Speaker 1:

Soldiers led by Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir seized power in Sudan in June 1989. Sweeping away a democratically elected government, they promised a revolution of national salvation. What they've delivered is a human rights disaster.

 

 

Sudan is a nation scarred. From the streets of the capital Khartoum to the remote rural villages, the human rights of ordinary Sudanese are being abused. Besides being the largest country in Africa, Sudan is one of the most ethnically diverse. Two thirds of its 26 million people are Muslim. Others, especially in the south, are Christians or followers of traditional religions.

 

 

It's a country at war with itself. The military government inherited a bitter conflict.

 

Speaker 2:

[foreign 00:01:18]

 

Speaker 1:

It's been [inaudible 00:01:26] far from the capital in the south and remote areas like the Nuba Mountains, against the Sudan peoples liberation army. The SPLA. The SPLA has itself split into two warring factions. Over a million people have died in the conflict, and millions more have been displaced from their homes. They seek refuge in shanty towns outside Khartoum, in the lands of their neighbours, and in refugee camps abroad.

 

Speaker 3:

The human rights in Sudan are really abused. There's detention. The security follow you, watching. There's no freedom.

 

Speaker 4:

They came at 5:30 in the morning and found me in the house, and they took me to the military headquarters. Asked, "You went to the American ambassador, why did you go to the American ambassador?" I say, "We went to the American ambassador because we were invited for a tea." He began beating me. "You either tell me the truth or not." He first was using beating me with his hands, on one side, bruising me, hitting me, many many times, til my face swell and my eye was becoming red. And he say, "You tell me. I give you 10 minutes." He went out and came back again with a stick, and he began beating me all over the body behind my body. I said, "I have nothing to tell you."

 

Speaker 5:

Because this is the government I thought nobody can resist against the police men. Police can do anything that they want to do.

 

Speaker 4:

Simply because I believed in a circular Sudan, in justice for everybody and equality. And from that time the government was not happy with me.

 

Speaker 1:

Government opponents have been convicted at summary military trials with no appeal. Some have been executed.

 

Speaker 3:

This child is my brother's daughter. He didn't see her because they executed him early in the morning and she was born after a few hours. In 24 hours 28 officers have been shot down, which means there was no court or justice.

 

Speaker 1:

The government claims those who criticise it for violating human rights, such as the UN special rapporteur in Sudan, are attacking Islam, the majority religion.

 

 

Yet many of the government's most prominent political opponents are devout muslims, and many muslims suspected of disagreeing with the authorities have been arrested and tortured.

 

 

Hundreds of political opponents are arrested each year. Most are held uncharged and untried in secret detention centres like this one, run by government security agencies. They're known as ghost houses. Year after year detainees released from secret detention in these ghost houses have described systematic torture.

 

Speaker 6:

Since the beginning of the revolution there's been a lot of talk about torture, talk about people having their nails extracted and electric shock. Those people detained are now free in the streets inside and outside Sudan. Their fingernails were extracted or bodies burnt, the evidence will all be there. Check that for yourself, it's all lies. There are no such things as ghost houses or torture.

 

Speaker 7:

They put us inside a room, each area about four square metres. They put us there, they started to hit us, thrash us. They poured cold water on us for more than 20 days.

 

Speaker 1:

Whilst the president may deny the existence of ghost houses, Minister of Justice [inaudible 00:06:35] is more forthcoming.

 

Speaker 8:

It is true that there are special houses where detainees are kept, but they became ghost houses because of lack of identification, of knowledge by the royalties, where the detainee has gone. Now that we notify them where they are, the houses are no longer ghost houses, they are houses, existing. But as I told you, they are meant to give more comfort.

 

Speaker 1:

Former prisoners say they were brought to ghost houses blindfolded. Others were stuffed in the trunks of cars. No one is certain how many of these detention centres exist.

 

Speaker 7:

There was more than 132 persons inside one house. They started to hang us from the roof until we fainted. Then they pour on us cold water. They started again these silly games of torture. They threaten us that we are going to kill you unless you make cooperate with us.

 

Speaker 1:

Not all human rights violations concern political opponents who are against the law. The government's penal code, based on Islamic law, includes the cruel and degrading punishments of hand and foot amputation and flogging for criminal offences. Women have been flogged for appearing in public wearing garments which do not cover the hair, and fail to hide the shape of the body.

 

 

Special public order courts have been set up to hear cases. The proceedings are often summary, with defendants found guilty being flogged immediately with no chance to appeal.

 

Speaker 8:

In Islamic law there is a provision that whoever is getting the flogging should have something under his armpit, like they must have like a book. To ensure that his hand would not go higher than it should go, and that the whipping or the flogging would not inflict more pain than is necessary. And I am afraid the way it's supplied now here is not in accordance with the Islamic rules, and this is due to lack of supervision.

 

Speaker 9:

[foreign 00:09:41]

 

Speaker 1:

Amputation for theft involves cutting off the right hand at the wrist, or both the right hand and left foot at the ankle. In May 1994, journalists visiting Kober Prison, the main prison in the capital, asked whether amputations have been carried out.

