Attacks on Civilians by Militias in Dar Sila

Dar Sila is one of four administrative departments in Ouaddaï, a region in southeastern Chad with its capital at Abéché. The administrative seat of Dar Sila is Goz Beida. Dar Sila is home to a heterogeneous non-Arab majority, with Dajo and Masalit the most numerous among many other non-Arab ethnic groups, and significant Arab minorities.

Relations in Dar Sila between Arab and non-Arab ethnic groups have been characterized by longstanding grievances over land and access to water, but inter-communal relations deteriorated dramatically in 2006, as militia attacks against civilians became increasingly commonplace, with dozens of villages looted and burned, leaving civilian areas alternately depopulated and overflowing with internally displaced persons. In one particularly bloody week more than 60 villages were attacked, at least 220 villagers were killed, and unharvested fields of grain were burned.107 More than 90,000 Chadian men, women and children abandoned their homes in eastern Chad in 2006, the vast majority of them in Dar Sila department,108 where at least 15,000 people were displaced in the month of November alone.109

A complex set of underlying tensions conspired to create the conditions for the violence in Dar Sila, including competition for land and other resources, the failure of dispute resolution mechanisms and a steady influx of small arms into the region. However, it was the withdrawal of Chadian military forces from border garrisons south of Adré in late 2005 and early 2006 that was the critical catalyst for the violence. The resulting security vacuum allowed Arab militias to carry out cross-border attacks against Chadian civilians virtually unchecked. As Arab militia attacks continued into April and May 2006, victims of violence increasingly reported that the attacks originated in Chad, not Sudan, and were carried out by Chadians, in many cases former neighbors, friends and associates.

In the absence of any substantial military or police presence provided by the Chadian government, many villages in Dar Sila organized self-defense groups to discourage and defend against militia attacks. These groups, made up of men and boys, arm themselves primarily with spears, knives, swords, poison-tipped arrows, carved clubs and boomerangs. However Kalashnikov assault rifles—coveted but expensive, especially for Chadian peasants--are increasingly finding their way into self-defense force arsenals.110

In previous research missions to Dar Sila in January 2006 and April 2006, Human Rights Watch found that self-defense forces in the area aligned themselves with those in neighboring villages, each agreeing to defend the other in case of attack. More recently, alliance building has appeared to be taking place on a much larger scale. Numerous Arabs in Dar Sila report that non-Arab members of the Muro, Dajo, Dagal, Kibet and Rumah ethnic groups gathered in September in Djorlo, in the Kerfi area, south of Goz Beida, to forge a mutual defense agreement against Arab tribes in the area.111 Many non-Arabs (Dajo and Muro specifically) allege that Chadian Arabs have joined a cross-border wihida Arabia, or “Arab Union,” which reportedly calls for dues to be paid in the form of community participation in militia raids.112

Taken as a whole, recent militia attacks have polarized ethnic identity in Dar Sila. Chadian Arabs are far a monolithic group, but civilians from Arab ethnic groups in Dar Sila have come to be stereotyped as Janjaweed, a term borrowed from Darfur, by virtue of the ethnic pattern of recent militia violence. The prevalence of this conception, oversimplified and formulaic as it may be, has contributed to recent ethnic-based attacks against Arab civilians in Dar Sila.

Meanwhile, the Chadian government’s support for the activities of Sudanese rebel groups in the region has accelerated the polarization of ethnic identity.113 Following the Chadian rebel assault on N’Djamena in April 2006, Sudanese rebels began to support Chadian self-defense groups, both formally and informally, in some cases offering tactical advice and in others organizing, training and selectively arming village-based self-defense groups. Self-defense groups that had received support, training or sponsorship from Sudanese rebels came to be known in Dar Sila as “Tora Boro,” another term borrowed from Darfur, where it was originally applied to the Darfur rebel groups by the Sudanese government and allied militias.

The reality is that throughout 2006, militia attacks in eastern Chad showed persistent signs of ethnic bias, with most of the victims coming from non-Arab tribes such as the Masalit and Dajo (cross-border tribes that have also been the targets of Arab militia attacks in Darfur) and eyewitnesses unfailingly describing their attackers as Arab.114 The tendency for violence to skirt Arab villages, even in hard-hit border areas that had largely been abandoned due to incessant raids, led many in Dar Sila to conclude that Arabs enjoyed de facto immunity from attack,115 and were in fact Arab militia accomplices.

With Chadian civilians stereotyped as Janjaweed and “Tora Boro” inside their own country, it is apparent that incursions from Sudan have been both political and military in nature, and that both are having a deadly impact on communal relations in eastern Chad. However, the prevailing ethnic stereotypes are far from absolute. The supposedly Arab militias that have been committing atrocities in Dar Sila department include many non-Arabs in their ranks, such as the Ouaddaï116 and the Mimi.117 Even some among the majority Dajo have been storming villages in eastern Chad, carrying out attacks against their ethnic kin.118 While there is a strong ethnic pattern to recent militia violence, ethnicity is not the sole consideration guiding the makeup of militias, with civilians in Dar Sila aligning themselves with the various armed groups operating in the region for political or economic reasons, or simply to ensure their own survival.

