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Sudanese Archive
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Sudanese Archive

INVESTIGATIONS

Open Source Investigation into the Detention and Abuse of Adults and Children in Ardamata

May 8, 2024

Assaults, torture, and intimidation of detainees, including children.

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Sudanese Archive provides in-depth analysis of footage showing the abuse of detainees posted online following a Rapid Support Forces attack on the 15th Infantry Division of the Sudanese Armed Forces in Western Darfur, which reportedly led to the killing of hundreds of people.

  • Place of incident: Ardamata neighborhood in El Geneina
  • Event Location: 15th Infantry Division and other areas in Ardamata
  • Date: Detention occurred during raids between 4 - 6 November 2023
  • Time: Reports of detention followed the taking of control of the 15th Infantry Division of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) at around 07:30 am , 4 November 2023, local Sudan time  
  • Victims: Reports indicate 500 to 750 individuals detained, including children
  • Type of Incident: Documentation of detention and abuse; allegations of killing, torture, looting, and sexual violence
  • Apparently responsible: Rapid Support Forces (RSF)

Content Warning:

This investigation includes descriptions, depictions, and allegations of violence including unlawful detentions, physical abuse, verbal abuse, torture, killings, and rape.

Introduction

On the morning of Saturday, 4 November 2023, around 07:30 am, Khartoum local time, RSF and allied groups took control of the SAF’s 15th Infantry Division site in Ardamata. It was also later announced that RSF had taken control of the city of El Geneina entirely.

RSF taking control over the 15th Infantry Division was followed with the posting of pictures and videos that were allegedly of detainees of the SAF Division, while activists and social media pages have accused RSF of committing violations in Ardamata and detaining civilians, the majority of whom are reportedly of the Masalit tribe, and killing significant numbers of them.

Videos show the detention of people of different ages, including children, wearing civilian clothes in three locations inside the 15th Division and on (Ardamata Bridge), by a force in RSF uniforms and insignia. The force is shown whipping, hitting, insulting, kicking detainees, in addition to opening fire after forcing the detainees to run to an unknown location. One video is alleged to be of detainees in El Geneina in a pit that is suspected to be a mass grave. Another unverified picture appears to show the killing of many people in the city.

Methodology

The Sudanese Archive investigated the incident based on:

●       Preserving, analyzing, and verifying 289 video clips, pictures, reports, and posts on social media platforms, that show seven locations where people were alleged to be detained by RSF, initial reports, alleged deaths and disappearances, methods of abuse, statements from eyewitnesses and families of victims.

●       Verifying six impact areas by matching landmarks that appear on visual content with satellite imagery and incident initial reports.

●       Following initial reports for claims of likely perpetrators and timing, and matching this with information available on suncalc and ginifab.

●       Analyzing munitions and uniforms appearing on visual content and matching it with RSF uniforms.

 

This investigation was a result of many stages of analysis of available sources that provided the team with the incident date, time, location, possible victims, incident details, and likely perpetrators. To view the full Sudanese Archive research methodology please visit our website.

Redacted Information

The information and findings presented here are derived exclusively from digital, online, open source information and analytical techniques. However, footage of detained individuals – especially perpetrator-filmed footage and footage depicting children – is extremely sensitive, irrespective of whether it was publicly available on the internet. The Sudanese Archive does not directly reproduce or provide access to this footage in this public investigation. Stills from this footage that are included in this report were altered to remove detained individuals.

To request access to redacted sources and analysis, send an email to requests@sudanesearchive.org

About the Incident Area

The incident location is the Sudanese Armed Forces 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata, which is an administrative unit in El Geneina, the capital city of West Darfur state. It is located around seven kilometers north-east of El Geneina, and contains, in addition to the 15th Infantry Division, Al Shaheed Sebera International Airport, and  IDP shelters. Ardamata is home to several tribes, including the Masalit.

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A screenshot from Google Earth Pro, taken by the Sudanese Archive of the Ardamata Administrative Unit on 19 April 2023.

 Since the start of the war in Sudan on 15 April 2023, and its spread to El Geneina, thousands of people fled to Ardamata, before the war spread to it too, and some of the newly displaced people were forced to flee again in fear of renewed clashes.

The 15th Infantry Division was under siege at the beginning of November 2023, and Radio Dabanga claimed that a field commander in RSF stated that they gave the Armed Forces six hours to surrender and evacuate the Division before being attacked. 

