By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala Uganda,
June 24, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— I have come to the conclusion that South Sudan crisis and tribal conflicts in particular will never go away in the near future. This is because all youth are not honest as they hate self-sacrifice. Their conflict of interest overrides their objectivity. We only become nationalists when our interests are not touched.
This is the reason for feeling relax and happy when our tribe or clan mates have inflicted greater harm to the other side and even look at someone who is trying to be objective as supporting the other side which we view as enemies or making nonsense and we advise them to keep quiet.
It is sad to see some of the youth remembering that they are nationalists when their interests are not at stake. Hence, we only become nationalists when our interests are not touched. The moment our interests are at stake that is when our true colours are seen.
However, when our tribe-mates or those who are related to us have wronged the other side, we can try by all means to influence the leadership so that the law is twisted to create a loophole in law in order to make our tribe-mates escape penalty attached to their criminal responsibility.
The above behaviour or approach is not only confined to Gok State but also in other States in South Sudan. In the conflict between Apuk and Aguok, for instance, the same pattern of behaviour in which youth and other educated individuals including the governor are cited to be behind the conflict, which is bad. The same thing is seen throughout South Sudan.
Coming back to the recent conflict in Gok State, it is shown that South Sudan and Gok State in particular is in deeper crisis than previously thought. Intellectuals are highly and clear divided alone clan line and one can see them through what they say and their conduct to be clearly supporting their respective sides.
I came to the above conclusion the day a youth from Ayiel was killed that resulted into revenge killing in Cueibet town. On that day when I received the news of the killings of the youth from Ayiel in the cattle camp on revenge and also the revenge killings that took place in town afterwards, I made this statement on facebook: WHEN MOSES CAME WITH AN EYE FOR AN EYE WAS BECAUSE ISRAEL PEOPLE WERE STUBBORN THE SAME LAW SHOULD BE APPLIED IN GOK STATE.
In making the above statement, I was implying that if citizens are not giving up on this kind of barbaric killings then we need to revisit the law of Moses and if possible we adopt it to respond to the crime of revenge killings exactly in the same measure in which the people commits them.
I was trying to argue that if a person kills another person with a gun then he or she has to be killed with a gun also or if a person kills another person he has to be killed. In saying this I had in mind the fact that it should be applied equally to all people including my clan mates.
My comment on facebook above attracted many people to comment. The people were clearly divided as there were those who were for death penalty and those against it. However, there was a particular person among those who commented who accused me of misusing the legal knowledge. Because of that I have decided to use his comment as example to explain the fact that in South Sudan when our interests is at stake we view people who are expressing their views honestly as having been bought or clearly our enemies.
The cause of such understanding is that we are not objective, which reflects what South Sudan and our states are. In that it shows that we are in deeper crisis than previously thought and it will not be easier for South Sudan to release itself from such snare of conflict of interest.
As seen above my comment was favouring the death penalty but that particular person pretended that he was just opposing the death penalty and hence he was opposing the Law of Moses. In doing that he quoted from American Civil Liberties Campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. who once said — ‘If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation’. He said and I quote: “an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth ya Joel Juol Nhomngek Get will make the whole GOK PEOPLE”. He was referring to the statement of Martin Luther King, the Jr from the USA.
I then replied to him and said that “We have not got it right how to deal with people like those in our state and other states. We are trying to apply the law of 21st Century to them yet they are still in 19th Century. There is a need for a harsh law to be applied first than after that we they have accepted reform and respect human life then we apply modern law.”
In replying in that way, I was trying to tell him that law is applied in accordance with the context not determined by what we have know but what the community values are because community obeys the law if they are able to understand it and run to it when they are injured. If the community is not able to understand then they can resort to self-help which is revenge.
That person then commented that “Even God in the Bible had to reverse an eye for an eye in the Bible.” He was trying to say that applying the Law of Moses is not appropriate because even God reversed it but I reminded him that God introduced it and it remained in force for thousands of years. Hence, I made a comment that God reversed it “after three thousand years from Moses to Jesus. The reason God reversed it because he believes things are ready for reforms. In the same way we need a harsh law to achieve reforms then reform the same law later”.