Killing of civilians by militias on the Dogdoré-Koukou axis

Dogdoré, a majority Dajo village 120 kilometers east of Goz Beida and 20 kilometers west of the Sudan border, has been at the center of two distinct waves of violence in 2006, one in mid-April, and a second in early October that swept westward toward the town of Koukou-Angarana.119

Though militia violence is not new to the Dogdoré area,120 it is possible that a petty disagreement in a market in Djimeze,121 west of Dogdoré, catalyzed the communal killings that commenced the next day. According to an account that is often repeated in the Dogdoré area and elsewhere, a Dajo man in Djimeze refused to pay a fee or a tax or a sum (depending on the account) to an Arab merchant. The two men got into an argument, and when a “Tora Boro” got involved, the argument escalated into a fist fight.122 The next day, October 4, an Arab militia raided Djimeze, killing one civilian and wounding three; both Djimeze and the nearby village of Marfakatal were looted and burned. For the next five days, Arab militia raided and looted a string of non-Arab villages west of Dodgore, including Ayande, Khashkash, Kamour, Ambache, Djamra, Romalie, Adiro, Mouraye, Diri, Dabanai, and Djedide.123

On October 8, the wave of violence hit Tiero, a Dajo village with a large population of displaced persons and a well-armed and well-organized self-defense force. Nine civilians were killed there, including one woman; thirteen others were wounded and twenty-five houses were burned.124 The next day, Tiero was secured by a large force of soldiers from the ANT garrison at Daguessa, 15 kilometers east of Dogdoré, apparently inhibiting further militia attacks.125 Also arriving, though too late to help defend against the attacks, was a Dajo self-defense force from Kerfi, to the west, under the leadership of the Djorlo-based militia leader Saleh Makayeh.126

Though it is difficult to draw a comprehensive portrait of the militia bands behind the attacks in the Dogdoré area, the testimony of a Dajo man from Djimeze who was abducted after his village was attacked on October 4 sheds some light. According to this 73-year-old farmer, he spent one week with a group of about 50 armed men in a farik [Arab village] located approximately four hours from Djimeze by foot. Among his captors were men from various Chadian Arab tribes, including the Salamat, the Hemat, the Beni Seit and the Awatfi, some of whom he knew from Djimeze.

“I had known them since I was young,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. We grew up together, but they were like strangers.”127

Each day approximately 20 men armed left the farik on horseback and returned at night with stolen donkeys laden with grain and other loot. Each night the members of the militia selected a village to be targeted the next day, and decided which group among them would carry out the attack. At times, arguments broke out between the older men in the unit, who had misgivings about the violence, and younger fighters, who felt the attacks were justified.

“The older men would say, ‘What we’re doing is not good,’ he said. “The young Arabs with bad parents would say, ‘My brother is dead, my father is dead, the Dajo should burn.’ Or they would say, ‘We have our wahida Arabia,128 and every chef de farik must carry his share of the burden.’”129

While pillage was clearly a motive, the militia raids appear to have been directed by specific political agendas as well, as suggested by statements attributed to the leader of the Arab militia band, a man called Abdul Haq who did not live in the farik but could be summoned if necessary.

“He [Abdul Haq] came one day with seven armed men on horseback and told the Janjaweed not to kill women and children and old people,” the Dajo man said. “‘All the young Dajo men are Tora Boro; only kill the young men,’ he said.”130

When the militia raided Djimeze they clashed with a self-defense group there and four were killed; only 18 returned to the farik. The next day the militia attacked Tiero and shortly thereafter the Dajo man was released. 131

According to eyewitnesses in Tiero, their village was attacked on October 8 by a militia made up of local Arab tribes—Salamat, Hemat, Mafaza, Borno—as well as members of the non-Arab Mimi and Ouaddaï tribes. The attackers were mounted on camels and horses, wore khaki Sudanais(Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) uniforms)and were armed with automatic weapons. Some among them were known in Tiero, including the alleged chef de guerre, Ahamad Bechir, a Salamat Arab from the nearby village of Marena.132 

Members of the self-defense force in Tiero say the militia came from the west over a rocky ridge and entered Tiero in a sparsely populated area near the main east-west road, where they burned three houses and killed three civilians, including one woman, but quickly encountered armed resistance. The militia subsequently swept to the south, away from the village defenders, where they burned another 22 houses and killed five more civilians. The leader of Tiero’s self-defense force, Hassan Yunis Isaak, believed that the militia attacked Tiero specifically to kill him, because his prowess as a fighter inhibited their ability to carry out attacks in the area. According to Yunis, none of the members of his self-defense force were among the casualties.133

The frequency of attacks in the Dogdoré area abated in mid-October, allowing displaced civilians who had fled their homes to take trips back to their abandoned villages to recover food, clothing and personal items, sometimes buried beneath the dirt floors of their huts. These displaced persons were subject to attack; a 60-year-old man was murdered on October 27 after he returned to Djedide village, which had been abandoned, to recover a bag of grain.134

