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ACJPS Human Rights Monitor April-May

ACJPS Human Rights Monitor April-May

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Latest issue of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies' Sudan Human Rights Monitor covering April - May.
Latest issue of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies' Sudan Human Rights Monitor covering April - May.

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Published by: United to End Genocide on Jun 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Abyei and South Kordofan: Massive Displacement as North Asserts Military Might 
Despite the CPA agreement on a referendum for Abyei to be held simultaneously to the Southern voteon 9 January to determine its administrative status as part of the North or South, the vote never tookplace due to disputes over voter eligibility. Several clashes took place in the transitional period. Despiteinternational pressure on the National Congress Party (NCP)
and Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement
 (SPLM) to resolve the situation, little progress was made. Successive security arrangements were brokenalmost as soon as they were signed, and both sides grew more obstinate as talks became more andmore complex, leading to tremendous anxieties and existential fears
for the Northern aligned Misseriyaand Southern Dinka, respectively. The Kadugli Agreements
brokered in South Kordofan in January andMarch which agreed to the withdrawal of all security forces and members of the Southern Sudanese
Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) and the
Northern Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) eventually became the
catalyst behind the SAF’s 21 May
seizure of Abyei and dissolution of the Abyei administration; a 19 Mayattack by alleged members of the SPLA on an UNMIS convoy transporting members of the SAF outsideof Abyei as part of the Kadugli Agreement provoked the North, who in turn reacted with adisproportionate display of force when they deployed to Abyei.
Zach Vertin,
“Abyei is Burning: Immediate SAF Withdrawal Critical”,
International Crisis Group, 15 June 2011
The Kadugli Agreements obliged the CPA partners to jointly administer Abyei and ensure law and order throughthe JIUs. Under the Kadugli Agreement signed on 13 and 17 January 2011, both sides committed to withdraw theirrespective forces from Abyei. The agreements were shortlived, and on 6 March the parties signed an agreementreiterating their commitment to security measures of the Kadugli Agreement.
The two CPA partners signed an agreement in Addis Ababa on 20 June agreeing to install a jointadministration and security and police, also comprised of Ethiopian peacekeepers under UN auspices,until the administrative status of Abyei can be resolved. At present, it appears essentially impossiblethat anything but a politically negotiated solution can resolve the status of Abyei before the end of theinterim period and even that prospect is dwindling.On 5 June, attacks began in Kadugli, South Kordofan, and quickly spread throughout the region.Intensive campaigns of artillery shelling and destruction of property have resulted in widespread civiliandeaths and massive displacement.
Government soldiers and militias have engaged in abuses such asextrajudicial killings, arrests, and looting and destruction of property. A number of credible reportsindicate that the SAF and members of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) targeted suspected SPLMmembers and carried out house to house searches and established checkpoints. Some of theseindividuals were subjected to extrajudicial killing; Jumus Tema, an alleged SPLM member (who also useda wheelchair), was arrested by members of the SAF in the vicinity of the UNMIS compound and his bodydumped outside. The killing has taken on profound ethnic and political dimensions, and the situation isdire.Although there had been insecurity in the region, the SAF takeover of Abyei on 21 May far eclipsedprevious insecurity. As a provision of the Kadugli Agreement, the NCP and SPLM agreed to withdrawtheir forces and allow only Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), forces comprised of members of the SAF andSPLA, to be present in the town.
Members of the SPLA allegedly attacked an UNMIS convoy escortingmembers of the SAF outside of Abyei on 19 May. Up to 22 members of the SAF were killed.Though both sides initially downplayed the incident, the SAF gained leverage to attack the South fromthe events of 19 May. They bombed four villages near Abyei the following day. On 21 May, they enteredAbyei militarily through ground and aerial assaults. President Bashir dissolved the Abyei administrationby unilateral action, as well as firing its chair, a Southerner, the vice president, and five heads of departments.