After the end of that period, Radio Dabanga reported strikes and clashes in Ardamata, which was followed on 4 November with a statement from RSF that it took control of the 15th Infantry Division. Second Commander of RSF, Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, was also present in the city.

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A screenshot from a video of RSF that shows the Second Commander of RSF, Lieutenant General Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, in front of the gate of the 15th Infantry Division, captured by the Sudanese Archive on 11 January 2024.

After RSF took control of the 15th Infantry Division, General Abdul Rahman Jumma Barak Allah, RSF West Darfur Sector Commander, who was subject to US sanctions as a result of committing serious violations, was appointed as division commander and head of West Darfur Security Committee. He was also called the 15th Infantry Division commander on RSF official accounts in a video that was published on 30 November 30 2023, however the RSF official account on the social media platform X and other accounts referred to him in posts as "Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of El Geneina".

What Happened and When

 The available information suggests that between 07:30 and 14:00, local time, on 4 November 2023, several people, who are alleged to be Sudanese Armed Forces affiliates or allies (mobilized), in addition to residents of Ardamata, were detained by RSF, with some social media pages claiming that part of the detainees, who are allegedly of the Masalit tribe, were killed and buried in mass graves.

Videos and reports show detainees in multiple locations in Ardamata suffering from whipping, hitting, and kicking, in addition to humiliation with insults and incitement to murder.

First Reports

The first reports of RSF taking control of the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata started at 08:13 local time on 4 November 2023 on X (formerly known as Twitter), The Sudanese archive used TweetedAT tool to calculate the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for the tweet then convert it to the local time of Sudan.

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Screenshot from the TweetedAT tool, taken by the Sudanese Archive on May 6, 2024.

following that, and at 09:01 Local time, a tweet with a video X, showing a RSF soldier in front of the sign for the 15th Infantry Division 57th Brigade Staff Headquarters. After half an hour, another video was published on X showing an RSF soldier inside the Division headquarters.

General Abdul Rahman Jumma Barak Allah, who is introduced on a video that was published on the official account of RSF on X, as the RSF West Darfur Sector Commander, was shown in front of the 15th Infantry Division when it was taken under RSF control on the 4th of November 2023.

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A screenshot from a video of Abdul Rahman Jumma Barak Allah in front of the 15th Infantry Division after it was announced to have been taken under RSF control. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 1 December 2023.

In addition to the reports published on social media, and to add another layer of verification, the Sudanese Archive analyzed a video that shows RSF soldiers celebrating taking control of the 15th Infantry Division, using the Sun Calc tool, which shows that the shade of the solder in the video matches the sun’s position between 06:30 and 07:30 am  local time.

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Above is a screenshot from a video, below is a screenshot from Google Earth coordinates 13.4731779,22.4759982  with annotations added by Sudanese Archive matching the depicted landmarks. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 1 January 2024.

 

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Above is a screenshot from a video that shows RSF soldiers in front of the 15th Infantry Division on 4 November 2023, bottom right is a screenshot from SunCalc website that shows the sun position at 07:30 local time on 4 November 2023, bottom left is a screenshot from SunCalc website that shows the sun’s position at 06:30 local time on 4 November 2023. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 1 December 2023.

 

Many reports followed about RSF control of the 15th Infantry Division. On X,  video show the first moments of RSF control of the Division, including soldiers inside the Brigade office inside the Division. Accounts on X also published the news of RSF taking control of the Division, including the official account for RSF on X, which published a statement at 15:00 announcing its control of the Division.

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 A screenshot from the RSF statement announcing the control of the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 3 January 2024.

At 12:15, 4th of November 2023, a Facebook account published a video of detainees—including children—the majority of them were wearing civilian clothes and surrounded by RSF soldiers.

At 12:27, 4 November 2023, news circulated on social media of civilians detained by RSF in Ardamata, as a Facebook account posted a video of groups of detainees being forced to run in the area.

Two and a half hours after posting it’s first video, the same account posted a video showing a large number of detainees split into groups inside the premises of the 15th Infantry Division.

At least ten other accounts on Facebook, X, and other platforms posted videos of detainees, most of them wearing civilian clothes, including children.

