Darfuris who helped the ICC say they falsified information and were told what to say
Source: The following statement was issued by the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan - via Reuters/PRNewswire-USNewswire, Thu. Oct. 15, 2009. (Also, note two reports here below re members of a new Darfur rebel group calling itself the National Group to Correct the Track on the Darfur Crisis (NGCTDC) are now saying they falsified information for the ICC and were told what to say. Reportedly, many translators and witnesses admitted fabricating stories and exaggerating information about the Darfur conflict.)
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan: Why the Activists Push for Policy Proven to be Failed and Detrimental in Sudan!- - -
(WASHINGTON) - These past two weeks have witnessed a flurry of letters to the Obama administration from outraged activists and groups who in essence demand that the president change his policy of engagement and assume, like the previous administrations, a hostile posture towards Sudan. Among the latest of these missives is one that explicitly calls for the resignation and replacement of the U.S. envoy, General Scott Gration, whose diplomacy has brought us closer to a resolution than his predecessors have managed in years.
Ironically, this campaign comes at the backdrop of monumental initiatives that Sudan and the international community have or will inaugurate. Last week's conference in Moscow was one such initiative in which the tremendous progress made by Sudan on the salient issues was unanimously affirmed. And while recognizing the challenges that remain, the summit acknowledged and pledged support to Sudan's ongoing efforts to see a swift conclusion to those pending issues. Moscow's conference was preceded by a number of other initiatives that sought to build consensus between the rebel groups. Among these were the meetings held in Cairo, Tripoli and those convened in Addis Ababa where the unity of certain groups was achieved. The upcoming Doha conference, foreseen to produce a final and comprehensive peace agreement for Darfur, is also a significant milestone that is the fruit of earnest diplomatic efforts exerted by Sudan and the international community.
Sudan is reaching out and taking steps to mend fences with Chad so full diplomatic relations are restored. This will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Darfur. There is also the democratic transformation of the country that the upcoming elections will instigate. The Sudanese are diligently working to create the necessary mechanisms that will ensure the smooth conduct of legitimate plebiscites. In a matter of months after these elections, a referendum is scheduled to take place. Preparations for that are already underway and the parties are now diligently working on the referendum law as promulgated in the CPA.
All of these highlight Sudan's serious commitment to peace and proactive pursuit of solutions to the problems, a fact that clearly negates the picture painted by these activists. Their statements stand in stark contrast to those made by far more knowledgeable and impartial international authorities on the ground. It was only last month when the Joint Representative of the UN-AU, Rodolphe Adada, and the hybrid force commander, General Luther Agwai proclaimed that the war in Darfur has ended, a fact reiterated by the AU summit held shortly afterwards. And yet these activists want the world to believe their own cooked up "facts" and disregard what such credible authorities report. And the world found out how deceitful these groups really are when the dissenting group of Darfuris who helped build the case for ICC recently announced at a conference in Ethiopia that they falsified information and were told what to say.
It is true that the influence of these groups, which has primarily been achieved by placing pressure on the White House to adopt policies suiting to their own end, has had a devastating impact on the situation. Voices from Darfur have long spoken out against these groups precisely because of this fact. Therefore it is paramount that we face the fact that the daily bread and butter of these groups comes from the very crises they profess to "end"; so that while the rest of the peace-loving world cries out for solutions, they're vigorously seeking ways to undermine positive efforts and gains made.
Lastly, its noteworthy that most of those groups criticizing General Gration today were also staunch critics of the previous envoys whose modus operandi was more in-line with what the activists are now calling for. Yet the inescapable fact is that these ambassadors were unable to deliver any solutions to the problems. It is baffling then why someone who claims to genuinely be in pursuit of peace, would advocate for a policy proven to be failed and in fact detrimental. As for those rebel groups who are calling for the resignation of another country's envoy, the energy would best be spent on uniting and galvanizing their own people so that they solve their own problems.
Embassy of Sudan
CONTACT: Embassy of Sudan Press and Information Office, phone:
+1-202-338-8565, or fax: +1-202-667-2406
SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
Many translators and witnesses admitted fabricating stories and exaggerating information about the Darfur conflict.
Darfurians Admit Exaggerating Conflict
By Ismail Kamal Kushkush, IOL Correspondent
Wed. Sep. 9, 2009
ADDIS ABABA – Many Darfurians are coming out to admit being engaged in providing exaggerated numbers and false information to foreign journalists and international investigation teams visiting refugee camps in Chad.
“We are sons of Darfur with direct connections to what is happening in the region,” Sulayman Ahmad Hamid, a former member of the rebel Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), told several Sudanese and foreign reporters.
“We helped provide international investigation teams with translators and witnesses,” he said, citing cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We told witnesses being questioned to exaggerate the number of victims killed or raped in Darfur.”
The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Khartoum regime accusing it of discrimination.- - -
The UN says that 300,000 have died as a result of war, disease and malnutrition, but the Sudanese government has put the number at nearly 10,000.
No independent field-research accounts are available to date.
In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir charging him with committing war-crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Hamid and many others are members of a new group calling itself the National Group to Correct the Track on the Darfur Crisis (NGCTDC).
“As a rebellion we had hoped to achieve gains for the people of Darfur,” says Kamal al-Din Ali, the general secretary of NGCTDC.
“But today, Darfur is a source of income for many groups and an excuse to implement foreign agendas.”
Ali affirmed that his group upheld the right of Darfurians for justice and compensation, but rejected exaggerated stories about the war.
“This does not mean we will give up on the rights of our people. But we will not be part of agendas that seek to divide Sudan like Yugoslavia or Iraq”
Salah Muhammad Mansur, a pharmacist by training, fled to Chad when the war broke out in 2003 and joined the SLM/A in the Chadian capital N’djamena.
There, Mansur worked as a translator for visiting journalists, activists and investigation teams.
“In late May 2004, I worked as a translator for the American organization Coalition for International Justice (CIJ),” he recalled.
“We visited Hajr Hadeed, Kharshana and Daga camps. When we questioned a refugee how many people were killed in your village, if they said ten, I would tell the investigator 200,” Mansur admitted.
“If they asked how many women were raped, if they said ten, I would tell them to say 200
“If the refugee said they were attacked by the Janjaweed, I would tell them no, say that government forces also provided help from behind.”
The Janjaweed are a militia accused of having ties to the government of Sudan.
Mansur explains why he and other Darfurian translators opted to exaggerate information for visiting journalists and investigation teams.
“We were mad at that government at the time because of what had happened.
“Plus, we were simply employees, the weather was hot, the terrain was harsh and we wanted to get our work done.”
Ismail Muhammad Yusuf was a witness to an attack carried out by the Janjaweed in the village of Shataya in 2004 and later fled to Chad.
He recalls that in June 2005, three investigators came and asked him how many people were killed in his village.
“I said 116-117, but the translator then argued that these investigators came from far places, so you must give a greater number, say 300.”
Darfur groups 'padded' death tolls
A group of former Sudanese activists says some of the figures of those reported dead and displaced in the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region were exaggerated.
The former Darfur rebel activists told Al Jazeera that they increased tolls and gave false evidence during investigations conducted by delegates from foreign organisations into the conflict.
"We used to exaggerate the numbers of murders and rapes," Salah al Din Mansour, a former translator with World NGOs in Darfur, said.
"If the figure was 10, for example, we asked people to say two or three hundred."
"In case of an attack on a certain village, from the Janjawid, we used to ask them to mention the government forces with their Land Cruiser cars, in order to involve the government in the tribal clashes."
The group said they had decided to admit to their fabrications in an attempt to put an end to the crisis.
Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall said the group claimed its false testimonies also helped build a criminal case against Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Government officials have hailed the activists' alleged confessions as vindication of their long-time denial of committing war crimes in Darfur.
"We will continue listening to these confessions with the UN, with the permanent and non-permanent members ... namely in terms of raising the awareness of the international community to the necessity to support the national efforts," Halim Abdul Mahmoud, Sudan's ambassador to the UN, said.
But Yahia Bolad, a spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, said the people making the allegations were not a part of Sudan's resistance group and were fabricating their claims.
"Many NGOs and many international leaders visited Darfur and they concluded that there are war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the United States also labelled it as a genocide," he told Al Jazeera.
"The evidence was there. The villages were destroyed, the IDPs [internally displaced persons], the refugees - this is clear evidence."