Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Darfur

(Via Mick Hartley)

"The orders given to us were to burn the villages completely," he says.

"We even had to poison the water wells. We were also given orders to kill all the woman and rape girls under 13 and 14."

Khalid, who is of black African origin, says he was forcibly recruited into President Omar al-Bashir's Sudanese army in late 2002.

He and several other men where he lived were taken to the headquarters of his regiment which was based near the north-western Darfur town of Fasher.

He admits to having taken part in seven different attacks on Darfur villages with the help of Janjaweed militia.

The first one was in the Korma area in December 2002 several months before the conflict in Darfur officially began.

He claims to have been extremely reluctant to carry out the savage orders he was given.

"When they asked me to rape the girl, I went and stood in front of her," he said.

"Tears came into my eyes. They said: 'You have to rape her. If you don't we will beat you.' I hesitated and they hit me with the butt of a rifle.

"But when I went to the girl I couldn't do it. I took her into a corner and lay myself on top of her as if I was raping her for about 10 to 15 minutes.

"Then, I jumped up and came out. They said: 'Did you rape her?' I said: 'Yes, I did'."

Khalid says that soon after this he and the other soldiers went back to base.

When they got there he was told to join another patrol immediately.

When he refused they beat and tortured him, inflicting severe burns on his legs and back.

He spent five weeks in a military hospital recovering from his injuries.

Before long, he said, he was ordered to join other brutal raids on Darfur villages.

I asked him what he was told to do with unarmed civilians who did not resist in any way.

"They told us, don't leave anybody, just kill everybody," he said.

"Even the children, if left behind in the huts, we had to kill them," he said. "People would cry and run from their huts.

"Many couldn't take all their children. If they had more than two they had to leave them behind. If you saw them you had to shoot and kill." [...]

President Omar al-Bashir and the Sudanese government have always denied that the country's army committed atrocities in the region or commissioned Janjaweed militia to do this on their behalf.

It is a claim they repeated firmly when the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced last summer he was seeking an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president.

But a nervous Khalid, who fears officials from the court might soon come looking for him, says he is in no doubt who bears full responsibility for the suffering in Darfur.

"Omar al-Bashir is in the chair," he said.

"He is the first person that is responsible for the genocide, of the killing of the children, of everything. He should never say that 'I did not kill and I don't know'.

"If you are head of the country then you are responsible for any crimes done by your soldiers. It is Bashir doing all these things."

See video here.

Jimmy Carter, great humanitarian and peacemaker:

"There is a legal definition of genocide and Darfur does not meet that legal standard... Carter, whose charitable foundation, the Carter Center, worked to establish the International Criminal Court (ICC), said: "If you read the law textbooks ... you'll see very clearly that it's not genocide and to call it genocide falsely just to exaggerate a horrible situation I don't think it helps."

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