By Elhag Paul
June 5, 2012 (SSNA) — Denying truth damages individuals and organisations. It is a way of saying I am not prepared to listen, learn and change to improve my life or the situation. This is a very destructive way of existence. The problems afflicting GoSS seem to emanate from precisely this kind of mentality. For development to take place it is necessary to acknowledge ones weakness and work on them in order to improve. I was shocked to hear Barnaba Marial, the minister of information of republic of South Sudan out right dismissing the concerns raised in the US report on Human Rights in South Sudan. This kind of denial and approach is not good for our new country, especially in terms of governance. Although the subject of this article is about denial, it is not specifically about GoSS. Rather it is about exchanges I have had on the internet with Oyee deniers about the truth in RSS. While pondering on the issue the minister of information forced his way into my thoughts by his irresponsible dismissal of the American report on Human Rights in RSS because it exactly mirrors the behaviours of the deniers.
The insults hurled on my person by Messrs Ateny Wek Ateny and Isaiah Abraham in their response to my article will not be given any weight and attention because they are not of any use to the people of South Sudan. I shall only address the pertinent issues that matter at this point in time.
The generalisation that Ateny and his friend Steve Paterno accuse me of is valid. This is a reality and it can not just be spoken of as if it were not the case. Ateny and Steve’s reference to the word is intended to mislead South Sudanese and the world that the Dinka are wrongly being singled out for criticism over isolated cases. I am afraid the evidence speaks for itself. The fact is that research has already been carried out by independent scholars who are not South Sudanese. This research conclusively shows that the Oyee party is a Dinka movement/party. On 15th February 2012, this topic was discussed at Oxford University under the title: The Politics of Ethnicity in South Sudan. The researcher presenting the paper concluded that SPLM/A is a Dinka movement. There were a good number of Dinka people including members of the Oyee party attending this conference and no one of them rose up to challenge the author of the report. Again in an article, ‘A Page from Khartoum’s Playbook’ published by the New York Times on 20th February 2012, Louisa Lombard makes the same point. Further a document recording minutes of a secret meeting held by Dinka cabal in Ark hotel in Kampala, Uganda in 2009 exclusively states that, ‘The Dinka are the SPLM/A and the SPLM/A are the Dinka, The two are the two faces of the same coin.’. The motto of this group is ‘He who wins can not be in the wrong.’ This is directly from the horse’s mouth. With all this, who are the deniers trying mislead or rather fool?
The remarkable thing is that the members of this group (Oyee party) from other tribes of South Sudan are controlled by the Dinka for the interest of Dinka and their word does not carry any weight in this movement/party. They are akin to glossy red lip stick applied on thick jagged lips of an ugly girl to make her look presentable. To understand who wields power in the Oyee party requires understanding of the working of its national executive council. Who constitute this body? What are the power dynamics in this body? Who influences events in this body? Why do policies adopted by this body continuously favours one group of people only? Is this by accident or design? Continuing asking such questions will provide answers that definitely lead you to conclude that the Oyee party is a Dinka party. And as it is the ruling party it means that the Dinka are the people with a hold on South Sudan. From this it becomes easy to understand why certain group of people freely commit serious crimes with impunity. This is as simple as that.
Ateny argues, “You also have seemed to be collecting data about crimes committed by members of Dinka against Equatorians only, but blind of crimes committed by either members of same tribe elsewhere or crimes in which members of the other tribes are the culprits. What a partial reasoning? Is there anyone collecting the crime data for you to substantiate your argument here Mr El Hag?” The killing of Equatorian police officers by Dinka soldiers in Yambio is public knowledge and widely disseminated by the media. So are the killings in Yei, in Nimule, in Juba etc by Dinka soldiers. Anybody who cared to keep abreast with development in South Sudan would be well informed of these facts. It is surprising that the deniers are ignorant about what is taking place in the country. Could this be selective amnesia because it involves the Dinka as actors and culprits? For your information, please refer to the US Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2011 for South Sudan. It contains all the catalogues of abuses taking place in RSS. For your benefit and ease of reference here is the URL link for you to access the document: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=187675#wrapper
Now if I have not provided data of crimes committed by Equatorians, it is because I have not heard about them whether via the grapevine or in the media. The only two I know about and which the denier referred to are those involving the murder of the former minister of cooperatives Hon. Jimmy Lemi in his office, and that was entirely a family affair. The other involved the attempted killing of late Dr Samson Kwaje in his home village. These, if I can borrow Ateny’s words are tragic ‘isolated incidents’. This said can the deniers provide me with a list of at least 10 incidents of ‘Equatorian soldiers’ killing Dinka people wantonly with impunity? It important compare like with like. I am serious about this and I need an answer.
