October 27, 2011 (SSNA) — The South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A) strongly condemns Unity State’s Gov. Taban Deng Gai for intentionally abusing human rights of innocent civilians in Mayom and Nhial Diew Counties. On October, 18, 2011, Gov. Taban ordered the SPLA forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Gatduel Gatluak to impound cattle of anybody related to commanders of SSLM/A. The relatives of eight SSLA commanders have been subjected to harsh and cruel treatments such as beatings. The SPLA detained them in unknown locations inaccessible to their relatives. The worst part of it is that Gov. Taban also ordered the SPLA soldiers to divorce the wives of SSLA commanders by confiscating the cattle they paid in dowries from their in-laws. More than six hundred cattle were forcefully taken from in-laws of SSLA commanders in Nhial Diew, Mankien and Mayom Counties.
It is the first time in South Sudan after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that the SPLA army could target the relatives and in-laws of rebel fighters. Although such a practice existed prior to the conclusion of the CPA in 2005, there had never been a case where the SPLA army went as far as divorcing wives of those who were against the SPLA after the conclusion of the CPA until this month when Gov. Taban ordered the SPLA soldiers to do so. The new policy introduced by Gov. Taban Deng Gai that the wives of rebel commanders should be divorced by taking the dowries they paid to their in-laws is not only a violation of Nuer customs but also a flagrant violation of both international laws and Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. For instance, on October, 18, the SPLA forces went to Nhial Diew and arrested three wives of SSLA Commander Kol Chara Nyang and took four hundred cattle from his in-laws who were told that Gov. Taban Deng Gai issued a decree divorcing the wives of all rebel commanders. The fathers-in-law of Commander Kol Chara were advised that their daughters would no longer be married to him and should look for new husbands.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states in article 16 that “men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” The UDHR clearly stipulates that “marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses”. There is nowhere in the world that a governor of a state can issue a decree divorcing the wives of rebel commanders except in South Sudan. The former regime of Taliban in Afghanistan had never practiced such a thing because most human beings in the world would find it repugnant to interfere with family affairs of couples because of ideological and political differences.
There is no question that the international community would seriously condemn such inhuman practices because article 12 of the UDHR states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” People should expect the UNMISS to condemn such evil practices that would not bring peace in South Sudan. Instead, the new policy of Gov. Taban would lead to more violence that will engulf the entire country.
The SSLM/A has a right in international law to defend the innocent people of South Sudan from a regime which is flagrantly violating human rights to an extent which shocks human conscience. Since such practices are foreign to most ethnic groups of the South, the international community should condemn the SPLA army for violating fundamental human rights of people in Unity State.
Therefore, SSLA is calling upon all NGOs and UN personnel to leave Unity State within a week for their own safety because the people of the state will violently resist the regime of Gov. Taban Deng through popular uprisings that may include the use of force. The SSLA will give international NGOs and UN personnel one week to evacuate from Unity State.