Title: International Community Must Bring Perpetrators of Massacres in South
Author: Majok Nikodemo Arou
Date: 01-25-2014, 07:42 PM
International Community Must Bring Perpetrators of Massacres in South Sudan to Books
By Majok Nikodemo Arou
What has began as an internal ruling party in South Sudan, Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) power wrangle, turned into a quick ugly bloody scene in a scale that surprised the observers. On the top, the power struggle doesn’t seem tribal in any way, but at the grass root level it is tribal.
In the past some involved in the killing of the civilians with impunity went way with their war crimes in the name of stability, peace and hypocrisy of the international community. The civilians killed in South Sudan during the civil from 1983 to 1991 and afterward double those killed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The bruises of the current conflict in South Sudan may last long if the international community focuses on the political solution alone. Bringing perpetrators of the recent events in Juba, Bor, Akobo, Malakal, Baleet, Bentiu and Pariang to books will only console the victims and prevent future revenge and conflicts.
Like many others, this author lost many immediate family members in the Bor massacre of 1991 and its aftermath. Other areas in Upper Nile suffered huge human losses too. Again, it was a rude awakening, when the carnage was repeated in Bor by the so called “White Army” a loose militia of Lou Nuer youth, led by a witch called Dak Kueth and fight for Dr. Riek Machar Teny as he declared. Those killed in Bor (2, 500 people) are fivefold compared to those killed in Juba. And still the names of those killed are unfolding including the relatives. The number may rise. It is unbelievable to kill the patients in the hospital and church just because someone contends for the leadership.
For the first time one breaks away from the neutrality to question one thing: has Machar a score to settle with people of Bor? The damage inflicted in Bor in terms of human losses and property in 1991 has been repeated in another ugly turn and much intensity. When a leader unleashes a loose militia on the civilians, he should be aware of dire consequences.
One is not unmindful of the civilians killed in Juba. It is not at all justified and will be investigated to bring perpetrators to books. The bitterness felt by the Nuers whom people got killed in Juba is genuine and understandable. But also we should look at the other side of the coin. Some Dinka people got killed too in Juba though number of Nuer people killed in Juba was higher compared to the Dinka people.
Yet it is unthinkable to condemn the carnage in one place and disregard it in another. Killing of the civilians is unacceptable and leaders involved across South Sudan should not and would not be allowed to escape justice.
In his recent article titled: “The Last chance to end violence in South Sudan is slipping away,” published by both sudantribune and South Sudan News Agency, Eric Reeves said, “… Riek had been planning to depose the President Salva Kiir by force for quite some time, and was ready to take action if his political alliances with the other group (those detained) did not bear fruit. Each of the two groups participated in the alliance without revealing what each had in mind, as they were both joined together by a common goal, the removal of President Kiir, but with varying approaches. They were bound to fail given multiple competing leadership aspirations, however.”
He added that “Machar was able not only to escape but to secure so rapidly extensive military support and commitments strongly suggests prior consultations. The rapidity with which division commanders in the SPLA decided to throw in their lots with Machar was surprising to many, especially given the difficulty of obtaining secure communications in many parts of South Sudan.”
Reeves underlined that the extremely rapid mobilisation of Peter Gadet, the raising of the Nuer "White Army" in short order, the slaughter of Dinka civilians in Akobo, Jonglei State (in which two unarmed UN peacekeepers were killed trying to protect these people): all suggest some sort of coordination or planning prior to December 15, 2013. There is, however, no evidence that is not inferential. But the consequences of such rapid coordination of a military opposition from within the ranks of the SPLA meant that we would be witness to the horribly destructive consequences of "symmetric warfare."
One shares the same conclusions with Eric Reeves. Observers may fall short of naming the show down in Juba as a coup detat, but should give a code name to the prior coordination exhibited by the mutineers!
Today I read the article penned by my friends in US; Luk Dak and Abushery Daniel. I shared with them their anger and criticism of the way Nuer civillians were killed in Juba. But regretfully they were one sided, focusing on the ethnic Nuer killed in Juba. As I stated above, I condemned with the strongest terms possible the killings of innocent Nuer people. But my friends should condemned the killings of ethnic Dinka too in other places.
“What we really need at this juncture is for all the Nuer people to move back to our homeland. We don’t need to be in Equatoria’s land, or the Dinka land for that matter. We have enough land and resources of our own. So let’s go back to Akobo, Bentiu, Fangak and Nasir, knowing that this nightmare will somehow come to an end,” wrote Luk and Abushery.
It’s the most painful quote I have ever read. What I know the Dinka and Nuer were not neighbours accidently. They are cousins with one great ancestor. It’s not actually a conflict between the two tribes, but it is the leadership crisis. After my arrival from Kampala, I wrote this email to my friends Luk and Abushery: “What is more painful is that the infighting among the SPLM will soon end with the re-division of the cake. But the grassroots who are fuel of the unnecessary bloodshed will be left licking their wounds in the pool of blood and hatred……”
The author is South Sudanese journalist based in Abu Dhabi and reachable at [email protected]