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UN experts alarmed over reports of atrocities in Southern Kordofan region of Sudan

GENEVA (22 July 2011) – United Nations human rights experts* today expressed alarm over reports of mass killings in the Southern Kordofan region of Sudan. The experts appealed for an immediate cessation of the violence and called for an urgent investigation into the reports and close monitoring of the ongoing situation in the region where conflict continues between the Sudanese Government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

“We are gravely concerned by what appears to be strong evidence that atrocities are being carried out right now in Southern Kordofan and credible reports that civilians as well as combatants are being killed and targeted for gross and widespread human rights violations by Sudanese Government forces”, stated Ms. Gay McDougall, the Independent expert on minority issues.

The UN expert in the fields of minority rights stated“worrying reports indicate that persons particularly of Nuban descent have been targeted and killed in incidents that, if they are proved, may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity by those who have planned and perpetrated such acts. A thorough and independent investigation is required with free and unfettered access to the region”.

“Under no circumstances should enforced disappearances be allowed or tolerated”, said the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Mr. Jeremy Sarkin, recalling article 2 of the UN Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow urged that "an independent and comprehensive investigation be conducted on the massive arrests carried out during the last months of political and civil society activists.

The reports suggest that Nuban and dark-skinned people of Southern Kordofan face killings, arbitrary arrest and detentions, disappearances, abductions, attacks on churches and aerial bombardment. One incident brought to light by the UN human rights presence in the region described 150 bodies that had been shot dead and that appeared to be of dark-skinned Nuban descent at a military facility, while other reports described alleged eye-witness accounts of a mass grave in the region being covered by bulldozer, allegedly by Sudanese Army soldiers.

Allegedly the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has also come under attack itself by the Sudanese Army and paramilitary forces. The Government of Sudan has called for the UN peacekeeping force to cease operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State since 10 July 2011.

The region of Southern Kordofan lies in Sudan but borders the newly independent South Sudan. The Nubans have reportedly faced exclusion, marginalization and discriminatory practices that have resulted in their opposition to the Government of Sudan and their support for the SPLA. Sudanese Government officials claim that only SPLA combatants have been targeted and not civilians.

(*) Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall; Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow and Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Mr. Jeremy Sarkin.

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Independent Expert on minority issues: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Working Gorup on Arbitrary Detention: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/detention/index.htm

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx

For press inquiries and additional information please contact Mr. Graham Fox, OHCHR Human Rights Officer (Tel: +41 22 9179640; email: gfox@ohchr.org).

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