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March 4th, 2009
03:45 PM ET

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

CNN
Nic Robertson

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.

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.

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Filed under: Darfur
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Nic

    This had to be a hard story to do – hard to do the interview, hard to write, but it is a very important story and I appreciate you doing it. Living in fear of rape 24 hours a day is intolerable – I don't know that I could live that way and retain my sanity for long. And as a mother of girls I would be worried about them as well. This outrage seems to have been going on for years now – is there any hope of it ending? Is there even a generation of people in Dafur who remember what peace is like – who remember when they didn't live in fear?

    March 4, 2009 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Jody Reed Alpena Michigan

    Compelling. My first thought would be why not choose death. However ,if he had then stories( the truth) does not come to light. I dream of a day when all people know that we all belong here on earth and the fighting, pain and struggle comes to an end.

    March 4, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  3. Cherisa

    So many stories, so many similarities, so many horrors. How could anyone make this stuff up? The ICC made a tough choice, but I believe in the long run it was the right one. These crimes cannot be tolerated.

    March 4, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  4. Adrene

    War can bring about some of the most horrible crimes. For that reason, I think internationally we should spend extra time considering the options. War is brutal for our soldiers and their families and those of the opposing side. It is great when we can focus on human rights and more peaceable solutions. It would serve a more victorious solution for both sides, whenever possilbe. Perhaps we can create our own peace stoty.

    March 4, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  5. Radhika - SF, California

    What an incredible account of the "other side" of the story. In the United States what little we hear of Darfur in our nightly news usually focuses (rightly so) on the woman and children's side of the story. It's so interesting to hear what someone who actually committed these atrocious crimes has to say about it. It's also fascinating to read what Nic Robertson was going through and his thoughts when he was interviewing the man in question. Thank you so much for shedding light on the matter and for giving us a little insight into how it feels to be sitting in front of someone who has gone through this. Excellent and emotional article.

    March 4, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  6. Barbara in Boston

    It's not that your stories have no impact, its that China supports Sudan. I highly doubt that the Chinese citizens have a clue what is happening in Darfur.

    March 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm |
  7. Christine Peters

    Incredible story. Heart wrenching and tough to read, because of the feelings it brings forth. Thanks for helping us all realize that our economic problems pale in comparison to these problems. Awesome article.

    March 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm |