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The UN Security Council met privately today to discuss the escalating horror in Sudan.  Yesterday, the human rights group Satellite Sentinel Project released a well documented report on the discovery of mass graves in the northern province of South Kordofan, which has received world media attention.  (I diaried last month about reports of house to house searches and killing of ethnic Nubans who are the target of an ethnic cleansing campaign by the Khartoum regime, whose leaders are already wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur; and yesterday about the stunning documentation of mass graves and piles of body bags in Kadugli.)

As gruesome as it may seem to some, it follows that where there are mass killings, there will be mass graves.  And indications are, that this is just the beginning.  


Here is a slide show of the satellite images that caused the UN Security Council to meet in private yesterday to begin to address the growing crisis. (Courtesy of the Enough! project of the Center for American Progress.)

UN officials today publicly acknowledged their concerns after privately briefing the UN Security Council.

The UN News Service reported that Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs stated:

“I am increasingly alarmed by the mounting allegations of mass graves in South Kordofan, Sudan, and of reported disappearances of civilians, targeting of people on an ethnic basis, and extra-judicial killings,” Ms. Amos said in a statement released after the meeting.

She said the Government of Sudan has repeatedly denied the UN access to the area since the skirmishes between its forces and those of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-North) began in early June.

Ivan Šimonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, told a news briefing in New York that the UN has received “very disturbing” reports recently from Southern Kordofan that include indiscriminate aerial attacks, shelling, abductions and extrajudicial killings.

“There are secondary sources, reliable secondary sources on the existence of mass graves,” he said. “I am saying ‘secondary sources’ because of reduced mobility we are not able to verify that.” Recent media reports said that as many as 100 civilians are buried in mass graves.

An internal UN report compiled last month but finally surfaced in The New York Times on July 14th,  confirms much have what has been reported to date, and adds further horrific details.  The Enough project reports:

In the most comprehensive cataloging of gross human rights violations committed in the conflict so far, a June UNMIS human rights report seen by Enough provides gruesome details of brazen executions of civilians, intimidation and assault of U.N. personnel, and forced returns and displacement of populations, all acts that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Many of the report’s findings point to the deliberate targeting of civilians because of their political and/or ethnic affiliations. The ranks of the SPLA in South Kordofan are largely filled with Nuba, and many Nuba support the SPLA’s political wing, the SPLM. The report documents government forces summarily executing, abducting, detaining, and abusing civilians suspected of being SPLM sympathizers, bombing densely-inhabited civilian areas, and laying land mines in known SPLM neighborhoods. The report notes that witnesses and victims say that government forces have a list of Nubans wanted for being sympathetic to the SPLM/A; another incident in the report says U.N. staff being detained were “shown photographs of U.N. national staff and requested to confirm whether they were inside UNMIS [UN Mission in Sudan] compound.”

Given reports on the intensity of the military operations and the strafing of refugees by helicopter gunships and the bombing of towns with no legitimate military targets -- the numbers of mass graves and the bodies in them are likely to vastly increase once the UN, journalists and aid groups are allowed to operate freely in South Kordofan.  But the government of Sudan has shown no interest in allowing that to happen.

Originally posted to Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 10:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good diary. Democrats and people here... (3+ / 0-)

    must recognize that these are the matters of grave human suffering where resources are required.  Instead, they are wasted elsewhere, in situations that are easier to cover and even manipulate for political purpose.

  •  Shouldn't we open a CIA prison there soon? (0+ / 0-)

    "Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage." - Confucius -/- "Yeah, well, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi

    by nailbender on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 12:14:56 AM PDT

  •  We've got a 'humanitarian' mission in Libya (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and Afghanistan and Iraq, why not one more "humanitarian effort" by the military?

    Sudan has oil and that makes it a humanitarian effort. Right?

    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council said on Friday it was gravely concerned about violence in a volatile and oil-rich Sudan border territory, and called for an immediate end to hostilities there.

    Southern Kordofan, the area of concern, is in Sudan but includes large populations which sided with the south during a 20-year civil war. Armed groups in the state have been fighting Khartoum government troops since early June.

    Republicans HATE America. Deal with it. / It's the PLUTONOMY, Stupid!

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 04:14:39 AM PDT

    •  Uh, no, that's not why. (0+ / 0-)

      Your view is extremely reductionist.  If that were the case, the US would not have supported independence for South Sudan.

      •  It's called 'reductionist' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        when you excise all the political bullshit from the ulterior motives.

        Oil is far more important then the lives of poor commoners.

        War for Oil causes profits among the rich.

        Republicans HATE America. Deal with it. / It's the PLUTONOMY, Stupid!

        by xxdr zombiexx on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 05:27:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If that were so, why did we support poor farmers? (0+ / 0-)

          It would have been easier in terms of oil extraction to support the north in its genocidal campaigns against the poor black farmers of the south who happened to be sitting on the oil.

          Reductionist is among other things, when westerners see the entirety of the African experience through their western (generally white) perspective, incapable of seeing the African-centered powers, politics and trends that are driving events.

          Africa and its unfolding history is not some sort of dream epiphenomenon of American and European consciousness.

