By: Kim Deng, Bilpam, South Sudan
February 15, 2012 (SSNA) — The 1955 Torit mutiny marked the beginning of the 17 year old bush war that was ended by the defunct Anya Nya I and by the Anya-Nya II insurgencies from 1975-1983, were fought on the principle of the right of self-determination-meaning the establishment of an independent and sovereign State in the South. When the Addis Ababa Accord of 1972 was signed as an attempt to bring the country its first civil war [1955-1972] between the government and the rebel’s movement [SSPLM/A] to an end, there was pocket of Anya-Nya One elements who doubted about the implementation of the Accord due to lack of commitment and seriousness from government side.
These few separatists remained in the bush despite the Accord until many other soldiers rejoined them after Akobo mutiny in 1975 spearheaded by Vincent Kuany Latjor before Bor and Ayod mutinies erupted in 1983 respectively. They became a unified force and carried the name SSLM/A or Anya-Nya II, the only well-known name for many people under the command of CDR. Vincent Kuany Latjor, whereas Bilpam became their Headquarters. There were over 7,000 troops behind SSLM/A [Anya-Nya II] and the objective of their movement was for total separation of the South from the rest of the country unlike SPLA/M with its “New Sudan,” vision.
After the arrivals of “Newcomers,” as Anya-Nya II call them in 1983, two camps were formed within “New-arrivals/Newcomers.” Camp A was under the leadership of Lt. Col. Sammuel Gai Tut Yang, Mr. Quot Atem and CDR. William Abdalla Chuol Deng. Meanwhile, Camp B , led by Col. Dr. John Garang, CDR. Kerubino Kwanyin Bol and CDR. William Nyuony Bany. The factious between the two camps it is noteworthy mentioned and it was due to two critical following factors. 1) What should be the sole objectives of the movement and its principles? 2) Who shall lead the movement (SPLA/M?) Camp A, proposed that, the objective of the movement shall be “ self-determination-meaning complete separation of the country into two independent and sovereign states juxtaposition with Egypt and the North along the Nile Valley and the movement SPLA/M shall be led by Mr. Kuot Atem follow by Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut ,” instead Camp B, did not only rejected that proposal, but came up with its own ideology, an ideology of “ United Socialist Secular/New Sudan, and the leader of the movement shall be Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut Yang follow by Col. Dr. Garang .”
It took the two camps few months before camp B rushed to use force against camp A due to fact that, the Ethiopian government which sealed a conspiracy and surreptitious deal with Garang against the separatists was acting behind the scene rather than being a mediator between the two rivals. From their last meeting CDR. Rhino William Nyuony Bany who doesn’t care about the human life pulled out his pistol and hold it with his right hand while pointing it at Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut and CDR. Cobra Abdallah William Chuol Deng, and said “ from today onwards, anyone who appears to oppose Dr. Garang’s leadership and the objective of the movement ‘New Sudan,’ must not be silenced by talks, but bullet .” Camp A , took technical withdrawal from the area (Itang) without a fight just to avoid casualties within the town and to give camp B more time to reverse its dead-end judgments toward South Sudan issues.
To make the matter worse, after Col. Dr. Garang’s group secured its position against Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s group, the seizure of Lt. Col. Samuel’s group by Mr. Marxist-Leninist Garang group did not satisfy Garang’s appetite, but went further and channeled his doom plan to annihilate the [Anya-Nya II] in Bilpam by force due to fact that this secessionists’ movement shared the same principles and objectives with camp A. Therefore, to secure the “New Sudan,” vision fully, “ the Anya Nya II HQTRs, Bilpam mus t be destroyed and/or dislodged from its foundation ,” Garang declared. And on other hand, Mr. Mengistu Hailemariam of Ethiopia, a man who got separatist rebels’ movements [Woyane & Shabiah] in his own backyard seemed to forget that his government had her own chestnuts roasting in the store for it, impose his socialist ideology on southern Sudanese and that mission must be fulfilled by someone who believes in that vision; “ Dr. Garang must be the right person,” according to calculation of “ Dergue” regime base on its interests and bipartisan issues between the two allies.
With no regret, the Ethiopian armed forces along with few elements from Garang’s group launched an assault against the Anya-Nya II position in October 1983 which caught them by surprise. The Anya-Nya II headquarters, Bilpam was not only smashed down to ground, but many separatists’ fighters were eliminated and those who caught alive were ordered to dig out their own graves before executed them by firing-squad if they repudiate joining the former Marxist-Leninist SPLA/M. Of course, many deserters from the Anya-Nya II joined Garang’s group conditionally, amongst them; CDR. John Kulang and CDR. Kuach Kang.
There exist relationship between the Anya-Nya II and Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s group came in existence before and after Garang’s group failed to engage Lt. Col. Gai Tut’s Group in dialogues, but in confrontations in Warfield as he [Garang] declared from his under ground rally. Thereafter, Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s group merged with Anya-Nya under his leadership since Vincent Kuany Latjor the first Anya-Nya II leader was caught alive and sent to very isolated World (prison) after his Headquarters, Bilpam was burned down to ash by the two Marxists (Mengistu & Garang). Without Ethiopian armed forces back-up, can Garang’s group alone be attempted to annihilate Anya-Nya II forces in Bilpam?
In war, the skin of Fox is at times as necessary as that of a Lion, for cunning may succeed when force fails. Speaking from his underground rally as mentioned so far, in a message to his disciples, he declared that “ the first bullet must be fired against the separatists [Anya Nya II,” as an attempt to impose his self-claimed “New Sudan,” vision on Southern Sudanese and hijacked the movement from its founders [separatists] altogether, coincidence?
A year later, Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s group [SSLM/A [Anya Nya II] who were expelled from Ethiopia came back to engage Garang’s group through dialogues because there exists the great hope from separatists’ side in the vision of reunification of unionists [SPLA/M] and separatists [Anya-Nya II], as it had been the case against the Dergue regime of Mr. Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia by the two rebel factions (Woyane & Shabiah/separatists and unionists) who accomplished their mission in May 1991 when they waged a war against the “ Dergue” regime under unified force. What if the Sudan ’s rebels [Unionists & Separatists] put their differences aside since 1983 and confronted the main enemy, the Khartoum government (NIF/NCP) as a unified force? I leave the answer(s) for you.
First, they [Anya-Nya II] camped at Mangok, Chatyier and other surrounding areas on their way toward Achua (Itang) where the talks should have been renegotiated. The SPLA/M was reluctant and not fain or serious to deal with Anya-Nya II in dialogues, but in warfare instead. While the Anya-Nya II was waiting for talks to resume once again after their arrival at Itang, the two allies, SPLA/M and Ethiopian armed forces were planning to encircle the Anya-Nya II forces in order to capture their ringleaders alive and/or eliminate/imprison them. This left Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut with no other option, but to order his troops to withdraw from the town which they have surrounded for more than a week after he learned that, Ethiopian government and the SPLA/M are not interested in peace talks, but war.
CDR. Abdallah William Chuol Deng, a man who fears no man on earth, the human toll was the least of his concerns rejected Lt. Col. Gai Tut’s order and wanted the whole town to be burned down to the ground, this prompted Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut to order some of his soldiers to tie-up CDR. Cobra Abdallah William Chuol Deng. Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut did that not only to avoid heavy casualties which may result mainly on innocent people [women and children] in the town, but also to give Col. Dr. Garang’s group more time to relinquish its poor “New Sudan,” vision for the movement. Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s last word to Col. Dr. Garang and his subordinates after the talks failed in 1984. Mr. Samuel said, “ Mr. Garang , you have not anchored South Sudan to your ‘New Sudan ’ vision, but you have anchored your ‘New Sudan ,’ vision a unified Sudan to South Sudan . In the end, my friend(s), you’ll find it will not work. It will be ghastlier than you can even imagine. ”
Mr. Marxist-Leninist Garang’s group viewed Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s group retreat as a defeat of Anya Nya II, and as such; the next step would be “ to chase them until their ringleaders are eliminated and/or caught alive.” The second engagement between the Anya-Nya II and SPLA/M at the battle of Thiajak (Adura) was not a big surprise to [Anya-Nya II] and as a result of that clash, the Any-Nya II forces did not only burned down Thiajak which was under the control of SPLA forces at the time, but inflicted heavy loses on unionists’ side, killed many, scattered and pursued those who could run for their safety until they reach Mangok-Chatyier unknowingly. Yet even though, the victory was on the separatists’ side from the battle of Thiajak, a man who loves and value all human being from all walks of life regardless of ethnicities; a man whose vision has been for South Sudan independence; a man who qualified both in politics and military, and above all, the SSLM/A (Anya-Nya II) leader, Lt.Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s life was cut short in that ruthless, aimless and epic conflict between the separatists and unionists just simply because he opposed Mr. Marxist-Leninists Garang’s poor “New Sudan,” vision. This shameful death will never be forgotten for generations to come.
