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Confessions of a Sudanese deserter

“Khalid”, a member of the Janjaweed tells about the Sudanese scorched earth policy in today’s BBC News:

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The International Criminal Court is set to announce whether or not it is to issue a warrant for the arrest of the President of Sudan President al-Bashir, for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The Sudanese government has always said the accusations are political but now one of the country’s former soldiers, who served in Darfur, has been telling his story to the BBC’s Mike Thomson.

Khalid (not his real name), a polite and softly spoken man from Darfur, seems reluctant to talk about his past. It is soon clear why.

“The orders given to us were to burn the villages completely,” he says.

“We even had to poison the water wells. We were also given orders to kill all the woman and rape girls under 13 and 14.”

Khalid, who is of black African origin, says he was forcibly recruited into President Omar al-Bashir’s Sudanese army in late 2002.

He and several other men where he lived were taken to the headquarters of his regiment which was based near the north-western Darfur town of Fasher.

He admits to having taken part in seven different attacks on Darfur villages with the help of Janjaweed militia.

The first one was in the Korma area in December 2002 several months before the conflict in Darfur officially began.

He claims to have been extremely reluctant to carry out the savage orders he was given.

“When they asked me to rape the girl, I went and stood in front of her,” he said.
“Tears came into my eyes. They said: ‘You have to rape her. If you don’t we will beat you.’ I hesitated and they hit me with the butt of a rifle.

“But when I went to the girl I couldn’t do it. I took her into a corner and lay myself on top of her as if I was raping her for about 10 to 15 minutes.

“Then, I jumped up and came out. They said: ‘Did you rape her?’ I said: ‘Yes, I did’.”
Khalid says that soon after this he and the other soldiers went back to base.
When they got there he was told to join another patrol immediately.

When he refused they beat and tortured him, inflicting severe burns on his legs and back.

He spent five weeks in a military hospital recovering from his injuries.
Before long, he said, he was ordered to join other brutal raids on Darfur villages.
I asked him what he was told to do with unarmed civilians who did not resist in any way.

“They told us, don’t leave anybody, just kill everybody,” he said.

“Even the children, if left behind in the huts, we had to kill them,” he said. “People would cry and run from their huts.

“Many couldn’t take their all their children. If they had more than two they had to leave them behind. If you saw them you had to shoot and kill.”

Khalid insists that he always fired over the heads of civilians and didn’t kill anyone himself despite the orders he was given.

He says he could do this without his fellow soldiers noticing but he admits that there was no way he could avoid carrying out orders to torch peoples homes.

The six-year conflict has spawned more than two million refugees

“I did take part,” he admitted. “They forced me. We had no choice. If you didn’t they would kill you.”

Did anyone refuse?

“Two of my colleagues refused and they were shot dead.”

You can read the entire article by clicking BBC NEWS: Dharfur

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Bureaucracy, Dharfur, Political Issues, Sudan | , | 11 Comments