A citizen Letter to the South Sudan’s Youth Organization for Social Development (YOFSD) and the SPLM Youth League (SYL): The South Sudanese Youth and their Roles in Mitigating the Current Conflict
Dear fellow citizens,
The current crisis
February 13, 2014 (SSNA) — No doubt that the current crisis is as a result of the SPLM power wrangling. It then slightly changed to ethnic targeting by both sides of the conflict. Therefore, the social capital of our nation has been heavily, terribly and uniquely broken and it continues to bleed helplessly.
Moreover, it is, undoubtedly, clear that both leaders, President Kiir and Dr. Riek, have a hand in the creation of the conflict. How can the Youth, the future generation of the country, choose a side in this conflict and expect to build a united, loving and prosperous nation in which justice reigns?
To The South Sudan’s Youth Organization for Social Development
It seems like Social Development is one of the key words in your organization’s name. As a result of this conflict, the social fabric of the country has been terribly disturbed and that should be of a major concern to you as an organization. How can it be re-amended? Is its rebuilding possible when you know the side you are taking has some serious contributions to the conflict? There is nothing wrong with side-taking but with a situation such as what happened within the SPLM where two leaders, Kiir and Riek, decided to turn violent, they must be disowned, condemned and urged to stop the violence immediately and return to the table to negotiate out their differences.
To The SPLM Youth League
The SPLM has been terribly troubled and its solidarity is uncertain. What can you do to maintain its coherence and rebuilding of its damaged image to set it up to win national approval over other political parties in the country again? The SPLM Youth League that is cheering up the government must know that they are not being nationalistic.
They are not being the country’s or people’s Youth but President Kiir’s Youth. This position is irresponsible. Given the nature of the conflict and how it started, this is not a good position for the SPLM Youth League if they want a good future for the SPLM and the nation. Are you encouraging the way the SPLM leadership has been handling the party leadership crisis that led to the current war in the country?
To all Youth in South Sudan and particularly, in Juba
Last time when the UN compound incident in Bor Town, involving the minister of information occurred, the Youth took to the streets and condemned the UNMISS representative; it was irresponsible. The Youth have held several events lately where they missed the opportunity to condemn both sides of the conflict and the atrocities that have surfaced as a result of the conflict; that is irresponsible. The Youth continue to miss the opportunity where they can present themselves as the real advocates for peace, unity and support measures that return the country back on the path to peace and development and this is again, irresponsible.
Any South Sudanese Youth entity needs to take a neutral or central position so that it can see all the irregularities on both sides of the conflict and condemn them. That is a position that will be good for the country.
The Youth should push the government to release the remaining 4 detainees (they have not participated in the coup if there was one, at all and their release will not only build confidence and trust in the peace process but they will have important contributions to make as well). Their case is no different from the other released seven. Playing politics to continue to keep them is not in the best interest of the nation we want to build.
The people who have rebelled against the state (whether enforced on them or not) are those who ran away and are currently leading the rebellion. The Youth can condemn these individuals and urge them to lay their guns down and join the talks to resolve their political differences. They, too, should be allowed to explain themselves and contribute to the peace process as soon as possible.
The Youth should call for unwavering support from the regional and international bodies to help South Sudan, not one side of the conflict, to get out of this mess. The Youth should urge all South Sudanese leaders (governors, commissioners, civil society leaders, church leaders, members of parliament, members of cabinet and more) to prioritize peace, “truth and reconciliation.” South Sudan belongs to us all.
Do not become the Unfortunate Youth
I call on all the South Sudanese youth to avoid becoming what I referred to as unfortunate youth. It is important that young people’s position in this conflict is based on the truth and principles that are of a nationalistic stand. Doing anything contrary to this stand is unfortunate. After the conflict, our nation will have a daunting task of “truth and reconciliation” that will be very challenging due to the extent at which this conflict has disturbed our social capital (trust).
The Seeds Youth
This is a group that our nation needs right now. This is a group of Youth that does not shy away from telling president Kiir that he has a hand in the conflict. Therefore, he needs to stop lobbying negative support (that causes him to think that he can continue to fight Dr. Riek to the finish). It should urge the President to focus on finding viable solutions (releasing the 4 detainees, reducing Ugandan soldiers to important installations and prioritizing peace) to the conflict. On the other hand, these Youth need to send Dr. Riek a clear message that says, NO to bullets and yes to negotiations. Dear fellow citizens, if we have done what I have just narrated on day one and continue to do it today, we would have peace by now. Cheering up either side pushes more for war.
Please, let me end by quoting these nice statements by one South Sudanese Youth.
“You fanatics of backroom designed constitution for the dictator and authoritarian state, I and many like-minded individuals will tell the other side you don’t want the world to know. You believed the white lie that there was a coup; we will keep saying there was no coup at all. Our misguided president made it up to purge his political opponents.
Your state’s ministers go around stonewalling the international community to know the whole truth about the foreign Ugandan’s troop’s presence in SS, we will say yes, they are here fighting and killing our own people we brotherly disagreed with politically.
You preach ethnic hatreds and play our majority ethnic card as a winning political strategy to say Riek and his loyalists are pure evil and a source of our problem, ought to be physically eliminated, we say no. They are not! Nuer and supporters are simply people just like us who want to seek their political interest. If you sit down with them and discuss politics civilly without attacking them first, they will not fight back.
In our severely divided society and violent prone, it is only our innocent peasants living across our villages who come to pay heavy prices in human and material costs. Our political power elites’ families don’t suffer. They don’t feel any pain. Their immediate families live abroad in millions dollar mansions. All our leaders in SS on both sides are human vultures. They live off trading and selling human bloods for their material selves-needs.
They are all doing it. But then, the smart ones holding power don’t want to share any part of the blames. They believe they’re living political saints. Their exceptional holiness attitude is beyond belief. They only want the praises, not the blame for their own mistakes. Social conformity is a rule of the game.
Well, until they somehow fairly get it right, we won’t stop thinking they are also hypocrites! Call me a rebel, disloyal, traitor, and what have you. I’m perfectly fine with it. It is time to tell the truth as we know it. If it will cost us such labels, then so be it!”
You may not agree with most of it but it is actually a test of nationalism. If you find most of it true, then you are a nationalistic youth, especially, when you are a Dinka. If you find most of it negative, then you must check your stand because I am afraid, you are irresponsibly siding and you are not helping this conflict. Do not be unfortunate youth who is just thrown around as needed. This piece challenges those who cheer up the government without recognizing its irregularities.
Remember, Dr. Riek must be urged to put down his guns and so is the government to stop pursuing the rebels. Both must respect the cessation of hostilities they have signed and work on the peaceful resolutions to the conflict. So, my fellow citizens, revisit your activities and align them with the future you want to see for our nation. The politics of victimizing opponents and barring them from political opportunities is a clear sign of tyranny that we should not entertain.
Abraham Deng Lueth is a Community Support Specialist at Truman Behavioral health Emergency Department in Kansas City, Missouri, United States; he is the President of Greater Bor Community-USA. He previously worked as a critical care laboratory technician and conducted an independent undergraduate biomedical research project which was published in the Plant Science Journal in 2007.