After receiving the bad news, regarding Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut’s death, CDR. Cobra Abdallah William Chuol Deng became wild and ordered the Anya-Nya II troops to “ fight like mad dogs against the unionists to the last man.”As a result, many lives were wasted from both sides in many engagements, counterattack after another. The SPLA/M activities were blocked by the Anya-Nya II forces across greater Upper Nile until Lt. Gen. Gordon Koang Chuol declared that, “ there is no need for Mr. Garang’s “NewSudan ,” vision to keep South Sudan hostage, but to reconcile with unionists and challenge Garang’s “New Sudan ,” vision within .”
DK. Koat Matthew played a crucial role in that strategic move, but a man of his words and fearless man, Lt. Gen. Lion Paulino Matip Nhial declined the move and said, “ I’ll never unite the Anya-Nya II with Marxist-Leninist-SPLA/M under Mr. Garang’s leadership with his “New Sudan,” vision. If I do which I doubt, that will be the day when I walk with my feet upside down.” Which mean, over 80% of Anya-Nya II forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Lion Paulino Matip crossed the great Nile from East Bank to the West side, whereas Mayom became their Headquarters, meanwhile the remaining 20% under the command of Lt. Gen. Rhino Gordon Koang merged with SPLA/M, which gave Garang’s group wide-gauge windows to capture many garrisons and towns from the common enemy [NIF/NCP] included Nasir town itself. Then, what if the whole Anya-Nya II [separatists] merged with SPLA/M [unionists] and confronted the common enemy as a unified force regardless of their differences? With no doubt, Mr. Marxist-Leninist Garang’s self-claimed “New Sudan,” vision was a setback to Southern Sudanese unification since 1983 and it brings many advantages to the main enemy beyond unionists’ imagination.
The 2nd split between the Separatists and Unionists within SPLA/M in 1991
There have been many separatists within the SPLA/M since 1983 who believed that Garang’s “New Sudan,” vision must be challenged within until their strategy yielded signal towards Garang’s “New Sudan,” vision in 1991 due to what we call “ Nasir move ,” the very blessing day for Southern Sudanese, the Nasir declaration of August 28, 1991 which got birth to “ self-determination for South Sudan” http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article27738 it divided the movement [SPLA/M] into two factions once again; the SPLA/M-Torit faction under the command of Mr. Marxist-Leninist Garang with his self-claimed “ New Sudan/United Secular Sudan,” vision and the SPLM/A-Nasir faction under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon with his “ self-determination for South Sudan .” http://www.africa.upenn.edu.Hornet/sd_machar.html
Dr. Riek was compelled to declare Nasir move, not only because Mr. Garang was running the movement like his own property which was acknowledged by Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir after it was already too late in 2004 when he find himself openly at odds with his superior, but due to lack of clear directions, objectives, principles and human rights for/in the movement. Therefore, if the Naath/Nuer as a community has been hungry for leadership as Jaang/Dinka always shamelessly claims it, why would Lt. Col Samuel Gai Tut select Mr. Akuot Atem who is a Dinka by tribe to be the leader of the movement in 1983 if not only the selection was rejected by Mr. Marxist-Leninist Garang? Why would CDR. William Nyuon Bany aim his Pistol at Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut, CDR. Copra Abdalla William Chuol Deng and their supporters just to secure another Dinkaman, Mr. Garang’s leadership?
In the Garangist mental scheme, all the “anti-New Sudan ,” who still believes in Anya-Nya II vision of secession must be eliminated. As far as Garang knew, the SPLA forces under his commands had every reason to believe that they had upper hand and that they could make it all the way to Nasir. Garang thought that the SPLM/A-Nasir faction under the command of Dr. Riek was very weak, demoralized and incapable of defending its Headquarters, Nasir let alone taking offensive operations. Shortly after Nasir Declaration of August 28, 1991 was announced, Garang declared, “ theGang of tw o Drs ,” as he prefers to call them [Dr. Riek & Dr. Lam] “ must be given their last blow.” He went further, “ we will break them down soon, and it is a matter of time before we bring the separatists to the vision of no-return .” After Garang’s statements were intercepted by SPLM/A-Nasir faction, Lt. Gen. Tiger Bol Koang declared that “ the very existence of the SPLM/A-Nasir faction is in danger,” and demanded that “ all soldiersstand firm and fight to last drop of blood .”
