“The lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth” — John Pilger
April 18, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —- The Padang Jieng (Dinka) Community has received your report of the “Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA)-Small Arms Survey for Sudan and South Sudan, describing events from March 8, 2016” with amazement. In this report, HSBA has dishonestly incriminated Padang community over the violence in the greater Upper Nile region (former States of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei), with specific blackmailing focus on the people and the counties of Akoka, Baliet, Melut, Pigi, Renk, Panrieng and Abiemnhom.
While Padang recognizes the importance of evidence gathering to aid in the process of accountability, we sadly find this report based on a partial narrative of the conflict, engineered by those whose agenda is nothing but an attempt to demonize Padang community and its leaders and settle political score. Above all, the report significantly changes the facts regarding the conflict raging in South Sudan, especially in the former Upper Nile State and has a potential of tilting public opinion against the real victims of the conflict in the state, the Padang community. It further mobilizes the international community against Padang community with the aim of denying them justice, while vindicating the real perpetuators of the war. No doubt the stories, which form the basis of this report were told by Collo sources and this completely biased the objectivity that the report was supposed to uphold as the facts are seriously distorted.
In light of the above, Padang community finds it necessary to respond to the malicious allegations narrated in the HSBA report. This response is not intended to make your report a judicial platform for articulating the root causes and the actors’ roles in the ongoing conflict in the former Upper Nile State, however, because your report sets precedence for consolidating a gravely misleading narrative, with a potential of denying justice to the real victims of the conflict, we wish to highlight to you the actual narrative as follows:
The origins of the ongoing violence in former Upper Nile (2013-2016)
1) It should be noted that for centuries, the Padang people of Baliet, Pigi, Akoka, Melut and Renk counties have lived in the eastern side of the Nile harmoniously with their neighbors, just like their kins in Panrieng, Abiemnhom and Abyei. Never in history has Padang community attacked or raided its neighbors for political or tribal reasons. This fact is undisputable and well known to the Jikany Nuer who are neighbors of Baliet, the Lou and Gawaar Nuer who are neighbors of Luac of Khorfulus, The Lak & Thiang Nuer who are neighbors of Paweny of Atar, the Maban tribe as well as the Shilluk tribe, which has the closest ties with Padang people, characterized by intermarriages and sharing of names. To the contrary, the Padang people have successively endured attacks, cattle raids, cold-blooded killings, organized murders, burning of villages, displacement and political blackmail in the hands of its neighbors. For the records, it needs to be mentioned here that no Jieng is in Shilluk land even those who are married to their daughters are rejected. Unlike the Shilluks, Nuers are better in terms of absorbing sojourners into their society.
2) During the entire period of the liberation struggle from 1983 -2005, Padang community silently endured attacks from its neighbors, especially when these communities pendulum between collaborating with the main enemy in Khartoum and the peoples’ liberation movement. As a community on record of keeping the candlelight of the liberating movement burning until the signing of peace in 2005, Padang communities did not only magnetize atrocities from the Khartoum regime, but also the wrath of the neighboring communities, mostly by the Nuer and Shilluk tribes, as witnessed during Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol’s rebellion of 1991, that displaced the entire populations of Baliet, Pigi, Panrieng and Abiemnhom counties.
3) As believers in peace and good neighborliness, Padang communities moved on, spearheaded the reconciliation process enshrined in the 2005 CPA peace deal with neighbors and also accepted political leadership of the same people responsible for atrocities committed against our people. To cement this coexistence, Padang people continue to provide peaceful access to water and pasture, mostly to the neighboring Nuer communities and unrestricted access to fertile farmlands and fishing waters to the Shilluk and other tribes. This hospitality has continued even during this senseless conflict but nobody chose to report it.
4) As we write this response, thousands of Shilluk and Nuer tribesmen and women live and go about their businesses peacefully in Padang areas, notably, in Renk and Melut counties. Significant Shilluk and Nuer population can be conspicuously seen in various markets in Renk town, Melut town, Malakal town and Paloch oilfields. The opposite is not possible because, all Padang Jieng people that lived in Shilluk areas on the West bank of the Nile might have been killed or went missing when Johnson Olony’s Agwelek forces rebelled. Ever since, the entire West bank is inaccessible for any Padang or Jieng person, even those with Shilluk relatives. How this is not commendable and recognizable by credible institutions like HSBA, is not only baffling but also shows and confirms that HSBA has chosen one side of this very fluid and dynamic conflict, and this could certainly set precedence for prosecuting the victims while unfairly setting the criminals free.
