by Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdullah[i] and Jerry Gordon
Newly displaced villagers establishing a new camp beside Zam Zam IDPs camp, North Darfur August 17, 2021
Ethnic cleansing jihad continues unabated in Darfur under Sudan’s Transitional, despite the Juba Peace Agreements of October 2020 to protect the region’s indigenous African people. Thousands of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces/Janjaweed (RSF/Janjaweed) Arab tribe militia fighters from across Darfur gathered in the village of Gallab on July 31, 2021. They attacked and forcefully removed indigenous people inhabiting villages in the Kolgue Mountain area. Kolgue Mountain is situated about 30 km Southwest of El Fasher on the road to Niayla. It is an administrative Unit of Tabit, District of Tawila, North Darfur Region. Dozens of villages including Gallab are situated around the Mountain.
Some 16 civilians were killed including a woman with her two children ages one and 7 years old, as well as many others wounded. More than 6,000 people were uprooted from their homes. Over the period from July 31 to August 10, 2021, 38 villages were forcibly evacuated by the rampaging RSF/Janjaweed Arab militias. Among the villages evacuated were Heger, Adara, Kadarik, Adam Hamdallah, Umm Siyala, Susuwa, and Mima. These villages were subjected to violent attacks by the RSF/Janjaweed militias. These Arab tribe settlers were brought by deposed former President Bashir’s regime to the region with an objective to implement the 2020 Arab Coalition Plan. A copy of the plan was found in the cab of an abandoned Toyota pickup truck in 2014 by members of the Sudan United Movement resistance force in Donkey Hush. The RSF/Janjaweed militias roared into Kolgue villages on motorcycles, Toyota pickup trucks, horses and camels using weapons to terrorize indigenous villagers. They physically assaulted, tortured and raped women. The message is clear. Mohamed Hamden Dagalo, also known as “Hemeti”, Deputy Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) is perpetrating Jihad in Darfur without restraint threatening normalization of relations with the US and Israel. He is putting Sudan in jeopardy of losing international financial and humanitarian relief and disrupting transition to civilian government rule in 2022. Peace in Sudan will not become possible unless Hemeti is removed from the Transitional Sovereignty Government.
Map of villages displaced by RSF/Janjaweed militias August 2021.
Darfur’s indigenous people depend on subsistence farming. In June 2021, many villagers went to their farms and commenced tilling their land. Except for the Jebel Marra Mountain area, cultivation in the region is done during the rainy season that begins in June and ends in January of the following year. Indigenous people in Kolgue were unaware of the failure to protect them under the Juba Peace Agreements of October 3, 2020, between the Sudan Transitional Government and several Darfur and regional resistance groups. The Juba Peace Agreements are the latest episode of broken agreements with resistance groups in the long history of successive Islamist regimes ruling Sudan since independence. Such accords were designed to deliver one or two ministerial positions for senior resistance group leaders, while underlying problems remain unresolved. Sudan’s Transitional government failed to fund and implement the security protocol of the Juba Peace Accords, following the withdrawal of the UNAMID protective force from Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Darfur.
Returning villagers from IDP camps were surprised to see new Sahel Arab tribe settlers occupying their land, called liberated areas, that prevented them from farming. The new RSF/Janjaweed Arab tribal settlers considered the area as belonging to them. The former Bashir regime issued them forged documents with retroactive dates indicating that Gallab belongs to the Arabs prior to British colonialism. Like many areas in Darfur, there were no Arabs in Gallab in the past. President Bashir’s regime brought them from foreign countries and settled them in the area in 2015. With the assistance of Mohamed Osman Kibir, the former governor of North Darfur, these foreign Arab tribes were settled on indigenous Darfuri lands forcing villagers to flee to IDP camps, then under the control of the UNAMID. Prior to this incident less than 10 foreign Arab tribal families of RSF/Janjaweed militia members had settled in Gallab.