Not surprisingly, the SPLA/M-Torit faction forces under the command of CDR. Rhino William Nyuony Bany launched and assault which almost routed instantly against the Anya-Nya II position along with few soldiers who appeared to be from SPLA-Nasir faction forces, burned down villages from Nuer Genesis homeland Bentiu [Liech/Unity State] including Leer, Dr. Riek Machar’s hometown. What CDR. William Nyuon and his forces didn’t realize at first was that in the second half of September, Lt. Gen. Lion Paulino Matip already redeploying many of his troops [Anya-Nya II] to prepare for “ Operation Typhoon .” Instead of accepting their fate, the Anya-Nya II fought back with a ferocity that stunned the ill-prepared Torit faction. Most of Torit faction soldiers were ground-up by the Anya-Nya II forces. The Anya-Nya II forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Lion Paulino Matip did not only inflicted heavy losses on Torit faction, but pushed back CDR. William’s forces and penetrated deep inside BEG. This campaign against CDR. William’s forces forced them to retreat from the area just when Lt. Gen. Paulino Matip sent in more reinforcements.
But the SPLA-Torit faction forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk and Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir who were deployed from the direction of Kongoor and Pochalla respectively to wipe out Dr. Riek’s force as ordered and predicted by Garang, failed miserably from their suicide attempts, instead encircled and pursued like hunting dogs chase rabbits or deer by Dr. Riek’s forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Tiger Bol Koang and CDR. Tiger Koang Banypiny. As a result, Duk Padiet, Panyagor, Kongoor, Twic East, Mading Bor and all the surrounding garrisons and towns plus some part of BEG were burned down to ashes when the “ Operation Typhoon,” was launched as two Heroes [Bol Koang & Koang Banypiny] call it. Garang underestimated the SPLM/A-Nasir faction military strength, but his commanders on the ground knew they were often paying a heavier price for them than expected in terms of casualties-and that, in many areas, the Torit faction advance wasn’t moving as swiftly as they had hoped. Garang’s commanders were preoccupied with the more immediate goal: ensuring that their troops would maintain their progress as they prepared to strike Nasir faction from all directions.
Dr. Riek ordered his troops to withdraw after reaching Jumeza in greater Equatoria. The SPLA forces under Torit faction suffered tremendous losses and their mission failed miserably to bring “ the Gang of two Drs alive or dead and trash the self-determination for South Sudan into garbage bin for good,” as Garang declared earlier before the war widespread like a wildfire beyond his imagination rather than vice-versa . A staggering pace that reflected the disarray of Garang’s subordinates encountered in most of the areas under attack. Torit, Kapoeta, Yei … were on the verge of cowardice and panic mongering evacuation until the common enemy overran almost all the liberated areas without any résistance from Garang’s SPLA/M-Torit faction. Can the unionists stand their ground alone without the separatists’ support?
Many areas including major towns: Torit, Kapoeta, Mading Bor … were recaptured and/or surrendered to the common enemy as a result of split. The remaining few garrisons and towns under the control of Torit faction were on the verge of panic of evacuation either to Uganda or Kenya refugees camps as well. Garang was blinded by his burning conviction that Torit faction had to defeat and subjugates the Nasir faction, a movement that he contemptuously dismissed as “ a Gang of two Drs .” Garang himself suffered a near psychological collapse as his faction looked as though it might implode. Garang’s forces should have been crushed/break down and/or chased up to Kenya/Uganda-Sudan borders if Dr. Riek was for military option rather than reconciliation through peaceful dialogues instead. Garang’s “New Sudan,” vision did not accomplish anything, but setbacks, chaos, death, subjugation by terror and epic conflicts. It was Garang’s ambition in war that compelled Nasir faction to take immediate retaliatory-military countermeasures. The burning questions are: What prompted Garang to be the first to ignite the fire which he could not extinguish? Did Garang’s SPLA/M have the political will and muscles to confront both the main enemy (NIF/NCP) and the separatists at the same time?