5) In the context of the conflict that started in December 2013, everyone in South Sudan, the region and the entire world comprehends that the ongoing fight in the former Upper Nile State is not an isolated tribal issue. It begun with the December 15, 2013 failed coup d’état and thereafter, the fighting that ensued leading to death of people. The perpetuators of this episode, who happened to be predominantly from “Nuer tribe”, marshaled tribal mobilization with sole purpose of “revenge killings” on Jieng and other none Nuer communities in the former Upper Nile state, including the Shilluks. As a result, over 70% of the SPLA soldiers from Nuer tribe in the area rebelled. These rebel soldiers were reinforced by tens of thousands of armed youths from Jikany Nuer (“The white army”) mobilized from Ulang, Nasir, Maiwut, and Longochuk counties and groomed into tribal killer machines by the rebels, led by Dr. Riek Machar, directly commanded by Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth.
6) The immediate revenge target of the Nuer white army was not the government in Juba, but the Jieng, Shilluks and other none Nuer populations in the former Upper Nile state. The same trend of white army mobilization for revenge purpose also happened in Fangak, Ayod and Nyirol, which border Pigi County from the former Jonglei state, with the similar purpose.
7) The instant victims of this tribal motive were the Padang people in Baliet County, when a combined force of defected Nuer soldiers and the white army under overall command of Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth razed down Baliet County and all surrounding villages killing over 1700 unarmed civilians, mostly the old, sick and vulnerable women and children, and displacing the entire population. This same force which advanced and captured Malakal town is responsible for the famous “Malakal massacre”, which killed thousands of Shilluks, Jieng and other none Nuer tribes in Malakal town. Similar massacres and displacements occurred in Pigi, Akoka, Melut and Renk counties by the beginning of 2014 as Malakal exchanged hands between the warring parties on numerous occasions. Panyikang, Fashoda and Manyo counties, inhabited by the Shilluks were also affected by the attacks perpetuated by the Riek Machar rebels, mostly under the command of Gen. Gabriel Tanginya.
8) By ignoring this very important context, that, both Padang and Shilluk communities, were jointly victims of massacres, burning of villages and displacement by Riek Machar rebels as witnessed in Malakal town, Baliet, Akoka, Melut, Renk, Pigi as well as the counties of Fashoda, Panyikang and Manyo inhabited by the Shilluk tribe, HSBA seeks to create a deceptive and misleading narrative. However, there is a noticeably undeniable evidence of some women and children mostly from Shilluk tribe that were taken hostage (as comfort women) from Malakal by Riek Machar rebels still being held against their will currently in Pagak, the rebels HQs and the report should have taken note, if it were to be objective. Neither Riek Machar nor Johnson Olony spoke against this because of their newly found political marriage.
9) In the report, HSBA has portrayed the conflict in the former Upper Nile state as a contest or rivalry over land between Padang and Shilluk communities. This is wrong because, the fact that both communities were joint victims is a very important part of the overall context, which only changed in April 2015 when Johnson Olony’s Agwelek forces rebelled against the government.
10) Prior to the changes in conflict dynamics in April 2015, reports, corroborated by the displaced persons in and around Malakal have consistently established Riek Machar rebels being responsible for the murder, burning of villages, and displacement of none Nuer civilians on the East and West bank of the Nile, not Padang community who were the prime victims. The entire population in Malakal POC was displaced during this period and that is why the POC was previously divided between the Shilluk, Jieng and other tribes on one side and Nuer tribe on the other. By dueling your report on Padang community, which never committed any atrocities on the Shilluk or any other community, you are denying justice to the real victims.
Your Military Overview in the Former Upper Nile State
11) On the Military review of the former Upper Nile state, your report alleged that Maj. Gen. Stephen Buay was replaced due to tension with Padang Jieng administration. This bit is totally erroneously misinforming and raises serious questions on the report’s credibility. The truth is, Padang Jieng does not have its own administration that could clash with political or military leadership in the area. Above all, Maj. Gen. Stephen Buay, the former commander of the highly revered 1st Infantry division (“Jamus”) did an excellent job while working closely with the State and county administrations during his time as the divisional commander in Jamus HQs, which happened to be in Renk town, a Padang Jieng area, inhabited by numerous tribes of South Sudan. Renk town residents know, very well that the current stability in and around Renk area is attributed to him and the gallant 1st Infantry division men and women he ably commanded. His replacement was purely an administrative move by the SPLA HQs in Bilpam. We expected HSBA to know that SPLA does not assign its commanders on the advice or pressure from any community and Padang is no exception. It is only when HSBA is reporting from the viewpoint of those with grudges against Padang community that it can trivially refer to this move as being due to “Padang tension”.
