Tabit Mass Rape Accusations: Information Lapse Or Political Lie?

By: Aisha Braima

Khartoum (Sudanow)- Tabit village in North Darfur State that all of a sudden came into the limelight due to alleged mass raping of its women by army personnel is one of thousands of Darfuri villages .It is the headquarters of the Tabit Administrative Unit of Taweela locality. The village, that lies 55 km south of the State’s Capital Al-Fashir, geographically lies within Sudan’s poor savannah belt with an autumn rainfall ranging between 300-600 mm. Most of the village inhabitants are farmers. They grow millet as a main crop and legumes as subsidiary crops. They also breed cattle as an additional occupation.
Tabit houses a number of services utilities that include seven primary schools for boys and girls, one girls secondary school and one boys secondary school, in addition to seven Qur'anic khalwas (seminaries).
Tabit inhabitants hail from Fur, Zaghawa, Tama, Masaleet, Barti, Tunjur, Bargu, Bani Hussain and other smaller ethnicities.

Dividends of the Peace Accord:

Like other Darfuri villages, Tabit had suffered very much from the evil war, always standing firm in the face of attacks from rebel movements and other lawless elements. Some of the locals had opted to move to the IDP camps around big cities in search of food and security, but the majority assumed a fatalistic attitude and stayed behind to defend their land and families. And when the signs of peace appeared on the horizon by the signing of the Doha, Qatar, Peace Accord, displaced families saw light at the end of the tunnel and returned to the village. Tabit was then picked up as part of six model villages in North Darfur State for the implementation of rehabilitation plans that could encourage voluntary repatriation of IDPs. The State of Qatar has funded the rehabilitation of the village with $6 million. The process, which was carried out by the Qatari NGO RAF, has provided for the construction of a water station, two secondary schools, a health centre, a mosque, a police station in addition to several other utilities, billed to be officially opened next January.

Photos taken by Ashraf Shazely during a government-organized press trip to Tabit
Photos taken by Ashraf Shazely during a government-organized press trip to Tabit


Official Arguments Against the Rape Claim:
When Radio Dabanga –Sudan, that transmits from the Netherlands, aired its claims about a mass rape of 200 girls and women in Tabit, the UN/AU hybrid peace-keeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) conducted an official investigation in the village and filed a report to the UN General Secretary. The report had categorically dismissed the rape claim. However, the Secretary General for reasons yet unknown, asked for another investigation on the issue, a demand rejected by the Government of Sudan on the grounds that the UNAMID investigators had had their time in the village and had, accordingly, filed a report that falsified Radio Dabanga claims. So, why a second investigation if it were not meant to concoct an incrimination against Sudan after the first UNAMID report had exonerated the army from the rape affair? And, over and above, those claims do stigmatize the women and families of the village, a matter that virtually caused a public outrage against the UNAMID mission and Radio Dabanga. The situation was so tense in the village and a showdown was sure to happen if another investigation was to be conducted. Worse than that, the UNAMID did not abide by the timeline it agreed upon with the Sudanese Foreign Ministry for the proposed visit to the village.
The government cited other evidences to refute the mass rape allegations including:
1- Radio Dabanga, that represents opposition and rebel groups , is not a reliable source. It had continued to fabricate news and allegations against the Sudanese Government , and even against the UNAMID itself that often complained from the Radio’s reports.
2- The Sudanese Armed Forces personnel in Tabit hail from the district itself. Moreover, Tabit Mayor (or Omda) Al Hadi Abdallah had disclosed that about 40 of Tabit army garrison personnel were married to women from the village. The question now: How can these soldiers permit the raping of their wives and in-laws?
3- The Sudan demand from the UN to lay down a strategy for the gradual termination of UNAMID mission in Darfur, now that peace had become apparent, might have been behind this crisis. The aim could be to argue that the situation in Darfur is still unstable, a matter that dictates the stay of the peacekeepers in the region. Abdallah Al-Azrag, the Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, has said the UNAMID does not want to leave Darfur and does not want to abide by the terms of their presence in the region that call for the evacuation of the mission once there is no need for them to stay. He has said mission members, who enjoy an affluent budget of $1341 million , not much of which is spent on development and infrastructure projects as agreed, are reluctant to leave.
4- The positive developments and the infrastructure projects that emerged in Darfur are not in the interest of the circles that want the region to stay in turmoil.

