizeigat militias involved in the attack, Mohammed Hamdan, who was still in the village. He said that he was the agid (war leader) of the Rizeigat militia. He confirmed that the attack had been planned for several months, and that an Antonov plane and two helicopter gunships were involved in the attack.116 The AMIS team helped to evacuate many of the wounded villagers, women, and children.

Marla, Ishma and Um Zaifa: December 8–10, 2004

Ishma and Um Zaifa (north of the railway), and Marla (south of the railway), all SLA-controlled villages east of Nyala, were some of the largest villages attacked in the next stage of the offensive, which took place over several days and was conducted by several coordinated groups of attackers.

The first attack began on December 8, in Marla. The 16th Infantry Division entered the village, forcing the rebel forces out. Part of the village was apparently burned down in the attack, but it is unclear whether there were civilian casualties in this attack. Fighting continued in the area for several days and Marla was attacked again on December 16.

The SLA-held Um Zaifa area was the next in line for attack. The SLA had held this area, which in addition to Um Zaifa village included the larger villages of Ishma, Labado and Muhajariya, and many smaller hamlets since early 2004. Some of the larger villages like Labado had small forces of thirty or so SLA combatants stationed in compounds in the villages; larger SLA bases were located outside the villages.117

Government forces and Janjaweed militia began their attack on Ishma and Um Zaifa on December 10, and quickly forced the population from the villages.  An aid worker who treated some of the displaced said, “Every displaced person has a horror story.”118  AMIS attempted to investigate the attacks on December 11, and met with the Sudanese commander in Ishma, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al Hajir Mohammed. Brig. Gen. Mohammed, who had by then moved into a new government base in Ishma, told the AMIS team investigating the attacks on Ishma and Um Zaifa that the offensive was “a routine activity to secure the road from Nyala to Khartoum,” and that “the order for this action had come straight from higher authorities in Khartoum.”119 He also acknowledged that his forces “had entered and pulled out of Marla on December 8. His forces had attacked Marla also to clear the road/railway to Ad-Dyaen [Ed Daein].”120

In the following days the AMIS observers conducted aerial patrols along the Ishma-Um Zaifa-Labado corridor.  They photographed a large concentration of militia and looted goods in nearby Konkono. Konkono had also been attacked and became a congregation point for the militiamen, who looted the village in the presence of the army troops.121  The AMIS observers also witnessed Janjaweed militia “looting and setting houses on fire” in Um Zaifa. The destruction was systematic: over a three-day period, the AMIS patrols photographed the progressive devastation of Um Zaifa. The Sudanese government forces quickly dug trenches around their bases in Um Zaifa and established camps in the new areas they had captured.122 

Marla: December 15–16, 2004

Marla was attacked again on the morning of December 15.  According to residents of Marla, the attack started with two helicopter gunships and an Antonov circling above the town, possibly to determine whether there was any SLA presence. Government soldiers in several trucks arrived from different directions, and began shooting indiscriminately and setting fire to houses.123 The troops established a base on the western side of the village and began looting and burning the shops in the marketplace. They prevented Marla residents from getting water from the main well in the town.

While the majority of the attackers were government troops, some militia members were also involved in the attack and the looting that followed. The looting was still continuing when AMIS observers finally gained access to Marla on December 17, and photographed the looting.

An elderly Zaghawa woman who lived in Marla told Human Rights Watch that most of the Janjaweed attackers covered their faces during the attack and the looting that followed:

Some of us tried to collect little items and put the children on donkeys but were not allowed. Janjaweed hit them and took their donkeys. Many people and children were killed during that attack and in front of us, but we had to leave their bodies unburied and run.124

The number of civilians killed there, by targeted or indiscriminate shooting, is unclear. According to one source, one man was summarily executed by soldiers and another killed in the indiscriminate shooting. Several women were wounded reportedly by rockets fired by the helicopter gunships.125

Labado: December 17, 2004

Government forces and militia had attacked at least five villages north of Labado in early November.126 By mid-December 2004, thousands of displaced persons from these nearby areas had fled to Labado, making it one of the larger displaced persons sites under SLA control in Shariya province, South Darfur. Labado and many other villages in the area are populated mainly by the Bergid, although there has been migration of others such as the Zaghawa over the past few decades. The commissioner of Shariya town, Sadiq Ali Nabi,127 is a Bergid from Labado. Apparently many Labado villagers believed that his position as a government official would protect them from government attack. As a result, despite the fact that government forces had attacked villages surrounding Labado, many Labado residents remained in the town instead of fleeing.128

The events of December 17 proved that Commissioner Nabi’s connection to Labado was no protection for the town.