The Gallab incident was triggered by a criminal complaint filed with the police in the District Capital of Tawila on behalf of an indigenous farmer against a Janjaweed militiaman who forcibly and illegally occupied his property. The police arrested the militiaman and placed him in custody. When the RSF/Janjaweed militias heard the news that the police arrested one of their militia members because of the dispute over the farm; they issued a communique declaring the whole area belonging to them. They called upon their tribal members from Southern, Western and Eastern Darfur regions to gather in Gallab with an objective of halting the return of the villagers and expelling those already in place. That Jihad call rallied about 2,000 RSF/Janjaweed militia fighters who gathered in the area promptly engaging in killing and raping indigenous Dafuri and looting their properties.
On July 31, 2021, the RSF/Janjaweed militias began attacking villages appropriating properties. The militias seized telephones, money, livestock, destroyed properties, homes and crops. Villagers were given until 4 PM on August 1, 2021, to evacuate. Anyone found after 4 PM would be summarily sentenced to death and hanged. The RSF/Janjaweed militias killed and wounded many villagers, several others went missing, their whereabouts is still unknown.
The RSF/Janjaweed militias shot and critically wounded two peaceful protesters in El Fasher. One of them died the following day as the result of his injuries. They also raped 10 women including a girl who they disfigured by cutting her ears. She is currently receiving treatment in El Fasher Hospital. Hundreds of people were displaced, many fled to the unprotected Zam Zam IDP camp.
On August 10, 2021, the RSF/Janjaweed militias attacked Hillat Yagoub and Hillat Ahmed Nimr villages in Abu Zereka. The militias robbed and displaced thousands of villagers from their farms. Many of these villagers returned to Tawila, Shingueltobaye while others fled to Zam Zam IDP camp. The newly displaced villagers were left without necessities such as water, food, and shelters. The attacks by the RSF/Janjaweed militias disrupted villagers’ farming season forcing them to seek international intervention to provide them with humanitarian assistance.
Parents of the missing children presented complaints to Nimer Mohamed Abderhaman, the newly appointed Governor of North Darfur. Although responsible for providing security protection for the indigenous population, the Governor was unable to help the parents of these victims as he has no authority over the RSF/Janjaweed. Nor do his security forces have the capabilities to restrain the attacking militias. Darfuri victims of the RSF/Janjaweed attacks in Kolgue Mountain staged daily protest sit-ins at the Governor’s office and residence displaying dead bodies of their loved ones killed in these atrocities seeking help to prevent further killing of the Darfuri population.
Ignoring RSF/Janjaweed militias’ killing villagers in Kolgue; TMC Chairman Gen Abdel Fattah al Burhan and Minni Minawi celebrated in Al Fashir Darfur, August 10, 2021.
Transitional Sovereignty Council Supports RSF/Janjaweed attacking Indigenous Darfuri Population
Gallab is located at the distance of just 30km Southwest of El Fasher, the headquarters of state security forces. Those forces include, 6th military division of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Rapid Support Force, State Police, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Abu Terra (Riot Police) and Air Force Unit equipped with Helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers. In addition, there are elements of four Darfuri resistance movements, signatories of Juba Peace Accords. Notwithstanding, the presence of these security forces, incredibly the RSF/Janjaweed militias are responsible for the security of the state. While at the same time they are attacking, killing, and plundering the indigenous population of Darfur.
Since 2003 in Darfur no governor has ever protected civilian population when they come under attack by the RSF/Janjaweed militias nor investigated any incident. The Khartoum Transitional Sovereignty regime has not delegated security power to any governor of Darfur. Additionally, all Arab settlers in Darfur have immunity from crimes. No one can arrest them for criminal prosecution even if they kill a person. Instead, the regime protects them when they commit crimes by concealing their identity. Deposed President Bashir and now Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) persist in denying Jihad by the RSF/Janjaweed militias who attack indigenous villages. They created the fiction that these were acts of “unknown outlawed groups”. Mohamed Hassan Al Ta’ashi, a member of the Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council headed a delegation sent from Khartoum to investigate the Kolgue attacks. Instead of visiting the 6,000 newly displaced villagers in the Zam Zam IDP camps , he visited the RSF/Janjaweed militias in their garrison in Gallab. He promised them that they would not be identified as “Janjaweed or Chadians”. He promised the militias that he will prosecute anyone who dared to call them “Janjaweed or Chadians”. Effectively, Al Ta’ashi and his delegation team ignored the victims and provided a cover for the Janjaweed Jihad. In his speech released to the public, he gave no mention of the plight of the indigenous villagers. His behavior in this latest episode in Darfur illustrates that Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council in Khartoum continues the internationally condemned genocidal policies of deposed Former President Bashir. Under the regional security system of Sudan, the RSF/Janjaweed militias are the ultimate authority. Consequently, the governor is powerless to carry out decisions regarding state security.