He then commented that “this is the year 2017 not 3000 years ago before Jesus Christ”. I then replied to him that”…. the trouble you should come to see where our people are they are not in 2017 but they are in thousands of years back.” By making this comment I was trying to tell him that laws develop in stages and their applications are determined by the stage in which people are and their mentality.
However, he was not satisfied with my explanation and he was just waiting for an opportunity to strike. Then, the opportunity to attack came when another person commented on the same post, he then commented by telling that person referring to me and I quote “…you made a legitimate, reasonable and fair point. If one is a Lawyer: You must be legally consistent, law abiding, Adovocate for justice with law and order. Being a lawyer you do not twist law, call for anarchy or jungle-law. I respect lawyers who deliver justice, law and order.”
In his comment as quoted above he was trying to show to the public that I was misusing the law since I am not consistent. I don’t know what he meant for not being consistent yet I have never changed my position on death penalty because I believe that our people have reached the stage where we need a tough approach on crime if they are to obey the law. To him we must be consistent even where the point we are supporting is wrong, which is not good for a nation or state like Gok State.
However, I know the reason he was commenting the way he was commenting. He thought that I advised governor not to apply the death penalty to Joth people who killed each in the previous year and after when I saw that it was another people then I campaign for the death penalty. Thus, to him when Ayiel and Waat fought and then I called for death penalty he thought that I was misusing the law or what he called twisting the law.
It was any a regrettable comment but I have forgiven him because he is in the USA not in South Sudan. What I need to tell him that I have never changed my position on death penalty. My position on death penalty is that I support the death penalty and because of that even if my brother or I commit the crime we deserve death penalty. Though I support death penalty, the only thing I fear and why I do not insist much on it is because it cannot be applied fairly as leaders are not fair themselves.
However, what I have learned about our youth in the foregoing interactions and other incidences is that majority of them are not there to build a nation but they are there to support their clans even if they are on wrong side. To use the same example of the conflict between Ayiel and Waat in Gok State, those who are not happy with my proposal of death penalty are those whose relatives or clan mates are on wrong side. These youths have forgotten that the same law on death penalty will apply to my clan mates since on the same day Ayiel fought with Waat, they killed a person. I proposed that my clan mate who killed another person with gun should also be killed with gun.
Apart from the above, also those who are on the victims’ side support the call for death penalty not because they like the law to be enforced but they look at it as an opportunity to revenge. This is a confused situation and sad.
It is somehow saddening to see the youth we hope to be the future of South Sudan and Gok State in particular leaning towards their clan mates by clearly reaching the extent of looking at those who proposed any solution to Gok State problems as trouble makers just because it is against their interests and the interests of their clan mates.
We will never be surprised to see these youths talking behind doors with their clan mates how to defeat their “enemies” though there is no real enemy in Gok State. It is also sad to see some youth calling those who are struggling to campaign for permanent solutions to Gok State clan feuds to keep quiet as if solution is found in silence.
It is my belief that the only way to find a solution to Gok State problems is to be honest with ourselves and come out openly to condemn those who create crisis and recommend harsh punishment. In addition, we need to adopt the Late Dut Jok’s approach of treating crime a crime irrespective of who committed.
In summary, though I am human rights lawyer I support death penalty since I am not human rights defender and also human rights do not prohibit death penalty. The lawyers in Gok State should strictly enforce death penalty starting from 2015 to date against those who killed others.
Our current crisis resulted from the fact that we have not enforced the law fairly and consistently.
In order for South Sudan and States like Gok State to achieve development and unity there is a need to have tough and a fair leader like Dut Jok who never cared about who the person who committed the crime was. Include by saying that I disagree with those who advocate for silence in our state in regard to the present crisis. The best thing to do is not to keep quiet but to talk and honestly condemn what is happening in Gok State.
The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan and he can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org