From: Alian Community in Bor County, Jonglei State
- Cc: Members of Jonglei State in National Legislative Assembly
- Cc: Defense Minister Mr. John Kong Nyuon
Petition President Salva Kiir On Insecurity: Return the Stolen Cattle and Disarm Murle Community
Dear Mr. President Salva Kiir Mayardit,
December 17, 2012 (SSNA) — The Alian Community in Diaspora is writing this letter on behalf of the people of Alian in Bor County, Jonglei State, South Sudan regarding the failure of Jonglei State to protect its people and resources. Alian community is located in the heart of Athoc districts a few kilometers away from Bor town, and reminded to be the only village within greater Bor that has not been relocated or evacuated to cities during the civil war and unrest insecurity.
However, deteriorating security in Jonglei State is not new – thousands of people have lost their lives and many petitions have been sent to your office urging the government to act swiftly to stop the killings and other heinous crimes against civilians. The only heartbroken is still a lack of strategies or initiative from State to stop similar incidents from happening again to other villages in Bor. Atrocities against civilians will continue and more lives will be lost as long as the government turns a blind eye and deaf ear to the cries of human suffering in Jonglei State.
In December 2011 hundreds of civilians in Jonglei State were terrorized, injured or killed; but government’s swift and appropriate response to the crisis helped contain and avert a greater catastrophe as ethnic war reaches a new peak. On December 5th, 2011 more than 50 children, women, and elderly were massacred in Juet, Jalle Payam of Athoc were Alian is located and thousands more were displaced. In February 2011, four elderly civilians were killed and three children were kidnapped in Alian. These attacks and lesser acts of violence and chaos were reported to the governor’s office and the people of Alian have seen no result.
Still, Alian like many greater Bor people was crying for peace and the government responded positively to disarm civilians to prevent anarchy. The people of Alian community and all the citizens of Jonglei state were beating the drum for peace; unfortunately the disarmament campaign which kicked off in March, 2012 did not work in the interest of all communities in Jonglei State. Instead, the disarmament only benefited the Murle community.
Mr. President, we would like to bring to your attention the injustice that has been done to our community as a result of disarmament. In September 17, 2012, Pamuom cattle camp in Alian village was attacked and raided by armed youth from Murle and stole 372 cattle. With their guns taken by the SPLA and police, our people watched helplessly as the heavily armed Murle youth ran away with their cattle. SPLA and police forces in Bor-town were alerted to the attack on Alian, but they failed to respond. Two weeks later, Murle youth returned to raid the village again and stole 174 cattle and wounded two cattle herders. Yet authorities did not respond to the violence in the village.
Worst of all, heavily armed Murle youth launched a perilous attack on Akoi-Rial and Pamuom Cattle Camps on Nov 27th, 2012 killing seven, of whom two were former SPLA soldiers that were integrated to DDR; and wounded another eight people. The raiders managed to walk away with more than 5,308 head of cattle; and killed more than 370 cattle in the crossfire. To make the matter worse, the SPLA detained five local armed Wildlife officers and youth from the village for three hours; people that could possible prevent the loss of cattle and lives.
Worse, these raiders don’t appear to be merely “thieves just looking for cattle” as the Jonglei governor stated in a radio address. They were well-armed and their intention is not only to still cattle, but also to destabilize the whole country. They are enemies of peace in South Sudan!
Mr. President, it is very sad and disheartening to see our people suffering in the hand of criminals when they are supposed to enjoy peace and freedom they have fought for daily. The SPLA have promised to protect civilians and their properties; and our community welcomed the disarmament campaign with open arms and they handed over their guns peacefully to appropriate authorities.
Unfortunately, the SPLA failed to disarm Murle aggressors, leaving our community vulnerable to attack by armed bandits. Most regrettably, the SPLA and police forces have failed to keep their promise to protect civilians and their property. People continue to be killed and their properties looted day and night, but the SPLA and police forces turn a deaf ear to their cry and sorrow. The authorities have shown seemingly little sympathy for victims of heinous crimes in the village of Alian.
SPLA and police forces did not make any apparent effort to pursue the raiders and, worse, they did not investigate the incident. The SPLA left our youth alone, and retreated without even taking the wounded to the hospital. This leaves the Alian community feeling that the SPLA and the state government have allowed enemies of peace to wipeout our people in their land. An example of this is when the governor for the third time didn’t even send condolences messages to the victims families leave alone what a true leader will do “visit the crimes scene.” We felt the State and National government policy have failed to protect our people. It’s obvious that the policies created if any by the State government are against the people of greater Bor Counties.
For instance, In August of 2012, four armed youths from Anyidi payams raided a Murle cattle camp and managed to steal some cattle. The raiders were ambushed and attacked by SPLA, wounding two and two others escaped. Immediately, Governor Kuol dispatched SPLA and police to area villages to find the cattle. The Bor Commissioner ordered the arrest of two chiefs from Anyidi to provide more information to apprehend the criminals.
The move by SPLA and police forces to apprehend those criminals was praised by greater Bor Community as a step toward stopping cattle rustling. The Bor Commissioner, with the help from SPLA and police forces, recovered 418 cattle from Bor County and handed them to the Pibor Commissioner as compensation for victims of cattle rustling. Justice was done and cattle were returned to their rightful owners.
On the other hand, the People of Alian lost more than 8500 head of cattle, 10 dead civilians and 15 wounded between September and November 2012. Further, the state deliberately ignores the suffering of our people by not providing aides.
Why anything has not been done to Murle community in order to return our cattle? One of the government duties and principal responsibilities is to protect citizens and their properties. It makes us wonder why the government allows those atrocities to happen. Is the government punishing our people for being law abiding citizens? Are our people being punished because they agreed to be disarmed and they peacefully handed over their weapons to SPLA and police forces? The people of Alian, and everyone else in South Sudan, deserve to see justice done.
In order to prevent future killings and ensure justice for victims of attacks, we kindly ask you to consider the following recommendations:
- First, we call for creation of a military and/or police base at ABUK shore: the Alian community experience 9-15 attack yearly. This deployment in the area could protect entries population of Athoc payams and their properties.
- The state must find and return of all the stolen cattle to the owners as it was done for the Murle.
- Investigate the incidents and bring perpetrators to justice.
- Immediate disarmament of Murle community to level the playing field among tribes.
- Station not less than 50 police at Boma: Alian youth are capable of protecting the village and government should give back their guns if no police forces are available to protect the otherwise vulnerable population.
In conclusion, we feel that the disarmament in Jonglei State was not fair and our community became victim of heinous crimes as a result. We feel that the SPLA, police, and Jonglei State government have done an injustice to our community and must be held accountable.
It’s worth noting that our people have nothing left; not even relief food. They have not cultivated their farms because of insecurity. Cattle are their main source of livelihoods, but all have been stolen by armed Murle. Our community used to protect themselves and their properties against attacks, but since they peacefully handed over their guns to SPLA and police forces; they have fallen victims to frequent attacks.
Mr. President, our people took up arms to fight the Arabs so they can have freedom, liberty, and democracy. Yet the people of Alian live in fear of being attacked and killed in their own villages and the well-being of our people cannot wait.
We are sincerely and kindly asking you to take necessary steps to restore the Alian Community’s trust in the government, SPLA and police forces; while at the same time reining in those willing to disturb the peace in Alian and throughout our new country.
Signed by the Following Committee