SUDAN: Bol Manyiel, "I can still buy more guns with my remaining cattle"
JUBA, 18 May 2010 (IRIN) - After raiders struck Tonj area of Southern Sudan's Warrap state, stealing four of Bol Meen Manyiel's 18 cattle, he and a relative pursued the raiders to neighbouring Cueibet county in Lakes State. They were arrested on 30 April for carrying firearms even after the county chief inspector had said the stolen cattle were found and the thief identified. Manyiel spoke to IRIN on 2 May in Cueibet, while in police custody:
"We came to Cueibet because our cattle were taken at night. The owner of stolen cattle will always feel anger in his heart, and the only thing that comes to mind is to get back the stolen cattle.
"We found the cattle and we came to realize that the thief was one of our relatives. We were shocked because we had just spent a night at this relative's place, but he failed to tell us that he was the one who had taken our cattle. Because he was our relative, we did not fight.
"We are not the troublemakers. We just came at night following our stolen cattle. They have accused us of following the cattle with our guns. But what would they expect us to do? Follow the cows with our empty hands?
"The reason we carried the guns is that if you run empty-handed, then someone comes to steal from you at night. It did not occur to me to follow these raiders without my gun. What I was after was to identify my cows and tell the people, 'This is my cow'. And if they refused to give it back, I was going to leave it to the government to take action. I have refused to involve myself in provoking violence.
"Two cows were taken by the government as punishment for carrying the gun and the other two cows were taken as payment to the dispute mediators. So is this a robbery, or legal action being taken against me?
"I wonder why the government took my gun, together with two of my cows. Their actions have made me bitter. Even if they took these two guns and these two cows, I still have the capability to buy more guns with the remaining cattle that I have.
"Why are guns being bought all over the world? If you go out there you will find the people of Tonj with their guns. Why not us?
"We would hand over our guns if we could because the gun is finishing the whole world for no reason. Just recently, the soldiers came and did a bit of disarmament following a big cattle raid. They took a lot of guns. Then the people of Tonj came and raided us after the disarmament.
"Disarmament is good, it will help. If they come now and take the guns from the other section, it will be okay. The reason that the thieves come and take our cattle is because we were disarmed and they were not.
"What kind of life is it when some communities are disarmed and others are not disarmed and yet we talk of peace and harmony?"