Internal UN Report: Summary Executions, Mass Graves in Sudan

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An internal UN report provides more evidence of mass graves in Sudan’s southern Kordofan as violence against civilians, mostly perpetrated by northern forces, spirals out of control.

TIME Thursday published satellite photos and information from eyewitnesses gathered by George Clooney’s Satellite Sentinel Project that shows suspected mass graves where forces from northern Sudan have allegedly buried at least 100 civilians they killed in Kadugli.

The shocking report by the UN Mission in Sudan, “UNMIS Report on the Human Rights Situation During the Violence in southern Kordofan,” confirms the execution of a UN staff member, indiscriminate aerial bombardments of civilian areas, summary executions of civilians suspected of sympathizing with the South, and the mass graves. The report is not public. The New York Times first disclosed the report on Thursday.

Another compelling issue seems to be the timing of the report. It was completed late last month and is certain to prompt sharp questions about what the United States and the UN have done since then to try to address the atrocities. (The State Department is gathering a full response to these questions now, though sources say the report is a response, in part, in to a request from Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN).

The report confirms that a UN contractor on June 22 witnessed northern forces filling a mass grave with corpses in Tillo and using a bulldozer to cover the site, matching the report in TIME on Thursday. It adds that UN military observers sent to investigate the grave “were arrested, stripped of their clothes, and believed that they were about to be executed when a senior SAF officer intervened.” SAF is the Sudan Armed Forces from the North.

It also documents the aerial bombing of civilians in Um Dorein and Talodi areas on June 6. In Kadugali the next day, the UN says northern forces conducted house-to-house searches and conducted “summary executions” of civilians. (Clooney’s group also reported on that development).

A UN staff member detained at one northern controlled military facility in Umbattah reported seeing the bodies of 150 people who appeared to have been shot. On June 8, northern soldiers pulled a UN contractor out of a vehicle in Kadugi, dragged him behind a compound and executed him. The same day, a Sudanese man was executed in broad daylight at the Kadugli hospital after he went there searching for his three missing children. In late June, the UN also received unconfirmed reports of northern forces using chemical weapons on civilians.

In a chilling note, the report adds that these incidents were “indicative and not exhaustive of the range of violations that appear to have taken place in Southern Kordofan.”

That area is now part of northern Sudan. Khartoum has ordered the UN mission out of the area, a retreat that is occurring now. Soon there will be almost no way of getting information on what is happening in that area, except for Clooney’s satellites.