On February 11, 2015 the Human Rights Watch released a report on Sudanese army forces executing military orders that included going door-to-door and looting property, arresting men, beating residents, and raping at least 221 women and girls inside their homes in the small town of Tabit, north of Darfur, Sudan. In accordance with releasing the shocking details in the report, the Human Rights Watch called for justice, and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the horrifying events that took place in Tabit.
In the 48-page report, “Mass Rape in Darfur: Sudanese Army Attacks Against Civillians in Tabit” the Sudanese army attacks were documented, and officially reported the rape of 221 women and girls over a 36 hour period which began on October 30, 2014. After allegations of the mass rape arose on November 2 through Radio Dabanga (a Netherlands-based station), Sudan not only denied the radio report, but refused peacekeeper access to the area until November 9 according to the report.
Despite the Sudanese government’s continual efforts to restrict access from United Nations investigators and peace keepers, Human Rights Watch was able to speak to over 50 residents and former residents of Tabit via telephone, and verify the numerous individual cases and allegations. One woman they interviewed reportedly described the attack on her and her three daughters. “Immediately after they entered the room they said: ‘You killed our man. We are going to show you true hell,’” she said. “Then they started beating us. They raped my three daughters and me. Some of them were holding the girl down while another one was raping her. They did it one by one.” Two of the three girls were under the age of 11. In another instance, a woman reported that soldiers “beat the young children and they raped my older daughters.… They put clothes in [my daughters’] mouths so that you could not hear the screaming.”
These women are among many of the brave survivors to endure and report the attacks to Human Rights Watch. In addition to prohibiting free movement in and out of the town, the Sudanese government has also gone to extreme measures to prevent victims and witnesses from releasing information about the war crimes. One resident in particular reported to Human Rights Watch after being overheard talking to a relative about the events, “They said if I talked about Tabit again that I was going to be finished…..They kicked me. Ties me and hanged me up. They beat me with whips and electric wires”. Another resident told Human Rights Watch that people have been “living in an open prison” since the attacks began in October.
It is imperative that the International Criminal Court, United Nations Security Council demand that Sudan stop these violent, malicious attacks- as this isn’t the first. The residents of Tibet deserve justice and urgent access to medical care. As the Executive Director of the Africa Division for Human Rights Watch Daniel Bekele stated in a recent interview, “The deliberate attack on Tabit and the mass rape of the town’s women and girls is a new low in the catalog of atrocities in Darfur. The Sudanese government should stop the denials and immediately give peacekeepers and international investigators access to Tabit.”