 

Speaker 10:

We did it, but once during this eve.

 

Speaker 11:

What was the reason?

 

Speaker 10:

The reason this man has a stolen car. This hand was very precious, but when he's stolen this sum of money, it has become very key, so it is better to be cut.

 

Speaker 1:

Prisoners convicted of capital offences in the civilian courts in Khartoum are hanged in Kober.

 

 

In September 1994, a Libyan who attacked a mosque was hanged for murdering 16 people. He believed that muslims in Sudan were insufficiently devout.

 

Speaker 10:

We make the length of the rope who is needed to make the hanging absolutely correct. No bleeding, no neck cut. We will bring him out after the doctor decides death as if he is sleeping. We have a hanging room in [inaudible 00:11:20], one in Port Sudan, one in Al-Fashir, one here in Kober, one in Malakal, one in [inaudible 00:11:29], one in Wau.

 

Speaker 1:

Over a million people squat in these shanty towns built on the outskirts of Khartoum. Many fled their homes because of drought, but most have come here to avoid the fate of tens of thousands of their relatives, killed by marauding government backed militia in the war zones.

 

 

Their ordeal is not over. They face more dislocation as the government is intent on demolishing their homes and moving them out of sight into badly prepared camps further in the city.

 

 

This man's house was demolished this morning.

 

Speaker 12:

Our house was being damaged and how can I feel or what can I say exactly? If I say to you if this example happened to you, what can you do? I am the same case.

 

Speaker 1:

Officials describe this as social welfare. The authorities claim they're helping people living in dire conditions, that the relocation is all voluntary. They're sometimes asked to clear an area by neighbourhood committees dominated by people wanting to develop the land. The poorest people, who are unrepresented on these committees, have little choice. Some have died defending their homes.

 

 

Preventing people from finding out the truth is the easiest way of making sure there's no criticism. The security services are sensitive to the prying of outsiders. Any form of opposition from the government is banned. Those who speak out know they're taking risks.

 

Speaker 13:

I have read that to be catching and taken to prison, or to be taken to somewhere else maybe to be hung or maybe to be ... many. I can tell you there is many things happen like that. People taken, but nobody knows that place. And I'm afraid to be taken to place where nobody know. This is the thing that led me to hide myself.

 

Speaker 14:

We started as we say we struggled with the squatters, and even we have some casualties. Now the squatter people, they pay the ministry so that they can make the treatment is the way I see it. Now everybody's settled, the villages, there is justice. So we don't expect any [inaudible 00:14:25]

 

Speaker 1:

The facilities in the new camps are minimal. There's hardly any work beyond the edge of the city. Those who've fled the war may no longer risk being killed by government militia, but there's not much else to thankful for.

 

Speaker 15:

There is nothing. Nothing. We've got nothing to eat. Nothing.

 

Speaker 1:

The authorities round up displaced street children at random and detain them in special schools. Journalists filmed these scenes in a private Quranic school north of Khartoum in May 1994. Amnesty is concerned that the punishments metered out here are not exceptional.

 

 

Amnesty International have received reports from children who've escaped from the government's special schools, that displaced children have been similarly whipped or placed in leg irons, and have been beaten by the police when they were first rounded up.

 

 

Since the war began in 1983 over a million people have died in the conflict zones, from famine, disease, in crossfire, or from being murdered. The government controls the towns, and the two factions of the SPLA control most of the countryside. SPLA Mainstream is led by John Garang, and the SPLA United is led by Riek Machar. Attempts at international mediation have so far come to nothing. Government forces under each SPLA faction have been responsible for the gross abuse of human rights, often in remote areas where witnesses are rarely able to tell the outside world. Civilians are the main victims.

 

 

The Nuba Mountains, closed by the government to the outside world. The whole area has been savaged by the army, and government militia called the Popular Defence Force.

 

 

Exact casualty figures are unknown, but reports suggest thousands have been extrajudicially executed.

 

Speaker 16:

We were attacked by the Sudanese Army in the early hours of the morning. They burned all the churches in the village of [Kortem 00:17:45].

 

Speaker 17:

In 1992 we were in church praying when the government's army came and besieged the church. They caught the priest martyr and slaughtered him. After they burned the church with people inside the military threw me into the embers of the church and left. This is what I have seen with my own eyes.

 

 

This is my wife, [inaudible 00:18:55], who does everything for me because I can do nothing, not even eat on my own. I came from [inaudible 00:19:06] area, I am a Nuba.

 

Speaker 18:

I left this area in October last year. I went to [inaudible 00:19:20], there I discovered people herding in one place, like cattle packed in. I left to go back to [inaudible 00:19:30] but on the way I was taken by soldiers and tied down. I was attacked by government soldiers and taken to the barracks. I refused them. I was tied up. These are the wounds of the ropes. Once I was tied they did a lot of things to me.

 

Speaker 19:

There were 68 of us in prison, all of us were from the Nuba mountains. One night at about 9PM we were taken out from the prison and then lined up. I was shot in the back of the head, and the bullet came out and smashed my jaw. After that I fell unconscious.

