An Interview With Peace Ambassador On South Sudan Peace Implementation!
Jan 14(Nyamilepedia) —- Nyamilepedia’s Correspondent, Elbow Chuol, met with the Peace Ambassador, Gatwech Koak Nyuon. Gatwech Koak Nyuon has been championing for peaceful settlement to south Sudan conflict. For the last two years Gatwech led media in preaching peace. He is now hoping to help bring reconciliation to south Sudanese rivals and help people lives in harmony. Despite two of his uncles killed, his three cousins and four best friends, Mr. Koak believed peace is the only solution and not the revenge.
Nyamilepedia: Talking about peace, what is your take concerning south Sudan peace implementation process?
Amb. Gatwech Koak: Thank you so much for the interview. I should say the implementation process already start that is why we could see the IO Advance Team went to Juba to implement the peace. This is what I have to say but when we come to the agreement too many agreements has been signed more than 9 but dishonored by the both warrying factions. I should also say, well for the implementation, any step taken by the both sides to the conflict can be appreciate. For instance, SPLM/A-in Opposition are now in Juba which is a great step for the process of the implementation. But the difficulty that may happen between during this process of implementation should not be ruled out because realizing full peace in this situation is a process. It need time but the bigger picture here is, the whole process is moving on well. We all should support process.
Nyamilepedia: So you believe this peace will work.
Amb. Gatwech Koak: It is very difficult to say this peace is not going to work but as peace Amb. I have to say that we must have a hope on all the visible efforts being made by the stakeholders. I have to say it will work and it is finally coming home though I actually don’t know when it will finally be realized but it is there. It is coming and it will work.
Nyamilepedia: You been talking about peace for the last two years. Why peace and not about war?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Yeah, I have been talking about peace because peace is the last option though a lot of people talk about war as the solution. I don’t think so because there is a circle of violent, the circle of violent mean the violent may start from burning your house, as the result when your house has been burn what happen? It will be a trauma and from trauma and then you need to be heal. At the end of the day people will come back and take their hands. For example, let us take the case of Rwanda, and even the South Africa apartheid. These were big crisis. Mandela was arrested for more than 20 years but when he was released he focus so much on peace. But people don’t trust the peace but as an activist I talk more on peace because peace is an option. We can fight as much as possible. We can kills our brothers and sisters, our wives and our husbands, fathers as well but at the end of the day we all realized we have made a mistake and talk of forgiveness.
Nyamilepedia: What inspire you to advocate for peace?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Reality of war. Experience and learning from the past inspired me to shoulder the agenda of preaching peace. And so I take this as part of my life. I will never give up talking much about peace or either disappointed advocating for peace because I was not influence by any person or force to do this peace mission. Neither party of the conflict influence me to talks about peace, it is solely my decision according to what I learn from the history. Everything can be settle. This is a passion in me. Love for myself and love for my people to be in peace
Nyamilepedia: How did you end up being a peace Ambassador?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Yeah, huh! I used to work with a certain NGO called Nuer Peace Council when I was in south Sudan back in the days and dream that I should change the world on the perspective on peace. But something interested happened in 2014, I was commission by Ethiopian church called, Ethiopian Evangelical Caliwest Church that had more than six millions members after I made a lot of campaign. The first campaign was called power of prayer, went to lot of churches in Addis Ababa and talk about peace. Telling the Ethiopia community that if there is a problem in south Sudan it is not their problem alone because it will affect Ethiopia, the sisterly country in any way possible. So I tell them let us pray for south Sudan and the most important point here to prays for is, reconciliation and peace. They became interested and appointed as Peace Ambassador. But I start advocating for peace long time back then. I once acted in a movie back in 2009, Brown Stone movie. BROWN STONE stand for Black Writer Organization for the will of the Nation System Technology Objective for New Education.