On December 15-16, attack on villages in the area resumed, this time on the Koukou-Angarana end of the axis, where an Arab militia attack left about 30 dead among local villagers, refugees and internally displaced persons and another 30 wounded. On December 16, ANT forces countered the attack in heavy fighting around the village of Habile, a major center for displaced persons, where a total of 22 villagers and internally displaced Chadians were killed and 93 homes were burned. More than half of the 9,000 internally displaced people taking refuge in and around Habile subsequently moved toward Koukou-Angarana.135

Killing of civilians by militias in the Kerfi area

On November 4, militia struck Kerfi, 45 kilometers due south of Goz Beida, an area that had not previously been touched by violence. Over the next two weeks, 67 villages in a triangle from Kerfi to the northern villages of Tamajour and Koukou-Angarana came under attack, with an estimated 267 people killed.136 Dozens of villages were burned and looted, leading to a steady movement of civilians north to Goz Beida and also towards Habile and the UN-managed Goz Amir refugee camp near Koukou-Angarana. As in previous round of militia violence elsewhere in the department, the overwhelming majority of victims came from non-Arab villages. However, an attack that took place three weeks before the widespread violence in the Kerfi area did not conform to precedent, and signaled instead a dangerous evolution in the pattern of violence in Dar Sila.

On October 13 at approximately two o’clock in the afternoon, a Dajo militia attacked the Arab village of Amchamgari, west of Kerfi, killing seventeen and wounding seven.137 Eyewitnesses said that the attackers came on foot, wearing a combination of army camouflage and civilian clothes. Some were armed with automatic weapons, but most carried spears or fought with poison arrows. A 53-year-old Salamat Arab who was shot in the foot during the attack said he lived in Amchamgari for 15 years and never had a problem with his Dajo neighbors until that day.

“I was sleeping under a tree and my children came running and said, ‘Father, we have to run! They’re attacking us,’” he said. “But it was already too late to run. They were shooting into our village. Some fell down dead right away; others were wounded. They started burning our houses. I got ready to fight. They made a war cry, ‘Ak, ak, ak, ak, ak.’ They said, ‘Jahao Doom!’ and ‘kill the Arabs!’”138

Arab leaders in the Kerfi area and elsewhere and eyewitnesses in Amchamgari claim that a Dajo self-defense force based in Djorlo was responsible for the attack, and named Saleh Makyah, the leader of Djorlo’s self-defense force, as the chef de guerre.139 Traditional leaders in Kerfi, including Hissene Ibrahim and Goni Issah, were also frequently mentioned as having been involved in directing the attack.140 According to a Borno Arab chef de fraction,141 the Amchamgari raid was an act of frustration on the part of the Dajo self-defense force.

“During Ramadan les Noires went to defend Tiero, but the fighting was already over,” he said. “They did not join the fight. I don’t know who attacked Tiero, but it was not us. Now the Africans came back and they were angry so they made war against the Arabs here in Kerfi. They arrived back from Tiero and they were angry and they made war against us; they burned a farik.”142   

A 46-year-old Salamat Arab who has one wife in Amchamgari and another wife in Adjoup, a nearby farik,voiced a sentiment that is quite common among Arabs in the Kerfi area: that the attack on Amchamgari was the direct result of an oath taken during Ramadan in Djorlo by local Dajo, Muro, Kibet, Rumah and Dagal, all non-Arab tribes.

“They swore on the Koran that they wouldn’t let the Arabs live among them,” he said.

The Amchamgari attack took place on October 13, but the Dajo chef de canton in Kerfi traced the beginning of the problems with Arabs in the surrounding area to October 14, when Arab gunmen allegedly ambushed a group of Muro men on the road between Djorlo and Djereme.

“They [the Arabs] just wanted to kill the blacks and leave,” he said. “There was no theft involved then.”143

Arab-Dajo violence flared up once again on October 26, after Arab livestock crossed through the Dajo village of Am Derees, near Louboutigue, and mixed with Dajo livestock. In sorting out the animals one Dajo man was killed and four were wounded. Sudanese rebels in the area affiliated with the G-19 faction of the SLA but referred to as “Tora Boro” transported the wounded to Goz Beida hospital.144

When Kerfi itself was attacked on November 4, it marked the beginning of two weeks of horrific communal violence in the area, during which time dozens of non-Arab villages were raided, looted, burned and abandoned. Dajo civilians recounted how Arab neighbors they had known for years suddenly appeared in their villages with automatic weapons, burning huts, stealing cattle and killing those who resisted.

“We had good relations with the Arabs before--never this,” said a Dajo man who stayed behind to defend his village after it had been abandoned. “They’re burning and looting villages all over the area.”145

On November 5, thirty-five civilians were killed and twenty-eight wounded in a particularly brutal attack on Agurtulo, a Dajo village west of Kerfi, according to local authorities.146 A very old woman from Agurtulo was separated from her family in the pandemonium that followed the attack and arrived in Kerfi alone, on foot, on November 12.

