05 March, 2009

Sudan soldier: 'They told me to kill, to rape children'

By Nic Robertson
CNN Senior International Correspondent

As the International Criminal Court issues a landmark warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over war crimes in Darfur, CNN's Nic Robertson interviews a man who was told to rape and kill children.

(CNN) -- I wanted to believe the man in front of me wasn't a rapist. I knew he was a former Sudanese soldier, I knew he wanted to talk about rape in Darfur. A humanitarian group working on Darfur issues had introduced him to us. They told us his testimony was important to hear.

Last year in Darfur aid workers told me children as young as five were being raped in the huge displacement camps that are home to several million Darfuris. In some camps, they told me, rape had become so common that as many as 20 babies a month born from rape were being abandoned.

As I sat inches from Adam --not his real name -- I feared the revulsion I knew I would feel at my own questions as I asked about rape and his involvement. I have interviewed rape survivors in Darfur. I have two daughters. I am a human being with a conscience. It would be hard to listen to his replies.

He told me he was conscripted by force in to the Sudanese army in the summer of 2002. He thought he was being taken for six months' national service and then would be released.

The conversation was slow going at first. We were both holding off from delving into the sordid details he'd come to discuss. His answers were short, he told me he got no pay from the army, only food and drink.

He said he was rounded up in an army truck from a market in Darfur and trained to kill. He said he was armed with Kalashnikovs and told to "shoot targets."

Then, he says, his officers told him "we will be taken to a patrol and then soon after that we were asked to join other people to go and burn and kill people".

That's when he says he realized he wasn't getting national service training, that in fact, he was being forced into war against his will, with his own people. "They are black," he told me, noting the difference between the lighter skinned rulers of Sudan and the darker farmers of Darfur. "I am black," he said, "this shouldn't be happening."
Hmm, I wonder if the helpless were white, yellow, or brown if this Rapist thinks it would be Okay?


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