Nyamilepedia: Talking about reconciliation, you are talking about the victims being reconcile with those who killed their loved ones. The Africa Union commission that investigate root cause of the south Sudan conflict revealed more than 28,000 people were killed in Juba based on “state sponsored policy”, here is the reconciliation process possible?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Nothing is impossible because it is all about commitment. For instance, when we used to fight with Arabs before south Sudan became an independent state. What happened is that, the government of North was so much eager to kills as much as they can from the southern and we also try the same. Yet in the end the reconciliation process took place, at the end of the day it was possible. People were thinking it wasn’t going to be possible. We didn’t defeat the government in Khartoum but because we have right and advocacies, we achieved it. It wasn’t impossible, it was possible. The same thing here when we talks about reconciliation and forgiveness among south Sudanese It is in line with tribunal. If the tribunal court is set up in south Sudan with identify independent body which is not appointed by neither president nor the rebel’s leader. That particular tribunal court will search for the perpetuators, find them and put them into the book and face the law. And then the community affected can feel that they find justice. But if they are found quality, involves so much in killing for these 28,000 people. The court will put them where a criminal is expected to be. So I want to say that, it is not impossible but possible. Forgiveness and reconciliation is possible not impossible, this process must start within us.
Nyamilepedia: What could be the practical way of doing this work of reconciliation, how to carry this Reconciliation out?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Last year I put a statement on my face book page, blaming both Kiir and Machar because they are not serious about peace and their kids are not in the frontline either. I received more than 60 phones calls with a lot of face book inbox, emails, and the both side supporters blamed me claiming I am inciting something different because I attack the two leaders. Then, the practical reconciliation here is involvement of the stakeholders to the conflict. Now when we were in the negotiation in Addis Ababa, only the both warrying factions were involves so much in which the civilians from the both factions were completely left out. You know the factions are being support by the civilians. These civilians’ leaders are in the villages. I am talking about villages elders and chiefs should be identify and brought to the table of negotiation. They would be the best to settle this crisis because, what have been forgotten by our leaders is that they thought this is intra-SPLM problem, they don’t consider it as a south Sudan wholesome conflict. Of course the SPLM leaders really got us into this mess because they start as the internal SPLM conflict leadership wrangle. Now for them to negotiate is not enough from the very beginning and that is why they took more than two years. One of the practical way was that, women and chiefs and all the youth have to be brought together or given a chance to settle the situation altogether.
Nyamilepedia: You are the peace Ambassador and you talks a lot about your loved ones killed. If you happened to come face to face with the person who killed your loved ones, what would you do? Will you preach peace to them?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Yes I can preach peace because people who never stays together never attack each other perhaps. For example, I am south Sudanese and an American here, we lives totally in a different world. The same thing to someone who is a killer and I am peace preacher. Our world is totally different. He is to kills and I am to preach peace. Therefore, IO and Government attack each other every day because they both seems to share the same traits. Therefore, I can share the same table with those who killed by loved one because I am peace ambassador, representing the opposite, the opposite of not being a killer but standing for peace. I have to forgive those who want to kill me and those who killed my loved ones.
Nyamilepedia: Tell someone whose loved ones were killed to forgive those responsible.
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Let us learn from the experience. The experience of our brothers and sisters in Rwanda, the victims of Apartheid in south Africa and so many places on earth before us. In their footsteps we can all follows. I don’t deny that people whose loved ones were killed including I are not very right for them not to be happy. They are right but we have options how long would it be? Ok like now, let us say Dinka Republic or Nuer republic. Nuer and Dinka themselves wouldn’t accept that because they need themselves. To make this very clear, Nuer and Dinka are intermarriage. The fact that we are the same people should be an advantage to further the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. This is a crisis which happen because of ideologies differences and our leaders they are the one responsible for this problem and not the civilians. We know our leaders are the one responsible for this crisis. What if we forgive them and try to advocate for peace? Do you think they will not come to the same table with us? They would. Last summer I went to Kule refugee camp. I went there and preach the message of peace. I calls people together and say now it is time for forgiveness. We should forgive people whom we killed their loved ones and those who killed ours too.
Nyamilepedia: Would you like to work with any organization supporting peace?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: It would be a pleasure to get some people joining me in preaching peace and reconciliation.
Nyamilepedia: Your accomplishment as a peace ambassador for the last two year.