12) Your report further alleged that Padang Jieng has a tribal militia, formed to wage offensive against the Shilluk community. Padang has no tribal militia. Abushoq and Muzulum battalions, which the report refers to as Padang militias, are legitimate SPLA forces, fighting on the government mandate and orders. By branding them as tribal militias, HSBA is advancing a political narrative. Unlike the Shilluk community that formed Agwelek forces, commanded by Johnson Olony with the sole purpose of fighting Padang community over land as they openly declared, Padang community does not have militias as alleged, even the peace loving Shilluk and Nuer people know that fact.
13) As your report noted, over 70% of the SPLA force from Nuer tribe rebelled immediately following the December 2013 failed coup attempt in Juba. As per its mandate, the government responded by shifting forces across the country to the former Upper Nile States as well as recruiting and training more troops, among them were soldiers originally from Baliet, Pigi, Akoka, Melut, Renk and other counties. Eventually, these forces participated in the SPLA campaigns to capture Nasir as well as defending Malakal and other towns from Riek Machar rebel forces on numerous occasions. Secondly, it is also important to underscore that Padang has its sons and daughters in the SPLA forces in the former Upper State, such as 1st, 7th, 8th and 6th Infantry divisions and it would be erroneous to brand them tribal militias, just because of their ethnicity, while giving credit to the Nuer tribe as the reason the first infantry division is the fiercest fighting force in the area. Such statement is politically motivated. Padang sons in the SPLA are government soldiers, who alongside their colleagues, have done a great job in defense of the nation and constitution by stopping the destruction and killings orchestrated by Riek Machar rebels and later, Johnson Olony.
14) Your report further alleged that Padang tribal militias attacked Shilluk civilians and burnt their villages in Akoka County. This is pure fabrication. Well, it should be recalled that Akoka, was not created in 2010 out of nothing, but rather, it was greater Baliet county that was divided into two (Baliet and Akoka) counties. No territory was lost or created in this process when this happened. More importantly, Lelo being on the West bank of the Nile is not located in Akoka County. As noted earlier, by the end of 2014, the entire population in Baliet, Pigi, Malakal town, Panyikang, Fashoda, Manyo was already displaced and settled in Malakal POC or resided in Melut and Renk towns. By this time, both, Padang and Shilluk communities were subject of sustained attacks from Riek Machar rebels. When Johnson Olony’s Agwelek forces rebelled in April 2015, significant portion of the Shilluk population was already in Malakal POC, Renk and Melut towns or have moved to Sudan. No Shilluk village was attacked or burnt, even after Olony rebelled.
15) Instead, your report chose to ignore the actual fact. After overrunning Malakal town in April 2015, Agwelek forces of Johnson Olony and Riek Machar forces, commanded by Gabriel Tanginya moved to Akoka, Melut, using armed barges, indiscriminately shooting, killing and burning down Bianythiang, which is Akoka county HQS and other villages in Akoka county such as Magok and Rom (Where over 5,000 displaced people from Baliet were stationed), Thiangrial refinery and Melut town. Melut town was totally burnt after its take over and the fighting that ensued. Also in Melut, the Dimtama displaced camp, which also held over 20,000 IDP’s from Baliet and Pigi was burnt and IDPs killed and further displaced. This wave of attacks also prompted the oil companies to evacuate their foreign workers to Juba. According to your report, this was not a crime and not worth reporting.
16) As the war barges moved north along the Nile toward Akoka and Melut, the second group of Agwelek and Riek Machar forces moved to Baliet in pursuit of the government forces retreating from Malakal and who later moved further north from Adong towards Akoka. On May 21, 2015, Agwelek and Riek Machar forces burnt to ashes Baliet and Adong towns, for the second time. They further followed the SPLA forces along the road towards Akoka, where the battle of Pelbeer happened on May 22, 2015 in which the SPLA forces defeated Agwelek and Riek Machar forces capturing a number of tanks in the process. Other Padang villages burnt by Agwelek and Riek Machar forces during the same period include, Thaak (Melut), Jelhak (Renk), Majak (Renk), Dukduk, Gozpami, etc. Your report also ignored this facts, especially the burning of villages in Baliet for the second time in one year and attacks on IDP camps, as if international law licensed Agwelek and white army forces to attack and kill Padang Jieng civilians and IDPs, and thus not worth reporting.
17) More importantly, the entire areas of Atar and Khorfulus in Pigi County has been burnt by Agwelek and Riek Machar forces and the whole population has been displaced to Malakal POC and Melut/Akoka IDPs camps. The only Jieng who might be alive are only those disguising as Nuer and speak Naath (Nuer) language in Khorwac of Pigi County. As such, the whole of Pigi County is currently under the occupation of the Nuer and Agwelek forces. As usual, your report fails to mention this fact and altered the truth completely, by projecting Padang community as the Aggressors, when they are the aggressed. This leaves a lot to be desired.
