The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new visual evidence that the Government of Sudan has committed grave violations of the Geneva Conventions and other war crimes, some of which may also constitute crimes against humanity.
The totality of evidence from satellites and ground sources points to state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of much of the contested Abyei region, says SSP. The evidence is being conveyed to the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council.
SAF tanks, HETs and artillery in Abyei town 27 May 2011
George Clooney, who initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project along with ENOUGH Project Co-founder John Prendergast, after they traveled to South Sudan in October 2010, stated: “We focused satellites on Abyei because everyone concerned believed that if the Sudan government would try to undermine the North-South peace, it would do so through Abyei. We now have undeniable proof of the Khartoum regime’s war crimes in Abyei. We’ve captured visual evidence of the Sudan Armed Forces ransacking and razing Abyei town. This was a plan to disrupt the South’s peaceful independence that everyone knew was coming, and that moment has arrived. Now that the photographic evidence exists, what is the UN Security Council going to do? With nearly a hundred thousand displaced, when does the UN actually have a responsibility to protect?”
Tukuls burning in Abyei town on May 23, 2011
SSP’s recent imagery and reporting documents the destruction, and confirms the positioning in Abyei town of at least 10 Sudan Armed Forces main battle tanks, mobile artillery, heavy equipment transports, infantry fighting vehicles and trucks capable of rapid forward deployment, in addition to other assets within striking distance.
“What is happening in Abyei is what the international community feared would happen in Benghazi, Libya,” said John Prendergast. “We’re not advocating military intervention, but we do think the Responsibility to Protect doctrine requires more assertive action in support of ongoing emergency diplomacy. President Obama and his team should begin to develop international support for denying debt relief, referring the Abyei case to the ICC, diplomatically isolating the regime, suspending all non-humanitarian aid, obstructing state-controlled bank transactions and freezing accounts which hold oil wealth diverted by senior regime officials.”
Last week, Clooney and Prendergast published a special report in The Washington Post about the current problems in Abyei,
“As far as the eye could see, thousands of displaced people were scattered, accompanied by what little they had left in the world,” they wrote. "This surreal vista, which we saw visiting Abyei in January, had no shelters but had big beds and suitcases and dresser drawers sitting in the open or under trees. After years of displacement, thanks to the north-south war that raged in Sudan from 1983 to 2005, thousands of Sudanese had begun the long journey home. They hoped to vote that month in the referendum on southern independence.
Turalei has seen an influx of 30,000 displaced people who have fled Abyei town after the Sudan Armed Forces occupied the town. Photo taken May 26, 2011.
“But they never voted, because the government in Khartoum wouldn’t allow the plebescite to take place in Abyei, and they never resettled, because they had no support to return after so long. So thousands hunkered down in this Connecticut-size region between North and South Sudan, two historically separate territories that were lumped together at independence in 1956 and whose racial and religious divides have chafed since. Last week the long history of tensions ignited when Khartoum sent its army and allied militias to forcibly occupy the area. The regime engaged in aerial bombing, tank and artillery attacks. Its militias looted and burned villages.
“International support should be sought immediately for denying debt relief, expanding the ICC indictments, diplomatically isolating the regime, suspending all non-humanitarian aid, obstructing state-controlled bank transactions and freezing accounts holding oil wealth diverted by senior regime officials.
“We must proceed before Abyei ignites the next Darfur.”
The full post can be read here.
Photos from ENOUGH Project’s photostream.