After six days, a journalist posted a video of him meeting a group of children detained at the premises of the Sudanese Chadian Joint Forces in El Geneina, claiming that they were recruited by the Sudanese Armed Forces.

Determining the Locations of Detainees

 By examining the videos of the detainees, we identified seven locations where detainees were held inside and around the 15th Infantry Division premises and on the road to Ardamata and Ardamata Bridge.

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A screenshot from Google Earth with pins added by Sudanese Archive to indicate the locations of detainees. Captured by Sudanese Archive on 17 January 2024.

Location 1

13.473056, 22.475833

Videos that were posted on social media, including a video that was posted by an RSF account on X, show the RSF in control of the 15th Infantry Division on 4 November 2023.

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On the right: Two screenshots of a YouTube video of a celebration at the 15th Infantry Division on 16 July  2021. On the left, is a screenshot from a video that shows the RSF in control of the 15th Infantry Division, matched with a Google Earth screenshot. The text visible on the screenshots are from the source, and the annotations were added by Sudanese Archive on the pictures captured by Sudanese Archive on 16 November 2023.
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Bottom right: A screenshot from a video that shows RSF control over the 15th Infantry Division. Bottom left: A screenshot from a video of a celebration at the 15th Infantry Division on 16 July 2021, matched with a Google Earth screenshot with annotations added by Sudanese Archive on the pictures captured by Sudanese Archive on 16 November 2023.

In addition to the 15th Infantry Division, a video that was published on the same day, shows the RSF control of the 57th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, which is a sub-unit of the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata.

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A screenshot from a video that shows the RSF control of the 57th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, which is a sub-unit of the 15th Infantry Division. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 16 November 2023.

A  video that was published on 5 November tracks the locations that the RSF took control of, according to the person who recorded the video, including entering the 15th Infantry Division and showing the 57th Infantry Brigade inside the Division area.

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Screenshots from a video that shows the control of the 15th Infantry Division, showing the 57th Infantry Brigade, matched with satellite imagery from Google Earth. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 22 November 2023.
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A satellite image, with annotations in red added by Sudanese Archive, with the track of RSF inside and outside the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata.

 

An account on Facebook posted news with a video, claiming that it's from the 15th Infantry Division in El Geneina. The video shows RSF soldiers in a room with several detainees wearing civilian clothing, introducing themselves and their affiliation to the Medical Corps, the 57th Infantry Brigade, and the Artillery and Warehouse Corps of the 15th Infantry Division. Others in the video introduce themselves as civilians who were in the area. 

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A screenshot from a video inside the 15th Infantry Division showing RSF soldiers. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 16 November 2023.

 

The shots in the video do not show landmarks to verify the location of the video, but one of the soldiers mentioned, while speaking to detainees, that they were inside the 15th Infantry Division. Searching the names detainees mentioned by detainees on social media does not reveal any further information on their identities.

Location 2

We could not precisely determine the location, but we managed to estimate the detainees' gathering location to be at the Sudanese Chadian Joint Forces Center at the coordinates:13.435833, 22.409722

Another video shows a group of detainees, including children, that the speaker in the video claims are affiliates of the Sudanese Armed Forces. The voice in the video, stating the date as 4 November 2023, names "Colonel Waleed", head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, as the person responsible for gathering the detainees, claiming that RSF detained about 700 people at the premises.

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Screenshots from a video showing detainees inside the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 22 November  2023.

 

Matching of windows and walls colors and shapes (light green color) in the and their narration,  two videos showing detainees, indicate the probability that the detainees were in the premises of the 15th Infantry Division and that they were detained after the RSF entered the area.

Another video posted on X , shows a journalist meeting with child detainees relocated to the Sudanese Chadian Joint Forces Center in El Geneina. In his report, he claims that the children were recruited by the Sudanese Armed Forces. Some children appear in the video, mentioning their ages were between 14 and 17. 

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Above is a screenshot from the journalist’s video, below is a satellite image captured by the Sudanese Archive on 23 November 2023.
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Above is a screenshot from the journalist’s video, and below is the logo of the Sudanese Chadian Joint Forces. Captured by Sudanese Archive on 23 November 2023.

Location 3

Two videos show two groups of detainees that are potentially at the coordinates 13.475476, 22.473370   inside the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata, in an open yard. The Sudanese Archive is unable to fully verify the location by matching landmarks with satellite images. Soldiers in the video mention their affiliation to RSF, stating that they detained persons who are allegedly affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces.

