February 12, 2012 (SSNA) — The leaders of Lou Nuer community in Canada and USA called extraordinary meeting on Saturday, Feb, 11, 2012 to discuss the ongoing conflict between Murle and the rest of communities in South Sudan. It came to the attention of Lou Nuer, Jikany Nuer, Gawaar Nuer and Dinka Bor residing in the USA and Canada that organization such as Human Rights Watch has difficulty diagnosing the problem of ethnic conflict between Murle and their neighbors.
There are facts that were misrepresented by Human Rights Watch’s representatives in South Sudan regarding the problem of Murle tribe in South Sudan. Insecurity caused by Murle’s lust for abducting kids and cattle rustling is not affecting only Lou Nuer clan but also other Nuer clans, Dinka of Jonglei, Anyuak of South Sudan and Ethiopia and Nuer clan of Ethiopia. We are obligated to inform Human Rights Watch that Murle’s raids geographically affect people in South Sudan and Ethiopia. The Nuer of east bank of White Nile are affected while the Dinka of entire Jonglei State are also affected. The east bank clans of Nuer affected are Lou, Jikany, Gawaar, Lak and Thieng clans. Jikany of Ethiopia who reside in Gambella region of Western Ethiopia are also victims together with Anyuak tribe who also reside in both countries.
We have observed that there are international organizations which have problems understanding the conflict and its root causes. Due to lack of proper research and knowledge of the area, organization like Human Rights Watch jumped to meaningless conclusions in how to address the problem of Murle. We have realized that Human Rights Watch is confusing the already confused government of South Sudan in how to address the problem of insecurity between Murle and the rest of tribes of South Sudan. The solutions Human Rights Watch proposed are not applicable to the insecurity facing women, children, elderly and youth of Murle, Nuer, Anyuak and Dinka tribes of Jonglei and Upper Nile states.
The problem of not addressing the ongoing ethnic conflict rests with the dysfunctional government of Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit which is run by tribal bigots and Neanderthals who would never take a lead to contain the situation to the satisfaction of all tribes of South Sudan. Murle are part of South Sudan society and the problem they pose is not new. There are many traditional mechanisms which were used in the past to resolve ethnic clashes between Murle and their neighbors. However, those mechanism have been largely ignored by Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar Puot Nyuon (Teny-Dhurgon is the name of his grandfather’s witchcraft).
We want to advise Human Rights Watch that Western concept of justice is not a solution to African ethnic conflict which reached to such a level. The Western concept of prosecuting the perpetrators, in relation to Jonglei’s crisis, should be considered as a joke of the 21stC because there is no government in the world which can prosecute an entire tribe. No Nuer, Dinka, Murle and Anyuak civilian who can say s/he is not part of the conflict. Each person is supporting his/her tribe in this conflict. The Murle, by tribal association, support their youth fighting Nuer and Dinka in the name of “defending Murle people”. The same thing is true with other tribes fighting Murle.
We want to inform Human Rights Watch that the concept of “perpetrators of crime” does not apply to ethnic conflict in Africa. When two tribes fight in Africa, every member of each tribe has a tribal obligation to support their tribe whether the cause is right or wrong. The Nuer, Dinka and Murle who support their youths in the ongoing conflict are fulfilling their tribal duties because they have tribal obligations to do so. In such an environment, Western concept of persecuting “perpetrators” would be seen as an idea from a different planet which has no relation with what is happening between Murle and the rest of communities in South Sudan.
What the Human Rights Watch should do is to support traditional Truth and Reconciliation Committee composed of elders, youth, politicians and women organizations which should rely on mechanisms used since the time immemorial to resolve tribal fights in South Sudan. The attack the Nuer and Dinka launched against Murle on December, 2011 is not something unusual. The raid the Nuer launched against Murle in 1944 killed over six thousands Murle in one week. Afterwards, Nuer and Murle used traditional mechanisms of conflict resolutions which included sacrificing bulls and appealing to traditional beliefs to cement permanent peace. A peace which was signed in 1944 lasted for over forty years until the outbreak of second civil war in Sudan in 1983.
The world may be disturbed with the ongoing conflict in Jonglei state because it is covered by the media compared to 1944. However, the Western World should not impose solutions which are not applicable to African societies. If the Murle realized that confronting Nuer, Anyuak and Dinka would be impossible, they would accept traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution as they did in the past. For over two hundred years, Murle always accept peace only when they are faced with formidable military might of Nuer and Dinka. It is when Murle realize that they cannot win the war that they settle with their neighbors for permanent peace.
The Lou Nuer community in USA and Canada, together with Dinka and other Nuer clans in the Diaspora, support the Nuer and Dinka White Army to protect their communities from Murle’s abductions and cattle rustling. If the Human Rights Watch wants to prosecute people in South Sudan, they should find a way to indict Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Gen. Riek Machar Puot Nyuon who permitted members of the SPLA army to join Murle, Nuer and Dinka youth in the tribal conflict. It is the involvement of politicians in Juba that would worsen the situation, not those members of Murle, Nuer and Dinka communities who are exercising their tribal duties to support their tribes. Human Rights Watch, if at all it has a legal capacity, should bring a legal case before International Criminal Court (ICC) against Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar Puot Nyuon for indirectly aiding and abetting members of the SPLA army to commit war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
What should alarm the world is the involvement of armed SPLA soldiers in the fight in order to support their tribes. In normal circumstances, members of armed state agents are not considered traditionally to have a tribal obligation to support their tribe. When the British Colonial government was ruling South Sudan, a traditional practice was established that there is no member of armed force that should join their tribe when they fight another tribe. There were serious punishments against police officers, soldiers and prison officers who joined tribal wars while still in active duty.
However, there is no precedent set by British colonial administration which would indict members of a tribe who exercised their tribal duties to support their kith and kin. Human Rights Watch should not call for the prosecution of Murle, Dinka and Nuer civilians supporting their kith and kin in this conflict. What the international community should do is to call for the punishment of members of the SPLA who deserted the army to join tribal wars. The British Colonial power realized that in Africa, there is a strong feeling of tribal obligation to support one’s tribe. But armed agents of the state were exempted from protection of “tribal immunity” which protects civilians who support their tribe at the time of war.
In conclusion, the Lou Nuer in USA and Canada declared their support to Nuer and Dinka White Army that is exercising its duty to protect communities from Murle cattle rustlers and child abductors. There is no real government in South Sudan that could provide security as organizations like Human Rights Watch would want us to believe. Therefore, the Nuer and Dinka White Army should exercise the duty to protect their communities until a functional government is found in South Sudan.