“I don’t know where my children are,” she said. “The day before yesterday I saw my children fighting with bow and arrow. I want to go back to my village and die.”147

Two were killed and five wounded when the village of Tamajour was attacked on November 7, including one man, said to be mentally ill, who was burned to death in his hut.

“The force that attacked us was mixed,” said a 40-year-old Dajo farmer from Tamajour who was recovering from a gunshot wound to the foot in Goz Beida hospital. “Some were from nearby in Lubane, and some were strangers. They came, burned Tamajour village, burned our fields, and they left. We lived with the Arabs from Lubane for 25 years. Why would they do this?”148

On November 7, Djorlo, which Arabs in the Kerfi area connected to the mid-October Amchamgari attack, was attacked by a large Arab militia force; 36 villagers were killed and 22 were wounded. The wounded had to wait until the following afternoon to be transported by ambulance to Goz Beida hospital, while the dead were buried in four mass graves. 149

“At two o’clock in the afternoon I heard the first gunshots,” said Djorlo’s chef de village, Haroon Daoud. “They wore khaki uniforms, or jellabiya,150some with turbans with their faces covered, armed with Kalashnikov. They were on horses. Some of them we knew—Awatfi Arabs. They confederated with the Sudanese; the Sudanese that come here and stay with relatives before they steal our cattle.”

Apparently anticipating violence, many people in Djorlo buried grain and other valuables under the dirt floors of their huts prior to the November 7 attack, and in subsequent days many returned to retrieve what they could. On November 10, Habib Mehajir, 24, Abdullah Hissein, 20 and Musa Mahamat, 16, three of Haroon Daoud’s children, were killed in Djorlo as they defended the village against looters, who came with camels to carry away stocks of grain.

Following the initial wave of militia attacks on villages in the Kerfi area, civilians sought the safety of large towns such as Kerfi and especially Habile. Militia groups apparently took the opportunity to loot the empty and sometimes partially burned villages in surrounding areas. A 49-year-old Dajo man from Andrezeh who evacuated his family following a November 7 militia attack returned to Andrezeh on November 11 to retrieve grain. He found a dead man.

“I started to bury him but they shot at me,” said the man. “I ran away. I heard later that he came with his brother and the Janjaweed killed him but his brother escaped. They had come back to get grain.”

On two occasions on November 13, in the morning and later in the afternoon, Human Rights Watch came across a militia apparently looting Andrezeh, adjacent to the thoroughly razed and burned village of Louboutigue, 35 kilometers southeast of Goz Beida. In both instances, approximately fifteen to twenty men on foot and four to five men on horses, all of them armed, scattered at the sound of an approaching vehicle.

After a lull of several weeks, violence returned to the Kerfi area in early December, when five civilians were killed and three wounded an attack on Agourtoulou village.151

Killing of civilians by militias in the Koloy area

When the village of Koloy, with a pre-conflict population of 1,904, became a temporary home for 10,000 to 12,000 Chadian civilians fleeing Arab militia attacks in early 2006 it was primarily due to geography. Koloy is located 100 kilometers northeast of Goz Beida and, crucially, just south of wadi Kadja, the dry riverbed that coincides with the Chad-Sudan border along much of its length and represents, in the eyes of many local Dajo civilians, a barrier, if only psychological, against Arab militia attacks.

In spite of the establishment of an international humanitarian presence in Koloy, displaced civilians began leaving after the nearby village of Modoyna came under attack on May 27. Some took refuge in Gouroukoum, two kilometers outside of Goz Beida, and others crossed the border to Habila, Sudan in June.152 On October 14, an Arab militia once again staged an attack in the area, and six women were gang-raped in the fields on the outskirts of Koloy.153 Koloy itself was attacked and burned on November 4, along with the nearby villages of Faradjani, Marmadengue, and Kerwajb.154 Koloy was attacked again on November 7, and once again on November 11, when a large militia force on horses and camels was accompanied by two vehicles. The last attack was the most violent, with 17 villagers killed and 25 wounded, and some of the victims reportedly dragged to death behind the cars. The violence was so brutal that substantially all of Koloy’s inhabitants, some 10,000 people, fled to Adé. For many of them it was the second time in 12 months that they had been forced to flee their homes.155

A 33-year-old man who was wounded in the November 11 Koloy attack said members of a militia he characterized as Janjaweed, some of them armed with heavy weapons, came from the north on horses and camels and devastated the village.

“They killed my little sister, Zahar Abakar,” he said. “She was three years old. My father took her and ran from the village, but the Janjaweed followed behind him and he was shot in the arm and he couldn’t carry her. I went back at night to find her but I only found her body. I buried her, but it wasn’t a proper burial.”156

Many of the temporary residents of Koloy had experienced militia attacks before in their areas of origin, but many said that the November 2006 attacks were unusual in their brutality. Survivors describe the elderly being burned alive in their huts and people being chased down by an armed horsemen and shot to death. One man had his eyes gouged out with a bayonet after his attacker’s Kalashnikov misfired.

