‘Unimaginable’ South Sudan violence might quantity to conflict crimes

Amnesty says combating in Western Equatoria state this yr killed dozens of civilians and displaced tens of hundreds.

A surge in clashes between rival armed teams aligned with authorities and opposition forces in South Sudan this yr has killed dozens of civilians and unleashed “unimaginable violence” that would quantity to conflict crimes, in response to Amnesty International.

In a brand new report on Thursday, the rights watchdog mentioned fighters on all warring sides indiscriminately razed whole villages throughout an upsurge in combating between June and October in Western Equatoria state that additionally pressured tens of hundreds to flee.

The combating round Tambura county concerned native teams aligned with fighters linked to the federal government’s South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO).

Amnesty mentioned it documented potential conflict crimes and different violations dedicated by the combating sides in opposition to members of the Azande and Balanda communities.

“A trail of death, destruction and division ensued after politicians whipped up ethnic hatred and mobilised youth to fight. The testimonies we have gathered speak of unimaginable violence, including civilians killed as they fled and bodies set on fire and mutilated,” mentioned Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for East and Southern Africa.

“That the attacks not only involved local groups, but also fighters affiliated to government and opposition forces, indicates this is much more than inter-communal violence,” Muchena added.

Oil-rich South Sudan gained independence in June 2011 however has been engulfed in ethnic violence since December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir began battling these loyal to his deputy, Riek Machar.

Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, had earlier dismissed Machar, who belongs to the Nuer ethnic group, in a cupboard “reshuffle“.

A brutal civil conflict that ensued killed nearly 400,000 folks and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Numerous makes an attempt at peace failed, together with a deal that noticed Machar return as vice chairman in 2016 solely to flee months later amid renewed combating.

A second peace deal signed in 2018 has largely held, with combatants forming a coalition authorities final yr – and Kiir and Machar making an attempt for a 3rd time to run the nation as president and vice chairman. But the federal government has failed to achieve many reforms, together with finishing the unification of the military command, graduating a unified drive and reconstituting the Transitional National Legislative Assembly.

According to Amnesty, the latest violence in Western Equatoria could be traced to the allocation of the state to the SPLM-IO in May 2020 as a part of a power-sharing settlement following the latest peace deal. Machar’s subsequent appointment of a governor angered key figures within the political elite among the many Azande group, it mentioned.

In its report, Amnesty mentioned it spoke to survivors who gave harrowing accounts of escaping indiscriminate gunfire that lasted for hours and of whole neighbourhoods being set alight.

“They ordered us to sit down and said they were going to slice us like a pumpkin,” a 41-year-old Azande lady instructed the rights group.

She mentioned the fighters had tied their arms behind their backs and positioned her 18-month-old son subsequent to her. One of the fighters “put his leg on [my sister’s] head and cut her neck with a knife,” she mentioned. She and her son have been spared when pro-Azande forces arrived and began capturing on the males holding them.

Another lady, a 20-year-old from the Balanda group, described how three Azande-speaking armed males sporting face coverings confirmed up at her home in Tambura city at evening on September 2 and killed her 27-year-old husband as she and their three-year-old daughter watched.

“I, my husband and child were sleeping … One of them came in and took my husband out by force… they sat him near the door and shot him … in front of me. My husband fell down,” she mentioned.


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