photo by jon nicholson

feature story - Satellite Imagery Confirms Burning and Looting of Village Shown in Cell Phone Video Shot by Sudan’s Notorious ‘Abu Tira’ Police Force

may 15th, 2013


WASHINGTON -- The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) is releasing a multimedia package which presents irrefutable evidence that Sudan’s Central Reserve Police, also known as “Abu Tira,” participated in, and filmed, the systematic burning and looting of the Nuba Mountains village of Gardud al Badry in the war-torn region of South Kordofan, Sudan. SSP presents evidence of their culpability in a report, including before-and-after satellite imagery, a newly discovered cell phone video, and a corresponding video with eyewitness testimony.

The SSP video, “Village Burning and Torture in the Nuba Mountains: Naim's Story,” co-produced with Sudanese journalist organization Nuba Reports, includes footage from the cell phone video shot by Abu Tira, showing a joint unit of Sudanese army, militia, and police forces as they raze the village and carry out other crimes against humanity, including razing and looting. The video includes a follow-up interview with a survivor, an 18-year-old Nuban high school student named Naim, who was detained and tortured for 10 days by Sudanese forces, and is corroborated by DigitalGlobe satellite imagery showing evidence of the destruction.

Frame-by-frame analysis of the uniforms worn by the various forces in the cell phone video shows that at least four of the attackers were from Abu Tira and that two Abu Tira officers shot the cell phone video. SSP’s report offers the first documented visual evidence of Abu Tira participating in, and videotaping, the systematic razing and looting of a village. SSP has previously documented that this notoriously brutal police force led house-to-house mass killings of Nuban people believed to support the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in Kadugli, South Kordofan, on June 6-8, 2011.

Not On Our Watch board member John Prendergast said:

“We are seeing a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses. Capturing the burning, razing, and looting of Gardud al Badry on video and in satellite imagery adds to mounting, and undeniable, visual evidence of a pattern of indiscriminate attacks and destruction by the government of Sudan against its own people. 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.”

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery analyzed by SSP corroborates the other visual evidence and eyewitness reports that a joint unit of Abu Tira, Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, and Popular Defense Forces, or PDF militia, razed and looted the Nuba Mountains village on the morning of May 18, and returned to bombard it with artillery on July 29.

After the initial discovery of the cell phone video, two Sudanese journalists traveled to Gardud al Badry -- a village so remote that it does not appear on maps -- to collect visual evidence and eyewitness reports. They arrived on August 1, just three days after SAF had returned for a second wave of attacks and indiscriminately bombarded the village with artillery.

George Clooney and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast launched SSP in December 2010, and most recently traveled to the Nuba Mountains with Nuba Reports CEO Ryan Boyette in March 2012.

Nuba Reports CEO Ryan Boyette said:

“Nuba Reports Sudanese journalists rode motorcycles for a day, then walked four more days on dangerous roads near the frontlines to report on events that took place in the cell phone video and the razing of Gardud El Badry village. They found Naim, the captive student roughed up by Sudan's forces on the cell phone video. He recounts his ten days of detention and torture. The combination of field research by Nuba Reports journalists, paired with analysis from the Satellite Sentinel Project, confirms and contextualizes the horrific events in Gardud Al Badry, filmed by Sudan’s brutal Abu Tira police force. ”

The report, “Cameras on the Battlefield: Multimedia Confirmation of the Razing of Gardud al Badry, South Kordofan, Sudan,” uses a multimedia array, including DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, the cell phone video, GPS-tagged photographs, and video interviews with survivors to confirm the intentional destruction of the village’s school compound and civilian residential structures by the razing on May 18, followed by bombardment on July 29, 2012.

In addition to the razing of residential structures, before and after satellite imagery shows the destruction of several classrooms in the village’s school compound. Villagers reported that the July 29 bombardment leveled the fence around the compound and blew the roofs off classrooms. Photos by Nuba Reports confirm this, and also show ashes on the ground and apparent shrapnel holes in chalkboards.

Read the Satellite Sentinel Project report, “Cameras on the Battlefield: Multimedia Confirmation of the Razing of Gardud al Badry, South Kordofan, Sudan.”

Watch the video, co-produced by SSP and Nuba Reports, "Village Burning and Torture in the Nuba Mountains: Naim's Story.”


About the Satellite Sentinel Project

The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP,, a partnership between the Enough Project and DigitalGlobe, conducts monitoring of the border between Sudan and South Sudan to assess the human security situation, identify potential threats to civilians, and detect, deter and document war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Enough Project provides field research, policy context, and communications strategy. DigitalGlobe provides imagery from its constellation of satellites and geospatial analysis from the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center. SSP is funded primarily by Not On Our Watch.

About Nuba Reports

Nuba Reports,, is a network of Sudanese reporters dedicated to covering the war along the Nuba Mountains. After fighting broke out in June 2011, the government of Sudan banned journalists from the region. Nuba Reports was founded in order to provide the international community and the people of Sudan with credible and compelling dispatches from the frontlines.

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