By December 16, the brigade of the 16th Infantry Division under the command of Brig. Gen. Ahmed Al Hajir Mohamed (the same commander who led the attacks on Marla and Ishma the previous week) had advanced to within eight kilometers of Labado.129 According to credible sources, the December 17 attack began in a village west of Labado in the early morning. At midday, an Antonov began circling Labado and bombed south of the town, then dropped four bombs east and then north. The bombing all around the town confused the residents, who were uncertain which way to run. Then the Antonov bombed the central marketplace. The government also reportedly used helicopter gunships.130 According to an international observer who interviewed displaced residents of Labado, there was a small contingent of SLA troops living in Labado, in one specific compound, but the SLA troops fled as soon as the attack began.131

Displaced people from Labado said that hundreds of Janjaweed militiamen then attacked the town and killed, burned, and looted at will. Government troops followed the militias, also killing civilians and destroying parts of the town. Some families were reportedly locked in their huts and burned to death. A large number of people were gathered in the school and apparently executed there. At least sixty civilians were reported to have been killed.132 Days after the attack, an aid worker who treated some of the displaced people from Labado wrote: “there are many children still missing, old people seen in mobile clinic with spear wounds, several people with shrapnel wounds, and a whole population with the mask of traumatization on their faces.”133 

Government forces promptly dug new brigade positions outside of Labado. Once the town was secured, Sudanese army troops and Janjaweed militias systematically looted and burned the town. Over the next two days, 80 percent of the town was completely destroyed or damaged, including the market, stores, and the hospital.

AMIS military observers investigating the attack were prevented from entering Labado on December 17, by Brig Gen Mohamed. The AMIS observers noted the presence of approximately five hundred “armed Arab nomads (Janjaweed militia) on their horses and camel… occupying the northern defensive area of the GoS forces.” When asked about these forces, the Brigadier General lied, saying they were “IDPs escaping…for protection.”134 On a later visit the Janjaweed militia leaders in Labado even threatened the AMIS team, who found two bullet holes in their Mi-8 helicopter when they returned to Nyala.135

Hamada: January 13–14, 2005

The pattern of the attack on Hamada appears to have been very similar to the previous attacks. Janjaweed militias from Niteiga and Malam were identified among the attackers, who conducted the assault in a coordinated fashion with Sudanese government forces. For two days, the residents of Hamada were detained in the village, not allowed to flee. Men and women were separated into groups: some of the men and boys were executed; others were kept alive to guard their own livestock, looted by the Janjaweed. Women and children were killed, some while fleeing the school; other women and girls were raped, some repeatedly.136 Wounded people were executed.

According to survivors who fled the area, the attackers repeatedly stated their intention of “cleaning the whole area.”137 One witness was more precise, noting they said they were “cleaning the land from Shariya to El Fashir through Shangil Tobaya and Thabit.”138

In February 2005, at a summit in N’djamena, Chad, President El Bashir committed to stop using Antonovs and helicopter gunships in “hostile military overflights.” The commitment came somewhat late. By that time, the Sudanese government had essentially achieved many of its aims in its offensive in South Darfur.

C. Knowledge of and Complicity in the Attacks by the Military

Lower-level troops sent to Darfur were initially told by their commanders that they were going to deal with the region’s notorious thieves and “coupeurs de routes”— bandits who robbed travelers on the roads. This was not unexpected: as one former soldier from Zalingei told Human Rights Watch, “Before the war, we were mainly used to go after the livestock thieves operating in the mountains.” Even after the conflict escalated, the Sudanese leadership continued to tell the troops, and the public, that they were fighting “robbers,” and insisted that the rebel forces were simply bandits. 

After the government offensives began in 2003, however, it became increasingly clear to soldiers taking part that civilians, not rebels or even robbers, were the main targets. Within the Sudanese armed forces, including the air force, some members were from Darfur, and some of these individuals protested to their superiors, but were told to continue operations. A former soldier from a Fur village in Jebel Marra told Human Rights Watch:

I participated in five attacks. Each time, some soldiers talked to the Janjaweed and asked them not to do that, not to kill civilians. It created tensions. The officers tried to stop these soldiers from talking to the Janjaweed. The officers told these soldiers to shut up and to follow the orders. They used to say, “It’s not your business. We are attacking the SLA. These people are SLA.” Some officers were from Khartoum, some from Nyala. I remember especially one officer from the Bergou [a non-Arab] tribe from Nyala, he had three stars on his shoulders [naqib or captain]. He was more direct. He used to say, “You have to attack the civilians.”139