“I was in the fields, and I heard gunshots in the village,” said a 21-year-old Dajo man who was injured in the November 4 attack. “I came to the village and got my baton. I was shot in the right arm while trying to escape. … There were a total of six dead and eight wounded, including two women. They tied two women up and burned them to death in their hut—they wanted to steal their blankets and the women begged them not to. Deyka Dokosheh was one of the women.”

Aside from the degree of brutality, the November attacks in Koloy were similar to many others that have taken place along the border: the raid was carried out by a mounted force, some on camels, others on horses, some dressed in civilian clothes but the majority in uniform, wearing red berets. Many among the attackers once lived in the area. A 22-year-old man injured in a November 7 militia attack on Koloy said he knew one of the attackers well.

“He was Chadian Arab,” he said. “I knew him mostly because I saw him in the market, maybe for the first time six or eight years ago. We drank tea. Then he left, I don’t know when, but I stopped seeing him. And then I saw him on Tuesday. I was astonished to see him there. We used to be close before, but now his character has changed, he is complicit with his Arab brothers, and transformed into a Janjaweed.”157

Sudanese rebels with the JEM had established a training camp outside of Koloy that was used to prepare displaced Dajo men for military service as “Tora Boro” fighters, and it appears that these forces provided some degree of protection for the people of Koloy.  

“The Tora Boro defended, but there were not enough of them,” said a 21-year-old Dajo man who was wounded on November 11. “They knew they had no chance to fight against the Janjaweed when they came in. The Arabs had many weapons. But there is a mountain nearby and after we escaped to the mountain, the Tora Boro fought and stopped the Janjaweed from following us there.”

On November 13, civilians attempting to flee Koloy were pursued by gunmen to within eight kilometers of Adé.158 Sudanese Arab militias and Chadian Arabs attacked Koloy again on November 26 and 29, along with the nearby villages of Modoyna, Thireh, Tendelti, Djerena, Djedide, Koumou, and Mormadenga; approximately 2,000 Chadian civilians fled across the border to Arara, Sudan.159

Killing of civilians by militias in Bandikao

Bandikao, an ethnic Muro village 90 kilometers south of Goz Beida, has twice been wracked by communal violence, the first time in 2003 and the second time on November 4-5, 2006, when Arab nomads who pass through the area each year at the end of the rainy season killed 56 people and wounded another 41. According to both Arab and Muro sources, 26 Arabs were also killed in the fighting.160

An Arab nomad leader familiar with the situation in Bandikao explained the November fighting as the continuation of the violence that broke out in the area in 2003, with the difference being that in 2006, the Arab nomads wore uniforms and were armed with automatic weapons, whereas in 2003 they wore civilian clothes and fought with primitive weapons.161 A Salamat Arab leader said that the violence in Bandikao started on the festival day of Eid ul-Fitr,162 2003 when a Muro man attacked an Alawouni Arab. A Dajo traditional leader in the area who adjudicated the 2003 conflict agreed that the Muro were found to have been at fault, and that several had been jailed for their actions, though they had subsequently been released.163

Although the antecedents may be murky, many of the facts of the violence in November 2006 are known. According to local authorities in Bandikao, Arab nomads on their annual migration arrived in the Bandikao area on October 31 and set up a temporary camp nearby. On November 2 a small group bought 20 sacks of grain in the nearby village of Jinjar. Then on Saturday, November 4, members of the same Arab tribe arrived on the outskirts of Bandikao and found two young shepherds, Abdelharim Ahamad, 15, and Aroon Idriss, 12, tending their flock.

“[The Arabs] seized the two boys and beat them, then they took their arrows and broke them in half, and said, “Go and tell your father to come find us here,” said a 44-year-old man who was wounded in the subsequent fighting. “The chef of Bandikao said, ‘I’ll find the people who started this problem,’ and he went with two others to see who had beaten the children. They were all executed.”164

Hearing the sound of gunshots, Muro men in Bandikao armed themselves and attempted to retrieve the body of the village chief when they were ambushed. According to eyewitnesses and Muro men who were wounded in the subsequent fighting, Bandikao’s defenders armed with spears and poison-tipped arrows did battle with the Arab nomads, who cut them down with automatic weapons.

“Some of the wounded were not dead, and their family members went out to get them and were killed,” said a 31-year-old man wounded in Bandikao. “I went to get the body of the village chief. He was my brother. I was wounded with one other man. At night they came out to get me. Many of the men who were wounded during the day but could not escape from the field of battle bled to death during the day and then the night. The chef de village was buried, but many died trying to recover his body.”165

Of the wounded who were retrieved, seven later died of their wounds, according to a village leader in Bandikao.166

The men of Bandikao recovered six military caps from Arabs killed during the fighting along with a well-worn monochrome green uniform jacket with no identifying marks and no manufacturer’s tab. All attackers were said to be armed with identical Kalashnikovs. Several Muro eyewitnesses said their attackers accused them of being Tora Boro militants.

