“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear… That old law about "an eye for an eye" leaves everybody blind… The time is always right to do the right thing… Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
February 11, 2012 (SSNA) — South Sudan welcomed a newfound freedom when it gained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. Nonetheless, that freedom has been overshadowed by a vicious conflict among its tribes, particularly in Jonglei, the country’s largest state. This conflict calls for immediate action from all the stakeholders in order to bring about lasting peace. However, this goal cannot be realized unless all the concerned citizens condemn, in the strongest terms, the Internet prophets of doom and confusion, who want to use the conflict and the lives of the innocent to fulfill their personal and political ambitions. The Lou Nuer Community in the Diaspora and South Sudan, the most affected community, has been a victim of these Internet prophets of doom. For several months now, the community has been quietly mourning the loss of their loved ones as the result of SPLA contingent from the Murle community defecting and turning their guns against innocent children and women to avenge a raid carried out by the Lou Nuer Civilians who were trying to retrieve their cattle and children taken earlier by the Murle tribesmen.
During this bereavement period, the community was shock to learn that several Internet addicts and propagandists – the Internet prophets of doom and confusion, were involved in a campaign to tarnish the name of our community for personal and political reasons. This was shocking for two reasons: first the Nuer tradition does not permit individuals to use the name of the dead for personal or political gain; second, the Lou Nuer civilians who were looking after their abducted children did not form any army and had no intention of doing so, but they were referenced as such (white army) in an obvious attempt to create a false impression that there are two armies in South Sudan. We want to let the readers know that Lou Nuer civilians only recognizes one army in South Sudan, and that is the national army (SPLA) whom they are still asking and expecting to provide security for their families and properties.
The misinformation did not end there. The self-proclaimed Internet representatives of our community then went as far as claiming to be the representative of the Lou Nuer “white army” in the Diaspora. Again, the Lou Nuer community has no “white army” or any organized group that works to undermine the South Sudan national government. We will never form any unlawful organization against a government of which we are integral part and parcel. Despites these unfortunate allegations, Lou Nuer, being the patient community that it is, continued to ignore these liars, but things continued to get worse. On January 12, 2012, the self-proclaimed Internet representatives of our community claimed that our community has raised $45, 000.00 to allegedly fund the killing of the Murle ethnic group. This was the last straw. To make thing even interesting, just yester day (2/5/12), our fictitious Internet representatives further claimed that the Lou Nuer civilians are planning a major offensive, code named Savannah Storm, to take place on March 1, 2012. Need we say that this is another lie?
On January 15, 2012, Lou Nuer Community in the Diaspora called an emergency phone conference attended by over 80 people to deliberate on these series of unfortunate lies and misinformation, among other issues affecting the community both at home and in the Diaspora. The community realized while the past cannot be undone, we know that the future can be controlled and this press release is about setting the record straight while spelling out what direction this community will take to deal with these individuals and anyone who tries to use the unfortunate situation that our community is going through to fulfill personal or political ambitions. Anyone interested in the Lou Nuer community affairs must use this press release a reference because anything else is fabrication and bogus.
- The Lou Nuer Community, in that emergency conference, formed three specialized committees. One of these committees is the Lou Nuer Media Group that is responsible for anything that goes in and out in the name of the Lou Nuer Community in the Diaspora. This is to simplify things for all the stakeholders. Put another way, anything that does not bear the name of the Lou Nuer Media Group does not represent the Lou Nuer. This does not get any simpler for all.
- We want to tell the world at large and South Sudan in particular that we want peace in Jonglei and in South Sudan. We are proud to say that the Lou Nuer civilians have shown great confident in us and have listened to us when we asked them for calm and restrain. They promised us that they will only fight in self defense and will not attack anyone while South Sudan government is working on providing security for their families. For this, the community will work closely with the government to provide a lasting peace in the state of Jonglei as we have formed Peace Committee compose of elders and church leaders to work with other peace initiatives and collaborate with other others in South Sudan to bring lasting peace to our state.
- We have a sustained communication with Lou Nuer civilians and will be the only authority to speak on their behalves. We therefore caution the self-proclaimed Internet representatives of our community to find themselves new hobbies because the game is over. If they choose to continue the lies and misinformation because we do not regulate the Internet, those who choose to listen to them will do it at their own peril.
- We denounce the killings in our counties by the SPLA defectors, and we are urging the South Sudan government and UNMISS to extend to other communities in Jonglei they are providing the Murle communities.
- We are also cautioning the government of the South Sudan that, while disarmament will be one the solutions for peace in Jonglei and the whole country, poor planning could result in mass killings and exacerbates the situation rather than fixing it. A such, we are asking the government of South Sudan to disarm Murle first once the appropriate time comes. Disarming the Murle first will reduce unnecessary and sudden attacks as we had witnessed when the Lou Nuer community was disarmed in 2006, and essentially emboldening the Murle community to slaughter them with no deterrence. The lack of deterrence or security protection from the government forced our youth to search for guns in order to protect the families and properties in absent of the national government. We are asking the government to involve our community at all levels to provide good and practical recommendations leading to a peaceful disarmament. We cannot emphasize the importance of this step enough!
- Furthermore, the Lou Nuer community realized that the culture of violence that has engulfed our state requires a neutral third party to act as a mediator. The open negotiation in a mediation process usually leads to a fair agreement which caters for the needs of the groups involved in the peace process. We feel this way because the Lou Nuer community has participated in peace negotiation on many occasions but the Murle community rejected our call for peace process while we were the victims of their inappropriate actions (i.e. kidnapping of our children, stealing of our community’s cattle and a sustained killing of individual travelers between villages).
- We are calling on the national and the state government to organize a comprehensive conference in Jonglei or elsewhere for citizens of Jonglei world-wide to dialogue on the insecurity issue and move forward together as brothers and sisters that share many things in the State. This conference will serve as a mechanism to bring the warring parties together. We feel that mediation is the best way to create an atmosphere of trust and healing. Therefore, we in Diaspora and in partnership with other Jonglei communities would like to suggest an inclusive dialogue (conference) between the tribal communities to address this issue face to face. This conference should be facilitate by the national army and UNMISS forces.
- We are calling on the national and the state government to help us bring to Jonglei