A military administration was put in place. Though the Abyei administration is under thecontrol of the presidency, Bashir took action without consulting Government of South Sudan presidentSalva Kiir, who is also part of the Presidency through his position as Northern vice president. For theirpart, the SPLM refused to counterattack, instead stating that they intended to focus on post-referendumnegotiations. They also have other internal challenges to deal with, including armed rebel groups, someof which are allegedly supported by the NCP.The North refused to withdraw their forces on 24 May, stating that they would remain deployed until asettlement was reached, and that
“while the SAF does not seek to impose a new reality, it intends toclean the area from outlawed forces”.
The same day, Parliament unanimously approved the SAFentrance to Abyei and called for the removal of UNMIS peacekeepers. Negotiations on Abyei continued
as the mass of Abyei’s population was displaced further South, and a third of Abyei was burnt to the
For a comprehensive overview of the crisis, see Sudan Democracy First Group, “Southern Kordofan/N
Mountains: Ethnic Cleansing Once Again”, 14 June 2011
This provision itself was controversial, as 2008 fighting in Abyei was sparked by confrontations between the twoJIU contingencies.
The SPLM also asserted control over Abyei by controversially including it in the draft constitution for SouthSudan.
Xinhua, 22 May 2011
ground. There are reports that Abyei has been largely repopulated by members of the Misseriya tribe,altering the ethnic composition of the region.
The Abyei Occupation and the Humanitarian Toll 
I heard a plan
e way up high and then ‘doom!’, the sound of a bomb hitting the ground…My
ighbor called out ‘the Arabs are coming’. They first came on motorbikes and then land
cruisers with guns mounted on them (some were wearing uniforms, but others were in civilianclothes). They started firing towards us, and bullets were landing by us. We saw people beingkilled.
 In the following days, militias allegedly affiliated with the Misseriya invaded Abyei, looting and burningportions of the city. One such group fired at an UNMIS helicopter as it was lifting off.
Tens of thousandsfled Abyei, though it has been difficult to garner an accurate figure of how many due to restrictions on
access for humanitarian agencies and journalists. On 30 May, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of 
Humanitarian Affairs reported that roughly 60,000 had been displaced.
The following day, UNHCRreported that over 1/3 of the city had been burnt to the ground and warned of further displacement.
 31,256 displaced people were registered in Warrap state and 27,961 in Agok.
Some were newlydisplaced when rumours began that Agok would also soon be attacked. Humanitarian assessment teamswere unable to reach many areas due to insecurity and heavy rains, and many of the displaced havebeen reliant on host communities for food and shelter.The SAF has disputed support to any militias pillaging Abyei, alleging that they are affiliated with theMisseriya. As the force exercising effective control over the area, the SAF has obligations to protectcivilians and maintain law and order. Rumours quickly spread that the SAF and Misseriya werecooperating to repopulate Abyei town.
The Crucible of Abyei in Post-Referendum Negotiations
Straddling both sides of S
udan’s 1956 border, Abyei is geographically, ethnically, and politically caught
between the North and South.
Its oil production may not be as important as it once was, as many of 
most productive oil fields were determined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to beoutside the borders of Abyei in Heglig. Despite this, both the North and South have huge reasons to notwant to let Abyei go. The North fears alienating the Northern nomadic Misseriya, who also live in
Mary Ajiang Kur, one of the first testimonies published by Rebecca Hamilton and the Pulitzer Center, grabbed herchildren and hid in the bushes before fleeing Abyei. Pulitzer
Center, “Terror in Abyei”, 31 May 2011
On 29 May, a confidential UN memo that equated the situation in Abyei to ethnic cleansing was leaked. Thelanguage was later toned down.
OCHA, “Sudan: Abyei Crisis, Situation Report #8”, 30 May 2011
UNCHR, “Sudan’s Abyei Region Could See Further Displacement, warns UNHCR”, 31 May 2011
Abyei has a long history of contestation between the North and South. The referendum on Abyei’s
administrative status remains the main stumbling block in reaching a final agreement between the NCP and SPLM.In 1905, Abyei was transferred from Northern Bahr el Ghazal, a Southern territory, into Kordofan. The 1972 AddisAbaba Agreement defined the Southe
rn province as including “other areas (in addition to Bahr el Ghazal,
 Equatoria, and Upper Nile), that were culturally and geographically a part of the Southern complex as may bedecided by a referendum. The referendum never took place as the country was plunged back into civil war andattacks on the Dinka Ngok increased in the late 1970s.

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