Sudan accused of making thousands slaves in Darfur

6 January 2009

Thousands of civilians in Darfur are being abducted for forced labour and sexual slavery by the Sudanese Army and government backed militia, according to a report published in December.

Many of the abductions take place during armed raids by Janjaweed militia on the villages of Fur, Massaliet, Zagawa and other non-Arabic speaking ethnic groups.

The report by the Darfur Consortium claims that the abductions are part of a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing. The land is then repopulated with Arabic speaking people, including nomads invited from Chad, Niger, Mali and Cameroon.

The report documents for the first time evidence that significant numbers of men are being abducted and enslaved as agricultural labourers in the land controlled by Janjaweed militias.

Former abductees also testify to the direct involvement of the Sudanese Armed Forces in the abduction of women and children to become sex slaves and domestic workers for soldiers in Khartoum.

An anonymous senior Sudanese politician claimed: “The army captured many children and women hiding in the bush outside burnt villages. They were transported by plane to Khartoum at night and divided up among soldiers as domestic workers and in some cases wives.”

Female abductees faced rape and forced labour. One woman, who managed to escape her captors, said: “The soldiers used us like their wives in the night. We worked all day, all week with no rest.”

As many as 300,000 people have died since the Darfur conflict began in 2003 with some 2.7 million people forced to flee their homes. The abductions closely follow the pattern of the 14,000 people enslaved between 1983 to 2005 during the civil war in southern Sudan.

The responsibility for the abductions falls squarely on the shoulders of the Sudanese Government, according to Dismas Nkunda, Co-Chair of the Darfur Consortium.

He said: “The Government has comprehensively failed to prevent abductions and other human rights violations taking place against the civilian population in Darfur as well as failed to secure the release of those being held by militias.”

The Darfur Consortium urged the Government of Sudan to disband the Janjaweed and other militia and to bolster the role of United Nations and African Union forces in the area to protect civilians.

The report also calls for all those responsible for abductions to be prosecuted, punished and banned from holding public office.