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Two screenshots from a video, showing two groups of detainees inside the 15th Infantry Division. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 23 November 2023.

 In the two videos, the detainees appear with bare feet, some of them are wearing military uniforms, but most of them are wearing civilian clothes, and some appear to be injured. Two detainees are shown walking with the help of other detainees, while another detainee appears laying on the ground putting his hands on his head.

Location 4

Because of the lack of unique landmarks around gathering point 4 Sudanese Archive was unable to determine its exact location. However, the shape of the yards and the trees around the detainees, in addition to the video’s narration  suggests that the gathering location of the detainees, who were called “mobilized persons” by the speaker on the video, is likely to be inside the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata, and that they are detained by RSF.

Location 5

13.486667, 22.530000

At 13:09 on 4 November, an account on Facebook posted a video of what it claims are detainees in Ardamata, most of whom are shown wearing civilian clothes, while some appear in military uniform.

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Above are screenshots from a video of a group of detainees at Location 5, below is a photo of soldiers of the Sudanese Armed Forces in Ardamata in El Geneina. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 28 November 2023.

The clothes worn by two of the detainees match photos of the uniform worn by the Sudanese Armed Forces at the 15th Infantry Division—which are taken from the Facebook page of the 15th Infantry Division in El Geneina—in terms of color, patterns, and emblems including the map of Sudan, and the shape of the pocket. It appears this uniform was adopted mid-August 2016

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Above are screenshots from a video of a group of detainees at Location 5, bottom left is a picture of soldiers of the Sudanese Armed Forces at the 15th Infantry Division in El Geneina, bottom right is a picture of soldiers of the Sudanese Armed Forces at the 15th Infantry Division in El Geneina. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 29 November 2023.
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A picture of the official uniform of the Sudanese Armed Forces adopted in mid-August 2016. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 29 November 2023.

The beginning of the video shows detainees walking and then running towards Al Shaheed Sebera Airport (El Geneina Airport), the main air traffic control tower appears in some shots.

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Top right is a satellite image from Google Earth showing Al Shaheed Sebera Airport, bottom right is a screenshot from a video that was published on the Facebook page of “Minbar Darfur Al Hur” showing the air traffic control tower, left is a screenshot from a video showing a group of detainees in Ardamata. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 29 November 2023.

Tracking the movement of the detainees who are surrounded by soldiers and military vehicles, it is likely they were heading towards Al Shaheed Sebera Airport.

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 Left and right are screenshots numbered in the order they appear in the video, which shows a group of detainees in Ardamata, in the center is a picture from Google Earth, the text in the screenshots is from the source, and the annotations are added by Sudanese Archive and captured on 29 November 2023.

 

There are four people among the detainees, two of them have blood stains and are helped by other detainees to stand up and continue walking, while another two claim—in a conversation with the person recording the video—that they are injured.

Location 6

13.474722, 22.485556

Ardamata Bridge appears in two videos that were posted on 7 and 14 November 2023, as a detainee gathering point. Most detainees are shown in civilian clothing, with at least four children among them. The  two videos show different people in the same location, which suggests that the western side of the bridge was a gathering point for all detainees before relocating them.

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Top right are screenshots of the video showing the group of detainees posted on 7 November, top left are screenshots from a video that was posted on 29 November by a journalist in the area, below are satellite images from Google Earth, the annotations were added and media captured by the Sudanese Archive on 30 November 2023.

The landmarks in the two videos posted on 7 and 14 November match the area of the western end of Ardamata Bridge.

The video posted on 14 November shows the detainees being beaten with a "soft baton” by persons wearing RSF uniforms.

Location 7

13.471667, 22.490278

On 5 November 2023, a page on Facebook posted a video showing people in civilian clothing, outside military premises, who are reported to be civilians detained by RSF on 4 November 2023.

In the video, the person recording the video says the insults "sons of dogs" to the detainees and says they should die—"you all must die"—and asks them about the whereabouts of the weapons—"Where are the rifles"—before a person in RSF uniform comes and asks the video taker not to kill them "on God and his Prophet, no one kills anybody."

The video shows a group of people being gathered near a house, and some of them being whipped and hit with bayonets.

