Insider’s View: Tribalism Fuelling S.Sudan Massacres

search geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Both the British colonial power and the successive Sudanese regimes in Khartoum had voiced the same concern where they rightly predicted that South Sudanese people would not afford to rule themselves peacefully if granted a state of their own.

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stomach geneva; font-size: small;”>The present situation proves before reasonable doubt.

As South Sudanese who grew up during the first Anya-Nya war and later participated intensively during the second war of struggle from January 1984, my experiences proved that something needs to be readjusted.

Let us not pretend that everything is alright within our setups, be it the government or in the opposition sides.

Our society in general, unfortunately, is very much decayed from top to bottom unless we rescue it through cooperation and understanding.

All the 64 tribes, which inhabited the Republic of South Sudan, are very peaceful and loving people but inherited only by wrong leaders who have been blindly followed by their subjects without questioning their integrities and commitments to their wellbeing.

Education and exposure to other world civilisations has nothing in our applied knowledge.

Some of our most learned South Sudanese leaders who are supposed to be the best exemplary behave as if they have never gone to school.

They always incite their tribal groups once they run short of ideas to convince their political opponents at national level.

The mass killings

The December 15, 2013 saga had nothing to do with either Nuer or Dinka for that matter.

It was squarely an SPLM internal matter that would have been resolved by its members from within.

The massacre and wanton killings perpetrated against over ten thousand Nuer civilians which was deliberately carried out by the so-called Presidential Guards and their colleagues from other organised forces from Dinka in Juba town for three days, was an act of a defeated leader at national level.

Among leaders who challenged President Salva Kiir Mayardit from SPLM Party including; Dr. Riek Machar, Mamma Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, Deng Alor Kuol, John Luk Jok, Kosti Manibe, Alfred Ladu Gore, Dr. Cirino Eteng, Madut Biar Yel, Pagan Amum, Oyai Deng Ajak, Chol Tong Mayay, Taban Deng Gai, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, Majak de’ Agot and Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth etc, only four are Nuers.

The higher figures from the group who opposed Kiir’s leadership were Dinka.

They had five and the rest were from different communities from Equatoria states.

The Nuer community for that matter was victim of a political conspiracy intentionally hatched by President Salva Kiir Mayardit to eliminate them from South Sudan’s politics.

The fabricated coup attempt, which was later, publicised by President Salva Kiir himself and his errand boys all over the world against his former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, was a ploy to distort and detract the attention of South Sudanese.

This would be followed by the awful massacres of the Nuer community systematically carried out by government supporters in Juba, Malakal, Bor, Leer and Bentiu.

With these kind of systematic killings against the Nuer, the White Army and defected SPLA soldiers from Nuer in Juba, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal fought back against the government loyalists until they bravely overran the towns of Bor, Bentiu and Malakal as well as most of the counties in the three states of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei respectively, and this was the beginning of the rebellion in the South Sudan.

Tribal feuds

President Salva Kiir had in the past been mastering the same tricks against different communities throughout the country where he fomented tribal feuds amongst the Dinka themselves, Nuer vs Murle, Murle vs SPLA, Nuer vs SPLA, Mundari vs Bari, Achol vs Madi, Acholi vs Bari, Dinka vs Fertit, Shilluk vs Dinka, SPLA vs SPLA etc.

Such feuds were more less land disputes or indiscriminate disarmaments where he always favoured one group against another.

It resulted in numerous rebellion movements.

With the current conflict, some selfish politicians who do not want their individual interests to be jeopardised have dragged in some communities.

For example, the Dinka Ngokof Balietin Upper Nile State were not at all part of this wrangling but they were rather dragged in by the State Governor of Upper Nile Simon Kun Puoch and his County Commissioner of Baliet Rev. James Tor Monybony.

Before the fighting took place in Malakal town on the 3rd week of December 2013, a group of state lawmakers, state ministers, other organised forces officers and senior state officials from the counties of Ulang and Nasir, disagreed with the state governor over the killings of Nuer civilians in Juba.

He claimed the Nuers in Juba had been killed by individual criminals.

After the group decided to travel to Nasir area without official approval from the state governor, their convoy of twelve cars was intercepted at Baliet Count by a force under Baliet County Commissioner on orders of the state governor Simon Kun Puoch.

The group were told to return to Malakal or else be dealt with accordingly.

In ensuing disagreements, soldiers from Baliet opened fire indiscriminately killing: 1. Hon. Nhial Lual Wuol, SPLM Chief Wipe Upper State Legislative Assembly, 2. Hon. Bang Duop Lam, Chairperson of Justice Committee, Hon. 3. Thuok Puok Goot, Secertary General State Secretariat, 4. One Colonel from Police, 5. Two Major from Police, 6. Two Captains from Police and several officials.

The total of those killed that day of December 20, 2013, were 17 persons.

When the news of their killing reached Nasir and Ulang, the communities of these two counties were extremely alarmed and the White Army decided to go and search for the survivors in Baliet County.

The number of passengers in the convoy was over 60 persons who were dispersed by their attackers and left to perish in the forest.

Instead Baliet County apologising for the killings, the While Army from Ulang and Nasir found them prepared for war.

This was the root cause of the first fighting in Baliet County.

It was Governor Simon Kun Puoch and Rev. James Tor Monybony who should be held responsible for the death of innocent Dinka civilians from Baliet County and Nuer of Ulang and Nasir Counties, respectively.

It was not their wish to kill each other but the war was rather imposed on them by these two greedy politicians.

This is a known fact and nobody will ever deny that as long as evidence is concerned.

