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Report Received From South Sudanese Monitor - 23/12/2013


23rd December 2013

South Sudan-Situation update

SUDO (UK) has received a number of reports of killings of civilians in different parts of South Sudan. A number of human rights defenders have been forced to try and find refuge within UN compounds or outside of the country. There is an urgent need for the international community to exert pressure on the different actors to end the violence, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to the large numbers who have been displaced.

One of the reports we received placed the current killings in the context of a failure to address the issue of impunity for previous human rights violations:


“It is no longer easy to report and update you about South Sudan, but let me just give you a few highlights The ghosts of last week of fighting and death in Juba are still hovering over the city, haunting everyone, giving nightmares. Juba is being deserted, some think it is because of Christmas, but the majority are fleeing Juba out of fear, and are heading to their home areas within the country or to the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Kenya. There are four daily flights to Khartoum and they are all fully booked, the same Khartoum we swore never to set foot in again after "liberation." Roads leading in various directions from the capital city are packed with motorists. People remain terrified, visions of last week's killings still too fresh, and people are walking like zombies, only to go and get their salaries before Christmas. I have never seen Africans looking more gloomy, we have lost that familiar visceral laughter and wide smile. These events must have really gotten to people. Greater Upper Nile is in flames. Bor town is still under forces loyal to Riek Machar, with the civil population scattered in random directions, looting and destruction the order of the day there.

Scores of SPLA soldiers were killed in Bentiu and surrounding areas, with more still being pursued through the swamps. For example, one soldier reported that he fought his way out of Bentiu to Pariang, starting out with 34 soldiers and only he and two others made it to Pariang, their feet entirely blistered and dehydrated. The rest were killed in gun fights along the way or chased down and executed right there and then, even as they raised their hands in surrender.

Fighting is raging in Malakal as I write. The governor, Kun Puoch, has been instructed by the rebels to surrender or he will be killed when they take full control of the town. One Dinka student from Warrap state called me in panic to report that he and the rest of Dinka students at the University of Upper Nile will surely be killed if Riek's forces take control of Malakal. People remain terrified.

The actions of both the rebels and the Government leaders has demonstrated the capacity of South Sudanese for hypocrisy and ethnic double standards. These ongoing clashes, the consequence of which are the country’s disunity, continued instability and lack of reconciliation, reveal ethnic double standards and hypocrisy among many South Sudanese.

For example, during the period between 1991 and 1998 vast numbers of Dinka people were killed on the orders of some of the leaders who revolted, including their topmost leader, Riek Machar Teny, on account that they were defending John Garang’s tight and undemocratic control of the SPLA/M and must die. Then the reconciliation and reunification of the SPLM in the wake of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), that ended the north-south war, giving the façade that this historical moment will be overlooked in the interest of future stability and Riek Machar Teny, the architect of those massacres, became the Vice President of South Sudan, in the hope that all could now look past that tragic history and focus on a brighter future. But that was not to be.

When the fighting broke out in Juba on December 15th, 2013, a mere two years into independence and relative stability, some of the Dinka soldiers who remembered 1991 unleashed their misconceptions of what this fighting was about and went on a rampage, killing scores of Nuer people, innocent and culprit alike. Likewise, when Riek Machar Teny and Taban Deng Gai joined up with Peter Yak Gadet in Jonglei state last week around December 19th, their first order of business was to avenge the recent events of Juba. Gadet started his revolt, in support of Riek Machar Teny, by executing his deputy at the Division 8 command, Major General Ajak, a group of Luo Nuer's White Army storming the UN camp to remove Dinka refugees for execution. That is what is happening now, until the Dinka find another opportunity and do likewise and the band plays on.

I am full of envy, though with applause, towards those African countries like South Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia, whose leaders have stood up against the tide of African ethnic double standard and said “enough is enough,” and that the cycle of violence must be severed. Hypocrisy and ethnic double standards now run wild in South Sudan and the fate of the nation rendered even more uncertain than it has already been over the past few years. only a few, if any, of South Sudan's leaders have the courage to cut the cycle of violence and counter violence.

No one is brave enough to claim the higher moral ground by saying to his people, "No, let's not avenge that incident and we will better people for it, let's not follow their example, they have killed our people but even these killers are our people, let's embrace them and end the cycle." That is the speech the people of South Sudan long for and which they will probably not get from the calibre of leadership we have so far seen. "Unquote.

SUDO(UK) is calling for all sides to put an end to the use of ethnic diversity and local conflicts to fuel violence and calling for reconciliation initiatives and the promotion of a state that respects diversity and human rights.

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