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A screenshot from a video shows a person in civilian clothes being whipped. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 30 November 2023.

The video  shows 51 people gathered in the area. In the video, they are asked to sit while surrounded by several soldiers wearing RSF uniforms and others wearing civilian clothes carrying rifles and whips.

Seconds after being beaten in the video, the detainees are asked to stand up and run, and are followed by soldiers. A soldier is shown hitting the ground with a whip in his left hand to force them to run, while another soldier takes a picture of the detainees as they run.

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A screenshot from a video shows a soldier waving a whip in his hand to force detainees to run. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video shows a soldier taking pictures of the detainees while they are being forced to run. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.

At minute 01:15 of the video, a soldier appears pointing his rifle toward the detainees, and two gunshots are heard in the video. The video does not show whether the shots hit the detainees or not. 

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A screenshot from a video shows a soldier firing in the direction of the detainees while they run. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.

Sudanese Archive verified the location starting with lead coordinates published on the Sudan War Monitor website. This geolocation was independently confirmed by matching landmarks with satellite images from Google Earth as follows:

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On the right are three screenshots from the video,  and the left is a screenshot from Google Earth. The annotations were added to the Sudanese Archive and the media was captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.
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Above are two screenshots from the video, and below is a screenshot of the terrain level from Google Earth. The annotations were added to the Sudanese Archive and the media was captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.
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Above are two screenshots from the video, and below is a screenshot from Google Earth. The annotations were added to the Sudanese Archive and the media was captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.

To analyze the moment of firing the shots by one of the soldiers on the video, the Sudanese Archive determined the soldier's standing position at the time the shots were fired.

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Above is a screenshot from the video , below is a screenshot from Google Earth. The annotations were added to the Sudanese Archive and the media was captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.

The distance measurement on Google Earth shows that the detainees were about 42 meters away from the soldier firing his gun.

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Above is a screenshot from the video, below is a screenshot from Google Earth. The annotations were added to the Sudanese Archive and the media was captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.
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 Distance measurement between the soldier who fired the shots and the location of the detainees on a screenshot from Google Earth. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on January 2, 2024.  

The Ginifab protractor app shows the angle between the soldier and the detainees from one side and the direction of his rifle from the other side, which is measured at about 15 degrees. The measured distance between them, about 42 meters, suggests  the shots were likely not fired directly at the detainees and shot to scare the detainees and to force them to run.

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Angle measurement using the ginifab app on two screenshots from the video, taken by the Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2024.

Detention and Abuse of Children

A report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan on 7 December 2023 spoke of grave violations against children detained by the Rapid Support Forces in Ardamata.

The report stated that 80 children were identified among the detainees according to results of the monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children, and that the actual number of detained children may be higher than that, as there are multiple detention facilities inside El Geneina. The reports indicate that the condition of the detainees is miserable and the more than 700 people detained, including children, by the Rapid Support Forces have not been released.

The presence of eight children were found in the photos and videos that showed a gathering of detainees in Ardamata, three in Site 4 and two in Site 6, in addition to three children (including the child who is the focus of the study) in Site 2.

The child appears in a video identified by the Sudanese Archive wearing an orange shirt and jeans in Site 2, along with two other children, being talked to by an apparent member of the Rapid Support Forces who are in the 15th Infantry Division, accusing the head of the Intelligence Division in the division of recruiting the children.

Based on four videos, the investigation team drew the child’s documented journey, starting with Site No. 2, where he was spoken to, then Site No. 3, where he was placed with another child in the middle of a gathering of detainees. Then he was transferred with the detainees to Site No. 5 outside the 15th Infantry Division and on the road leading to the Martyr Sebera airport where he is shown sitting barefoot next to two people whose clothes are covered in blood and show signs of injuries.

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On the right and left are 6 screenshots numbered according to their appearance in the video showing a gathering of prisoners in Ardmata. In the middle is an image from Google Earth. The phrases in the screenshots are from the source. The identifiers were placed by the Sudanese Archive on the images it took on 29 November 2023.

 

The latest videos obtained by the investigation team show the same child running barefoot with other detainees towards the airport, on dirt ground full of thorns.

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The child’s journey was determined by the Sudanese Archive in the four videos showing a journey as displayed via a Google Earth image captured by Sudanese Archive on 2 January 2023.