“They said to us, ‘We have been trained as Janjaweed. We have not been trained to be Tora Boro,’” said one man. “‘You can’t resist us.’”167

Muro inhabitants of Bandikao recite a long list of Arab tribes that participated in an early November attack on their village, but they are careful to omit the Beni Seit,168 suggesting that the decision to participate in militia violence is taken on a very local level.

“During Ramadan the Beni Seit brought a mouton [sheep] to the chef de village, said the man. “After they arrived they said they didn’t want any problems. They said, ‘If you need something, anything, please come see us, and if we need something we will go to you.’ They said ‘The other Arab tribes want to bring problems, but not the Beni Seit.’”169

Rape and other forms of sexual violence

Rape is a consistent feature of the ongoing violence and the generalized climate of impunity that persists in Dar Sila. Human Rights Watch received reports of rape while documenting militia violence in the immediate border area during research missions in January/February and again in the Dogdoré area in April/May. Since then the frequency of rapes appears to have increased, as has the brutality of the attacks, though evidence of this is anecdotal; as is the case elsewhere in Chad, victims rarely report rapes to local authorities and in some instances even keep this information from their husbands.

Most rapes reported to Human Rights Watch have taken place on the outskirts of villages, often but not always during militia attacks that also involved other abuses. For example, a 26-year-old woman who has since fled to Goz Beida said she was raped by three men when an Arab militia attacked Koloy on November 11, 2006.

“I was in the fields when I heard the gunshots,” she said. “I couldn’t decide if I should hide or try to find my children, and first I hid but then I ran because two of my children were still at home. There were three men in military uniform, Arabs with red skin; they caught me in the fields and they beat me with their fists. I thought they were going to kill me. I lost consciousness, and they raped me. My eldest daughter was there with me. She was screaming.”170

During October and November 2006, men routinely refused to work in the fields, fearing they would be regarded by militia groups as fighting-aged and therefore a target. Women, however, continued to leave the relative safety of their villages to work in the surrounding fields, and it was there that many women were raped. A woman and a girl were raped three days after a November 11 militia attack in Tamajour, a Dajo community northwest of Kerfi, according to a 40-year-old woman from Tamajour, who said that one of the victims was her 20-year-old daughter.

“She went back to get a bag of grain and she was raped,” the woman said. “She is afraid to tell her husband.”

Gouroukoum, a locality two kilometers from Goz Beida that is home to 15,271 displaced people,171 is the source of many reports of sexual assault and rape. According to a 51-year-old displaced man, women have been raped while cultivating fields, fetching water or collecting firewood on the outskirts of Gouroukoum.

“Two women were raped here in November,” said the man, who was displaced from Koloy in May. “It was the local Arabs that did it. One other woman was with them, and she was beaten but she escaped. They were attacked because they were alone, and because they are Dajo.”172

Looting of civilian property and related violence

In Dar Sila untold thousands of camels, cattle, sheep, and goats belonging to non-Arab villagers were stolen in October and November 2006. Civilians who made any attempt to stop the militias from looting their property risked serious injury or death.

“When they attacked six days ago they came with camels to take the grain,” said the chef de village from Djorlo. “Then this morning they came back again to take more grain.”173

Some looting and accompanying violence appears to be opportunistic, with armed robbers taking advantage of generalized state of insecurity and lack of government police and military forces to carry out a campaign of systematic pillage in lightly defended villages in rural areas. Although in some instances attacks against villages were unaccompanied by looting or the burning of homes, many victims of violence describe destroyed granaries, burned homes, fields and food stocks. According to a Muro man from Djorlo, the looting underway in Dar Sila is being directed by a grand coalition of armed groups and actors that includes groups from both sides of the Chad-Sudan border.

“The Chadian Arabs confederated with the Sudanese, and two years ago they started to steal our cattle,” he said. “The Sudanese come here and stay with relatives here before they steal our cattle. All of the Sudanese wear uniforms when they attack. The Chadians wear civilian clothes.”174

107 Stephanie Hancock, “Ethnic attacks in eastern Chad kill up 220-U.N.,” Reuters, November 9, 2006, (accessed December 13, 2006).

108 “Chad/Darfur: thousands remain frightened,” UNHCR press release, November 24, 2006, (accessed December 13, 2006).

109 “Chad/Darfur: thousands remain frightened,” UNHCR press release.

110 Fora Baranga, Sudan, across from Mongororo, Chad, is frequently cited as a major source of black market firearms, though Koukou-Angarana is also mentioned, with price quotes ranging from $50 to $300 for a Kalashnikov. Both the ANT and the Sudanese rebel movements are also reported to feed weapons to the local black market, as foot soldiers, gun-rich but cash-poor, use guns and ammunition as a form of legal tender. Merchants in Goz Beida report Sudanese rebels paying for beers with bullets and using rifles to pay for food and other supplies. Human Rights Watch interviews, eastern Chad, November 2006.

111 Human Rights Watch interviews, Salamat and Mafaza Arabs, Kerfi, Goz Beida, Samasim, Adjoup, Chad, November 14-20, 2006.

