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Others to the north, the Bul Nuer, fled to Bulyom, a Dinka area in Bahr El Ghazal, where they stayed in an area for internally displaced people and received emergency relief as part of the Maper distribution. In June 1999 there were 3,426 new Nuer arrivals in Maper.579 Other Human Rights Abuses Linked to Displacement, 1999 The forcible displacement of the population from strategic areas of Western Upper Nile/Unity State involved wholesale theft of cattle, rape, underage recruitment, use of landmines, and summary executions. During the 1999 fighting, as usual, civilians were preoccupied with protecting their main
asset, their cattle. As one Ler chief described:
When Peter Paar’s men ran out of ammo and withdrew, I left, in May. During the above fighting, we were moving the cattle to Mayandit. Those who were able to move their cattle were those living south of Ler. Those on the north side had their cattle raided by Paulino Matiep. My house was north of Ler, and my cattle were captured.580 During 1999, until he defected to the SPLA in September, Cmdr. Peter Gatdet was zonal commander of Paulino Matiep’s Western Upper Nile/Unity State forces; in 1998 he was assigned elsewhere. This period of heightened abuses by the Paulino Matiep forces coincides with Cmdr. Peter Gatdet’s command, although the abuses did not diminish after his defection.
In 2000, increased abuses by SPLA forces operating in Western Upper Nile/Unity State—under then SPLA Zonal Cmdr. Peter Gatdet—were reported, including summary execution of prisoners.
Rape and Other Abuses Against Women 579 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 92: 20 – 26 Jun, 1999,” June 26, 1999; Christopher M. Kiilu, WFP, “Nuer Displaced in Twic County” (handwritten report), Maper, Bahr El Ghazal, June 30, 1999.
580 Isaac Magok, interview, August 14, 1999.
In 1999, civilians in Western Upper Nile/Unity State were especially horrified because the enemy
soldiers murdered women, something these civilians were not used to:
Soldiers did not kill women like this in 1998.... this year  they were seriously searching for women by name. They were looking for those whose husbands are in the SSDF, who are in [the Sudan Women’s Association], [and] who worked in the hospital.581 The witness said Paulino Matiep’s soldiers knew the names of their victims because the soldiers “were born in Mankien, and were living in Ler from 1991 to 1996 when Paulino [Matiep] was governor.”582 One underage soldier forcibly recruited by Paulino Matiep’s militia observed that the militia, together with government soldiers, beat and abused civilians, including women. “They would remove a lady’s skirt and petticoat. When she cried, they beat her more,” he said, and “If they captured you and then took your sister as a wife, if you were angry, they would beat you.... They are serious about raping. The Arabs are serious, they bring girls from far off to the garrison.”584 Shortly after the boy soldier was sent to Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s base at Ler, he said the “Arabs,” northerners, asked Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s forces to accompany them to remote places: “The Arabs feared going there alone. When they go, they abduct young ladies. They sleep with them today and tomorrow send for a plane to take them away.”585 He was sent in a mixed Nuer and “Arab” government
platoon to the village of Ger:
581 Elizabeth N. and Martha N., interview, August 18-20, 1999.
583 There is no exact word in Nuer for rape. Most Nuer talk about rape as “taking her as a wife.” 584 Boy soldier, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 19,1999.
This patrol did not attack any military objectives, according to the boy participant. Its purpose was to look for—kidnap—young women and loot cattle. The soldiers, both Nuer and northerners, raped all the captured women before taking them back to the garrison. None of the soldiers objected to this mistreatment of women. The boy soldier said he “did not do anything” to the women. He was forced to beat one woman who resisted rape, under threat that if he did not beat her, it would mean that he did not belong to “our side,” and would be killed. He therefore “beat her with a stick.” The boy recruit knew four Nuer women among those captured and held at this base, locked inside a house. The soldiers and officers were prevented from going inside. “The women who were beautiful to the commanders were kept for them. The others were shared among some soldiers, both Nuer and jallaba.” He did not know how many women were locked up there. As far as he could tell, there were no children with the women. The captive women were taken outside the house, six at a time, to urinate while three soldiers held them at gunpoint. On one such occasion, the boy saw his cousin in the group.
She was unmarried, a few years older than he. There was no way to talk to her. She saw him and immediately started crying. She was wearing a sheet; in the village she had worn a T-shirt and a skirt. The young unmarried girls wore sheets and the older married women wore skirts. 586 A young woman who had never been captured described her fear. “They are abducting girls and making them their ‘ladies’,” said Nyanchar, to explain why she had been in hiding before leaving her village of Ger. She knew some of the young women and girls who were abducted in 1999, including Chuoy Wat Keah who was about her age—eighteen. Chuoy Wat was taken with three girls from a village one hour from Ger. “Their mother came to our house and told us of the abduction by the renegades [Maj. Gen.
Paulino Matiep’s forces]. No one knows what happened to them. Their mother tried to follow but she could not find them. They were taken away this month [August 1999],” she reported. 587 Nyanchar had been hiding in the forest and going home at night to sleep. After hearing of the abductions, she fled to Nyal.588 Nyacuot, age twenty-five, had seven children and was born near Mayandit. Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s forces stole her property and her family’s cattle, and abducted her in May 1999. They held her for four months at their camp in Boaw, more than fifty roadless kilometers north of Mayandit, before she managed to escape through a friend who had married into the clan at Boaw. Most of the time in captivity she did not do any cooking, cleaning, or carrying water. When she refused orders, however, the soldiers beat her. She said she was not a “wife” to them. Some of the men tried to take her as a wife (rape her).
“Did you marry me before?” she told them. “I’m not your wife.” She told them they had not paid any cattle to her father (as bridewealth) so she could not be their wife. For this, too, she was beaten.
