SUDAN WATCH: Sudan's Darfur rebels accused of torture - Last week Minnawi's SLA faction targeted Bir Maza, Minnawi's home town occupied by rival rebel group

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sudan's Darfur rebels accused of torture - Last week Minnawi's SLA faction targeted Bir Maza, Minnawi's home town occupied by rival rebel group

BBC report by Jonah Fisher in Kutum, North Darfur, June 5, 2006:
The BBC has obtained photos which show people who have been tortured by one of Darfur's rebel factions in Sudan.

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The pictures, taken by African Union peacekeepers, show supporters of one rebel faction who were abducted when a rival group attacked.

It is a month since the signing of a peace deal which was supposed to end the three-year-long conflict.

But there is no improvement on the ground, with armed groups continuing to attack each other and civilians.

There are no "good guys" in Darfur's bloody conflict.

Minni Minnawi, the leader of the region's biggest rebel group, was hailed by the international community when he signed the peace agreement at talks in Nigeria.

In the month since the deal, Mr Minnawi has stopped attacking the Khartoum government - but instead, turned his attention to his former rebel allies.

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Torture

A week ago, Mr Minnawi's faction targeted the town of Bir Maza. Although it his home town, it is occupied by a rival rebel group.

It is not clear who is to blame for the men's injuries

An unknown number of people died in the clashes and 15 people were abducted.

Three days later, 13 of the men were released. They told the African Union (AU) that they had been tortured by Mr Minnawi's group for opposing the peace deal.

Richard Lourens, the AU's sector commander, who saw the men, described injuries of burn marks and swollen jaws, thought to be caused by pistol-whipping and ropes.

Mr Minnawi has denied being behind the attack, saying Chadian mercenaries are to blame.

Publicly, the AU say they have yet to decide who was responsible.

As their supposed partner in peace and the focal point for the new agreement, Mr Minnawi is not a man they want to offend.
[via Coalition for Darfur, with thanks]
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Bir Maza, Minnawi's home town in Darfur

Nov 15 2005 Julie Flint commentary The Daily Star - Not long after rebels took up arms in Darfur - to fight against marginalization and injustice, they said - Abdel-Rahman Ali Mohammadayn, a king of the Zaghawa tribe that is one of the mainstays of the rebellion, was captured, bound hand and foot, hanged from a tree and beaten to death. He was killed not by the Sudanese government, but by the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) - specifically, by that faction of the rebel movement whose leader, Minni Arkoi Minawi, was last week "elected" chairman of the SLA. The inverted commas are essential here: Minawi's "unity" conference was little more than a coup, a grab for power portrayed as a move toward "democratization." [edit]

Marajan, a member of the Meidop tribe, came to international attention at the last round of Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, which he attended despite orders from Minawi to report to him instead in the village of Bir Maza. Similar orders went to two other North Darfur commanders who support the peace process: Saleh Adam Izhaq, a member of the Berti tribe, and Jar al-Nebi, a member of Minawi's own Zaghawa tribe. All three declined the invitation, forewarned by friends close to Minawi that they would be prevented from traveling to Abuja. (At Abuja, Marajan took delight in relating that Saleh was newly married, and "had he gone to Bir Maza, his new wife would be a widow!") Marajan and Saleh left their villages and were lifted out of the North Darfur desert by African Union helicopter; Jar al-Nebi slipped away on a donkey, by night. After Marajan's departure, Minawi's men caught up with his escort, killed five men and abducted three. (During his detention, in Bir Maza, Commander Haroun Adam Haroun, one of the three, was hanged by his arms and legs from a tree for three to four hours a day, three times a day. He was asked repeatedly: "Where is Marajan? What has he told you? Is he forming a new group?")
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UPDATE: Jun 6 2006 Reuters report by Opheera McDoom {via Scotsman] - SLA accuses Darfur rebel rivals of attack, kidnapping:
Whatever the truth, the local AU commander monitoring the region said it was a violation of the May 5 deal for Minnawi to be entering areas not under his control. "That I regard as a cease-fire violation," said Richard Lourens.

Commanders allied to Nur are refusing to recognise the Darfur peace deal and warn Minnawi not to risk his life by venturing into their area of control in the vast region.

"Minni cannot enter here and if he does people will be killed," said Ismail Adam, the commander in Debbis, in north Darfur. "This is an individual peace and does not belong to the people of Darfur," he says.

They want a role in disarming Arab militias known as Janjaweed, more political posts and more compensation for the more than 3 million people affected by the conflict.
Jun 6 2006 VOA reportRebel Factions Battle in Sudan's Darfur Region - Supporters of Minnawi, who supported the Darfur peace deal, deny that they attacked the town. They say Chadian rebels control the town and they told the African Union that their own men had been abducted. The AU has been unable come to a conclusion and it appears Minni Minnawi has lost popular support in Darfur. Many people call him a traitor for signing the peace agreement.

UPDATE: Jun 9 2006 Sudan Tribune report: SLM detains 2 rebel leaders for their rejection of Darfur peace deal - A Darfur rebel faction who signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government arrested and tortured two rebel leaders for their opposition to the peace deal. According to Amnesty International the Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minawi detains Commander Suleiman Jamous formerly SLM humanitarian coordinator since 20 May because he is opposed to the Darfur Peace Agreement signed on 5 May between the SLM Minawi and the Sudanese government in Abuja.

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