Some SPLA soldiers and possibility of “PTSD”

By Daniel Abushery Daniel (USA)

“One ought never to turn ones back on a threatening danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half, “eloquently said by Sir Winston Churchill.

September 18, 2010 (SSNA) — Since the signatory of comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) in 2005, which in my opinion was quite a long time for the government of South Sudan (GOSS) and the Sudan peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) establish ways and means to reform our national Army and shape it in a way that would allow them carry out their duty in protecting our new- born nation called south Sudan.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few incidents that should have been avoided altogether, if the government began to rehabilitate and evaluate the armed groups of SPLA and others who recently came from war as part of the integration process.

Let me refresh our memory for a moment about the incidents that; occurred last year in different regions of South Sudan. The first was an army officer who was brutally gunned down by a soldier in Bor town about a year ago. And another similar incident occurred this year in Yei town when an army high ranking officer Brigadier Gatkouth Choul was gunned down in a cold-blooded murder in which the culprit was caught and now in custody. Also, a year ago, in Juba town, an unidentified suspect hits a police officer by the name Robert Rout Riek in front of current governor of Upper Nile State house, Ustaz Simon Kun Pouch. But, all these incidents were treated as nothing more than isolated acts!

Furthermore, just, last month, another barbaric and despicable killing was committed by an SPLA soldier in Yei town, which was the worst among others by its nature because its involved innocents children and women, when an armed soldier randomly open  fire at the crowd, because he was denied to marry their teen-age daughter until she completes her education. Unfortunately, instead of listening to the family’s request, the armed man became furious, outraged and took matters into his own hands, killing the whole family in a mass shooting in a bazaar scene. One could only imagine the horror that family went through. Thank God, the perpetuator was apprehended and he is now behind bars awaiting his fate in court.

Those are just a few examples!

Evidently, the fact of the matter here is; all these crimes were committed by active duty SPLA soldiers, which indicated that something fundamentally was wrong. In my judgment SPLA soldiers or any armed forces especially those who came back from war as I mentioned above, after liberation struggle, need psychological evaluation, in order to adjust to the aftermath of the war time.

Those soldiers have been exposed to war for a long time, even more than American wars veterans of Vietnam, and Korea. Therefore, immediate rehabilitation and evaluation of their fitness in the Military or in other Arms forces is essential and must be given a priority, I am afraid, some may have post traumatic stress disorder “PTSD”, which is a very serious mental illness that requires an immediate medical and professional attention, In my opinion, this illness has contributed into the above mentioned incidents in various locations.. Don’t quote me wrong, I am not in any way, shape and form trying to justify all those crimes committed by the culprits, rather, am to bring to the attention of our leaders to find the right solutions that will deal promptly with what seems to be a crisis in our armed forces. As the phrase said; “prevention is better than cure”.

In – conclusion, my personal recommendation and advise to the Minister of veterans Affairs comrade Nhial Deng Nhial and our Chief of Staff of SPLA 1st Lt. general James Hoth Mai (who by the way, did an excellent and outstanding job in maintaining discipline, law and order, especially in Juba town, which before was in horror and chaos), Therefore, we  urge them to deploy well qualified Doctors to evaluate and help those poor soldiers before they could be fully integrated into a healthy and sound minded army. Even more, so, the true disarmament should begin with the military personnel, by not moving around caring guns while off duty, it’s time to rebalance our security and liberty, for better tomorrow starts today… Shalom.

The author holds a BA in Criminal Justice, and he’s reachable at [email protected] or [email protected]

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