112 According to one Dajo elder, the central tenet of the wihida Arabia is unity between Sudanese and Chadian Arabs. Human Rights Watch interview, eastern Chad, November 2006. The Arab chief of a farik (village) north of DogDoré, 150 kilometers east of Goz Beida, confirmed that Arabs and non-Arab tribes such as the Mimi and the Ouaddaï entered into an alliance in order to protect themselves against territorial aggression from the majority Dajo and Masalit tribes of the area, who had themselves confederated in a bid to push Arabs, Mimi and Ouaddaï out of Chad into Darur. Human Rights Watch interview, eastern Chad, May 13, 2006 and Human Rights Watch interviews, eastern Chad, January to November, 2006. Such alliances are not without precedent in the region: in 1987, an “Arab Gathering” emerged in Darfur, which unified Arab tribes in pursuit of greater representation in local, regional and national governments, stoking fears among sedentary non-Arab tribes in Darfur that they would be forcibly displaced by Arab tribes. See International Crisis Group, “Darfur Rising: Sudan’s New Crisis.”

113 Following the April Chadian rebel attack against N’Djamena, Darfur rebels established bases in Adé, Koloy, and Goz Beida. This included SLA faction loyal to Khamis Abdullah, the Masalit former deputy chairman of the SLA, and, increasingly, JEM. Human Rights Watch interviews, JEM and G-19 members and political leaders, N’Djamena and Dar Sila, Chad, May 2006 and October to November, 2006.

114 Many victims report their attackers using racial epithets such as Nuba, a pejorative term for black people and/or slaves that is used in Sudan, usually by non-Africans.

115 Human Rights Watch interviews, displaced persons, victims of violence, community leaders, and international aid workers, various locations in Dar Sila department, Chad, January to November, 2006.

116 The term Ouaddaïen is used to describe all the people living in the administrative region of Ouaddaï, especially when used in the Western part of Chad. There is however a “specific” Ouaddaï tribe, from Dar Ouaddaï, the land of “genuine” Ouaddaïens, who are the Maba. See Albert Le Rouvreur, Sahéliens et Sahariens du Tchad, (Paris: Berger Levrault) 1962.

117 Both are relatively recent arrivals in Dar Sila department. The Mimi and the Ouaddai immigrated to Dar Sila between 1979 and 1985 after a drought in Abéché province.

118 A Dajo leader explained that most of the Dajo who decide to join with the Arab militias do so out of a desire to protect their villages and safeguard their remaining herds of cattle from theft. “If the Mimi and the Ouaddai are allied with the Arabs, it is only to protect their life and their wealth,” he said. “It is different for those near the border than for those further from the border. Near the border, they have no choice; they have to associate with the Arabs.” Human Rights Watch interviews, confidential location, November 23, 2006 and May 16, 2006.

119 To date, Dogdoré itself has not come under attack. Human Rights Watch interview, humanitarian aid worker based in Dogdoré and Goz Beida, Chad, November 15, 2006. In June, a Janjaweed attack in the Dogdoré area resulted in six deaths. UNCHR, “Sudan/Chad Situation Update 60,” June 29, 2006 (accessed December 26, 2006).

120 On April 13, more than 100 Dajo villagers were killed when Sudanese Janjaweed militias and local Chadian villagers attacked a cluster of Chadian villages east of Dogdoré. See Human Rights Watch, “Violence Beyond Borders.”

121 There are three villages named Djimeze in the area, Djimeze Djama, Djimeze Amar, Djimeze Moubi, also known as Djimeze I, II and III.

122 Human Rights Watch interview, international humanitarian aid worker, Goz Beida, C had, November 15, 2006.

123 Human Rights Watch interviews, internally displaced Chadians and international humanitarian aid workers, eastern Chad, November 2006. See also UNHCR, “Sudan/Chad Situation Update 66.”

124 Human Rights Watch interviews, Tiero, November 21, 2006. Human Rights Watch toured the Tiero area and saw two distinct areas of the village where a total of five houses had been burned; in one such site were three freshly dug graves.

125 Human Rights Watch interview, international humanitarian aid worker based in Dogdoré during the October attacks, Goz Beida, Chad, November 15, 2006.

126 Human Rights Watch interview, Dajo self-defense force leader, Tiero, Chad, November 21, 2006.

127 Human Rights Watch interview, Koukou-Angarana, Chad, November 13, 2006.

128 According to this eyewitness, Arabs in southeastern Chad had joined the wahida Arabia with Sudanese Arab tribes, under which each chef de farik was obliged to put forward young men to join in a raiding party.

129 Human Rights Watch interview, Koukou-Angarana, Chad, November 13, 2006.

130 Ibid.

131 Ibid.

132 Marena is a village west of Tiero split into two sections, one Arab, one Dajo. Human Rights Watch interview with a 37-year-old Dajo self-defense force member, Tiero, Chad, November 22, 2006.

133 Human Rights Watch interview, Tiero, Chad, November 22, 2006.

134 Confidential communication, Human Rights Watch, November 29, 2006.

135 “High Commissioner Guterres to visit Chad among growing insecurity,” UNHCR press release, December 19, 2006, (December 26, 2006).

136 Unofficial figures compiled by local authorities, international humanitarian agencies, UN agencies and journalists.

137 Salamat Arab leaders gave Human Rights Watch a list of the names of the dead and wounded in Amchamgari, and reported that the wounded were evacuated to Goz Beida hospital. Records examined by Human Rights Watch at Goz Beida hospital on November 23, 2006 show that seven wounded men were admitted to the hospital on October 14 with gunshot wounds. A hospital orderly in charge of admissions recalled the seven men were Arabs from Amchamgari. Human Rights Watch interview, November 23, 2006.

138 Human Rights Watch interview, Samasim, Chad, November 23, 2006.

139 Makayeh was implicated by several sources, including two men who were injured in the Amchamgari attack. Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, November 2006.

140 Human Rights Watch interviews, Salamat Arab leaders and eyewitnesses of Amchamgari attack, Kerfi, Samasim, Adjoup, Chad, November, 2006.

141 Low-ranking Arab community leader.

142 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerfi, Chad, November 16, 2006.

143 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerfi, Chad, November 12, 2006.

144 Human Rights Watch confidential communication, Abéché, Chad, October 27, 2006.

145 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerfi, Chad, November 16, 2006.

146 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kerfi, Chad, November 12, 2006.

147 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerfi, Chad, November 12, 2006.

148 Human Rights Watch interview, Goz Beida hospital, Goz Beida, Chad, November 17, 2006.

149 Human Rights Watch interviews, Djorlo self-defense force members, Djorlo, Chad, November 12, 2006. See also “Chadian villages attacked and burned, many dead and hundreds flee,” UNHCR press release, November 9, 2006 (December 26, 2006).

150 A long robe worn by men in the region.

151 “Chad: situation remains volatile, relocation continues,” UNCHR press briefing, UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis, December 8, 2006, (December 26, 2006).

152 UNHCR, “Sudan/Chad Situation Update 60,” June 29, 2006, (accessed December 26, 2006).

153 Human Rights Watch interviews, local authorities and government officials, Adé, Chad, November 18, 2006.

154 “Chad: Thousands newly displaced,” IRIN, November 22, 2006, (accessed December 17, 2006).

155 Human Rights Watch interviews, eyewitnesses and victims of violence, Goz Beida hospital, Goz Beida, Chad, November 20 and 23; Human Rights Watch interviews, local authorities and government officials, Adé, Chad, November 18, 2006. See also “Chad: Over 5,000 internally displaced people receive aid,” ICRC press release, November 24, 2006, (accessed December 26, 2006).

156 Human Rights Watch interview, Goz Beida hospital, Goz Beida, Chad, November 23, 2006.

157 Ibid.

158 Human Rights Watch, confidential communication, November 13, 2006.

159 UNHCR, “Sudan/Chad Situation Update 68,” December 17, 2006, (accessed December 26, 2006).

160 Based on the large number of Arabs killed in the fighting, it is clear that Bandikao’s self-defense force was capable of inflicting casualties on a supposedly heavily armed foe. Although Muro eyewitnesses to the Bandikao attack insist that they were armed only with primitive weapons such as spears and poison-tipped arrows, this is not likely to be true. Human Rights Watch observed an organized and uniformed self-defense force in Bandikao armed with automatic weapons. It is unclear how many of the casualties in Bandikao were civilians.

161 The source of the military hardware is the subject of conjecture, but it is apparent that nomadic Arabs in the Bandikao area have received some form of external sponsorship. Human Rights Watch interview, Arab nomad leader, Kerfi, Chad, November 14, 2006.

162 The feast day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

163 Human Rights Watch interview, Dajo community leader, Goz Beida, November 15, 2006.

164 Human Rights Watch interview, Goz Beida hospital, Goz Beida, Chad, November 14, 2006.

165 Human Rights Watch interview, Muro man wounded in Bandikao attack, Goz Beida, Chad, November 14, 2006.

166 Human Rights Watch interview, village leader, Bandikao, Chad, November 13, 2006.

167 Human Rights Watch interview, Muro eyewitness to Bandikao attack, Bandikao, November 13, 2006.

168 The Beni Seit are semi-sedentary Arabs. Le Rouvreur, Saheliens et Sahariens du Tchad.

169 Human Rights Watch interview, 31-year-old Muro man wounded in Bandikao, Goz Beida hospital, November 14, 2006. On the other hand, Dajo inhabitants of Tamajour, a village between Kerfi and Goz Beida that was attacked and burned on November 8, pointed to the Beni Seit as foremost among those responsible.

170 Human Rights Watch interview, Goz Beida, Chad, November 17, 2006.

171 Unofficial statistics compiled by UNHCR, as of November 22, 2006.

172 Human Rights Watch interview, Goz Beida, Chad, November 17, 2006.

173 Human Rights Watch interview, Kerfi, Chad, November 12, 2006.

174 Ibid.