 

The Sudanese Archive was unable to determine the fate of the child, who is not present among the 39 children shown in a video taken at the headquarters of the Sudanese-Chadian Joint Forces. The child was also not present among the children who were released back to their families in a hand over coordinated by the Red Cross. A video shows the handover of an estimated 64 minors who were reportedly detained by the Rapid Support Forces during the confrontations with the armed groups in Ardamata.

Context of Allegations of Detention, Killing, Looting, Torture, and Sexual Violence

A post on X,  accuses the RSF of entering the homes of unarmed civilians and killing them, looting their properties, amid a media blackout and a deliberate cut of telecommunication services.

 A  report issued by Human Rights Watch on 26 November 2023 confirmed that RSF had killed hundreds of civilians and committed acts of looting, assault, and unlawful detention against tens of Masalit tribe in Ardamata in Western Darfur, in the beginning of November 2023.

UNHCR estimated 800 people were killed in Ardamata during the attacks.

Roots Organization for Human Rights and Violation Monitoring estimated about 1300 people were killed and about 500 detained in Ardamata.

Human Rights Watch’s report described, with statements from interviewed witnesses , about killings that happened after RSF entered and gained control of the 15th Infantry Division in Ardamata. Witnesses described the killing of civilians from the Masalit tribe. They also spoke of incidents of detention, looting, and mistreatment.

The Sudanese Archive was unable to find and verify videos showing the killings that took place in Ardamata. Although, an unverified frequently shared post with photos and videos claims to show people killed in the incident including people in a pit shoveling dirt on others alive and inside the same pit. The video does not show the faces of the people who are talking to them, at their request. It also does not show any landmarks to determine the location precisely, but Radio Dabanga included in a report a statement from a human rights activist and lawyer Jamal Abdallah Khamees, who claimed that the video being shared is from “El Geneina genocide that was committed on June 15, not the Ardamata events.” Khamees also claims the video shows the “Al Hafeer” area west of El Geneina.

Additionally, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) citing “trusted sources on the ground”, United Nations, Darfur Bar Association, activists, and news websites, published news about the killing and detention of hundreds of Ardamata residents, in addition to the looting their properties, between 4-6 November 2023.

Eyewitnesses mentioned on social media that the killings took place on streets and inside houses after raids by RSF, as well as during escape attempts to Chad, and that they occurred specifically against the Masalit people in Ardamata. Eyewitnesses on social media also claim the majority of those who have been killed or detained were civilians, whose families RSF asked for ransom. The RSF also reportedly threatened the families with recruiting their sons or killing them.

In addition to killing and detaining, CNN published a report on women in Ardamata who spoke of  RSF threatening the rape and selling of women and men, while others spoke of rape which had occurred.

None of the videos or photos collected and verified by the Sudanese Archive show these killings, but circulating videos that were recorded by the RSF soldiers themselves showed the beating and insulting of detainees in various locations in Ardamata.

Documentation of Physical Abuse

In two videos in Locations 6 and 7, detainees are shown being whipped, kicked, and stabbed with bayonets.

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Screenshots from a video of a detainee in Location 7 being whipped. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 4 January 2024.
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Screenshots from a video of a detainee in Location 7 being stabbed with a bayonet. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 4 January 2024.
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Screenshots from a video in Location 7 of one RSF soldier carrying a stick. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 4 January 2024.

Documentation of Verbal Abuse

Some videos that were recorded by RSF soldiers show themselves verbally insulting detainees with profane words such as “sons of dogs,” “disgusting things,” “impure,” “animals,” and “criminals.” 

The soldiers also forced the detainees to run on their bare feet while being relocated, in addition to being shouted at and threatened with phrases such as "You all must die,” “you deserve death,” and “you sons of dogs."

Statements of Eyewitnesses

In a video report published by CNN Arabic that was titled “Rape of women, killing and torture, survivors speak to CNN about RSF atrocities in Darfur”, one survivor from Ardamata claims that 40 men from her family were killed by RSF and that she was raped multiple times. She states she saw nine or ten naked girls in a building she was taken to, in addition to her being hit and threatened with being sold as a slave.” 

A child named Mahdi (16 years old), mentioned in the video that he was kidnapped along with his brother who was killed by RSF. Mahdi states that he was sold for money, called a "slave," and was forced to work on a farm. 

