June 10, 2013 (SSNA) — Jay Johnson has thrown the gauntlet down challenging us to prove that we genuinely hold human rights value by not voting for Riek Machar, a known violator of human rights in the coming general election of 2015. The challenge was delivered through his response to comments on his article, ‘Why Dr Riek Machar is an unacceptable alternative’ published by South Sudan Nation on 4th June 2013.
Here is what Jay said, “And if the Equatorians, the Fertit, the Dinka, the Nuer and the Luo groups people care but human rights. If there is a genuine non politically motivated strong belief in human rights principles. If Elhag paul means what he says about human rights violations by SPLM government, then we should not vote for Dr Riek come 2015. We can send a strong message to human rights violators that there is no second chance in our political discourse. We will have to tell the prospective human rights violators that it is unacceptable to authorise the mass killing of innocent civilians. This is going to be a litmus test for our commitment to human rights values. It will mean that we mean what we say through our collective actions at the voting boost.” This portrays Jay’s anxiety over the general election of 2015.
I can see Jay’s point and also feel his pain, but all these have to be put within context of the political space of South Sudan.
Our belief in human rights is axiomatic and our position with regards to president Kiir and his deputy Dr Riek Machar is clearly expressed in our various writings. So, there is no question both men are violators of human rights in the then Republic of the Sudan and now in the Republic of South Sudan.
Certainly, because of our values and beliefs neither of these men nor their SPLM Oyee party should get our votes come 2015. Jay Johnson should rest assured on this premise. Unfortunately, things in real life do not operate on clear-cut basis. Under-the-surface issues affect voters and these are the things that shape their thinking and voting decisions. Voters mostly make their minds up on who to vote for based on local issues.
Now, the behaviour of Jay’s people has not been positive or helpful. If anything it created for them more enemies unnecessarily. Jay himself has been a promoter of Jieng land grab in Equatoria through violent means inflicting immense pain on the local people. As some of the audience may recall, Jay recently wrote an article published in the various websites under the title, ‘Equatorians: Stop Land grabbing, occupation and colonization Nonsense’ dismissing land grab in the country and asserting false and illusionary Jieng rights to settle wherever they like. http://www.southsudannation.com/equatorians-stop-land-grabbing-occupation-and-colonization-nonsense/ This in itself is enough evidence that Jay is not a believer in human rights but someone who is motivated by Jieng expansionist beliefs and interested in pursuing his people’s interest at the expense of all others regardless. Jay does not care about the pain he and his people inflict on fellow countrymen.
If Jay now is a convert to the ideals of human rights, we can together do certain things to stop both president Kiir and his deputy Dr Riek Machar from winning the coming general elections of 2015. What this means is that all of us will be winners. For us we will gain from having a change of guards at J1 in Juba and for Jay he will achieve his interest of stopping Dr Riek from becoming president of RSS.
However, first, Jay needs to support a referral of president Kiir and his government to ICC by endorsing the idea and signing the referral/petition under draft and also bring along with him at least 100 other Jiengs for the purpose. Secondly, Jay needs to order all the squatters and fake IDPs he vigorously supported to settle in Nimule and other parts of the county to repatriate to their original homes in Jonglei, Warrap etc. This operation, he must ensure, should be done by 2014 and before the general election in 2015.
The reason for this is simple. I heard through the grapevine that Dr Riek is one step ahead. It is believed that he has promised the Equatorians recovery of their stolen lands and a truly federated government in South Sudan. Whether this is true or not, I can not vouch for. But I saw an article in the Sudan Tribune dated 4th June 2013 titled, ‘Vice-president says federal system best for governing South Sudan’ which seems to give credence to the story. In it Dr Riek strongly asserted that ‘Federalism is the best system of governance for South Sudan.’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46836 Now it appears this is turning out to be a big winner for Riek regardless of whether he is human rights violators or not.
This alone pushes Riek’s human rights appalling record down the order of priorities for the local people in South Sudan. Horrible and I do not agree with it, but who am I to question people who want to free themselves from Jieng hegemony? I personally on basis of my principles will not vote for any human rights violator and this includes Riek.
Hurtful as it may be, the policies of expansionism and the atrocious behaviour of the Jieng that Jay has been relentlessly promoting has alienated the other 60 or so tribes of South Sudan to the extent that their votes will be determined by their experience of Jieng oppression in the last 30 years and not conditioned by human rights value per se. The immediate thing to the oppressed Equatorians and others is to recover their stolen lands and get protection from Jieng tyranny. So, if the devil comes to the people and if that devil is Riek promising salvation it is not difficult to see why people will ignore his past and vote for him
Crucially, for the voters it is the present that matters. Jieng hegemony currently is toxic and stinky to the 60 or so tribes of South Sudan because within it lies the practice of the worst human rights abuses known in the country. The evidence to this can be found in the various reports of the various human rights organisations including the USA government.
In a sense, Riek’s concerning abuses and the Jieng’s abuses cancels out in the mind of the average voter in the country such that they will dwell on their personal interest. Remember human memory is funny and it can choose to play games when all the options on the table are ugly. It then becomes a case of what are the two known devils running in 2015 general election offering. Dr Riek, as explained above is already offering the others a very tantalising carrot which appears delicious, juicy and certainly salivating. What are Jay and his squatters and fake IDPs going to offer the people of South Sudan? This is the crux of the matter and Jay needs to articulate their offer clearly without ifs, buts etc.
Paradoxically, Jay and the Jieng through their atrocious behaviour are the effective campaigners and promoters of Dr Riek’s ticket for presidency in 2015. Nobody wants it, but this is the reality of short sighted policies of the Jieng. If Jay is serious about stopping Dr Riek from becoming president, the only option left to him is the one stated above. Will he now join the bandwagon of the people to: 1) refer the crooks in Juba to ICC; 2) right the wrong of land grabbing by ordering his people out of stolen lands; 3) support release of political prisoners like Peter Sule; and 4) support the implementation of true federalism in RSS. May sound painful but that is the price to pay to stop Dr Riek from becoming president. If Jay is ready, then he needs to act quick as time is of the essence. Dr Riek is already ahead and moving at a high speed.
My vote as a true believer and advocate of human rights against the cunning Dr Riek is not going to stop him from the presidency. Real politick is now upon us. Jay and his lot brought it upon themselves. Nobody to blame for the unfolding scenario.[Truth hurts but is also liberating]
The Author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected]