While Egypt seeks to resolve the conflict between warring factions of power in Sudan, a mass grave containing at least 87 bodies has been discovered in the West Darfur state, which United Nations human rights officials claim was a result of killings by Rapid Support (RSF) paramilitary forces, which have been battling government military forces since mid-April. Close to 3,000 people are believed to have been killed in total as a result of the conflict so far. The grave is believed to contain the bodies of Masalit people, an African ethnic group from western Sudan and Eastern Chad that has been targeted before during ethnic cleansing carried out by RSF fighters and Arab militias against non-Arab Masalit people in the region. Seven women and seven children are among the dead reportedly.
RSF denied responsibility for the crime and called it a tribal conflict, with another RSF source telling Al Jazeera they were ready to comply with an investigation of the incident. AJ notes that “the fighting in Darfur has raised fears about a repeat of atrocities that occurred there after 2003, when more than 300,000 people were killed [during ethnic cleansing]” by Janjaweed militias, which served as the precursor to the RSF. Witnesses and human rights groups have reported in El Genenia that RSF and Arab militias have targeted Masalit people in a number of attacks, including at close range in shootings. It reportedly also happened after the governor of Darfur, Khamis Abdalla Abkar, was kidnapped and assassinated after he accused the RSF and allied militias of attacking local communities.
Sudanese army spokesperson Brigadier General Nabil Abdullah told Reuters the incident “rises to the level of war crimes, and these kinds of crimes should not pass without accountability… This rebel militia is not against the army but against the Sudanese citizen, and its project is a racist project and a project of ethnic cleansing,”. According to AP both the RSF and its allies have looted and violated the land of West Darfur extensively, including burning and razing entire villages and towns, during the past two months, with 238,000 people fleeing the region to neighboring Chad as reported by the International Organization for Migration.
Egypt, which plans to work with the Sudanese army to find peace, met with leaders of the Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan at a summit in Cairo on Thursday, the same day, to work to find solutions and end the conflict. Laying out plans for a three-month ceasefire, safe passages for aid to the region, and communication between the RSF and the government. AJ: “The Egyptian plan was welcomed by most, but Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said it should align with the proposal made by an East African regional body called the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Monday. “As neighbouring countries working to overcome our own internal challenges, we should not be perceived to impart wisdom to our sisterly nation, nor should we further complicate a fragile situation by extending its longevity,” Abiy said.
Ethiopia and Egypt have had strained relations in recent years due to conflict over a dam constructed by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile. The summit is the latest international peace mediation effort to address Sudan’s conflict after several United States-and-Saudi-brokered ceasefires have broken down in recent months. Additionally, the IGAD summit was boycotted by Sudan’s army, which said that lead sponsor Kenya was biased.”
“According to “credible information” obtained by the U.N. Human Rights Office, the bodies of the 87 people, some of whom belong to the ethnic African Masalit tribe, were dumped in a one-meter (around three-foot) grave just outside the West Darfur city of Geneina. The first 37 bodies were buried on June 20, the U.N. agency said in a statement from Geneva. The next day, another 50 bodies were dumped at the same site. Seven women and seven children were among those buried.
Darfur has been at the epicenter of the 12-week conflict, morphing into ethnic violence with RSF troops and allied Arab militias attacking African ethnic groups. News of the mass grave comes just days after Human Rights Watch called for the International Criminal Court to investigate atrocities in Darfur.”
Journals of India:
“The Masalit ethnic group [are one of the] indigenous African ethnic groups of Darfur. The African ethnic groups of Darfur, which also include the Fur and the Zaghawa groups, are traditionally farming communities, whereas Arab ethnic groups of Darfur are traditionally nomadic.
The Sudanese regime under President Omar al-Bashir (in 2003) and affiliated militias [were] deemed responsible for the targeted violence against the Masalit and other ethnic groups. The violence [have] been described as “ethnic cleansing” by human rights groups, “crimes against humanity” by Amnesty International and the United Nations and “genocide” by the US government. The political roots of the conflict in Darfur lie in the marginalization of Darfur by the government of Sudan, reportedly enforced by successive governments in Khartoum. The central dynamic in the conflict is the Khartoum elite’s refusal to relinquish power and to share the proceeds of the nation’s wealth with the regions.
In addition, sources indicate that, historically, conflicts between nomadic Arab groups and African farming communities in Darfur periodically broke out over water sources and grazing rights when nomads entered areas settled by farmers. The Sudanese government’s overt support of nomad groups against indigenous Africans was one of several factors contributing to the breakout of war. The territory of Dar Masalit, traditionally settled and governed by the Masalit and other aboriginal African groups, was re-drawn by the government in 1995 and divided into 13 new emirates, 6 of which were granted to nomad tribes. The government annulled African groups’ customary land ownership rights and encouraged Arabs from Darfur and other countries to settle on Masalit, Zaghawa and Fur land.
In 2003, members of the Masalit, Zaghawa and Fur ethnic groups formed rebel groups and took up arms against the government, citing the marginalization of Darfur by the government and the lack of protection for indigenous populations against nomads as motivations. The government of Sudan and its allied militias began what is widely characterized as a campaign of terror against civilians in an effort to crush the rebellion and to punish the core constituencies of the rebels. The Janjaweed [precursor to the RSF], an Arab militia, has been used to target members of African ethnic groups. Members of the Janjaweed militias have been manipulated and politicized around self-centered and racist ideas of Arab supremacy. They are known to employ scorched-earth tactics, which involves making villages uninhabitable by destroying vegetation, seizing livestock, burning buildings to the ground, and contaminating drinking water with human and animal carcasses.”