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In the News: ‘Now, we have evidence that demands attention and accountability’

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In the News: ‘Now, we have evidence that demands attention and accountability’

Posted by Mollie Zapata on October 17, 2012

In the News: 'Now, we have evidence that demands attention and accountability'

Major news outlets all over the world helped spread the word of ongoing atrocities in Sudan yesterday through their coverage of the Satellite Sentinel Project’s, or SSP’s, most recent report “Cameras on the Battlefield: Multimedia Confirmation of the Razing of Gardud al Badry, South Kordofan, Sudan” and corresponding video, “Village Burning, Torture in the Nuba Mountains: Naim's Story.”

The blog post associated with the report was re-tweeted by The New York Times’ Nick Kristof to his 1.3 million followers.

@NickKristof: New @SudanSentinel multimedia report documents brutal burning & looting in Nuba Mountains by Abu Tira police of #Sudan

Maggie Fick's Associated Press coverage, “US group says video, satellite imagery shows Sudan forces razing village in border region,” was picked up by the Washington Post, the websites of, ABC News, Fox News, and CBS News, and provided additional context to the report. Fick noted similarities between the situation in Darfur and the unfolding conflict in South Kordofan.

Satellite and photo imagery, cellphone video footage, and eyewitness accounts released by the U.S. monitoring group provide a picture of the two attacks on the village. The group says that some of the video was shot by members of the notorious Sudanese police force, known as "Abu Tira," who allegedly participated alongside Sudanese forces and militias in razing the village on May 18. Satellite images show before and after views of the village, while photos show huts ablaze.

The Guardian included the video, co-produced by the Enough Project and Nuba Reports, a Sudanese journalist organization, in David Smith's piece, “Video shows Sudanese forces repeating Darfur genocide, activists claim.”

The video, posted on YouTube, begins with before-and-after satellite pictures with captions such as "destroyed classroom" and "destroyed fence". It is followed by jerky footage in which a young man in a blue T-shirt rides in the back of a truck with men in military fatigues, while village dwellings are ablaze and shouts are heard.

Newsweek’s The Daily Beast also posted the video and an article by John Avlon, “Video Captures Village Burning, Torture In Sudan.”

This is a video that cuts through all the abstractions and obfuscations. In the United States, news organizations are focused on the second presidential debate tonight—but that event should not keep this documentation of an attack in real time from reaching a wider audience. In the past, the absence of cameras meant this violence could be ignored. Now, we have evidence that demands attention and accountability. 

The Reuters article, “Sudan forces burned, looted remote border village: activists,” was picked up by the Chicago Tribune, MSNBC Online, Yahoo News, among other news outlets, and noted, “The United Nations has estimated that around 300,000 people may have died in the Darfur conflict. Sudan has put the toll around 10,000.”

In a VOA News article, “Monitoring Group: Sudan Forces Burn, Loot Village,” the government of Sudan responded to SSP’s report by characterizing it as a sensationalized "fabrication." But it had no comment on the fact that the cell phone video was shot by Sudan's own Abu Tira police, in uniform, and corroborated by DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, GPS-tagged photos, and eyewitness reports.

United Press International, or UPI, published “U.S. group documents Sudanese violence,” and quoted Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast.

"Through this campaign of targeted violence, which amounts to crimes against humanity, and its denial of humanitarian access, the government of Sudan is displacing thousands of civilians and contributing to insecurity in the region," he said in a statement.

SSP's report is one of the most comprehensive documentations of crimes against humanity to date. SSP and the Enough Project will continue to use this information to achieve the goal of monitoring and reporting on mass atrocities, to seek accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Photo: Cell phone video documents a joint unit of Sudanese soldiers, militia, and police targeting civilians while razing and looting the village of Gardud al Badry (Satellite Sentinel Project)