Images Show Mass Graves in Sudan, Group Says

Posted August 25, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 4,065 views


By JOSH KRON, NYT, KAMPALA, Uganda — A satellite imagery project monitoring parts of Sudan says it has found new evidence of mass graves in the troubled Nuba Mountains region, where the government has recently waged a fierce campaign to stamp out rebels.

In a report scheduled to be published Wednesday, the Satellite Sentinel Project contends that as many as eight mass graves have been dug in the area since June, including two new sites discovered in the past week. It says the images show body bags, vehicles and machinery used to dispose of the dead.

The information and images provided by the project follow multiple allegations by residents and human rights advocates that the Sudanese government and its aligned forces have carried out widespread killings and other abuses against civilians in the region this summer. The Sudanese government rejects the assertion, saying it has taken aim solely at the rebels, not at civilians.

“The pictures do not show the truth,” Rabie A. Atti, a Sudanese government spokesman, said Tuesday. “Behind them I think it is the rebels that falsify such rumors, to bring the international community to intervene in this domestic crisis.”

The satellite project report also contends that the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, the national branch of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, played a primary role in digging and filling mass graves, as well as possibly burning bodies.

The Sudanese Red Crescent Society has acknowledged collecting dead bodies for burial in the Nuba Mountains as part of its humanitarian mission, and that it was given machinery by the Sudanese government to help excavate land for this purpose. The organization has also been quoted as saying it was accompanied by a “criminal investigation team.” But it denies digging mass graves.

On Tuesday, Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, declared a two-week cease-fire in the region, where fighting between rebels and the government intensified before neighboring South Sudan broke off from the north in July to become an independent country.

South Sudan’s independence was a capstone of diplomatic efforts to end a decades-long civil war between the north and south. But as Mr. Bashir freed himself from one conflict, he became increasingly entangled in another. The Nuba Mountains are in the state of Southern Kordofan, which many fear could be Sudan’s next Darfur.

Refugees from the embattled region have spoken of indiscriminate bombings and execution-style murders, and an unpublished United Nations report said the violence in the region could amount to war crimes.

According to the Satellite Sentinel Project, which is partially financed by the American actor George Clooney, digital images from sites around the Nuba Mountains and testimony by witnesses present what the project calls an organized campaign to dump dead bodies in mass graves and camouflage the sites.

According to the report, satellite images from an area of Kadugli, in the Nuba Mountains region, show large holes being dug in the ground, white bundles believed to be body bags placed inside and then covered up. The project says a witness reported watching an industrial excavation machine dig and cover mass graves, with Sudanese Red Crescent workers burying more than 30 bodies in two holes.

The project report said, “What should no longer be debated is that these alleged crimes, including mass killing and subsequent mass burial of the dead, have happened and continue to occur.”

The United Nations, which recently moved its peacekeeping mission in Sudan out of the north and opened up a new mandate in South Sudan, last week called for a new inquiryinto allegations of atrocities committed in the north.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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