Army commanders directly commanded and coordinated attacks in full knowledge that they were attacking civilians. Sudanese government troops based in Kutum were reportedly led by a Sudanese army commander named Gaddal Fadlallah, a major with one eagle (known as raid). According to men who served under him in several attacks on villages in the Kutum area, he gave clear instructions to attack civilians. For instance, before an attack on Enciro (where the SLA was based in 2002 and early 2003), he said, “On your way, every house and village needs to be burned completely. I do not want to see any left after the battle.” He added, “All men, even civilians that you see should be killed.”140

A pilot who provided air support to army operations in Darfur stressed the close coordination of the army and the Janjaweed militias during these actions, and the fact that it was clear that the object of many attacks was civilians:

We were ordered to cover operations of the military but sometimes they were attacking civilians. The Janjaweed were wearing military uniforms and were commanded by a military officer. When they were doing missions, they needed our support. My role was to support: transport ammunition, evacuate the wounded and take the commander to see the area. I refused to help operations to attack civilians.… I saw Janjaweed and military troops attack civilians. I told the commander what I saw. I told him I saw a village destroyed (I gave him the name) and the military and Janjaweed were killing a family. I have no morale for this work, I told them.141

Knowledge of the abuses was pervasive after the first attacks, since the pilots had a clear picture of just who was being targeted. Several pilots avoided flying in Darfur by asking for transfers after they realized that the targets of the attacks were civilians. One of these individuals told Human Rights Watch, “At first I did not know exactly what was happening. They ordered ‘close support’ and said that the enemy was inside the villages. But I found no enemy there, just tribes. I know if the enemy is there. We can see rebel cars—they do not go on foot.”142

Another pilot assigned to Darfur noted that he had told his superior officers exactly what he had witnessed. He had flown over Tawila on or after a February 2004 attack and saw the villages burning. He found a way to transfer out of Darfur after witnessing the destruction in and around Tawila.  This pilot, who was arrested shortly afterwards, spoke to the chief of staff of the armed forces, Abbas Arabi Abdalla, and State Minister of the Interior Col. Ahmed Mohammed Haroun, at military headquarters in Fashir about his observations. He told Human Rights Watch, “I talked about this. I said I did not like to work here because I am from this area. My family and village were destroyed.” He was arrested several weeks after declining to fly in Darfur.143

