Satellite Sentinel News Roundup 7/28

Satellite Sentinel Project captures the attention of major media around the world, using satellite imagery and ground-based reporting to focus attention on and promote accountability for mass atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan. Here is a round-up of recent, select media coverage of SSP.

On Friday, July 22, Religion Dispatches analyzed U.S. Special Envoy Princeton Lyman's comments to The Washington Post which "downplay the scope of the human rights abuses in Kadugli," despite evidence of mass graves provided by SSP and a UN report expressing concern over human rights violations. (source)

The firsthand reports of mass killings and mass graves in Kadugli, Sudan, and the testimony of Anglican Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail remain at the center of a growing international controversy over the fate of the Nuban people, whom human rights groups, anti-genocide scholars, journalists, and Sudanese exiles say are the victims of a current and ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign by the Sudanese government that began on June 5.

On Saturday, July 23, The New Republic published an article by Eric Reeves, "Are U.S. and U.N. Officials Ignoring New Evidence of Atrocities in Sudan?" that quotes from UN witnesses reports of mass graves in South Kordofan. (source)

Bolstering these reports, the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) recently published dramatic photography taken July 4 that shows three parallel mass gravesites, each approximately 16 feet by 80 feet. It also captured images of heavy earth-moving equipment and many white bags piled up near the gravesites, all consistent with human proportions.

Of course, we can't say for sure who or what is in either the bags or what seem clearly to be graves; but, given the violence committed again them, it's reasonable to guess it's the bodies of Nuba. Consider that, on June 20, some 7,000 Nuba who had sought U.N. protection were forcibly removed from international custody by government security agents disguised as Red Crescent workers. The U.N. still doesn't know where these people are.

On Tuesday, July 26th, an AP piece, "Head of Sudan conflict state 'committed to peace'" ran on Yahoo! News. (source)

Two weeks ago, a US monitoring group separately claimed it has fresh satellite images that support eyewitness accounts of mass graves being dug near a secondary school in Kadugli, to bury 100 or more people killed by the Sudanese army last month.

Harun again denied the charges, saying he had instructed the Sudanese Red Crescent to burn any bodies they found of people killed in the fighting.

On Wednesday, July 27, Voice of America News Blog published, "Sudan Says Open to Negotiations in Southern Kordofan." (source)

Ahmed Haroun said on Tuesday that Sudan is "committed to peace and dialogue," but that armed groups are prolonging the battle by coordinating attacks with rebels from the nearby Darfur region... Meanwhile, Haroun rejected claims by aid organizations who say that Sudan is restricting access to humanitarian agencies in Southern Kordofan...A U.S. satellite monitoring group, the Satellite Sentinel Project, released images earlier this month of three excavated areas in Southern Kordofan that the groups suspects are mass graves.

Sudanese officials have characterized the fighting in Southern Kordofan as a rebellion.

The Sudan Tribune ran a similar story on the 27th, "South Kordofan governor says Al-Hilu planned coup with Darfur rebels," citing SSP's imagery as evidence of atrocities committed in South Kordofan. (source)

Separately, Haroun has strongly denied reports on the identification of mass graves in South Kordofan.

Citing satellite imagery and eye-witness reports, the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), which monitors Sudan, said last week it had found evidence of mass graves in Kadugli town.

A leaked report produced by the UN Mission in Sudan concluded that "especially egregious" acts by SAF during the conflict could be considered as war crimes and crimes against humanity, recommending a probe by the ICC into the situation.

In an interview with Saudi owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper on 24 July, al-Hilu echoed accusations that the Sudanese government has been pursuing ethnic cleansing policy in South Kordofan.

Haroun, for his part, said that the Sudanese Red Crescent Society handled burial of all victims in accordance with the criminal procedures law.

On Thursday, July 28th, The Sudan Tribune ran an article, "Sudan admits to moving corpses via trucks in S. Kordofan." (source)

The Sudanese government on Wednesday acknowledged that authorities in South Kordofan collected dead bodies on trucks for burial during the course of fighting in the oil-rich state...

This month, Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) released what it claimed to be satellite imagery supporting eyewitness accounts of mass graves being dug in South Kordofan capital town of Kadugli.

Citing eyewitnesses, SSP said dead bodies had been picked up from the market area of Kadugli, and from the nearby villages El Gardud and Tilo, and dumped in open pits less than a kilometer (mile) south of the Tilo Secondary School.

"[An] eyewitness said... he estimated that 100 or more bodies were deposited at the site on the evening of June 8," the monitoring group said.

But Marawih denied the allegations about the existence of mass graves as posed by SSP though he did not disclose if the bodies he referred to were buried individually or collectively.



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