Shilluk Kingdom

In Shilluk Kingdom, former militias recently absorbed by the government of South Sudan under command of Major General Johnson Oluony and Brig. General Ayuok Ogat and under overall influence of their mentor Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin have been badly used to wage war against the SPLM/A-In Opposition forces in Upper Nile State.

This exposes the Shilluk community to danger because most of their recruits hail from Shilluk tribe and the fighting is concentrating in Shilluk area where thousands of Shilluk have been displaced from their ancestral lands either to UNMISS camps in Malakal town or the neighbouring Sudan.

The blame still goes to Dr. Lam Akol who encourages the Shilluk militias to fight alongside that despotic regime in Juba for his selfish gains.

He had been in opposition all these years until when he learnt that his erstwhile political rivals, Dr. Riek Machar and Pagan fell out with President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

He hastily returned from his self-exile in Cairo and took the opportunity to mend his relations with President Kiir in order to side-line the other two SPLM opposing leaders.

The Shilluk as a community has no reason to fight the White Army or the SPLM/A–In Opposition because inter-marriage links.

That is why Brig. Ayuok Ogat, one of the factional militia commanders decided to defect to the rebel ranks.

His forces and that of SPM/A – In Opposition recently captured the town of Kaka El Tigariah from the government forces.

This marked the beginning of Shilluk community disassociating themselves from Salva Kiir and Lam Akol’s bandwagon.

Mayom county

The same scenario has also been happening in Mayom County in Unity State where the sons of Monytuil Ojang, Dr. Nguen who is the Unity State Governor and General Bapiny have been organising a militia band under command of Major General Matthew Puol Jang.

The militia who hails from Bul Nuer clan has been fighting alongside the government against the SPLM/A–In Opposition forces all this time without being integrated into SPLA ranks like Shilluk Militia.

Sadly, they are not on payroll but miserably used to fight for the interests of their godfathers in Juba.

It was not until April 15, that the Bul militia fighting force realised that they have badly been misused by the sons of Monytuil Ojang in Juba to kill their own Nuer people and destroying their properties jointly with SPLA of Dinka elements, SPLM-N, JEM and UPDF forces against the SPLM/A-In Opposition in Unity State.

Over 600 of them under the command of Major General Karlo Kuol Ruaihave defected to the rebel’s rank and this made the capture of Bentiu very quick and easy.

Politicians’ greed killing their communities

Once again, the same tools were used by some politicians from Dinka Bor in Jonglei State where they deliberately dragged in their community into war unnecessarily.

For example, the people of Pegi, Duk and Twic East Counties who are all from Dinka origins have been neutral.

They did not participate in the massacres of Nuers in Juba and other towns in Greater Upper Nile as this was done only by some Dinka elements from Greater Bahr El Gazal.

Therefore, they were not attacked during the first and second capturing of Bor town by SPLM/A –In Opposition in December 2013, and January 2014, simultaneously.

Unfortunately, the people of Duk were encouraged by their politician Hon. Philip Thon Leek to form their own militia group and fight alongside the SPLA and UPDF forces in the area.

Following the recent fighting between the government and rebels forces, Duk County became a contesting zone and that was the reason why some of the structures including the Lost Boys’ Clinic was destroyed during the fighting.

Hon. Philip Thon Leek should be blamed for having encouraged the Dinka youth in Duk County to fight alongside the government and their Uganda ally forces against the SPLM/A-In Opposition forces. The Counties of Pegi and Twic East are free from attack up to this time from the SPLM/A-In Opposition and the White Army because they have shown their neutrality openly.

Drowning Kiir holds onto last twig

Frankly speaking, the government of President Salva Kiir Mayaridit in Juba has completely lost its full support and confidence of the Nuer people throughout the Nuerland in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States because of the wanton killing and awful massacres it committed against the innocent Nuers in Juba and other towns in Greater Upper Nile states.

It is now resorting to the supports of individual personalities like Major General James Hoth Mai, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, General Charles Lam Chol, General Yohannes Yoal Bath, Simon Kun Puoch, James Kok Ruai, John Kong Nyuon, Dr. John Gai Yoah, General Johnson Gony Billieu, Major General Bol Kong, Nyang Chuol Dhuor, Hon. Timothy Taban Juoch, Justice John Gatwech Lul, Hon. Manasah Magok Rundial, Dr. Joseph Nguen Monytuil, Kuong Danhier Gatluak, General Bapiny Monytuil ect.

These individuals have no grassroots support and at the same time are labelled by Nuer in general as sell-outs who compromised the death of their own fellows for material gains and positions.

Their contributions are not valued very much at this time.

That is why some of them resort on sending people with money to bribe the Nuer White Army in Eastern Upper Nile and Eastern Jonglei States.

If they want Nuers to support their cause, they should approach the ones residing at UNMISS camps in Juba, Bor and Malakal instead of looking for people who have already escaped the government’s onslaughts.

Unfortunately, their cheap dealings are rejected completely throughout Nuerland.

Some of their agents went recently through Ethiopia carrying with them several hundred thousands of US dollars to bribe the White Army and some field commanders associated with Dr. Riek Machar to return to the government circle.

But this mission ended up in a fiasco where many of them were arrested in Gambella region by the Ethiopian security or sent back to Juba unceremoniously.

This is the work of failed leaders who are virtually disowned by their own communities.

Whether they like it or not, South Sudan is in turmoil and there will be no reverse at all.

The Author was former MP & Minister of Education, Science & Technology (UNS) and now Executive Director of African Centre for Human Advocacy (ACHA), which advocates for human rights and good governance throughout the Africa Continent.


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