Residents of the eastern part of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan have called on the state government to disarm the Popular Defence Forces deployed in the region.
Nuba activists pointed out to Radio Dabanga that the eastern localities of South Kordofan are marked by an absence of law enforcement authorities.
The commercial and agricultural activities in the region are threatened by the proliferation of weapons, and the frequent occurrence of killings and robberies on the roads.
They appealed to the South Kordofan governor to dissolve the militias in the state, and to disarm the militiamen in the state.
In November last year, the Sudanese human rights watchdog HUDO reported that elements of the Popular Defence Forces militia were wreaking havoc in Habila in South Kordofan while police and army troops remained silent. A month later, a farmer was shot dead in Rashad locality because he refused to hand his harvest to the militiamen.
The Popular Defence Forces were established as an Islamist militia after Omar Al Bashir’s military coup in 1989.
Under international law, it is considered part of Sudan's military because it was created by statute. However, the militia was defined by the regime of Al Bashir as a semi-military force of Sudanese citizens. Its members receive training, uniforms, guns, ammunition, and food, but no salaries.
The Popular Defence Forces also operated as a reserve force for the Sudan Armed Forces. The militiamen were mainly mobilised from Darfur, to fight against rebels in present South Sudan. The militia is still operational, in Darfur, and, mainly, in South Kordofan. It also plays a major role in the distribution of weapons to, and military training for, tribal militias.
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