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Sudan: Pillay condemns inflammatory statements by official, warns against dangerous escalation of Southern Kordofan conflict

By United Nations - Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, April 6, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Thursday warned that comments made by the Governor of South Kordofan State in Sudan, Ahmed Haroun, could amount to a serious crime and lead to an escalation of violence, thereby exacerbating an already dangerous situation in the border state.

Mr. Haroun, who has already been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, was filmed telling Sudanese soldiers to "hand over the place clean, swept, rubbed and crushed. Do not bring them [i.e. rebels] back alive, they will be an administrative burden.” The Government has since claimed that Mr. Haroun was simply trying to boost the soldiers morale.

“We have long been seriously concerned about the possible violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States – such comments are extremely worrying in this context and could amount to incitement,” Pillay said.

“Witnesses who have visited the Nuba mountain region, mainly inhabited by the Nuba people, have been reporting the burning of villages and killing of civilians in an apparent scorched earth policy.”

“We know very little about the scale of the military operation in Southern Kordofan, as we have been denied access to the area,” Pillay said. “But as far back as August last year, we found that human rights violations that could amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes have taken place in Southern Kordofan.”

Violations documented in that report included “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property,” as well as massive displacement.

“It is essential that there is an independent, thorough and objective investigation into these allegations and that the Government ensure access for human rights monitors as well as humanitarian agencies,” Pillay stressed. “We urge all parties to the conflict to refrain from attacks against civilians and to refrain from making inflammatory statements that could amount to incitement to commit gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law.”