 

Speaker 1:

The war has affected all parts of Southern Sudan, breaking communications and destroying health and education programmes. The main government garrison is in the city of Juba.

 

Speaker 20:

Countries suffer because of manipulations. People suffer because of poverty. People suffer because the truth is denied.

 

Speaker 1:

Juba was attacked by SPLA Mainstream in 1992. After they withdrew, over 200 civilians and government soldiers disappeared, and the secure forces mopping up operations. They were suspected of helping the rebels. Most were executed. A handful ended up in Kober prison in Khartoum.

 

Speaker 21:

After [inaudible 00:21:54] several attempts I was unconscious, then I was taken to the chief intelligence officer [inaudible 00:21:59]. There, when I was taken to him inside, he started beating me then. I told him, I said, "Sir, you know me, I've worked with you." I was tortured until midnight, then I was taken and thrown into the white house. White house I was taken in darkness. When I was pushed into one of the rooms I actually went over people. There was so many people so I could not see, I was in darkness. I was stepping on people, people are pushing me here and there. Then when I really fall, I just remained there until morning.

 

Speaker 1:

Since their split in 1991, the two SPLA factions have been locked in a bitter internal war. Both factions have been responsible for gross human rights abuses. Political opponents of John Garang were detained and tortured from the earliest days of the war in 1983.

 

Speaker 22:

Some lost their teeth during that torturing. Some were inflicted wounds in their heads. And this type of torturing actually was there all the time, all the five years we spent. Anytime they would like to do it, they come in, they open the prison, they come in, they just do it. When they are satisfied they go out.

 

 

In my prisons they brought three people at Saturday night, and they killed these people just in front of our room. It was a very small room. Even if you are whispering, you can be heard. So they brought these people, they tied them in front of our room. They slaughtered one with a knife, and they picked the other one with the sticks to death. The third one they pierced him with knife, to death.

 

Speaker 23:

And they would go in and collect anybody whom they want to go and kill. They go and next thing we heard is the sound of gun. Tomorrow we asked, "Where is this man?" He is finished yesterday.

 

Speaker 1:

Above all it's the rural people who have suffered in this war. Each SPLA faction and government forces too have been ruthless in the result on civilians. The SPLA factions have become increasingly divided along ethnic lines. Just after the 1991 split in the SPLA, newer forces under Riek Machar in Upper Nile raided the Dinka communities, killing thousands of civilians and destroying their herds and homesteads.

 

 

In 1992 and 1993, hundreds more people were killed when Dinka forces under John Garang raided newer communities in retaliation. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from Upper Nile.

 

 

Amnesty International has investigated similar devastation caused by government forces in northern Bahr el Ghazal, hundreds of kilometres to the west, where the army and government militia have followed a scorched earth policy along the only railway linking the north and south of the country. In June 1994 Amnesty researchers near the railway line interviewed massacre survivors.

 

Speaker 24:

The tribal militia was surrounding us on their horses. 50 men fell dead, the rest suffered injuries. Some are dying now from these injuries. They were caused by sticks, axes and large [satore 00:26:48], a butcher's knife. They hit them on the head, on the neck, on the kidneys as they lay. They hit the wounded ones in the same way until they died. And then they got the girls in a group in front of everyone, and assaulted, raped them.

 

Speaker 25:

How many days ago did this happen?

 

Speaker 26:

It happened in two days. Two of the soldiers stood with their guns ready. Another one did the search. He cut the child from his back and injured another person who has died, and killed the other person. He's the one who did the killing.

 

Speaker 1:

The consequence of this brutality has been a humanitarian disaster. Millions of people are dependent on relief aid provided by the international community. The United Nations has set up operation lifeline Sudan, to provide food and other needs. Scores of international non governmental organisations are also working with Sudanese to try to maintain basic services. The SPLA factions have established supposedly independent relief wings. The services they provide do little to offset the devastation often caused by their own soldiers.

 

Speaker 27:

The place has been shot and the child is still alive. He is now in need of food or treatment, and we have nothing in our hand as I have shown you in our clinic. Here's another man who's [inaudible 00:28:39]. And parts of his body are cut.

 

 

This is the body of the child who died seven days ago. He died of hunger. These people came to us and they died in our hand. They thought that we are strong enough to have medicines and to have food, but we have nothing.

 

Speaker 1:

On the borders of north and south traders come together to buy and sell livestock. Sudan's future depends on creating trust. Without it, the many divisions scarring the country will not be resolved. Not just those involved in the war, but those which have led to the destruction of freedoms in all parts of the country. Establishing respect for basic human rights is a fundamental first step.

 

 

Only the Sudanese people can build respect for human rights in Sudan, but the outside world has a vital role in helping them. Relief aid provided by the international community cannot solve the country's problems, it can only feed and sustain its people. International action on human rights is also necessary. Amnesty is now calling on bodies such as the UN to deploy international civilian human rights monitors in the country. Decisive action is required, not tomorrow, but today. Sudanese, the northerners and southerners, Muslims and Christians, are relying on it.

 

 

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