It is beyond reason to say that 200 women had got raped in one day without any reaction from anybody in the village. It is also unbelievable that such a thing could happen while the number of the army personnel in the garrison is far less than the number referred to in the rape claim.

Meanwhile, Sudanese officials do continue to defy the propagators of the rape claim to produce a convincing evidence that such a thing had occurred. The Army spokesman, Brigadier Al Sawarmi Khalid Saad reiterated that the Army did not close this file and is still waiting for the propagators of the rape claim to come forward with evidence. He said the Army would never keep silent about the matter and would continue to pursue justice for the people of Tabit , clear their name from this unfair news and bring the propagators to book.

Outspoken Government Critic Says His Word:
All-time Government critic Dr. Oshary Ahmed Mahmoud has said Radio Dabanga and all entities involved in this claim had failed to bring any water-tight prove that such a thing had occurred . Conversely, argues Dr. Oshary, the so-called evidences contained in the reports about the rape cast doubts on the claim altogether and question its credibility.
Oshari, a former professor of linguistics at the University of Khartoum who now works abroad, did not rule out the possibility that Radio Dabanga ‘’ had deceived all’’ by fabricating this story from A to z. He asserts that:
1- The voice recording of the woman, who claimed that her three daughters were assaulted together with other village women, was not convincing. It did not give any details that prove the story. For his part, the Radio reporter did not talk to the woman or ask her questions to verify her credibility The Radio had, in addition, reported that ‘’ an old man ‘’ in the village had confirmed the incident without playing a recording of what ‘’the old man ‘’ had actually said.
2- The Radio had said the commander of Tabit army garrison had apologized to the locals about the conduct of his soldiers. Now the question: How can the villagers accept an apology for such a big crime?

3- The Radio had said a five-member committee (three women and two men) dispatched by what it called ‘’ the coordination committee of refugees and displaced’’ had met 60 rape victims and talked to them ‘’mouth to mouth’’ and that the victims had said the raping had continued from 8 pm to 5 am the next day. The Radio had, further, described the committee as ‘’secret’’.
4- That the committee is ‘’secret’’ casts shadows of doubt on the very existence of such a committee. In addition, the claimed committee report did not contain any noteworthy evidence or particulars of the matter. The Radio also said talk about the matter was hard for both victims and investigation committee members who, all of them, broke into tears. This is mere nonsense. It questions the credibility of a committee supposed to investigate a crime.

5- The Radio had said that a woman witness from the scene had testified that she saw about 50 girls being raped by the army soldiers who stormed the village. The witness had said the victims had kept silent for fear from the authorities and the army who control the village. This contradicts the Radio’s claim that the army commander had apologized to the locals about the incident. Silence because of fear from the authorities is a myth, simply because a woman who fears a rapist is usually a single woman..a defenseless individual..but 200 victims would fear nothing. They will team up and put a challenge. At least some of them must be strong enough not to keep silent.

6- How could the fathers of 8 children, 70 teens and 100 married women keep silent before the UNAMID employees for fear from the army? It is very hard for a father whose daughter was raped to keep silent, even if he was to be sent to the gallows.

7- The woman who spoke on behalf of the so-called ‘secret investigation committee ‘ had told the Radio that their report was sent to the refugees and displaced coordination committee .. And because the ‘’written’’ report is still ‘’secret’’ we can conclude that it has no value, just like any other secret report. We consider such a report, if any, as if it never existed. For if it were genuine, why didn’t the Radio broadcast it word by word ? It is the open text of the report that could convince us about the correctness of its information. Just by reading the report we can learn too much. Only by reading the report we can verify the correctness of its subject matter. "I conclude that what Radio Dabanga had said does not prove anything. We have to scrap it and keep Radio Dabanga under surveillance".

8- The message sent by the rebel SLM (Minni Minnawi) and SLM (Abdulwahid) to the UN General Secretary via Radio Dabanga in which they endorsed the mass rape story as factual is shaky. They have no evidence to prove their conviction about the matter. All what they had was what was broadcast by Radio Dbanga. They have no precise intelligence about what happened and what did not happen. They did not say anything of value about the particulars of the matter.

9- The UNAMID report in which it denied the mass rape episode in Tabit may be genuine, although its language is very poor.

After this lengthy debate…Tabit rape accusations: Are they information lapse or political lie?


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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