The RSF/Janjaweed militias launched the first attack against the villagers in Kolgue on July 31, 2021. They beat and injured several residents, raping a woman. The villagers complained to the governor about the incident. He sent a force composed of 10 military vehicles under the command of a Janjaweed militia officer. They returned the next day and told the governor that the force he sent could not stop the militias as the commanding officer said he was the ultimate authority. The next day the governor sent another force constituted of 15 military vehicles commanded by another Janjaweed Officer. Arriving in the conflict area, the force did nothing but watch the Janjaweed militias plunder the villagers. On August 6, 2021, the governor constituted a mixed force to be deployed in Kolgue comprised of Sudan Armed Forces, RSF/Janjaweed, Police, Riot Police, and NISS and Darfuri resistance units.
On Friday August 7, 2021, the resistance forces moved to join the government troops. On their way, they were caught in an ambush organized by 800 RSF/Janjaweed fighters the same group who were attacking the indigenous villagers. They killed 19 resistance soldiers; wounded 16 with 6 reported missing. The RSF/Janjaweed militias also captured 3 resistance force vehicles.
August 10, 2021, was the inauguration day of Minni Minawi, a resistance leader as the new Governor of Darfur. Many dignitaries were present in El Fasher including General Abdel-Fattah al Burhan, the Chairman of the Sudan’s Temporary Sovereignty Council. During the ceremony, the RSF/Janjaweed militias killed 9 people, wounded several others, and seized livestock from villagers. People appealed directly to General Burhan requesting protection. He ordered a military helicopter to find and return the stolen livestock. Within minutes the pilot called back to say that he had found the RSF/Janjaweed militias driving the livestock. When the militiamen saw the helicopter; they released the animals and ran to take cover under the trees. They returned livestock handing them over to the villagers. The helicopter hovered in the area until the livestock were returned the villages. When the helicopter returned to al Fashir, the RSF/Janjaweed militias returned to the villages killed one man, injuring another seizing the livestock.
What this illustrates is even with government forces at hand, Sudanese authorities do not protect the Darfuri indigenous population. With all forces at hand, Sudanese authorities are not ready to protect Darfuri indigenous population. Instead, these authorities persist in arming more RSF/Janjaweed militias from foreign Arab settlers to create Jihad havoc in Darfur. As we are writing this article on August 25, 2021, these RSF/Janjaweed militias were establishing roadblocks around Kafod near Kutum, North Darfur robbing passengers of their possessions. Peace in Darfur will not come without dismantling the RSF/Janjaweed militias commanded by Mohamed Hamden Dagalo, also known as “Hemeti”, Deputy Chairman of the Temporary Military Council (TMC) of the Sudan Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) . Peace will not come in Sudan until the TMC/TSC government is dissolved and power is handed over to a civilian authority through fair and transparent elections and a democratic form of government established respecting and protecting the rights of various Sudanese societies in fair and equal terms under the law.
It has been nearly a year since the Juba Peace Agreements were signed. However, peace is nowhere to be seen as RSF/Janjaweed militias continually attack unarmed, undefended indigenous Darfuri population and seize their properties. The question one should ask of those who signed and supported the Juba Peace Accords is how Orwellian is the peace in Darfur? The international community should cease supporting the Juba Peace Accords, dismantle RSF/Janjaweed militias, and compel the Transitional Sovereignty Council to hand over authority to a duly constituted civilian government.
[i] Lt. Gen. Abakar M Abdullah is the Chairman of Sudan United Movement, a Darfur Resistance Group. He is a former Chadian Army Intelligence and Counterterrorism Pan-Sahel Multinational Unit Commander. He is a graduate of the US Army Intelligence School, the US Army War College and the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He is the co-author with Jerry Gordon and Deborah Martin of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Press, LLC, 2017. . Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review.