U.S. says Sudan deliberately attacks civilians
A top U.S. official says hundreds of barrel bombs and other ordnance are used to target people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations accused Sudan Thursday of intensifying attacks on civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and of deliberately bombing schools and hospitals, Agence France-Presse reported.
Samantha Power denounced “in the strongest possible terms” attacks she said were being carried out by the Sudanese government and its rapid support forces against ordinary people.
Ground and air attacks have increased since April, with hundreds of barrel bombs and other ordnance dropped on towns and villages, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools, she said.
The United States was also disturbed by reports of air strikes targeting civilian aid workers, which if accurate would seriously violate international law, she said.
Ethnic minority rebels in the area have been fighting government forces for three years in a largely hidden war which the United Nations says has affected more than one million people.
Unrest has been fuelled by grievances among non-Arab groups over neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
“The uptick in violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has displaced or severely affected approximately 1.2 million people; it has increased the population’s vulnerability to disease and malnutrition; and it has disrupted planting cycles, which will only compound food insecurity in the regions,” Power said.
She compared the government’s tactics with those used in the war-torn western region of Darfur, where more than 300,000 people have been displaced so far this year alone, she said.
“The United States calls on all armed groups in Sudan to cease all violence against civilians and comply with international law,” she said.
The Sudanese mission to the United Nations was not immediately reachable for comment.
The United States also commended Sudan over a Christian woman’s deathly penalty.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Sudan on Thursday for sentencing a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, urging Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting.
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who was born to a Muslim father, was sentenced to death on May 15 under Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and outlaws conversions under pain of death.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about the conviction and continued imprisonment of Ms Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag,” Kerry said in a statement.
The top US diplomat said he was “deeply committed” to a better future for Sudan and its people.
“That is one of the reasons we are all so concerned about the travails of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag,” he added.
Ishag was raised an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, married a Christian man originally from South Sudan and already had a 20-month-old son before she gave birth in prison on May 27.
Kerry urged Sudanese authorities to allow Ishag, 27, to be reunited with her family.
“I urge the Sudanese judiciary and government to respect Ms Ishag's fundamental right to freedom of religion,” he said.
“I also urge Sudan to repeal its laws that are inconsistent with its 2005 Interim Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Such actions would help to demonstrate to the Sudanese people that their government intends to respect their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.”
The case has embarrassed the Sudanese authorities, which has given contradictory statements about her possible release, raising the ire of Western governments and human rights groups.
Meanwhile, Ishaq’s supporters circulated again a video of a woman being flogged by Sudanese authorities.
Click here to watch the vide.
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