Perhaps the deniers can now carry out their own study to disprove the findings of the scholars referred to in this piece. To help I suggest they contact the ministry of Interior of RSS to get permission to do such a study. While it is a controversial topic and the ministry may not permit them to do such a study because of fear of the evidential findings, on the other hand it may allow them with the hope that the evidence could be skewed in favour of the rulers. Nevertheless, if they obtain the permission, this is what they need to do. Collect samples from police record including vignettes in all the ten states of South Sudan on serious crimes committed within the last five years. Break the sample down to variables – offenders, victims, investigators, context, Dinka soldier, redress etc. Once this is done, apply interpretivism as a suitable method to decipher social problems. I can assure you that the end result will be a general statement that you the deniers would hold your noses while announcing it.
The other reason why the deniers apply the word generalisation is to deploy a strategy of ‘isolate and destroy’. This is a well known strategy the Oyee party has used for years since its inception. All the murdered victims of the Oyee party were isolated from their families and the larger community by negative labelling. Once they are murdered, the closest of relatives and friends are called upon to justify the crime. This policy and strategy worked in those days because Oyee in a Marxist style controlled information and brutally dealt with any dissent. Now with the world of internet it is becoming difficult as the truth always comes out fast. For the deniers, let me assure you this strategy had its day and now it is a dam squid. It won’t work.
Rather than living in denial of what the Oyee party does, it is time for you and other peace loving decent Dinka people to join hands with your brothers and sisters in all the parts of the country to work together for a brighter future. For a South Sudan where people are rewarded by merit rather than membership of a tribe. If we can do this the unnecessary accusations and counter accusations of generalisation, racism and genocide will not have a room in our discourse. I have already sufficiently addressed the issue of racism in my previous response. Now I move on to deal with the baseless accusation of genocide.
The various studies on genocide show that this phenomenon can only start with dehumanisation. Without this it is difficult to promote genocide. The reason being no normal person in his/her faculties can think of such act unless he/she is deranged. The in built moral campus in us does not allow it. My values are that deliberate and calculated killing is an act of cowardice by cowards. People who kill are afraid of confronting their victims in life and those who advocate genocide are not only cowards but deranged. Given this I am astonished that the deniers accuse me of advocating such a horrible thing. In my larger family I have nephews, nieces, cousins whose other parents are Dinka and I love them to bits and they equally love me. I would not allow anything to hurt them knowingly. How then could I advocate such a horrible thing against their uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers etc? What I am doing is to make sure that all South Sudanese live in peace by saying the truth. Genocide does not start by stating facts in order to improve social behaviour. Stating facts is the only way that can lead to positive change of behaviour in all human beings. Without this, the abuser would not be able to understand the consequence of his/her behaviour to the victims and the society. It is of importance that when facts are stated a solution to change the behaviour is also offered. I have consistently done this in all my writings If the deniers check carefully they will find that I have asked for the Dinka intellectuals to be pro-active in talking to their people about their behaviour which massively hurts others physically and emotionally. In my last response to Ateny I asked him personally to join hands with me but what did I get in return – a torrent of abuses and denial. Obviously, he ignored this pertinent point and continued to insist on trying to label me as a promoter of genocide. It is amazing how he chooses to be ignorant on this issue. Genocide, as I said earlier is the stuff of deranged people who are devoid of humanity and the beauty of nature and its diversity. The world would not be interesting as it is now without this dimension.
The process of dehumanisation which facilitates genocide begins, as stated previously by devaluing the human value of the intended target group so that they do not in the eyes of others appear human. By doing this, the promoters attempt to distort the morality of those being induced to commit the heinous crime. The purpose is to remove any feeling of guilt attached to mass killing in the process of committing the crime. The literature on holocaust gives a good insight into this abominable practice. The Nazi system in Germany succeeded in committing genocide because they devalued the humanity of the Jews, Gypsies, black people and others at the time by labelling them as lesser beings. This gave the justification for their horrendous acts. In Rwanda, the Tutsi people were portrayed as ‘cockroaches’. Being an insect means the Tutsi were not human beings and thus they could be killed without any consequences moral or legal and this directly led to the unfortunate, undesirable and horrendous situation in that country.
A very worrying situation recently was initiated in the Sudan by president Bashir during the Panthou war. Bashir labelled president Kiir as the president of insects. The media in Khartoum spread the message to the whole country via caricature which showed president Kiir as an insect (Kiir’s head with his trade mark hut attached to an insect body) being sprayed with insecticide as a way of getting rid of nuisance. Now if president Kiir is the president of insects as painted by Bashir, it means that all the people of South Sudan are insects. If the people of South Sudan are insects then they are not human beings and therefore they could be cleared out by insecticide. This is a clear call by Bashir to the people in Sudan to commit genocide against South Sudanese. This was and is a very serious matter and some of us thought GoSS was going to raise the issue at the highest level in UN Security Council. Unfortunately GoSS failed to see the seriousness of the issue and thus neglected to protect the humanity of its citizens (South Sudanese). Shockingly, the deputy secretary general of the Oyee party who should know better disappointingly responded to Bashir’s genocidal incitement by calling Bashir a ‘mosquito’ thus belittling the seriousness of the whole issue but also equating herself and the Oyee party to Bashir. Any wonder why RSS is failing under the Oyee machine.
