The Memory of the Painful Ordeals

“South Sudanese refugees [Children] waiting in line to get food at the Dzaipi transit centre in Uganda.” Photo credit: United Nations
By Daniel Wuor Joak

December 22, 2014 (SSNA) — One year has already elapsed now since most deadly and infamous “Juba Massacre” occurred, where over 20,000 unarmed Nuer civilians were indiscriminately massacred by the so-called Presidential Protection Unit known as “Dukubeny”. Dukubeny militias was a band of 15,000 Dinka youth drawn up selectively from the predominatly Dinka states of Northern Bahr El Gazal and Warrap with specific aim to be trained, indoctrinated, equipped and directed against any potential challenger to President Salva Kiir’s dictatorial leadership. They were collectively brought and trained at outskirts of the capital Juba at Lure, where Dukubeny militias had enjoyed special privileges from the regular SPLA soldiers. During the middle of November 2013, where I happened to be in Aweil, Northern Bahr El Gazal State along with some colleagues from Greater Upper Nile States inspecting school conditions at various Bomas, Payams and Counties in each of the four States of Greater Bahr El Gazal of Western Bahr El Gazal, Lakes, Northern Bahr El Gazal and Warrap. By then I was the state minister of education, science and technology in Upper Nile State. We were supposed to be three ministers from Greater Upper Nile to tour the four states of Greater Bahr El Gazal respectively.

Unfortunately, one of our colleagues Hon. Gai Joak from Unity State did not make it due to some ailments where he was referred to Nairobi, Kenya for further medical treatments. So we remained two only; Hon. Stephen Par Kuol and myself along with our team leader Hon. Bol Makueng, Deputy National Minister of Education, Science & Technology. He accompanied us together with several senior staff members from the national ministry of education in Juba who represented various directorates. One of them was Mr.Tut Matthew Banypiny Chol who was then the Executive Director in the office of the national minister of education Dr. John Gai Yoh who also perished during Juba massacre of 16th – 19th December 2013. Mr. Tut Banypiny – a masters degree holder and US citizen who took the courage like those South Sudanese who lived in diaspora during the previous SPLM/A and government of Sudan war, and returned to the nascent country after the signing of the CPA to participate jointly for the building of the country.

May God rest his soul in peace and all those thousands of unarmed Nuer civilians brutally massacred in Juba and other towns like Bor, Bentiu, Leer, Malakal, Renk, Mayom, Nasir etc. by the heartless government soldiers of President Salva Kiir. It is a very painful and sad memories for all those who have lost their loved ones during such massacres and the remnants who survived the onslaughts are still being hunted by the same brutal regime in Juba on daily basis. Over 100,000 IDPs mainly from Nuer civilians are still languishing in various UNMISS compounds in Juba Malakal, Bentiu, Bor, Wau etc. under most deplorable conditions where most of them got depressed, facing imminent death from different curable ailments, lack of adequate shelters and hygienic conditions, malnutrition due to lack of food and other basic human necessities. The same government in Juba is denying them their basic human rights to be relocated to safer areas by UN and aid agencies in order to use them as human shields to pressurize the SPLM/A Resistant Movement to accept an urgent and a cheap deals.

While still in Aweil, the then state governor Lt. General Paul Malong Awan now chief of staff of SPLA, had invited us for a dinner in his official quarters, in which he lectured to us about his important mission to Juba, where he was urgently called by the president to undertake some special assignments. No wonder, the governor was boasting about his new assigned task that he refused to fully disclose to us except that he denounced publicly both the president and his former vice president Dr. Riek Machar that they would very soon be challenged in the SPLM leadership by young energetic leaders like himself to assume the overall leadership role of the country. General Malong jokingly emphasized to us that power struggles within the SPLM leadership would emerge very soon where eliminations of key figures would be carried out for sure if the situation remained the way it is. After we had our dinner, General Malong offered us a gift where he ordered one of his bodyguards to carry two bottles of whiskeys – Black Label of (4.5) litres and Red Label (1) litre to our car where our late brother Tut Banypiny was assigned to take care of, which he did without hesitations. Tut Banypiny was a kind young man with full energy and committed to his work tirelessly. No wonder the well prepared dinner in General Malong’s house was infact meant for celebrations of anticipated and planned Nuer massacres in Juba and other towns which none of us innocently unware of including the victim late Tut Banypiny. General Malong hastily left us in his state’s official guest house for Juba in the following morning to conspire with president Salva Kiir on how to get rid of Dr. Riek Machar and his Nuer henchmen resided there. After two days we departed again for Warrap where we made hostile reception from the State Governor Madam Nyandeng Malek who adamantly refused us entry to her state right from Warrap airstrip for unknown reasons.