There is no connection between the Nuer vs. Dinka and Separatists’ vs. Unionists. Of course, the armed civilians from subject tribes intervened during confrontations between the unionists and separatists in those dark days, and their intervention should not justify that the war was between the two big tribes rather than reasons suitable to their own interests. There have been ups and downs between these two big rival tribes since 1800s and it still functioning as we speak; Duk Padiet which was burned down to ash twice by Mighty Nuer Warriors/Jech-in-Bor at the presence of GoSS and its army (SSAF), proved beyond the reasonable doubt that Nuer vs. Dinka still exists.
The Nuer ethnic group has never been thirsty for leadership/ power as some folks may believe especially the Dinka, as a matter of fact the movement [SPLA/M] from its first two years, it was mainly dominated by Nuer ethnic group. The first two battalions [104 & 105] or Jamus & Tumsah almost all the troops were from Nuer tribe and if in doubts, don’t hesitate to consult someone like Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir, Lt. Gen. James Gathoth Mai, Lt. Gen. Oyiey Deng Ajack, Mr. Governor, Taban Deng Gai, S.G. Pagan Amum and Mrs. Nyandeng Mabior, but just for your information.
Many Anya-Nya II elements that deserted conditionally joined the SPLA/M within 1983. CDR. Rhino William Nyuon Bany who is believed to be the one to bring Garang to power is a Nuer by tribe. Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut and his group wanted another Dinkaman, Mr. Kuot Atem to be the leader of the movement, but Garang and his group did not only rejected the offer, instead wanted Garang to lead the movement after the Dergue regime of Mr. Mengistu Hailemariam secured the “ New Sudan,” vision for them. The blessing day for Southern Sudanese, the August 28, 1991 of Nasir Declaration was not a mean to hijack the leadership from Dinka as many people may assume, but a strategic move to force Garang and his supporters to make a U-turn from “United Socialist Secular/New Sudan,” vision to self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan . Therefore, base on all the above mentioned factors, it demonstrated that, the Nuer as a community has never been hungry for leadership/power and this must refute Dinkas’ claims.
And of course, as a result of Nasir move, Garang divorced and abandoned the alliance, called SPLA/M 1 st National Convent at Chukudum in 1994 and the self-determination for South Sudan was the first agenda in that Convention. The movement changed from its former name SPLA/M as it was well-known back then to SPLM/A. Garang put self-determination for South Sudan to be the first agenda/priority whenever there is a peace talks with Khartoum government and Garang himself eventually signed for it, the self-determination for people of Southern Sudan in CPA. Garang gave up his “New Sudan,” vision, a vision he always refers as a “ vision of no-return .” This raised too many unsettling questions from his allies especially the inner circle of NDA, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile who were oblivious and betrayed at the same time by his self-observed “New Sudan,” vision until they realized that Garang shamelessly made a U-turn which left them in illusion.
The right of self-determination has been eloquently championed and articulated nationally and internationally by the Anya Nya II movement since 1975 until SPLM/A-Nasir faction joined those Separatists thereafter the Nasir Declaration on August 28, 1991 was declared. It has a democratic and an inalienable right to all people as well as conflict resolutions. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) an umbrella of the traditional Northern political parties, the Marxist-Leninist SPLA/M and the National Islamic Fundamentalist (NIF/NCP) regime in Khartoum were all asthmatic to concept of the right of self-determination. Thus, no matter what the so called traditional parties do, they do not have the trust and confident of the South for their deception and unilateral abrogation and dishonored of many agreements. The SPLA/M alliance with NDA was a repeat of the past, which SPLA/M should have not fail to understand its future implications for the South once the so called NDA gets the grip of the wheels of power in Khartoum .
Then, why remain separated if the former Marxist-Leninist SPLA/M led by Garang relinquished its “New Sudan,” vision after it was forced by Nasir move to adopt the only sole objective of the movement, the self-determination for South Sudan ? Leadership has never been a big concern from separatists’ political point of view since 1975 as some people shamelessly may believe, but directions, objectives, principles and human rights for/in the movement. The SPLA/M division between the separatists and unionists should not justify the merits to classify the SPLM/A and/or GoSS as a Dinka movement/gov’t just simply because the two leaders, Col. Dr. Garang and Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir hail from that ethnic group. If this is the case, as some folks claim it, Lt. Col. Samuel Gai Tut, Col. Dr. Garang plus many others should have not joined the Anya-Nya I [SSLM/A] under the leadership of Joseph Lagu, but viewed it as Madi’s movement.
Kim Deng is a military Historian, SSAF officer from Headquarters, Bilpam and he can be reached at [email protected]