18) Despite incitement and extermination campaign waged against Padang by its neighbors, including your very biased report, we continue to show that Padang believes in peaceful coexistence. Padang community still hosts significant number of Shilluks’ population in Melut and Renk counties. They go around their daily businesses normally without being targeted, while in the West Bank of the Nile (The Shilluk Kingdom), every single Padang Jieng person who ever lived there has been killed, including people with relatives in the area. This covers Tonga, Wau Shilluk, Kodok and other areas. We invite HSBA and other agencies to visit Baliet, Akoka, Melut, Pigi and Renk counties to prove this.
19) Cogitating the above facts, your allegation that the Minister of Petroleum and some oil companies provided arms and other support to none existent Padang militia is part of the ongoing unsubstantiated campaign against prominent members of the Padang community by the informers of your report. It is only intended to blackmail key community members and settle political scores. In a sovereign country such as South Sudan, there is no room for government officials forming and funding their own militias using government and people’s resources, nor is it possible under corporate entities such as international oil companies. It therefore leaves a lot to be desired when HSBA becomes an accomplice in negative campaigns against government officials and Padang community. In line with the foregoing presentation, it must be unequivocally stated that the assertions made in this report are absolutely untrue. Despite the presence of ample opportunities to easily verify facts that underpin the conflict in the former Upper Nile state, HBSA-Small Arms Survey chose to completely rely on one sided stories designed to character assassinate the Padang people, and this selective choice seriously calls into question both the credibility and objectivity of not just the report but also of the organization behind it.
The Politics of the New States
20) The division of the country from 10 into 28 states was an administrative decision by the government of the Republic of South Sudan. Padang Jieng is happy to share the new Eastern Nile State with Maban and Koma communities and as well live in harmony with other communities that comprised the former Upper Nile State and all South Sudanese. We therefore beg to disagree with the notion in your report that the new states have curved oil reserves in the Jieng territories. In fact Jieng happen to have inhabited these farming and oil areas, unaware that it had oil underneath until recent discovery. Despite dispersal settlement, there is historical and contemporary correlation of the land inhabited by Padang Jieng, in terms of its richness in fertile farmlands, oil, gum and other minerals – from Abyei, Abiemnhom, Panrieng, Pigi, Baliet, Akoka, Melut and Renk. The locations of these resources, which have constantly been shared with neighbors and all South Sudanese, having been the main breadbasket for the government all these years, should not be twisted to serve as part of the negative campaign against the community. After all, the community has not benefited from these resources.
21) Your report further alleged that both, Akoka and Pigi counties were recent creations. This is incorrect. The truth is, Pigi has always existed but there was a dispute among communities on what the name of the county should be. It used to be referred to as Khorfulus by the people of Khorfulus (Luac, Rut and Thoi) while the people of Atar (Paweny) called it Atar County. This issue was resolved during a community meeting and the county was renamed, (not created) Pigi in 2010. Akoka is spiritual land of Padang Jieng and has existed for generations. Akoka is to Padang Jieng what Fashoda is to the Shilluks. Akoka was curved out of Baliet County in 2010, in an administrative move, in which no borders or boundaries of another county were reduced, added or altered. Baliet County was simply split into two administrative units.
22) It must also be recalled that some Shilluk politicians modified the rebellion of Johnson Olony, which started after 2010 general elections in the Shilluk kingdom, to be a war with Padang Jieng over land as declared by Gen. Olony while signing a pact with the government in 2012. Our view was that, the move was opportunistic and planned to divert government attention to allow Gen. Olony to keep his forces for reasons best known to him and Shilluk politicians. The peace loving Shilluks know very well that those who crossed to live on the East bank of the Nile were and will continue to be hosted by the Padang community in Eastern Nile state. The rebellion of Johnson Olony and other Shilluk generals should therefore not be linked to the creation of 28 states in our humble view. If the Shilluks have any legitimate claim of land ownership, the Padang are ready to settle it amicably on the round table, not through rebellion or militancy.
23) Although Padang community and their representatives in the government have maintained silence in light of coming into effect of the 28 states and numerous aggressions, the situation continues to be polarized by some Shilluk community leaders. It is on records that some Shilluk intellectuals continuously express provocative statements such as in one of the press conferences by Shilluk MPs, led by minority leader, Onyoti Adigo, clearly declaring that there would be conflict in Malakal, and it indeed happened. Although your report has vindicated them (the inciters of violence), the world must know that the fighting that occurred in Malakal POC is absolutely 100% their making, not Padang Jieng, as your report purports. Padang community continues to cautiously read articles, published in various news outlets, some openly declaring that time is nearing when Padang Jieng will be wiped out by an alliance of Shilluks and Nuer in the former Upper Nile state. The HSBA report reinforces these genocidal views and campaign by creating a reason to take such action, and it is important HSBA takes note of the death theatre it is preparing for the South Sudanese people.
The New borders, Old tensions
24) As noted earlier, Akoka and Pigi counties are not new creations as your report suggests, but have always existed. In spite of the prominent role played for the liberation of South Sudan by Padang communities, especially during the second civil war in Sudan, Padang community was not involved in the governance in the former Upper Nile State, Unity State as well as Jonglei State, where they also live. This was because the CPA designated the former Upper Nile state to be administered by the National Congress Party (NCP). Therefore the governors of the former Upper Nile state came from the Nuer or Shilluk tribes who had prominence in the NCP. In Unity and Jonglei states, where Panrieng, Abiemnhom and Pigi counties were respectively administered, no governor came from Padang community. Like any other South Sudanese communities, Padang community only participated in the governance of former Upper Nile state, through representatives, either appointed to the parliament or cabinet. How could Padang have been responsible for what you term as marginalization of Shilluk community during the CPA period? Your assertion is unsubstantiated and biased.
25) No proper investigation and/or assessment have been made on the causes of the communal clashes in Malakal town and its environs during the CPA period. However, the unilateral decision taken by the late leader of the SPLM/A Dr. John Garang, influenced by conditions of the return into the ranks of the movement of Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, by making Malakal a County, administered by the Shilluks in 2004, was directly related to these incidences. Padang communities protested and rejected that decision, but until then, no step was further taken to bring the Shilluk and Padang communities to the round table to resolve the dispute. Instead, the Shilluk politicians and generals have chosen to rebel with the sole aim of fighting Padang communities, with countable atrocities, such as the cold blooded murder of Paramount chief Thon Wai Awin, his family members and over hundred more civilians of Akoka County in 2009. This silence and the aspiration of Padang to settle all issues amicably on the negotiating table in order to coexist peacefully, is what our neighbors have mistaken for weakness. But, Padang expects reputable institutions like HSBA to get this message right.
The Opportunity for War
26) Your report rightly noted that the government of the Republic of South Sudan had to start rebuilding its army from scratch after the December 2013 failed coup, which led to the defection of over 70% of SPLA forces of Nuer tribe in the area. The sons and daughters of both Padang and Shilluk communities in the SPLA, including the Agwelek forces that were also victims of Riek Machar’s rebellion at the time, maintained their allegiance to the national army and continued to fight against the rebel forces in defense of the constitution. It was the SPLA forces, comprising of all tribes in South Sudan including some Nuer soldiers, who defied the rebellion, and defended the oilfields and facilities as well as communities living in those areas. This dynamic only changed when Johnson Olonyi’s Agwelek forces shifted their allegiance to Riek Machar’s rebellion, but the SPLA still prevailed. No community’s name should be dragged into this, including Padang.
27) Because the government forces thwarted the rebel’s primary objective of destroying oilfields and facilities in Paloch, as well as killing and displacement of the local population, there is a clear sentiment and hatred towards Padang for being on the side of the government during this mess. As such, the anti-peace elements have resorted to blackmailing and incriminating Padang community and its key leaders including those in SPLA forces. They know that Padang sons and daughters, alongside their colleagues in the SPLA demonstrated outstanding valor in defense of government installations and communities in Malakal, Akoka, Baliet, Melut, Renk and Maban and managed to neutralize a combined force of Riek Machar and Agwelek forces. This is why a political campaign is being waged.
28) It remains unreported that the entire Pigi County remains under occupation, numerous villages have been burnt in Akoka and Baliet, and civilians have been killed and displaced in more than two occasions including IDPs camps in Rom and Dimtama. Melut town, Thaak, Jelhak, Majak, Kol-leng, Dukduk, and Goz-pami villages were also burnt and people massacred by joint forces of Agwelek and Riek Machar’s white army. Evidently, it is the perpetuators of these despicable acts that are twisting stories and playing victims, when they are the actual criminals. Thus, for the second time in history, the Padang communities are being made to pay a huge price for being on the side of the government during this senseless war, just like they paid a heavy price for supporting the SPLA war of liberation when the same treacherous groups, working with the regime in Khartoum murdered people, burnt houses and displaced people in the early 1990s. This is the narrative they are creating, which HSBA now deceitfully advances.
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The Rise of Johnson Olony
29) Your report got it right that Padang community had no role in Johnson Olony’s ascension as a warlord. Unlike the Nuer and Shilluk communities that are respectively known worldwide of having tribal militias fighting to advance tribal interests, Padang has never had any tribal militia. The proponents of your report seem to be seeking to punish Padang communities for the role-played by their sons and daughters in the government forces, which is prejudicial.
30) Sadly, the narrative wants to portray all the communities as being responsible for the mess raging on in former Upper Nile state, which is not the case. The truth is, these tribal militias, the Agwelek forces and the white army, whose Johnson Olony and Dr. Riek Machar are responsible for, are solely responsible for the undeniable atrocities committed in various Padang areas of Baliet, Pigi, Akoka, Melut, Renk, Panrieng, Abiemnom as well as Malakal town.
Olony’s split from the SPLA
31) Again here, your report suggested that Padang Jieng pushed Olony into a rebellion, thus justifying his actions and vindicating him of atrocities committed thereof. This is blatant bias. As you have rightly indicated, tension had been building in Malakal between Johnson Olony and the State government as well as in neighboring areas such as Akoka, which eventually led to the death of Bwogo under very unclear circumstances. The former governor of the former Upper Nile state, who is alleged to have had a rift with him, was not from Padang community, so how could our community be linked to this? Johnson Olony had been integrated into the SPLA and promoted, so practically, he was a national army officer. Again, your report dragged the community’s name into an issue outside its jurisdiction.
The War of the East Bank
32) Your report also vindicated and justified Johnson Olony’s actions. The biasedness can easily be inferred by the casual manner in which you reported the attack on Akoka county HQs of Bianythiang on May 18, 2015 and subsequent burning of the town and surrounding villages. More importantly, the report fell short of mentioning the attack by Agwelek forces on Rom IDPs camp located not far from Bianythiang, in which Baliet county IDPs were murdered, their huts burnt and their further displacement to Khor Adar, where they are currently stationed. That act by itself amounts to a crime against humanity. International agencies such as HSBA continue to downplay the significance of the displaced camps hosting Jieng IDPs from Baliet and Pigi counties in Khor Adar and Dimtama, thus, making no effort to consider them in the reports or visit the camps to have facts at hands on the challenges they face. This, we also consider part of the campaign to deny them justice because of their “Jieng” ethnicity.
The political battle for the former Upper Nile State
33) Your report rightly noted that at the outbreak of the civil war, increasing Padang domination of the State was not reflected in its political administration. This is because citizens of former Upper Nile State including members of Padang community elected Hon. Simon Kun Puoch, the former governor in the elections of 2010. The fact that Padang had no candidate contesting for the gubernatorial position in the state during the 2010 election also proves that there was never any agenda for increasing Padang dominance in the state, as suggested by the report. If indeed there was such plan, the appointment of Hon. Gen. Chol Thon Balok as State Governor could not have happened after ten years. For the record, the former governors who administered the former Upper Nile state from 2005 – 2015 included three Nuers and one Shilluk. These leaders could attest to the fact that the Padang community has never raised any complain regarding their political participation and or lack of what you refer to as dominance in the State.
34) Just as the appointments of the previous governors was not intended to advance any community agenda in the former Upper Nile State, the appointment of Hon. Gen. Chol Thon Balok was on administrative basis, and on the President’s constitutional prerogative. The same applies to his recent reappointment as the governor of the newly created Eastern Nile State. Padang communities have historically and contemporarily inhabited the Eastern bank of the Nile and do not need to create dominance at the expense of any community. That is why we continue to host members of Shilluk community and other tribes in Melut and Renk, when our people who happened to be on the West Bank of the Nile have all been killed and our villages continue to come under attack.
35) Your report further unnecessarily dragged the name of Hon. Stephen Dhieu Dau, the current Minister of Petroleum and Mining, as being raised to political limelight by Pagan Amum, the former Secretary General of the SPLM, and as prove of Padang’s initial rise to dominance. This statement is pointless. Hon. Stephen Dhieu was appointed based on his capacity and records from his previous service. He serves the entire country not Padang community. HSBA needs to note that Padang is one of the South Sudanese constituents with rights, similar to other South Sudanese communities and are therefore entitled to have representatives serving in various capacities in the government. Including such a pointless statement in your report is based on the narrative of those with grudges against Padang community.
36) Since Presidential Order 36/2015 was issued on the 2nd of October 2015 for the establishment of 28 states, the central government never issued a cancellation order. As a result, budgets for all the 28 states have been allocated from their previous state budgets based on the population and the workforce. By now, all three states in the former Upper Nile State (Latjor, Western Nile and Eastern Nile States) have formed their governments by appointing deputy governors, state advisors, state Ministers and instituted their parliaments. Budgets have been allocated accordingly at the National Ministry of Finance. Therefore, all civil servants and employees of the former Upper Nile State and who are originally from current Latjor and Western Nile states have their wages paid to the new state authorities, for further administration. This process applies to the other 27 states. Your report has ignored this fact by implying that only Eastern Nile State, administered by someone who happened to be a Padang Jieng is trying to implement the order that created the 28 states, while other states are not.
The Rainy season conflict
37) Your report unjustifiably states that: “In what is effectively a war waged on the Shilluk population, Padang Dinka has not differentiated between civilians and soldiers”. This is a mere blackmailing of the entire community. Padang has no organized force stationed on the West bank. As your report earlier noted, most of the force currently stationed in and around Malakal town, including those on the West bank are from the 2nd Infantry division, which includes every tribe in South Sudan. How your report is able to selectively point out the role of a few Padang sons on the line of duty for South Sudan, alongside other thousand of soldiers from other tribes is farfetched. This statement is definitely borrowed from a source with vested interest against Padang community and once again, HSBA credibility is online for taking side.
The Humanitarian War and the violence that took place on 16 – 18 February 2016
38) The Malakal UNMISS POC incident is one of the unwanted occurrences, similar to the UNMISS camp incident in Akobo in 2013 and the incident of Bor POC. Just like the other two unfortunate incidences, the UN, independent agencies as well as the National and state governments have assessed what really happened in Malakal and their reports clearly reported that violence which involved the use of clubs, machetes and light weapons broke out between Shilluk and Nuer IDPs on one side and Jieng and other tribes such as Dafuris from Sudan and Ethiopians on the other on February 16, 2016, and continued to February 17, 2016. This resulted in death on both sides, burning of shelters and total displacement of Jieng IDPs from the POC. The UNMISS report never mentioned Padang community nor militia planning and executing any attack.
39) By refuting the report by UNMISS, whose task is to protect civilians, HSBA is trying to build on its own narrative of this unfortunate occurrence with an aim of incriminating Padang community as it has been the case in the entire report. What your report refers to as an internal report for UNMISS could be linked to informants of your report seeking to settle some scores. By reporting and inflating the death toll for Shilluks and Nuer only while ignoring to acknowledge displacement out of Malakal POC and the death of the Padang Jieng men from Pigi and Baliet who succumbed to bullet wounds (Not machetes), HSBA has definitely taken side in the conflict.
40) As everyone continuous to read reports and findings from all concerned institutions regarding the Malakal POC incident, it is important to underscore the role of the inciting statements made by some Shilluk MPs prior to the outbreak of fighting. We believe, statements such as that of Hon. Onyoti Adigo’s, when he warned that the creation of 28 states would bring fighting in Malakal prepared the ground for the violence. It is bias to try and create a narrative from scratch in order to demonize Padang community. If Padang Jieng continues to peacefully host thousands of Shilluk men, women and Children in Melut and Renk counties, how realistic is it that the same community could plan an attack in a UN IDP camp hosting the same people? Besides, just on April 10, 2016, the Agwelek forces attacked and burnt the entire Thaak Village of Melut County, even as Melut community hosts Shilluk people but, the Melut population didn’t revenge on the Shilluks staying in their area. It would be helpful if HSBA makes an effort to visit Akoka, Baliet, Melut and Renk to see how it is being misled to make one-sided reporting.
41) The overall security situation in Malakal and its environs is controlled by the government forces, the SPLA not Padang community or militia. The SPLA is responsible for overall security and checkpoints for clearances of NGOs staffs and other people entering or departing the town, including those traveling to and from the East and West banks of the Nile. Alleging that Padang is making life difficult for the Shilluk to assess the West bank is a baseless attempt to drag the community’s name into affairs outside its authority because Padang are not responsible for the security clearance and also as stressed earlier, we host them and make their lives safe in Renk, Melut and Malakal town. More importantly, the governance system has not broken down. The national and state governments, backed by security forces in Malakal town, which are composed of many other South Sudanese tribes cannot allow communities such as Padang to have its own militants.
42) On the basis of what you call humanitarian war, your report intentionally fell short of mentioning the presence of Padang IDP’s, mostly from Pigi and Baliet counties, currently stationed in Khor Adar and Dimtama camps. More importantly, your report didn’t mention the attacks in Rom and Dimtama IDPs camps by Agwelek forces during the period of your reporting. Similarly missing in your report is the status of the Padang Jieng IDPs, who were recently pushed out of the UNMISS camp by the Shilluk and Nuer IDPs in Malakal POC. By doing so, HSBA has become an actor in the conflict.
43) Contrariwise, your report alleges that the Government of South Sudan is transporting Padang Jieng IDPs and settling them in Malakal and other Eastern Nile areas. By this, your report seems to suggest that Padang Jieng are moving to Eastern Nile areas from somewhere else, when the truth is, Padang people have lived here for as long as South Sudan existed and they are not pushing anyone out in order to settle.