So, the assertion (by Ateny) that, “the word genocide-motivated thinking can still stand here. You have linked the whole supposedly isolated crimes of homicide in South Sudan to the Dinka as a tribe. And this is a clear sign of inciting others to see the Dinka the way you had wanted them to look like. So, my friend El Hag, if this is not ‘genocidal motivation’ than what is it?” With the above, this question becomes of no value as it appears to emanate from total lack of knowledge and understanding of what exactly the word genocide means and how it is operationalised in real life situations. It is the usual rush by some to try to make a case out of nothing. Therefore, this assertion is nothing but self expression of imagined fear that the denier constructed for himself out of the mess of his people. He is now unable to deal with his self constructed fears and it is tormenting him. My advice to him is to seek help urgently. This denier keeps exposing his ignorance time and time again to the world in this debate which is of no use to anybody. Having come this far my further advice to him as fellow country man is that he needs to stop abusing the words generalisation, racism and genocide.
Rather than spending valuable time trying to deny the obvious it would be better if the deniers invest in talking to the people of South Sudan about the real horrible things being done in the country as a way of bringing the people together to address it. This is not much to ask for if truly there is will and commitment to build a peaceful country. Abusers always do not accept their abuse willingly. Just as in the case of domestic violence abusers tend to blame the victims for their predicament thus doubling the assault and abuse. Until they are kicked out from the family home they will not understand what it means to be sensible, reasonable and civilised.
It is unbelievable, but true the deniers are prepared to defend the indefensible by perpetuating more lies. Do the deniers really know what they are doing by denying the atrocities referred to in my earlier articles? If they do, then they are arguably complicit in the perpetuation of those crimes. If they do not, then they can be forgiven for their utter ignorance. Here is what the denial amounts to: by defending and denying the atrocities of the Dinka soldiers and lying in the process they are assaulting the deceased victims and their families, relatives and friends for the second time. The first time is when the victims were killed and denied justice and the second time is when the deniers rubbish them and dismiss they ever existed. In effect a double atrocity. The emotional and psychological pain of the victims is being kicked into the long grass without acknowledgement. This lack of sensitivity, compassion and respect for the living bereaved families, relatives and friends of those killed and for the deceased themselves is to say the least a despicable act from people claiming to be caring and liberators. Is defending the atrocities to be done by fresh assaults on the victims? Why can’t the deniers think of another way of doing Joseph Goebbels job? Where is the moral high ground here? Truth must be said and acknowledged because it not only offers the route to justice but also plays a big role in the process of healing for the aggrieved and by extension to the nation. By denying the truth, it only makes it to stand out to seek redress.
On Abyei, from what the deniers have written it is clear that they have exposed their ignorance to the whole world on the matter. They have no clue about the entire debate on the subject. The Abyei issue is not about that area being Dinka land. Nobody disputes this and it is a given. Also it is not about a case of the Abyei people having sacrificed. The arch denier writes, ‘the people of Abyei have fought during the 21 years of war of liberation which led into the creation of the republic of South Sudan. And some of the Abyei’s boys you are alluding grew in the ranks and file of the SPLM/A, and so president Kiir did not bring them from South Kordofan as your assertion had seemed to imply. Like most of Southern Sudanese, Abyei had given martyrs almost in every town in the South the SPLM/A had captured (including your hometown Yei). So, if El Hag could wake up those sons and daughters of Abyei who had perished during the war of liberation.” In pretending to understand the Abyei issue the denier got lost and went meandering into oblivion.
If the Abyeians are being appointed into strategic places without regards to boundaries because they fought in the liberation war, what about the Nuba and Iggassna people? What about the people from different parts of the Horn of Africa who sacrificed their lives in the battle fields of South Sudan for our freedom? These groups combined perhaps paid in blood more than Abyei for the liberation of South Sudan. Why not appoint them into the government of South Sudan then? Would this not show a clear discrimination on basis of ethnicity, value and ideology? That aside, when I argued against the appointment of the Abyei boys, it was on two grounds. First, the Abyei people have not yet decided their fate – whether to be South Sudanese or Sudanese through the ballot as stipulated in the CPA.
Technically, now Abyei is not part of South Sudan as per border of 01/01/1956.
Secondly, with the Abyei problem being in limbo, it is not wise to appoint them into sensitive positions because they can not be objective in their execution of government business due to conflict of interest. These are serious issues which should not be ignored because the Abyei people are Dinka. So, my question to the denier in the previous article was specifically on the legality of the Abyei matter and I expected that someone who claims to have completed a law degree and qualified as a solicitor in United Kingdom would have answered in relation to the matter in a concise manner. But having displayed his inability to do so means I am no longer able to address this with this denier until he has acquainted himself with the pertinent issues accordingly.
Resting my case, groups get generalised when members of the group do not speak out about the bad things their group does. In a sense there is a general consensus within the group to accept collective responsibility. This appears to be the case in RSS and the labelling of others by such a group is just nothing but smoke screen to blame the abused victims. For South Sudan to develop there is need for members of such a group to genuinely move away from their undesired behaviours to eliminate conflicts and foster peaceful living.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]