In another video report titled "What Happened in Ardamata" published by Ayin Network, Adam Bakhit (a Sudanese Armed Forces Soldier) spoke about RSF killing people in Ardamata, stating: "They said the rest of the people should be killed. Tie them up and line them up in the desert." 

Bakhit added that he was hit with sticks on his head and whipped by RSF soldiers who kept him for two days without food and water. 

In the same video, Abdelnabi Ismail (a refugee in Adre camp), describes: “RSF militia attacked us and fired at the camp. We moved from Ardamata around 08:00 and we were ambushed.” Habiba Adam Musa, another refugee, says in the video that she saw corpses during her escape from Ardamata. 

Two female refugees in Chad in another video —published by the Masalit Tribe History page on Facebook—say the RSF killed and displaced residents of Ardamata, looting and burning down their properties. 

In another video posted on X, a woman states RSF “killed, tortured, and whipped civilian persons in Ardamata, including women, children, and elderly people.” A woman in another video says the RSF killed her father and brother, confirming that they were civilians. She mentions other people who were killed in front of their houses and that RSF took young men in Ardamata as hostages, telling their families that their sons will either end up fighting with RSF or killed if families did not pay their ransom.

Impacts on Civilians

Displacement

The International Organization of Migration's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)  in  Sudan documented the displacement of the majority of Ardamata residents—including IDPs in Ardamata and Dorti camps displaced to villages neighboring El Geneina and near the Chadian borders—because of the fighting that broke between the Sudanese Armed Forces and RSF on the 3 and 4 November 2023.

 

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A screenshot from a report from the International  Organization for Migration showing the displacement map from West Darfur State between 15 April 2023 and 22 November 2023. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 11 January 2024.

The estimates from the International Organization for Migration report 120,640 people displaced  between 25 October 2023 to 28 November 2023.

A graph in the same report shows the displacement timeline in western Darfur since the start of the conflict in Sudan until 22 November 2023.

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A screenshot from a report from the International Organization for Migration showing the number of people who fled from West Darfur State during the period between 15 April 2023 and 22 November 2023. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 11 January 2024.

Victims

International and local human rights organizations, in addition to UNHCR, estimate that 800 to 2000 to 800 people were killed and 500 to 750  were detained—including children—in Ardamata in the attacks in the beginning of November 2023.

Sudanese Archive was unable to find any official statement from local or international human rights organizations that included the names of victims and missing people in Ardamata. However, the information available online suggests the names of 21 people who were killed in Ardamata, whose names were verified, including soldiers, in addition to 11 missing people. 

Apparent Perpetrator Group

Armed individuals who appear in the videos showing detainees in the locations identified by the Sudanese Archive and the videos showing the takeover of the 15th Infantry Division stated that they were RSF. Other videos showed known RSF leaders in these locations, including Abdelrahim Dagalo and Abdul Rahman Jumma Barak Allah.

The Sudanese Archive was unable to determine the identities of the people who appeared in the videos showing the abuse of detainees, but their uniforms match that of RSF, including: American camouflage patterns (three-color desert camouflage), and another three-color camouflage desert uniform with a khaki-colored traditional curved sword, in addition to multiple types of summer short sleeve jackets.

The Sudanese Archive matched the uniforms documented at the locations with videos and pictures of RSF as follows:

44.jpg
Top right is a screenshot from a video in Location 3, top center is a screenshot from a video in Location 6, top left is a screenshot from a video in Location 7, bottom is a screenshot from a video of the RSF Spokesperson, show the Sudanese flag on one shoulder and the RSF logo on the other shoulder, in addition to the three-color desert camouflage uniform. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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Top right is a picture of an RSF soldier, top left is a screenshot from a  video in Location 1, and below is a picture from the camopedia website showing a three-color desert camouflage uniform with a khaki-colored curved traditional sword wore by the security forces. but elements of the Rapid Support Forces appeared in pictures and videos wearing the same uniform. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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Top right is a screenshot from a video of an RSF soldier, top left is a screenshot from a video in Location 3, and below is a picture of an RSF soldier. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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On the right is a screenshot from a video of an RSF soldier, and on the left is a screenshot from a video in Location 7, both showi ng a military uniform with a three-color desert camouflage (of different types). Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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On the right is a screenshot from a video of an RSF captain, and on the left is a screenshot from a video in Location 7, both showing a military uniform with a three-color desert camouflage (of different types). Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024. 

