By Sophia Pal
Venue: Community College
Sat. 20th Dec/14
Dec 24, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — The SPLM State Chairman, Nuer community leaders, Church leaders, Women and youth leaders, Members of the organizing team, distinguish guest Ladies and Gentlemen.
I’m honored and have the pleasure to have been invited in this important and sad occasion of Dec 15th Nuer Genocide in Juba. I will talk to you in my capacity as an eye witnessed, a survivor, a victim and peace activists at the same time.
I’m also happy to be with you knowing that Tennessee holds the largest Members of Nasir and Ulang Counties back at home where I represent your constituency in the National Legislative Assembly in Juba.
I bring to you revolutionary greetings from H. E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Leader of the SPLM/A in opposition, with his Deputy Gen. Alfred Ladu Gore, Chairpersons of National Specialized Committees, the 3 Acting Military Governors, the Frontline Military Commanders, the SPLA, the White army, from our people in UNIMISS Camp and the Refugees Camps in the Neighboring countries, the women ,youth and from all the villages in the greater Uppernile States.
As I stand here today, I would like to flash back the sad memories of horrific killings of our Nuer brothers, sisters, loved ones, relatives and kinsmen who were brutally killed, destroyed, victimized, burnt and buried in un dignified manner under the genocidal regime of Salva Kiir Mayardit. Let’s send our heartfelt condolence to the families of Nuer victims both in South Sudan, US and around the world. May their memories stimulate in our minds the urge and desire for everlasting peace in South Sudan.
It is unfortunate, as an MP from a young Nation of 3 years old the very country is bleeding, when we got our independence in 2011, the present generation was very happy because majority of us were born during the war and have seen the worst part of war and destruction and now we were witnessing raising of the flag for freedom and independence, what a joy and glory to God. Our country becomes one of the newest and the youngest Nation in the world recognized by UN and international community.
We felted victorious and patriotic for achieving a country of our own despite the sufferings, we went through, individually and as communities, we had hopes in developing our country from a scratch to a meaningful country for ourselves and future generations.
Nobody doubted the future, we were all positive to live in peace and harmony among ourselves and our neighbors, to our political and military leaders it was a job well done for the people of South Sudan to gain freedom and independence, to our fallen heroes or heroines or war martyrs we were proud of them and their contributions and sacrifices will live with us forever, as it’s written in the National Anthem, to the war wounded heroes we told them, we are not ashamed of them, even if their bodies may have been buried or lost in the bushes of South Sudan, they are the true symbols of the struggle, their sacrifices will always remind us of where we’ve come from and where we are going too, they are the reason why we have the country today. We were happy and gave Thanks to God and praise his name for giving us hopes in a new a country.
To be frank as a person, serving my country has been one of the greatest honor in my life beside my family because I believe in public service and would remain committed to helping my people solve their own problems and live in their dreams of peace and prosperous, this feeling has been tarnished recently by the incident which happened on December 15 ,2013 , my personal views have changed to this cause, I regretted serving my country under President Kiir, I felt betrayed, I felt hurt, I felt victimized because of my ethnicity , was it wrong for God to create tribes in South Sudan? I felt my vote in elections of 2010 is wasted and so are many Nuers betrayed?
Background of the conflict:
After we gained our independence in 2011 as The Republic of South Sudan, we knew our country was tasked for huge responsibility for reconstruction and development, our first mistake as people of South Sudan was accepting the transitional Constitution of Republic of South Sudan which vested more powers to President, although there was division among the law -makers and SPLM members about the Law for fear the President may misuse and manipulate the power of the Constitution for his own gain.
Too much of everything is bad as it is said.
The Nature of South Sudan Parliament:
The Assembly is composed of 332 MPs and out of that number only 34 MP are non SPLM from other political parties in 2010 elections. We also have 50 MPs in the Council of States with 10 State Governors. The SPLM members are the majority in both government and Party. The legislature lacks independency with SPLM dominating the Assembly; decisions making processes are made in several levels before they are implemented. The Assembly makes decisions, the same decisions are reviewed and screened by Dinka Council of Elders from the president’s tribe, and again screened at Warrap State level and finally at the Security level behind closed doors where the President will have confidence to sign those decisions.
The Assembly body is weak and premature in handling National issues; it cannot hold anybody accountable including the President, security organs in both government and Assembly runs the country, violation of the constitution is seen in lack of freedom of speech by the citizen and MPS alike, human right abuses additionally having different views of opinion about the government system threaten the security and deny citizens’ rights. There’s a competing spirit between the Parliamentarians and the Executives this undermined the constitution. Absence of credible and viable opposition party intolerance of other political views and lack of multi-party democracy are believed to be some of the root causes of the ongoing Civil war.
The Assembly failed to hold the SPLA forces and security organs accountable for crimes committed by them. There has been gross human rights violation against the citizens which include freedom of associations, security personnel have constantly violated human right abuses and use force against human rights activists, NGOs workers, Journalists, political analysts; these people are either killed, detained, torture or abuse. Nobody say anything in the country about the killing of a Journalist Isaiah Abraham who wrote articles about President’s weak leadership.
The killings of civil population started before we gained independence in 2010, Dinka Ngok of Piggi county in Jonglei state were targeted and killed because of defection of Gen. George Athor who was killed by the security in 2011. The Chollo community of Upper Nile State were targeted and killed because of Dr. Lam Akol who was contesting against the President in the then Election of 2010.The Murle community of Jonglei State were also targeted and killed by SPLA in 2011 because of their son David Yau yau who rebelled against the government in protest that he won the elections of 2010 for state legislative assembly in 2012; the Fartit community in Western Bahr El Ghazel were also targeted and killed by the government because of different administrative issues with the State governor and finally the Nuer community from the 3 states of States of Upper Nile were targeted and killed in Juba on Dec.15th. 2013. Because of Dr. Riek Machar dream of becoming the next President.
As we talk today, there’re still killings of innocent people in Lakes, Warrap, Eastern Equatoria and Western Equatoria States, one wonder why? All these communities faced ruthless treatment, threats, torture, killings, violence or detention due to the fact that Kiir’s government is unjust to its people and is running away from its sole responsibility of serving the people, Kiir Government is about us the Bahr el Ghazalian against them the 63 tribes of South Sudan. Indeed the president betrayed the trust given to him by the people and his government lost legitimacy in South Sudan. Dec 15-19 will go down in the history as darkest days ever experienced by the people of South Sudan; we are bound to remember this day eternally to remind our people of this major crime against humanity.
Barely 3 years of independence, the young nation found itself trap in a civil war imposed to the people by Kiir.
History of the conflict
In March 2013, Dr. Riek Machar the vice President and Deputy Chairman of the SPLM requested the President to call the party’s session. This was important meeting for the Party to do internal audit to its work, evaluate, organize, revitalize and restore the steering wheel for effective policies that will speed the socioeconomic development and smooth political processes within the party and the country. This will allow for effective nation building and prepare people of elections 2015 as per the constitution.
Ironically, this noble request by Dr. Riek was turned down and politicized, instead it prompted the President to dissolve the Party’s structures at all levels except his seat as the SPLM Chairman. This unwelcome spirit of the President for feared of not winning the elections and trust among the SPLM members set the country ablaze. He made it difficult for the party to be organize; democratized and politicizing rather he created internal conflict, division among the people and lack of organizational capacity to transform the South to a vibrant Nation. President Kiir’s poor leadership was one of the origin of the SPLM crisis and the beginning of internal conflict within the party and the country at large.
One month after the President dissolved the party’s structures, Dr. Riek Machar declared his interest for SPLM Chairmanship in the coming SPLM convention which was to take place in May 2013. His reason was that SPLM under President Kiir lost vision and direction to which the SPLM fought for 21 years.
With that, President Kiir stripped Machar off his power as his Vice President in the government on 23 July 2013. Dr. Machar took it upon himself to talked to all South Sudanese Communities to remained calm in general and Nuer Community in particular, saying that President Kiir has a right to remove whoever he doesn’t want to work with including him so he called upon his supporter to wait for 2015 general elections where they will decide who will be the next president. The issue which the President keep on saying in the media that Machar was his power by force is not true, nobody wants to over throw him.
Meanwhile, the President implemented his plan to assassinate political opponents who included Dr. Riek Machar. This was done through a separate secret recruitment, training, financing, and arming a tribal militia army from the Dinka under the pretext of presidential guards. These forces were out of the regular forces of the SPLA, it was believed that more than 15, 000 Dinka were trained with a purpose to conduct mass killings, murder of citizens who will oppose the president in order to for him to remain in power and delayed elections indefinitely.
The SPLM Party Division
On Dec.6th.2013 a group of Reformists led by Dr. Riek Machar had conducted a press conference in SPLM House calling upon the SPLM Chairman Gen. Salva Kiir to call on session of party’s organs such as the PB and NLC. This meeting was later used on 16th Dec. 2013 by president Kiir to elaborate and address the nation that there was indeed a failed attempted Coup against the State conducted by Dr. Riek and his allies. To be frank, there was no coup in the country and if anybody did a coup it was the President himself making a coup against the SPLM members and the people of South Sudan.
On 14th Dec.2013, the SPLM NLC conducted a meeting at Nyakuroun, the meeting was about attacking individuals personality those of Dr. Riek plus other 8 SPLM leaders including the Party Secretary General and Madam Rebecca Nyandeng, the Wife of Dr. John Garang the founding father of the SPLM, all the reformist declined to attend the second phase of the meeting, it was there that the President got angry and decided to execute his plans by ordering to arrest the SPLM reformists leaders. The main agenda of the meeting was never discussed.
On Dec. 15th 2013, it was Sunday, people went to church, it was a quiet day till 9:00pm when people heard gunshots at the SPLA barracks in Giyada and the war broke out; it continued in the whole night till about 2:00 pm in the afternoon of the next day when the war stopped in Juba at Giyada and the President addressed the Nation in his military uniforms saying that a coup has been staged against the Government.
After that hour, about the 15,000 Dinka militia troops with SPLA uniforms were ordered and match in search of Nuer civilians from house to house, road to road, street to street and in all corners. The soldiers did not spare children, youth, war disabled, women, elderly as long as you are a Nuer you are pronounce dead, if you don’t have Nuer traditional marks, your ID would betray you, youth were collected killed in a Police state, their bodies were burned down and buried in Mass grave, women and men were also gang raped, some were brutally killed, thrown in pit latrine alive and others were slaughtered.
15th Dec- 19th .2013 remains to be fateful days, in the minds and memories of South Sudanese communities, not only the targeted Nuer population but even the other South Sudanese people who witnessed the brutal killings of their countrymen and women had no power to save or help them for feared of being killed too.
The definition of Genocide as per international Law and Convention in article 2 and 6 means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, killing members of a group, causing bodily or mental harm, inflicting deliberately on a nation, ethnic, racial or religious group with intent to bring conditions or physical destruction which exceed 1000 persons is considered genocide and crime against humanity.
So the question will be how many Nuer people were killed on the day of Dec 15th -19th 2013? It is believed that more than 25,000 people were murdered in 5days by Armed Dinka Militias who were ordered by President Kiir under his watch; such an act of ethnic cleansing and wiping out the entire community constitutes the crime against humanity.
It is clear that the current war came as a result of collective SPLM leadership failure in the person of President Kiir mayardit who did not manage to resolve political issues within the Party instead he created a nuclear to destroy the SPLM Party and handover the party’s power to friends and allies including the former NCP converts such as those of Riek Gai Kok, Joseph Guen Mounytiel, Magok Rundial just to mention a few etc. Kiir in his capacity without parliamentary approval brought foreign mercenaries such as Uganda defense forces that used prohibited cluster bombs in South Sudan,JEM(Tora bora) and SPLA-N rebels to protect him to stay in power for life.
The way forward
There is no future in a country without forgiveness; the hard fact is that the Nuer people who got killed will never come back to life again; we the Nuer have to take bold decisions and let the blood of our people transform the country for better democracy.