  •  A bit distorted-you're not reporting the good news (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flaming Liberal for Jesus

    I appreciate your trying to bring this tragedy to the attention of DK, but without providing more context, I'm afraid that you're just feeding the distorted image of Africa and the Sudan situation as one of unrelenting, unilateral misery.

    Most people don't know what is going on in Sudan and the bigger picture of which this tragedy is a small part.

    In reporting a story like this, it's extremely important to explain that this is a side note to one of the best good news stories coming out of that same country in decades.

    The big picture is that after 40 years of the most vicious and miserable civil war, human rights violations, and arguably genocide, South Sudan has finally achieved independence from one of the most evil regimes in Africa-- Sudan.  Although it was a complex conflict, it can generally be described as a war between an Islamic, Arab-identified North, and a black African, Christian and animist South.  The war became especially severe when the north became more fundamentalist under its current leadership.

    A peace agreement was entered in 2005, a referendum on independence was held earlier this year, South Sudan was proclaimed an independent state in July 11, 2011, and day before yesterday, South Sudan was admitted to the United Nations as the world's newest state.

    All across South Sudan, there have been celebrations and jubilation, and generations of South Sudanese have been returning to help build up their democracy and economy.  South Sudan is blessed with natural resources, such as oil and most of Sudan's best agricultural land.  

    The massacres you are reporting are a tragic consequence of independence --  a complex dispute in which southern identified militias in a northern province don't want to disarm and want to join the South, and in which the North wants to extort oil revenue from the South (the oil is in the South but the pipelines run to the north) and the North is simply trying to kill as many people as possible until the South agrees to give it more money.  

    But just reporting on the massacres to an audience most members of which know nothing whatsoever about Sudan, would be like reporting the massacres between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan in 1947 without first telling that audience the larger fact that India and Pakistan finally achieved independence from Britain.

    So these massacres are terrible, but they have to be seen as the last gasps of a desperate regime in the context of one of the most hopeful stories coming out of Africa.

    •  What you call massacres, I call genocide. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:57:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  War crimes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, jhutson

      are still war crimes. And the house to house  searches for Nubans to kill, bag, and dump in mass graves; along with the hunting of refugees with attack helicopter and the aerial bombing of towns are, I think, more than a "side note" to history.  Indeed, to view it that way would suggest that we have taken the wrong lessons from history.

      One of the great success stories coming out of Africa at the moment is that the Nuba have succeeded in getting their story out to the world.  We will know soon whether the world intends to respond to the genocide they are facing.

      •  Don't you think that South Sudan is a big story? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Flaming Liberal for Jesus

        I don't disagree with anything you've written, but it's pretty hard for the average American who doesn't follow African news to understand what is happening without mentioning the independence story.  People need to know about massacres but they also need to know why the massacres are happening.

        They also need to know, if they are not to have a stereotypical view of Africa, that this violence is in the context of a larger massive de-escalation of violence in the territory of what used to be the Sudan.

        •  South Sudan is indeed a big story (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, jhutson

          for the reasons you describe and more.   That is why it  was one of the biggest stories in the U.S. around the time of independence, as I am sure the media junkies on this site are well aware.  (I even saw a segment on the NBC Nightly News.)

          Getting people to zero in on and understand what is happening with these mass graves as a direct consequence of the mass killings, is a much steeper climb. Part of the problem has been the official view of the U.S. government that there is not enough evidence of these things to warrant much concern.  As Time magazine Washington correspondent Mark Benjamin wrote at the Time blog regarding the UN report on atrocities mentioned in this diary:

          Another compelling issue seems to be the timing of the report. It was completed late last month and is certain to prompt sharp questions about what the United States and the UN have done since then to try to address the atrocities. (The State Department is gathering a full response to these questions now, though sources say the report is a response, in part, in to a request from Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN).

          And while there are always many important and relevant contexts to this, and probably anything I have ever written, sometimes focus is what is needed for a particular piece of writing. No doubt, if you were writing about Sudan you would make different choices, and I am sure they would be good ones.   This is, as you say, one part of the Sudan story.  But as horrific as it is, it provides an opportunity for those concerned about Sudan's future to continue to engage the interest of the world.  I am sure that we all hope that the atrocities can be stopped. But we can be very sure that they will not be stopped unless outside interests are brought sufficiently to bear on the situation before it is too late.  For many, it is already too late.

        •  This is not a North/South story (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Frederick Clarkson, mapamp

          This story is not about the Government of Sudan versus the Republic of South Sudan.

          This is a story about the Government of Sudan waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against its own people, the Nuba people in the Nuba Mountains, which are in the North, not in the South.

          •  Yes it is a north/south story (0+ / 0-)

            Some of those people are members of militias that are allied with the south.  They may not be in the south, but politically they are allied with the south and don't want to disarm (which I think is perfectly logical for them, considering the north's behavior).

            Moreover, the killings are a form of negotiating pressure the north is applying to the south over oil revenues.

            I'm still puzzled by the idea that the context of this story -- the independence of the south -- is somehow not to be discussed.

  •  Thank you for reporting this story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, jhutson

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