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: I believed I achieved something though it may be small in portion. For instance on 17 August, the peace was signed, Machar signed his part and Salva Kiir failed. But before that, on the 15th of August I held a hunger strike this was an evident in which the Aljazeera, press TV and many other media outlets availed themselves. They came and asked me, what happened, I told them, I am a peace ambassador, living in country with peace with itself, in city where the peace is being negotiated. The seat of Africa Union is here in Addis Ababa Ethiopia which I live in and happy but if my people are starving, dying all the time in Bentui, in Makal and many other part of the country, without any solution. How do I feel? I have to quit eating for few day. This is what a one man can do. The only thing in my capacity to do. I cannot fight both the factions I am entitled to preach peace. I believed in non-violent. That alone is not enough, but if you are following the media, I have been participating in the activities of south Sudanese artists association here in Ethiopia. During their parties, concerts, I had been raising awareness for peace to come back home to people of south Sudan.
Nyamilepedia: What is your plan that peace is here?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Yes I have a plan, huh my plan is that, now the peace started. What I mean is that the implementation process have already started and that is why we can see the members of IO Advance Team are in Juba and we never heard anything happens to them. They are very safe. Therefore, this is the best time for me than ever to preach peace. But I have to extend my call for my plan to be successful. I am urging the peace lovers, the individuals and the Good Samaritan who have a passion to make a different because I know ever person’s contribution can make a different. Now my plan is to start a nonviolent movement, to start a campaign to tell the people, war is over, enough is enough and let us start a new chapter. In this campaign I have to start it in Addis Ababa, going to Nairobi, to Kampala and Khartoum because all these areas most of the south Sudanese refugee they stays there. I also have a plan to go to America because I know most of the south Sudanese living in America, Australia we defend on them because they are educated people. I want them to join me. Join me by whatever mean it take, by either making connection, with certain organization who are happy to sponsor peace. That one I cannot do it alone. My plan for the New Year is to establish peace Amb. Office but it become so difficult to work alone but I cannot just tell people to come and work with me I first have to be an exemplary and that is why it took me two years to work alone to prove to people that I mean what I preach.
Nyamilepedia: What do you think could be the possible solution to south Sudan crisis incase this peace happen not to take hold with all it difficulties we are seeing.
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: south Sudan crisis is like a home problem. It is our problem. For example in the house we have two head of the family. A husband and a wife, so leaders like Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are the best people to bring peace to this nation. They are responsible and they have to be committed. And besides that, them alone they can’t do it, it need us, all of us, the south Sudanese people and this is why I keep urging the international community to put more efforts in helping make this peace sustainable. Surprisingly they are doing it.
Nyamilepedia: The coming of the mercenaries to south Sudan taking side in the conflict, how is that contributing to prolonging the conflict?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: One day I wrote on my face book page and said it is difficult for a referrer to be referrer and at the same time be a player. Igad is collection body of most Horn of Africa countries in which Uganda is a member. Uganda is mediating by then and directly involves in combat supporting a certain side. But as a peace ambassador, I focus much to see any window that can address the opportunity for my people coming to an agreement. I talks much about this little peace should be given much support because It is like a little baby seeking a supports.
Nyamilepedia: This New Year do you see any hope for peace and your message on that?
Amb. Gatwech Koak: This year people have to focus on peace implementation process and not going back to war. We must all work for peace and make this year wonderful and peaceful. We should not incite war and I would like to urge the intellectual community, the south Sudanese in the diaspora to stop the social media war because what they preach make a lot of different.
Nyamilepedia: What is your take on both Salva Kiir and Riek Machar?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: Both president Kiir and his first Vice president Dr. Riek Machar must work together and embrace peace themselves for other to follows. If they can’t come into contact with each other and talks openly in public that is a bad sign and it tell how long the road we are using to reach a peace. We hope they both immediately embrace each other’s for the future of this nation.
Nyamilepedia: You go around preaching peace, do you have followers who follows your peace mission?
Amb. Gatwech Koak Nyuon: I have a lot, I have too many followers. What I preach is in the interest of the world and many people want peace. Therefore, those who want peace are my followers.
Elbow Chuol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org