Rights group defends report over Darfur violence

Human Rights Watch says it stands by its report which stated that the war in Sudan’s restive Darfur region has not ended. 
The report sharply contradicted earlier observations from the UN and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which claimed the violence, has ended.
Khartoum dismissed the rights group’s report describing it as one-sided and an affront to the government and people of Sudan, VOA reports.
The administration also accused Human Rights Watch of bias and having a political agenda to tarnish the reputation of President Omar Hassan Bashir’s government. 
The rights group however denied the charges as unfounded. 
Georgette Gagnon , the Africa director of Human Rights Watch said that the ongoing violence against residents of Darfur has to end.
“What we said in the report is that there have been recent clashes in September between the rebel movement and the Sudanese armed forces in Darfur as well as some bombings. And there continues to be on a daily basis rapes, sexual violence and lower level attacks against civilians by a whole host of actors,” Gagnon said.
She said the rights group report highlighted the current situation on the ground.
“Our on the ground documentation from speaking to eye witnesses and victims indicates that the conflict and the human right abuses continue in Darfur,” she said.
Hassan Omer, head of the Sudanese government delegation to the peace negotiations with opposition groups accused the rights group of having a political agenda.
But Gagnon denied the accusations.
“That statement is not accurate in that Human Rights Watch is not, I repeat, not a political organization, quite the opposite. Human Rights Watch is an impartial non-governmental organization that has no political affiliations or one way or the other,” Gagnon said.
She said the rights group will continue its duty of fighting for against violence.
“Our sole concern is for the people everywhere including in Darfur who are experiencing human rights violations mainly on the hands of their own government,” she said.
Gagnon said human rights campaigners seem to have been targeted.
“The National Congress party-led group in Khartoum has for a long time harassed, attacked and gone after any sort of person including many Sudanese who criticize it or voice political opposition,” Gagnon said.
The international community has often accused President Omar Hassan Bashir’s government of backing rebels who attack innocent civilians in Darfur, a charge the administration has denied. 

Pic: South Sudan forces