Nyacuot saw no other captive women in the Paulino Matiep camp at Boaw, but she did see captive boys and girls. She talked with one girl and two boys, all about five or six years old, who said they were from the Bul and Dok sections of the Nuer. They talked only once before they were interrupted by the guards.589 Two Nuer women who fled from Ler to Nyal, Elizabeth N. and Martha N. (no relation), described the changing nature of the conflict in Western Upper Nile/Unity State and in particular the generalization of
attacks against whole communities. Elizabeth N. echoed a familiar lament among those displaced:
587 Nyanchar R, displaced from Ler province, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 19, 1999.
589 Nyacuot D., interview, August 15, 1999.
Women who live here wonder if there are women in other countries who care about us.
We are not ourselves now. We are victims. If there are women elsewhere in the world who can talk, they can assist us. Until now, women might decide not to give birth because the children do not reach maturity because of the fighting.
Martha N. added:
Because women give birth in places where there is no shelter, some die giving birth.
They retain the placenta and are in great pain, and die. Even the child born in a place without shelter dies of cold and other conditions in the bush. Even if you escape, the child could die because there is no food and you cannot carry him or her on your back.
You must leave that child behind, and they die.
Some women have to carry the children because they have no husband [often killed or away in the fighting]. We are taking care of the children. If not, they become underage soldiers and are killed. Today there are no blind people here [a displaced persons area] because no one could bring them. The disabled also remained behind and did not move.
All these caretaker burdens go to the women because women take care of the blind, the elderly, and the disabled. The men take care of themselves, are armed, and can run.
590 The disastrous state of maternal health in the vast unserved areas of rural southern Sudan cannot be overemphasized. On a single afternoon, a relief vehicle passed two different groups of people (along a thirty-kilometer muddy road) attempting to evacuate women who were in desperate need of medical care. One woman was in a coma from post-partum anemia and one was in labor for days before a local practitioner cut the dead fetus out of her womb. Human Rights Watch observation, Tonj County, Bahr El Ghazal, August 16, 1999. See Dr. Michaleen Richer, “Overview of the Health Situation in Southern Sudan 2002,” UNICEF-OLS, Nairobi, September 2003.
Government Use of Antipersonnel Landmines The Sudanese government began to use landmines in this area when its army advanced into Block 5A in 1999 and sought to protect outposts from rebel assault. 592 When the SSDF retook locations in Western Upper Nile/Unity State from the government in July 1999, it encountered landmines that the government had just laid in Ler (outside the Payak garrison), Adok, and Piling. One SSDF soldier participating in an attack on the government army garrison in Ler on July 3, 1999 saw three SSDF soldiers near him die when one of them stepped on an antipersonnel landmine outside the garrison. The mine was connected to a large antitank mine and caused it to detonate, killing the three immediately.593 Another source noted that this deadly government practice of connecting antitank mines to antipersonnel mines had occurred in this area on other occasions.594 In July 1999, a landmine killed Kuis Boh, a civilian, and his fourteen-year-old son, John Kuis, on a road that passed by the Piling garrison. The chief reporting these deaths said government troops would go to
Piling from Ler for ten days or a month, and while there would surround the Piling garrison with mines:
“They put up no warning signs, because they are our enemies.”595 A Presbyterian pastor by the name of Day Yout, age thirty-two, was also allegedly killed by a landmine near Ler that July. As he was taking his cattle to graze, he reportedly stepped on a mine on the road that passed by the government garrison at 591 Elizabeth N.and Martha N., interview, August 18-20, 1999.
592 In 1998, the Sudanese government signed the Convention to Ban Antipersonnel Landmines. It has not yet ratified the convention, but under international law it is bound by the intention indicated by its signature to abide by the spirit of the treaty.
593 Former Nuer combatant from Ler, Human Rights Watch interview, Kenya, August 21, 1999.
594 Anonymous medical relief worker, Human Rights Watch interview, Kenya, August 1999.
595 Chief of Adok area, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 20, 1999.
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Payak and led to the grazing area.596 In Adok, a landmine killed three women and five cows on the road to the government garrison on or about July 20, 1999, when the women were going to look for food.597 The deaths of six women in one group around the garrison in Ler—following landmine explosions— were reported in August 1999.
None of the six women died immediately, but there was no treatment for them in Ler, and they could not be medically evacuated by ICRC plane to the ICRC hospital across the Kenyan border because the Sudanese government had imposed a flight ban, which made the Western Upper Nile/Unity State area inaccessible to all agencies.598 Rebel Treatment of Prisoners The SSDF and SPLA treatment of “Arab” prisoners, the “main enemy,” as they put it, was sometimes in violation of the captives’ human rights. As one SSDF soldier said: “if we capture, we kill them because they are taking our petrol.”599 The execution of three government employees who were seized at Ryer/Thar Jath in May 1999 is an example of summary execution based on political affilitation and ethnicity. There were other cases in 2000, but summary execution, even of northern or “Arab” prisoners, did not appear to be the rule, despite the quote above.
The Nuer rivals in the fighting in Western Upper Nile/Unity State reportedly tended to treat fellow Nuer prisoners with respect. None of the SSDF, SPLA, or Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep forces killed captured Nuer combatants at this time, according to the SSDF, preferring to release them or use them as their
own soldiers. One high-ranking SSDF officer stated:
597 SSDF soldier, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 19, 1999.
598 Senior SSDF officer, Human Rights Watch interview, Nyal, Western Upper Nile, August 19, 1999; Christian Aid, The Scorched Earth: Oil and War in Sudan, London, March 2001, pp.13-14.
599 Former aide to Cmdr. Tito Biel, Human Rights Watch interview, Kenya, August 21, 1999 (stating policy; this man denied seeing any such executions).