In addition to the patterns that were determined, the videos show other military uniforms that Sudanese Archive was unable to identify.  A video in Location 7 shows an individual wearing a uniform with dark green camouflage, the poor quality of the video makes it difficult to identify the uniform. 

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A screenshot from a video in location 7. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.

In another video in Location 7, the video taker is shown wearing a military uniform with dark camouflage (green - brown - beige - black) that is not found in other videos of the RSF.

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A screenshot from a video in Location 7. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on January 10, 2024.

The Sudanese Archive also identified other people who appear in the videos of the detainees together with the soldiers wearing RSF uniforms. These other people are wearing civilian clothes (long Jalabiya, short Jalabiya, turbans, and civilian clothes), and some are shown carrying weapons, which supports allegations that some civilians took part with RSF in the attack.

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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 3. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 3. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 5. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 7. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 6. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 6. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 6. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.
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 A screenshot from a video that shows persons in civilian clothes with RSF in Location 1. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.

Some news websites, humanitarian and human rights organizations, and activists, accused, on social media platforms, RSF and their allies of attacking the 15th Infantry Division and detaining and killing people. 

RSF's official account on X stated on 13 November 2023, that they deny their involvement in the killing of people in El Geneina, and it accused Sudanese Armed Forces and Military Intelligence of killing and displacing people to criminalize RSF. 

The statement mentioned that the RSF Commander ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident and present its findings to the public. The statement also reiterated that there will be no protection for any person who is proven to have committed any violations against innocent civilians. 

The statement also added that RSF is open to receiving any inquiries about any incident and that they will provide the required information. A report issued by Human Rights Watch confirmed that they haven’t received any answers to the questions and findings that they communicated with RSF.

International and Local Reactions

The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) blamed RSF for what they said is serious human rights violations in Ardamata neighborhood in El Geneina in western Darfur. They said that the reports they received from the area confirmed the killing and injuring of civilians in addition to detention of others who are accused of working with the Sudanese Armed Forces. UNITAMS called all parties to fulfill their obligations under the International human rights law and international humanitarian law to protect civilians during hostilities.

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A screenshot from UNITAMS Facebook post. Captured by the Sudanese Archive on 10 January 2024.

  

The United Nations called what happened in Ardamata “a collective aggression on Masalit civilians with ethnic motives.” The Organization's Spokesperson, Jeremy Laurence, mentioned that initial information, reports, and statements from witnesses told of killings, executions, torture, and looting against civilians in Ardamata, Dorti IDP camps, and the Al Kobri neighborhood. Laurence also mentioned the detention of hundreds of men whose fate and place of detention is still unknown, placing blame on RSF and stating that these violations may constitute crimes in accordance with international laws. 

A statement from the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, called what happened in Ardamata “atrocities” that are part of an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by RSF and their allied militias. 

The US Embassy in Khartoum on X called what happened in Ardamata "serious human rights violations" including "ethnic killing and targeting of the Masalit community leaders and members and arbitrary detention of civilians", blaming RSF for the attacks. 

The president of the New Justice and Equality Movement, Mansour Arbab, Sultan of Dar Masalit, Saad Abdelrahman Bahar Eldin, Sudanese Journalists Union, in addition to Sudanese local organizations and institutions, condemned the attack on Ardamata and the subsequent violations, blaming RSF and their affiliate militias of killing, detaining, and torturing civilians.

Conclusion

Our analysis of various open-source documents confirms reports that  areas of the Ardamata neighborhood in western Darfur were attacked by RSF between 4-6 November 2023. The attacks resulted in the RAF's detention of residents, including children, at seven locations. Documentation shows detainees were beaten, forced to march, and faced verbal abuse. The whereabouts of documented detainees following these events are unknown.

The information and findings presented here are derived exclusively from digital, online, open source information and analytical techniques. However, footage of detained individuals – especially perpetrator-filmed footage and footage depicting children – is extremely sensitive, irrespective of whether it was publicly available on the internet. The Sudanese Archive does not directly reproduce or provide access to this footage in this public investigation. Stills from this footage that are included in this report were altered to remove detained individuals.

To request access to redacted sources and analysis, send an email to requests@sudanesearchive.org.

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