President Salva Kiir is a symbol of sadness and disunity of our people, wherever we see him on SSTV we are sudden and horrified, his government represents dictatorship, abuse of power, tribalism corruption and poor leadership surrounded with evil and satanic power.
Having forgiven Salva with his deadly regime does not means he will not be accountable for the crimes committed; we need Justice and accountability for the victims because they deserve it and also that the same act must not repeat itself again in our history. As South Sudanese communities we need to look forward for a better future, our people are still in abject poverty, ignorance despite the rich potential resources we have, the SPLM is not able to construct economic policies to absorb and utilize the enormous resources over 16 Billion US Dollars in the past 9 years. Still we import food from the neighboring countries due to the fact that agriculture sector is not fully funded by the government, we only have 190km of tarmac road that link Juba to Nimule, the rest of the country is isolated. The road was constructed by USAID. Our river transport is zero, yet the country can develop huge hydroelectric power potential in the Nile and the streams.
President Salva is a criminal and incompetence, he needs to be brought to books because his hands are not clean, he was not for sure re-elected after our independence, his terms are expiring in few month.
Additionally, South Sudan has other resources that are untapped and potential for quick industrialization that can transform the lives of our people. For us to confront the future and address the sad reality requires new political ideology and organization to effect a paradigm shift and socioeconomic progress capable of rendering competitive market within the region for effective development and sustainability
The origin of the conflict has both political leadership failures and some economic aspect so it’s important to see the nature of the State that accommodates all diverse cultures. We need to establish a federal system of governance with 21 States based on former Districts of Southern Sudan provinces.
South Sudan aims to foster political ideology whereby the State plays a major role in social and economic development, controlling large industrial and infrastructural installations, directing and transforming society through welfare programs and encouraging private ownership of means of production.
Finally, the SPLM in opposition shall foster peace, social justice, democracy and prosperity for the People of South Sudan. The need to work with peace mediators is very important for the country to go forward and this includes any agreement that will come out from the Addis Ababa talks. We have been seeing the road to peace may be channel through the Transitional Government of National Unity of which the government, and oppositions come up with modalities that will include equal allocation of government national cake to all, president verse prime minister and council of Ministers. Whatever will come out from the talks will be used as a tool through which an agreed solution may be implemented with all reforms in the center to ease down the suffering of our people.
We, in the SPLM in opposition still trust Dr. Riek Machar Teny for having the vision to take South Sudan forward and we know he will work towards peace and hope that will accommodate all South Sudanese People including the Kiir’s Ally. Dr. Riek has never been given an opportunity to compete in elections so we could compare the two leaders, Dr. Riek has never been given a chance to compete in multi-party elections, He is the right man to rule the South after all these issues, Can the world particularly the US help as conduct fresher elections?
At this Juncture, I cannot sit without expressing my heartfelt thanks to our friends all over the world, those who stood with us during the difficult time, I want to give special thanks to our American friends and government for not supporting the fabricated story of a coup made by President kiir during crisis, I also want to thank TROIKA countries who are supporting IGAD let peace mediation,; we still have hope in IGAD though we know the Ugandan troops are destroying our country further, this problem would have been solved long time ago if Ugandan troops were not involved. We have hope in the UN agencies and International GOs that supply food and medicines to IDPs in UNMISS for protection and sheltering of our people in Juba, Malakal, Bor and Bentiiu where the government had destroyed, burnt villages and killed Nuer civilians. I want to thank the Nuer community in US and all over the world for standing with their brothers in supporting the back home, you’ve also educated the world about what was happening in South Sudan, on behalf of Dr. Riek machar and the entire SPLM IO leadership and the Nuer community in Camps I want to thank you, Please be unity as one people with one cause I know we will defeat the enemy sooner or later.
Long live the memories of our people.
We need peace so that our people don’t suffer any longer.
Long live the struggle for justice, liberty, equality and prosperity!
Down to the enemy of the people and peace.
We are victorious and will win.
Hon. Sophia Pal
Deputy Chairperson, National Committee of peace, reconciliation and healing.