So our UNMISS helicopter had to be re-routed to Wau, capital of Western bahr El Gazal State where we were warmly received by the state governor H. E Razik Zakeria Hassan at his office during the afternoon hours after our arrival there. After we spent a week in Wau and visited all the counties, we took a plane again to Juba after we were denied entry by the Lakes State Governor General Matur Chuot Dhol for almost unknown reasons projected by governor of Warrap State. Though our team leader Hon. Bol Makueng was from the same state like the governor. Bol told us to proceed to Juba and rearrange our visit to the state again. After arrival to Juba the arrangement this time was done through the office of deputy government Paul Mabor who warmly welcome us thereafter from Rumbek airstrip and organized for our accommodations and inspections to various counties in Lakes State. The governor seemed uncooperative and hostile to his deputy for our visit. One evening a thanksgiving dinner was organized in the house of the governor on behalf of the newly nominated state assembly speaker, in which we were also invited. During his speech which was conducted in Dinka he stated clearly that some MPs from his state supported Dr. Riek Machar’s move to depose President Salva Kiir from power which he objected vigorously.

General Matur warned the suspected MPs not to support a killer of Dinka in reference to Dr. Machar. He reminded the MPs of 1991 splits within the SPLM/A, where Riek had killed the Dinka. I told my colleague Hon. Stephen Par that war is imminent and let us prepare for the worst. The impressions we had seen in all the three Dinka dominated states of Lakes, Northern Bahr Gazal and Warrap was terribly discouraging and likely to cause war and further suffering to the people of South Sudan as it has now happened. When I returned to Malakal I found myself in loggerhead with the state governor Simon Kun Puoch who also accused me of supporting Dr. Riek Machar against President Salva Kiir’s leadership where he unceremoniously removed me from his cabinets.

On the 9th December 2013, Dr. Riek Machar and his family came to Malakal en route to Odier, Langichuk County to attend the funeral of his mother in law in which I went to the Malakal Airport to convey my condolence to him and his family. Before their arrival to Malakal, one senior security personnel close to the governor made a phone call to me in the evening hours and warned me not to meet Dr. Riek Machar tomorrow at the airport. The same message was also conveyed to all senior government officials and ministers not to receive Dr. Riek at all. Individually, I decided to go to the airport with my two bodyguards and my former office manager to meet the former vice president as I saw there was no reason why I should not convey my condolence to him and his dear wife Nyaluak Nyuon. At the airport, the turnout was almost zero. None of the senior state government officials including his in-laws did not turn up. We only met some security officials who were sent specifically to the airport by Governor Simon to inspect who defied his orders and his brother in-law, Gatnyuon who accompanied them to Odier. The security personnel found that I was the only one at the airport and that proved his accusations which he had already labelled against me earlier. On my returned back to the house, I was instructed to move out from the government house which I was entitled since than to evacuate in less than two weeks from my dismissal and hand over the car to the security officials who came to my house which I did. The governor’s decision was contrary to the normal way of handling post constitutional holders where they are supposed to retains their cars and houses for three months before post service benefits is paid to them. All my entitlements including salary of November were denied to me. Because I did not possess a house in Malakal, I decided to spent some few days at South Sudan Hotel before traveling to my resident in Juba.

The same scenario had also happened in June 2013, where the governor of Upper Nile Simon Kun Puoch launched an official visit to Juba to meet the President. In his mission to Juba to pay his condolence for the death of Salva Kiir’s mother in-law who passed away during that month, the governor selected some ministers and one adviser to accompany him to Juba. I happened to be one of those accompanied the governor. The entire delegation comprised of one adviser and four ministers. In our meeting with the president at his official resident, it took us over 3 hours where we discussed variety of issues. Some of the ministers and the governor told the president point blank to dismiss Dr. Riek Machar from the vice president’s position because he seemed to be running a parallel faction within the SPLM led government setup. In total, four of us including the governor, two ministers and the adviser were all from Nuer. The governor and one of his close ally and a long serving minister under him were agitating the president to dismiss the vice president from his position by citing that he had lost popular supports among the Nuer in general. Therefore, his dismissal would not affect the progress of his government. The adviser has some reservations and tries to use re conciliatory tune in order for president to continue working with his vice president harmoniously.

When it came to my turn, I spoke at length where I narrated to the president the previous splits within the South Sudanese movements right from 1983 between SPLM/A and Anya-Nya II Movement which resulted to the lost of thousands of South Sudanese people and destruct ions of property particularly in Gajaak Nuer areas from 1984 – 1987. I also reminded him of 1991, SPLM/A internal splits, in which it took the movement 11 years to reunite its ranks and massive lost of both human and property. I again reminded him about the time he attempted to challenge Dr. John Garang in Yei and Rumbek in November 2004, where Dr. Riek managed to reconcile them successfully. I told him that Simon Kun and I, were in attendance of that conference in Rumbek in which the issues that were about to separate you with Dr. John Garang were obvious the same differences that made Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol disagreed with Dr. John and you. I strongly appealed to him to consider continuous working with Dr. Riek Machar for the sake of peace and harmony among our diverse communities. Being a good listener, President Salva Kiir took enough time to listen to all our views without any interceptions.

