Rape ‘tool of war’: Darfur

Amnesty International’s 35-page report tells of a coordinated campaign carried out “with total impunity” that has “targeted mainly members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups” among Darfur’s black African population, by the so-called Janjaweed militia.

“In these attacks, men are killed, women are raped and villagers are forcibly displaced from their homes which are burnt; their crops and cattle, their main means of subsistence, are burnt or looted,” the report, titled Sudan: Rape as a weapon of war, states.

More than 10,000 people have died and over a million others have been displaced by violence that has ensued since a rebel uprising in February 2003, which Amnesty International says has included the strategic use of sexual attacks against women and girls.

Amnesty workers with access to three refugee camps in neighbouring Chad collected the testimonies of 250 women who claim they were raped.

Some also told of being abducted and kept as sexual slaves subjected to torture by the nomadic militiamen.

Without access to those refugees camped inside Sudan’s borders, human rights workers say they can only estimate that the scale of such crimes reaches much farther.

Amnesty International’s findings come after a failed attempt by the African Union to bring together Khartoum and Darfur’s two rebel groups for peace talks in Addis Ababa.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) left talks on July 18 after their preconditions for dialogue with Khartoum met absolute resistance from the government’s representative.

Meanwhile, at a court in Nyala, Southern Darfur, 10 Arab militiamen have been sentenced to amputation and six years jail for looting and killing in the region.

It is the first ruling of its kind against Janjaweed fighters, and more proceedings are due to commence against others charged with involvement in an attack on a remote village north of Nyala.

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