By Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
January 25, 2010 (SSNA) — Could it be true that H.E Jemma Nunu Kumba, governor of Western Equatoria State (W.E.S), has allowed the use of SPLA against her Arrow Boys and innocent citizen of Yambio town?
Before going into any depth discussing the mayhem that happened in Yambio, it would only be very human to share with you the sorrow in this message.
“I talked to some body that was at one of the funeral yesterday in Yambio and on the background of the phone, I could hear people singing sorrowful songs and crying, it made me to shade tears as well. That was so touching, to bring such quick sadness into the family of others. God will count.” This is an extract from an e-mail message.
We have always remembered taking part in many activities of different complexities and different set of risks. And though some of them cannot be recalled vividly now, but the true lesson learned no doubt is “it is only well that which ends well”.
Right now we have a situation at hand where many would have concluded by rating the 5th CPA anniversary celebration that took place in the town of Yambio, in the Western Equatoria State as a success story given the tremendous stress that had to be endured by the organizers and the citizens alike when they are over stretched by the insecurity caused by the notorious rebels of the LRA.
Unfortunately as stated above, success is generally judged by happy endings and Yambio has just closed another sad chapter in its long history of misfortunes. Way back in August 1955, following the mutiny in Torit, Yambio also came out in its true colour as home to brave freedom fighters.
What happened to the enemy on the mutiny day will always keep this brave town in the heart of south Sudanese’s just struggle for justice and a clear rejection of oppression. It is this history that the fathers and grandfathers of the today’s ‘Arrow Boys’ have left as a legacy of Yambio.
The current problem may however superficially seem to represent what looks like a misunderstanding between the youth and the state government, but given the turn the events have taken, it is quite obvious that the entre GoSS and their mouth pieces in Yambio are in for troubles.
None but the demented south Sudanese leadership can dare to walk into an election season with hands and feet soaked with blood of innocent women, elderly citizens and young children (as young as seven!) and still dream of victory.
Most of the people now holding high positions in today’s government were themselves difficult young people during their school days.
Being a former student leader and activist myself, I find it extremely difficult to buy to the misinformation that young people are always on the wrong.
Anyone who is in a profession that involves working with young people of all ages can testify to the fact that it is crucial to keep promises and transparency if you are at all hoping to reap any success out of the relationship.
Don’t promise young people any thing if you can not fulfil your promise, because it has been printed in the back of their minds that those who break promises are not worth respecting, and that is what we, the parents teach them.
Most of us also have no any reason to doubt those journalists who reported on the current riots in Yambio and especially so on the undue military force used against the school children.
Based on the news from WES, it is clear that people in authority have failed to live up to their promises. They have not honoured the agreement whereby they were to pay these young people an agreed some of money for their participation in the celebration events.
Whatever followed after that was a clear evidence of miscommunication from the people in authority. Under any circumstance, the state officials should have resorted to diplomacy in handling this matter through the maintenance of dialogue.
It could still be accepted within the domain of fair judgement, should it only be left for the police forces to handle the situation in case those became unavoidable.
But to give the upper hand to the SPLA army units who are now on record to have gone on rampage all over the town, harassing, beating and looting remains unacceptable by all measures.
These young men who are being targeted by the state authorities and their SPLA commanders are none but the very “Arrow Boys”, who have lived their lives as school children by day and community defenders at night.
Miserable and Irresponsible isn’t it? How comes that the SPLA who should be dealing with external enemies like the LRA, comfortably accept to get involved in what is supposed to be the job of the local police?
Now that what should have been contained within the domain of the civilian law and limited to the school children, has now not only been allowed to spill over and engulf the entire community, but the involvement of the army has also given it an extra dimension.
Citizens have once more been exposed to the worst forms of harassments from the soldiers who themselves are now no better than the LRA of Joseph Kony.
This is an extract from a report by the Sudan Tribune’s journalist Richard Ruati, (a native of Western Equatoria), on 22/01/2010.
“Eye witnesses say, “Children aged 7 and pregnant women were beaten unconscious with clubs, with more women shot on their legs, bellies and waists.”
“The security force beat anybody whom they could see on the road and entered houses demanded for guns and forensic searches in all the beddings.”
And one school student was shot on the noise, as he tried to hide from the SPLA Commandos. Another elderly man was also shot on the forehead at a crossroads in the town centre, and many others at Masia areas en-route to Nzara, Ruati reported.
On the other hand the Gurtong runs similar versions of the same story, as reported by Clement Gbatanawo. Below is what he reported.
“A victim, Joseph Yasona, said the SPLA soldiers pounced on him saying, “It was a command from above, and it is also our t chance to beat you”. Another victim, David Benjamin, a well known Yambio resident said: “They asked me for an SPLM identity card and when I did not produce it they beat me randomly and arrested me”.
While another unfortunate brick maker said, “The soldiers did not ask me anything. They took my bicycle and started beating me seriously before tying my hands. I was briefly detained but was set free a few hours later”.
The above are just some hand picked examples of the eighty or more sad events that have befallen the civilians in the hands of the ruthless and totally undisciplined SPLA soldiers, just two days after what was supposed to have been a peaceful national celebration in the town of Yambio.
The WES authorities are reported to have ordered an investigation to find out who instigated the school children to go on the demonstrations. But does this really need to be investigated (I mean the sort of investigations where they form committees and the case is buried forever)? Is it not that there was a communication failure between the authorities and their young people, who are none but their own sons and daughters?
These same voices have always called for investigations to the several and actually countless crimes that were committed in WES over the five years of the SPLM led government , has never ever come back to report on the outcomes of these so-called investigations.
Now the local authorities seem not to know what or who caused the riots is this not the case? This is a clear example of living in denial. It could as well be that the authorities are trying to escape from shouldering their responsibility for this legal and moral blunder.
What happened in Yambio to the innocent and unarmed school children, regardless of who ordered the crack down is very embarrassing.
The authorities must face it, and tell the masses the truth. The State’s Security boss must be put on a hot chair and must account of all these irresponsible acts.
The governor is aware of the plans of the crack down, and there is no way that she can be counted out. Also the way that she and her cabinet plus their heartless sympathizers are trying to float the event is completely unacceptable.
Who is there to justify the crack down on unarmed children by SPLA soldiers? Were these soldiers not better off protecting the civilians from the attacks of the LRA rebels as a value for the public money, instead of cowardly turning against SCHOOL CHILDREN?
The words spoken by the governor over the FM radio, doesn’t in any way amount to an apology. She was asking the citizens to keep calm while she investigates with the intentions to find-out the master minders of the riot.
It is not just the right way to go about the matter. My dear sister Nunu if you were really a caring mother as you want us to belief, how on earth did you approve the idea of allowing those ruthless SPLA soldier to rain live bullets on unarmed school children?
Don’t throw your embarrassing judgement on other politicians. It is the citizens who will judge you, your SPLA soldiers, your police and your chief Justice.
Unless we see big figures fired over this sad and inhumane conduct of authority, you may not make into office again.
While the history of WES has added today a sad chapter written in blood of innocent school children, many concerned citizens would answers before the rendezvous at the ballot box.
It is the last opportunity that the state government can ever end up their long lists of unresolved killings in the state. You may go ahead with the commission of inquiry, but without tangible results, you are all in for a group misery.
No one can overstress the fact that it is only a couple of months before some of you out there find themselves running like headless chicken begging for votes from the very people you have intentionally chose to humiliate over a handful of Sudanese pounds.
Anyway whether the WES government insists that it didn’t promise the school children the claimed incentives or not, the fifty of so seriously injured children are still in critical situation in the District hospital of Yambio and an evidence for the international community to verify.