Sudan Denies Rape and Torture Report

Sudan Denies Rape and Torture Report

Sudan has denied its Rapid Support Forces (RSF) committed mass rape and killings of civilians during two counter-insurgency campaigns in Darfur.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch said the abuses appear to be “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilian populations that may constitute crimes against humanity.

The organization said it interviewed 212 victims and witnesses of the Darfur attacks between May 2014 and June 2015, including 151 who had fled to Chad and South Sudan and 16 who were interviewed inside Darfur. 

Sudan’s Information Minister Ahmed Bilal said Human Rights Watch is an untrustworthy organization that is always out to discredit the Khartoum government every time it does something positive, particularly as it tries to stabilize Darfur and bring peace to the region.

“In fact, we consider Human Rights Watch an untrusted organization. We do some progress and they will come out with some allegations just because someone from a rebel radio said that there is mass rape of 200 women. This… I think makes the credibility of Human Rights Watch somehow not credible,” said Bilal.

In February 2015, Human Rights Watch reported that Sudanese army forces raped more than 200 women and girls in an organized attack on the north Darfur town of Tabit in October 2014. 

But the UN Mission (UNAMID) concluded that it had not found “any evidence or information” about the reported mass rape.

Report focuses on Golo

In its latest report, “Men With No Mercy: Rapid Support Forces Attacks against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan,” Human Rights Watch said the January 2015 attacks in the town of Golo, in Jebel Marra, were emblematic of the atrocities.

“Many of the women were gang raped, often in front of the community members who were forced to watch. Some of those who resisted were killed,” the group said.

Jonathan Loeb, one of the authors of the recent report, told VOA the information included in the report came predominantly from interviews with eyewitnesses and victims of attacks in Darfur.

“We conducted interviews with over 200 different victims and eyewitnesses. The majority of these interviews were done with individuals who fled the attacks in Darfur to refugee camps either in eastern Chad or in northern South Sudan,” Loeb said.

Talk to the victims in person

But Bilal said interviews conducted by telephone with so-called alleged victims are not credible. He said if Human Rights Watch wants to conduct a fair investigation it must come to Sudan and Khartoum will give access to anyone the rights group might want to interview.

Bilal said Khartoum has every intention to stabilize Darfur and to bring peace to the region. He said he predicted during President Omar al-Bashir’s recent visit to China earlier this month that Human Rights Watch was going to do something to dampen the good news about Bashir’s visit to China.

“The president visited China. So when we are there in China, I told everybody that just wait within one or two days Human Rights Watch will [lead] a campaign against Sudan, and actually this has happened. We think this is actually unfair. It is a politicized campaign against Sudan,” Bilal said.

Bilal said if Human Rights Watch wants to do a fair investigation, it is welcome to come to Sudan and he personally will give the group the chance to go wherever it wants to go and talk to anyone they would want to talk to, but not by telephone.


Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo’s Party Calls for Poll Boycott
In Ivory Coast, the party of former President Laurent Gbagbo says it will make sure elections due on October 25 are not held.

Boubacar Kone, interim spokesman of the Ivorian Popular Front party, told VOA the people of Ivory Coast have already begun organizing protests against the vote, seen by many as crucial to return the country to stability since the violence that followed the 2010 presidential vote.

This came after the Constitutional Council released the names of 10 candidates, including President Alassane Ouattara, who will compete in the October election.

Kone said the process is invalid because President Ouattara is not eligible to stand for a second term, according to the constitution.

“What I can say is that this process is very badly started since Mr. Ouattara is not eligible according to our constitution. Secondly, our electoral commission is unbalanced and biased, which means the process is definitely unbalanced and unfair,” he said.

Kone said the Supreme Court rejected President Ouattara’s candidacy in 2000 and since then nothing has changed.

He said Ouattara became president in 2010 only because Gbagbo backed him for the sake of national reconciliation under the guidance of former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

But Kone said the reconciliation process has been stalled by Ouattara’s government.

“The national reconciliation process is boycotted by this process in the sense that more than 700 political opponents are still in jail for strange reasons. You have more than 50,000 of our compatriots abroad in exile, and this environment revolves into a very violent environment because Mr. Ouattara’s people are armed and threatening peace all over the country,” Kone said.

Kone said many of the presidential candidates announced Wednesday are not true opponents of President Ouattara. He said they were put there to distort the electoral process in favor of President Ouattara.

“We are not going to take part in the elections, and I believe the process is not going to stand. The people of Ivory Coast are going to protest. Protests are being organized all over the country against the election,” Kone said.


Researchers Claim Find of Early Human Ancestor

A group of scientists announced Thursday what they say is the discovery of an extinct early ancestor of humans.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal eLIFE, call the new species Homo naledi. They said it likely walked upright, stood about 1.5 meters tall and weighed 45 kilograms. They also described the hands and feet as human-like, but said the ribcage, shoulders and pelvis were closer to other early ancestors than to those of modern humans.

The discovery is the result of finding a collection of bones in a hard-to-reach section of cave at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site outside of Johannesburg, South Africa.

The roughly 1,500 bones recovered so far at the site belong to at least 15 individuals, the researchers said. They believe Homo naledi emerged between 2.5 million and 2.8 million years ago, but the bones found at the site might be younger than that. The team said dating the bones is one of their next challenges.

Also unclear is why the bones were in the remote part of the cave in the first place. Scientists speculated others could have placed dead bodies there in a type of behavior rarely found in early humans.


Heavy Flooding, Dramatic Rescues as Rain Pounds Japan
Heavy rains in already drenched areas of central and northern Japan caused major flooding Thursday, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate and setting off dramatic rescues of those who could not get out in time.

The worst hit area was the city of Joso, about 50 kilometers northeast of the capital, Tokyo, where the banks of the Kinugawa River could not contain the swell of water that surged out into the surrounding community.

The floodwaters swept away houses, and in the buildings that remained, people climbed to balconies and rooftops seeking help.

Television cameras captured the scenes of multiple rescues as military helicopters flew in overhead and pulled multiple people up to safety.

One man stood on a log and clung to a power pole as the water passed all around him. He was later rescued.

"At this point we have no clear idea of the casualties," VOA correspondent Steve Herman said from Tokyo. "Two peope are reported missing, but if you see the scenes of devastation, I think a lot of people would say it'll be miraculous if the casualty count is not higher."

Japan has seen extensive rains this week from what was Typhoon Etau, with rainfall totals in some areas exceeding 50 centimeters.

Rains around the Tokyo metropolitan area have forced rivers out of their banks. Levies along the Kinugawa River in nearby Ibaraki prefecture have broken, with floodwaters inundating thousands of home.

Japan's Metrological Agency posted widespread warnings, urging people to be ready for more flooding and landslides.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Thursday to focus on the hardest hit areas and "prioritize the safety of the people."
Sudan Denies Rape and Torture Report

Sudan Denies Rape and Torture Report Sudan Denies Rape and Torture Report Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 5:55 PM Rating: 5

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