Tahamah, Yemen (GPA) – Last week, a Sudanese soldier from the Janjaweed forces (which are part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen) beat up and raped a Yemeni woman. These Sudanese forces have a well-documented history of using rape as a weapon of war.
As the war started in Yemen 2015 with the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention, it became increasingly clear Sudanese soldiers (the Janjaweed) were targeting women and girls as a war tactic: “rape was a weapon of war.”
A Dark History of Using Rape as a Weapon of War
The Janjaweed has a shameful history of raping women of Darfur in Sudan’s southern region. Women young and old in Darfur harbor many stories of rape by The Janjaweed soldiers. In fact, Sudanese soldiers (the Janjaweed) in the Tabit town north of Darfur raped 221 women in less than two days. These horrifying acts took place in the streets and in front of their loved ones as part of a mass rape which could constitute a crime against humanity, according to a lengthy Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.
In a phone call with Yemeni activist and poet, Mohammed Al-Masmari, the Yemeni woman referred to as “Fatima” (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) talked about the rape and assault by the Sudanese soldier:
“When I was collecting straw at the valley, a Sudanese soldier approached me and fired several shots from his gun into the air. After that, he started to hit me in my face several times. I was then dragged into the camp where he raped me.”
Threatened Into Denying the Rape Ever Happened
Fatima says the story didn’t end here. After the story spread throughout the village, Emirati soldiers took her and her family to the camp leadership office. Here, she was forced via threats to confirm on paper that the rape never happened.
The Saudi-led coalition is a collection of countries well known internationally by their disrespect of human rights. Nevertheless, the United Nations and the international community still gives them the green light to conduct their crimes and violations against humanity in Yemen.
The Janjaweed forces committed mass rape and other horrible war crimes in Darfur. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) named the Janjaweed as well as the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, as war criminals for all the crimes they committed in Darfur.
Continued War Crimes Against the Yemeni People
The same forces remain internationally approved to practice their sadism against the Yemeni people under the cover and protection from allies in the Saudi-led coalition such as the Emiratis forces. Darfur was the focus of international condemnation for the Sudanese government’s role in alleged abuses against humanity by their notorious militia (the Janjaweed). Now, the same abuses are committed again by the same notorious forces. The only difference this time is that the Saudi-led coalition is considered an ally of the West, backed by international powers, and working under the UN umbrella.
What happened to Fatima is not a singular incident but rather an example of the variety of war crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition against Yemenis. As long as the world decides to turn a blind eye to these war crimes, the suffering of the Yemeni people will continue and the failure of the international law will shamefully be aggravated.
Abdulsalam Al-Dhahebi is a Swedish citizen from Yemen. He is a human rights activist in Sheba Rights for Democracy and Human Rights. (www.shebarights.org) He is following the Yemeni situation and working on promoting the idea of establishing an international commission of inquiry in Yemen.