44) The people that the government has occasionally transported to Paloch (Melut) are IDPs mostly from Baliet and Pigi counties, who were displaced to Juba during the conflict. Some of them took refuge in refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya. After the signing of the peace agreement (ARCISS), they voluntarily returned to Juba and camped at the Juba Airport, pressing the government to facilitate their return to their areas. Although a few of them were transported, some of them could be visibly seen camping outside Juba international airport, struggling to get means to return home. Those who have luckily been transported have now settled in Khor Adar and Dimtama IDP camps. This is not a campaign to settle them in other communities’ land as your report suggests. Instead of creating a political narrative here, HSBA should have reported this as a humanitarian situation that requires support from international agencies to enable these IDPs to return to their areas.
Obviously Padang Jieng community is not responsible for the genesis and escalation of the ongoing conflict in the former Upper Nile State. They are simply the victims of the attacks and killings on the hands of the Nuer white army of Riek Machar and recently, Agwelek forces of Johnson Olony. Straightaway after the Juba crisis, Padang Jieng Counties and villages were the targets of attacks by Riek Machar’s Nuer white army and rebels as witnessed in Baliet, Pigi, Akoka, Melut and Renk counties. Other Padang counties of Panrieng and Abiemnhom of Ruweng (former Unity) State were not spared of these atrocities. Padang people were targeted and killed in villages and towns because of their ethnicity simply because, the government in Juba, is led by a man who happens to be a Jieng by tribe.
As a result, some of Padang Jieng inhabited counties such as Pigi remain under occupation by Riek Machar’s rebels and Agwelek forces while thousands of people have been killed and others displaced to Malakal UNMISS POC, Khor Adar and Dimtama IDP camps in Melut county. Padang Jieng villages next to the bank of the Nile have also seen similar attacks, killing of civilians, burning of villages and displacement of the populations. This happened in Bianythiang (which is Akoka County’s HQs), Rom village that hosted IDPs from Baliet and Pigi counties, and other villages such as Magok, Thaak, Thiangrial, Jelhak, Majak, Kol-leng, Dukduk and Goz-pami. The Padang Jieng IDP camps have been attacked in more than one occasion in Dimtama and Rom, which is a criminal act. The same is true of Baliet county residents whose villages were burnt in more than two occasions by Riek Machar’s Jikany white army, commanded by Gen. Gathoth Gatkuoth and later by Agwelek forces of Johnson Olony. Thousands of our people have escaped into refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Uganda.
As a community, Padang Jieng has championed peaceful coexistence with neighbors and remains on record of having never attacked, or raided their neighbors. Although Padang has always been victims, our neighbors continue to manufacture lies against us, to which agencies like HSBA have been trapped into.
We have taken note of the ongoing campaign to incriminate Padang community and deny them justice, by turning criminals into victims. We are aware of a very negative campaign as being waged by the real war mongers and perpetuators of our people’s sufferings to target key Padang community members in the National and state governments as well as security agencies with aim of depicting them as the bad guys. Unfortunately, champions of this negative campaign seem to be succeeding in accomplishing their desired agenda because many agencies including HSBA are publishing the negative reports without verifying the reliability and credibility of the allegations.
Although our neighbors continue to inflict atrocities on our people, we continue to host members of their communities in Padang areas such as Renk and Melut as well as Malakal town, which is a metropolitan town. No Padang Jieng person is spared of life, today, when they cross over to the West bank of the Nile (The Shilluk kingdom), but our people continue to host members of Shilluk community in peace. For instance, in January 2016, Baliet county residents allowed Lou Nuer cattle herders’ access to water and pastures in their areas, although the same community is responsible for atrocities committed on their population. Surprisingly, some of the cattle seeking pasture were raided from Baliet but the residents chose not to rustle them back, just for peace to prevail.
Padang Jieng has decided to respond because your report is a total misrepresentation of practical facts on the ground, informed by one side of the conflict. In order to ensure that the victims are not falsely categorized as offenders while criminals go free, we urge HSBA to uphold the basis of its credibility, being a neutral and independent agency. We believe that a credible documentation and reporting of atrocities would aid in the process of administering justice and on that basis, we invite your representatives to visit Padang Jieng areas to familiarize yourselves with the realistic situation on the ground and also listing of truthful narrative. This will not only preserve the good reputation HSBA has built over years, but also justice will be rightly administered to victims of this senseless conflict that has destroyed social fabrics in our communities.
- Hon. Joshua Dau Diu
- Hon. Benjamin Mijak Dau
- Hon. Deng Goc Ayuel
- Hon. John Antipas Ayiei
- Hon. Akot Dau
For more information please contact:
Hon. John Antipas
Telephone # +211 955441399
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