Press briefing notesOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Sudan: High Commissioner appalled by killing of West Darfur Governor
16 June 2023
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Jeremy Laurence
The High Commissioner is appalled by the killing of the Governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abdullah Abbakar, on 14 June, just hours after he was arrested by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in El-Geneina, capital of West Darfur - where the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with the Rizeigat “Arab” militias and other allied militias, backed by the RSF, targeting the Masalit community.
The killing of the Governor, who was himself a Masalit, came just hours after he had criticized the RSF in a TV interview over ongoing attacks by RSF-mobilized “Arab” militias against the Masalit and critical infrastructure in El-Geneina, a situation he described as “beyond description”.
All those responsible for this killing must be held to account, including those who bear command responsibility. Alongside liability of the direct perpetrator, Governor Abbakar was in the RSF’s custody, and it was the RSF’s responsibility to keep him safe.
His killing was the second high-profile killing in El-Geneina in a matter of days, after the older brother of the traditional chief of the Masalit, Tariq Abdelrahman Bahreldin, was killed.
We are also deeply concerned by the rise in hate speech in West Darfur as it could further inflame tensions. Our Office has reviewed video clips recorded by members of “Arab” militiaboasting about their “victories”. One video appears to show a militia member walking in an empty street saying: “now in Althawra neighbourhood… the killing of the Nuba has been successfully accomplished… the expulsion of the Masalit has been successfully accomplished… sons of dogs.”
We call for justice and accountability for extrajudicial killings and all other violations and abuses that have occurred during this ongoing conflict.
We also appeal for immediate cessation of hostilities in El-Geneina and throughout Sudan and immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor between Chad and El-Geneina, as well as safe passage for civilians out of all conflict areas.
El-Geneina has been under large-scale and repeated attacks by RSF and allied fighters since 24 April. They have targeted districts inhabited by the Masalit; preventing the movement of people, goods, and humanitarian aid, and destroying essential infrastructure – all this amid a communications blackout since at least 19 May.
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