In his response to our opinions, he told us that he was of the opinion to retain Dr. Riek Machar but he felt that Dr. Riek was threatening him with Nuer which he felt very disturbed about it. He asked a question to us that; if I dismiss Riek from the vice president position, what would Nuer do to me or to the South Sudan government for that matter? He repeated that question more than one time. Eventually, he promised that he was going to see to it if he would retain him or not in the next government reshuffle. Indeed, on 23rd July 2013, one month later, President Salva Kiir apparently dismissed the entire cabinets including the vice president Dr. Riek Machar and replaced him with James Wani Igga. The removal of Dr. Riek Machar and the entire cabinets happened while I was on official duty in Juba in which I paid a visit to Dr. Riek in the morning of the following day at his official resident at Hai Amarat. From there I found some Nuer MPs and elders who came to consult the former vice president. Some of us were not pleased at all with president’s decision to unceremoniously remove the vice president who was also his running mate during the general elections of April 2010. According to Dr. Riek, he advised all of us not to be emotional because he always believed that the position of vice president is a public domains in which his removal has no any grudges with the president. He went as far as congratulating Cde Wani Igga for assuming the position of the vice president. He also repeated the same statement at Sunday church service to over two thousands Nuer congregation at Presbyterian Church of South Sudan at Nyakuron West. Indeed, president Salva Kiir question of what could Nuer do if he removed Dr. Riek Machar was correct. Basically, the Nuer did not do anything for over four months until the president provoked the situation by ordering his militias “Dutkubeny” to massacre thousands of unarmed Nuer civilians in Juba. I believe now that if the president knew that things were going to turn ugly the way they are, he would have not asked that question from the first place or acted in such irrational way where the ongoing war is being waged by his supporters jointly with UPDF and Sudanese oppositions allies of JEM, SPLA-N and SLA against the SPLM/A Resistant Movement. I had also posed the same question later that why Governor Simon Kun wanted us to accompany him to express his condolence for the death of President Salva Kiir’s mother in-law and not to allow anyone to pay the same respect to Dr. Riek Machar for the death of his mother in-law, while death is the same?

The so-called coup attempt which was highlighted all over the world by the President Kiir and his associates in Juba following the aftermath of fighting at Tiger Headquarters and subsequent massacres of unarmed Nuer civilians in Nuer and other towns in the South was just a ploy or cover up from the actual motives. There was no coup attempt in the first place to warrant the arrest of SPLM leaders nor massacring of over 20,000 unarmed Nuer civilians as it had happened and defended by the government in Juba in the name of coup de’tate. To my understanding, IGAD and its Troika allies are just beating the bushes without getting closer to the reality. Without addressing the root causes of this conflict earnestly, an amicable solution would hardly be realized in foreseeable future. President Salva Kiir and his current Chief of General Staff General Paul Malong Awan are the main culprits in this conflict. The IGAD formula of resolving the current conflict under Salva Kiir leadership is truly an insult to all those who died in vain in both sides of this civil war in South Sudan. President Salva Kiir must by all means possible relinquish power in order for the people of South Sudan communities to regain their lost trust and confident. Anything short than this it will not be possible to attain peace in the country. IGAD has already failed with their current mediating efforts if they continued using the same outdated mechanism of maintaining Salva Kiir as president of South Sudan where at the same time trying to copy what had occurred in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Somalia where dictators were imposed against the wills of their people.

One thing the IGAD does not understand for sure, South Sudan geo-political situation and tribal complexities are completely different from these countries they wanted to compare with South Sudan. It took Anya-Nya II over 5 years to reconcile their differences with SPLA and 11 good years for Dr. Riek Machar to reconcile his differences with John Garang. All the past reconciliation efforts done in favoured of SPLM/A under John Garang was because of South Sudan liberation. Now anybody who wishes to imitate what Khartoum was doning is deadly wrong and will be resisted up to the end. The so-called Dinka elders should speak among themselves seriously and advise their son Salva Kiir to step aside in order for people of South Sudan to unite themselves. Otherwise it will be hard for any living Nuer or even their ghost ones to accept any deal under Salva Kiir leadership. Put this in minds and take it seriously instead of preaching “Gospel of Nonsense” with your recent statements being circulated in social media in the name of Jieng Community Elders.

The views expressed in this article are solely that of author and has nothing to do with his political affiliation or position in the movement as SPLM Representative in Scandinavian Countries. He can be reached through this email: [email protected].

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