[93] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fazey, Sudan army, Fashir, North Darfur, October 6, 2004.
[94]Transcript of an interview by A.U. personnel with legal advisor to the militias in Kebkabiya, October 2004.
[95] Human Rights Watch interview with former A.U. military observer, Netherlands, September 15, 2005.
[96] Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Gen. Mohamed Fazey, Sudan army, Fashir, North Darfur, October 6, 2004.
[97] Human Rights Watch interview, the Netherlands, September 15, 2005.
[98] ”Sudan Rebels in Offensive “To Prove” They Still Hold Darfur,” Agence France Presse, February 12, 2004 at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACOS-64D878?OpenDocument&rc=1&emid=ACOS-635PJQ
[99] This demography is also reflected politically. Of the three Darfur states, South Darfur has the largest number of Arab members of parliament in the National Assembly: fifteen of twenty-eight state MPs are from Arab groups as compared with one Arab representative out of sixteen in North Darfur and one out of eighteen from West Darfur. See Young et al, Darfur: Livelihoods under Siege, Table 3: Tribal affiliation of Darfur MPs in the National Assembly, p.31.
[100]“Investigation Report on the attack of People’s Defense Force camp at Duma, north of Nyala on 25 Sept 2004,” unpublished AMIS report, on file with Human Rights Watch.
[101] Government memorandum of March 3, 2004, office of the governor of South Darfur, on file with Human Rights Watch.
[102] In addition to land, there was another incentive for some Arab nomadic tribes in South Darfur to join the militias. For those Arab nomadic groups based north and south of Nyala, the SLA’s foothold in these rural areas had serious consequences for nomads’ use of seasonal migration routes (moving their herds north and south in the rainy season). The rebels had attacked some nomadic communities, looting livestock and kidnapping people, sometimes for ransom. As one nomadic leader told Human Rights Watch, “Since the conflict began, the armed movement crosses all the routes we used to take. We can’t go via Duma or Menawashe because of rebel presence, so we lost a lot of animals.” Human Rights Watch interview, Nyala, South Darfur, October 4, 2004.
[103] ICRC, Customary International Humanitarian Law, rule 15,citing Protocol II, article 13(1). 
[104] Ibid. rules 17 & 18.
[105] “Darfur: UN ‘safe areas’ offer no real security,” Human Rights Watch press release, September 1, 2004. See also “Sudan to Start Disarming Arab Militias in Darfur: UN,” Agence France-Presse, August 5, 2004, at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EVIU-63L9KD?OpenDocument&rc=1&emid=ACOS-635PJQ
[106] Yassin is a town with a police station and also the name of the area of villages south of the Nyala-Ed Daein railroad, between Sani Afando and Suleia.
[107] Human Rights Watch interview with Yassin IDPs, Kalma camp, South Darfur, October 4, 2004.
[108] Human Rights Watch interview with Yassin IDPs, Kalma camp, South Darfur, October 4, 2004. The government’s removal of security forces from Yassin following the SLA’s January 2004 attack is also mentioned in the unpublished A.U. report “Investigation report on alleged attack on Yassin village by Janjaweed militia and GoS forces on July 17, 2004,” on file with Human Rights Watch.
[109] Human Rights Watch interview with Yassin IDPs, Kalma camp, South Darfur, October 4, 2004.
[110] See “Routine Patrol Report: Flying from Nyala, Buram and Donkey Dereasa,” August 28, 2004; “Investigation on Alleged Establishment of a New Camp for Police and Janjaweed in Galdi Area on August 19, 2004,” September 2004; and “Investigation on Alleged Movement of GoS Forces to Abgragil—SE of Nyala,” September 2, 2004, all unpublished AMIS reports on file with Human Rights Watch.  See also “CFC Ceasefire Violation Report No. 79/04: Alleged Establishment of New GoS Military Camp at Suleia,” AMIS, November 20, 2004, at http://www.africa-union.org/DARFUR/homedar.htm#
[111] Human Rights Watch interview with former A.U. military observer, the Netherlands, September 15, 2005.
[112] AMIS, “CFC Ceasefire Violation Report No. 88/04: Alleged GoS/Janjaweed Attack on Adwah Village on 30 Nov 04,” December 31, 2004.
[113] Ibid.
[114] Ibid.
[115] Ibid.
[116] Ibid.
[117] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Canada, June 3, 2005.
[118] E-mail communication to Human Rights Watch from someone who interviewed people from Ishma and Um Zaifa, December 2004.
[119] AMIS, “CFC Ceasefire Violation Report No. 89/04: Alleged GoS/Janjaweed Attack on Rebel-held Areas of Ishma, Um Zaifa and Muhajeriya in December 2004,” December 2004.
[120] Ibid.
[121] Ibid.
[122] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Canada, June 3, 2005.
[123] Interviews with Marla displaced persons, January 2005, on file with Human Rights Watch.
[124] Human Rights Watch interview with internally displaced person from Marla, February 2005.
[125] Interviews with Marla displaced persons, January 2005, on file with Human Rights Watch.
[126] AMIS, “Investigation report on attack on villages north of Labado on 3 November by Janjaweed militia,” November 2004. Unpublished report on file with Human Rights Watch.
[127] Sadiq Ali Nabi later gained international notoriety for clashing with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick after Nabi refused to let the U.S. official speak privately with AMIS monitors. “US’s Zoellick, Darfur Official Clash in Darfur Visit,” Associated Press, November 10, 2005 at http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?id_article=12502
[128] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Canada, June 3, 2005.
[129] “Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, African Union Peace and Security Council,” January 10, 2004, p. 6.
[130] Interviews with displaced people from Labado, on file with Human Rights Watch, December 22, 2004.
[131] The fact that the SLA fled immediately and did not defend Labado apparently provoked considerable bitterness among the civilian residents.  Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Canada, June 3, 2005.
[132] Confidential communication to Human Rights Watch, December 24, 2004; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Canada, June 3, 2005.
[133] E-mail communication from aid worker to Human Rights Watch, December 2004.
[134] AMIS, “CFC Ceasefire Violation Report No. 129/04: Alleged GoS 2nd attack on the village of Labado on 17 December 2004,” January 31, 2004.
[135] AMIS, “CFC Ceasefire Violation Report No. 132/04: Shooting Incident of AU CFC Mi-8 helicopter in Labado on December 19, 2004” at http://www.africa-union.org/DARFUR/reports%20of%20the%20cfc/132%2004%20Shooting%20incident%20of%20AU-CFC%20mi-8%20helicopter%20in%20labado.pdf
[136] Interviews with displaced people from Hamada, January 2005, on file with Human Rights Watch.
[137] Ibid.
[138] Ibid.
[139] Human Rights Watch interview with former army soldier, Darfur, July 14, 2005.
[140] Ibid.
[141] Human Rights Watch interview, Khartoum, October 21, 2004.
[142] Human Rights Watch interview, Khartoum, October 21, 2004.
[143] Human Rights Watch interview, Khartoum, October 21, 2004.

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