By Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa,
Former Lecturer, RMIT.
July 27, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Twenty six years ago the world was profoundly horrified by what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre in the heart of Beijing in which protestors including students were massacred by Chinese troops for what the authorities in Beijing termed counter revolutionary riot”.
Drawing an inspiration and enthralling parallel of that chilling incident more than two decades on, the government army of South Sudan teamed up with its allied militia forces have emulated the feat of Tiananmen Square by deliberately running over and crushing fleeing civilians with battle tanks in South Sudan’s unity state. The report published by Human Rights Watch (News24) has inculpated the South Sudan government troops of committing atrocities against unarmed and destitute civilians which could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a separate report prepared by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group, the South Sudanese government forces have been responsible for scores of killings, rapes and extensive pillaging and burning of civilian property (Business International Times, 22 July 2015), while the USA that helped create the world’s newest country alongside the global community watches on with folded arms, only eagerly waiting to punish any third world country that may adopt punitive measures against the practice of sodomy, alternatively known generally gay rights.
Courtesy to Uganda army’s lethal counterinsurgency strategies that were once applied by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) on the Acholi civilian population in Northern Uganda who were faulted by Kampala for complicity in the Rebellion led by Joseph Kony against the state. Those countless murders and mutilations of civilians were all blamed on the LRA by the government of Uganda. Such feudalistic practices run counter to the very essence of contemporary civilized standards.
Brazenly engaging in a sheer chicanery and Advocatus diaboli, the South Sudan’s government is desperately attempting to deny any wrongdoing and instantaneously seeking to hold the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group and the UN Agencies that reported the wanton and unmatched abuses by the government army responsible for what it calls “false reporting”. Lamentably, the world is diffidently watching the gruesome massacres in South Sudan with less concerns and infinitesimal receptivity. In a related note, it is unreservedly inconceivable and credulous to hear certain individuals swiftly pointing an accusing finger at foreign countries as being responsible for the furtherance of the conflict in South Sudan.
You can’t just intentionally go on rampage conducting mass murders, rape spree, castration of young boys, looting and burning of ethnic Nuer village settlements and hastily turn around to blame foreign countries for lengthening the duration of the civil war overlooking your obvious outrageous role and shortcomings. Have you and the government in Juba for a single moment ever thought of embracing and inculcating a pacific culture and at least a patina of fair play in the country?
Perplexingly, the military spokesman of the South Sudanese army has now put on a brave face and unapologetically talking about the need to launch an investigation into the mass killings in Unity state, sounding as if it was the first time such a spate of brutality has ever occurred. It is repulsive and exasperating experience. South Sudanese have on numerous occasions been treated to such repeated blatant pack of lies and can’t accommodate this classic travesty anymore. However, I am still inclined to argue that the exit of the Ugandan military from South Sudan is the panacea and would indubitably pave the way for rapprochement in South Sudan and consequently leading to the creation of a transitional unity government in the country, but anything less than that would certainly stretch further the boundaries of violence and exacerbate more anguish.
With the presence of the UPDF, the government in, Juba would always be tempted to believe in winning the war militarily, as long as there is bountiful support from Kampala. Upsettingly, the President of Uganda has been misguidedly made to believe that if the UPDF could not defeat the SPLA-IO, at least it must maintain the status quo in order to keep open for a while the trade routes to South Sudan. I think this perception appears to be a production of an outright erroneous scheming which is ill-advisedly premised on gross misconstruction of the political realism in South Sudan.
In my last correspondence to President Museveni, I sensibly cautioned the Ugandan head of state against pursuing a capricious military option in South Sudan’s conflict as it is evidently a futile quest. Uganda has never been a super power before and would probably never be one in the region in future. The verity is that, the UPDF has only been chasing around rag-tag outfits like the LRA and the Somali Islamic militant group. The real taste of battle the UPDF have experienced and lost alongside the combined forces of South Sudan government troop and the Sudan rebel soldiers from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) was the encounter for the second recapture of Bentiu by the SPLA-IO in 2014.
The bush war of the 1980s and the insignificant support extended to the SPLA against Khartoum which were reciprocated by John Garang by destroying LRA bases mostly in Eastern and Central Equatoria states were way back. Likewise the UPDF was forced out of the DRC for similar adventurous undertakings including prowling. Relatedly, Uganda army would likely be ejected from South Sudan militarily, judged by the potency and combat capability of the SPLA-IO on the one hand and the current fallacious trend of political thinking and ambition of the government of Uganda on the war in Kampala’s next door Southern neighbour on the other.
The recent argument presented by President Museveni that he would withdraw his forces from South Sudan in the event of an IGAD’s alternate force being ready to deploy in the restive country is quite flimsy. There would never be an IGAD army deployed in South Sudan, it won’t happen because the member countries comprising the IGAD could never synchronize their conflicting interests and furthermore, if deployed, all South Sudanese would treat such a collective force as an army of occupation, and it would unquestionably meet the same fate as the UPDF today.
The mega atrocities happening in the three South Sudan states would not have befallen without Uganda’s military interloping. Besides, the Tiananmen Square type of abuses recounted in the first few lines of this article might not also have occurred if the UPDF had not bolstered the war endeavours of the South Sudan government troops and equipped the latter with the diabolical modus operandi for the ongoing counterinsurgency operations against the ethnic Nuer civilian population in Unity state.
Finally, The IGAD as the political entity entrusted to resolve the South Sudan’s civil unrest and secure peace for the country does not seem to marshal the collective will to address this ticklish issue, as visibly seen from its conflicting functions. Most of these countries operate on the basis of ensuring their individual interests and hence fewer efforts are offered towards halting the hemorrhage in South Sudan. It is a public secret that Uganda is fueling the civil war in South Sudan and is involved in gross human rights abuses including carpet bombing of civilians and yet it is a member of the IGAD and regrettably tasked with the duty of ending the war. What a monumental double standards on display? Would the Troika members and IGAD plus also see from the same vintage point and through the same skewwhiff spectacle?
SPLM/A-IO does categorically reserve the right to piquantly denounce the IGAD for refusing to place Uganda on its tray of pending business and also for not being serious enough to resolve the South Sudan problem. The leadership of SPLM/A-IO should adopt further measures by possibly seeking the individual counsel of other parties such as President Jacob Zuma of South Africa; Buhari of Nigeria; Cameron of UK; and Obama about the lopsided approach of the IGAD in handling the peace process in South Sudan, urging these leaders to understand that Uganda is not qualified to be a participant.
Finally, Juba soldiers who are governed by their own unruly impulses at the behest of the police state have committed numerous unthinkable violations of human rights in the country and accordingly, the government of South Sudan that initiated the killing of innocent civilians in Juba on 15 December 2013 must be held accountable. By the way, in 2011, the Western powers went on hurriedly to invoke Chapter Seven (7) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), for use against the government of Muammar Al Gaddafi, basically for the death of a handful of demonstrators at the hands of Libyan security forces in the street of the country’s Eastern city of Benghazi. Today more than a thousand times that figure of civilians in Benghazi have lost their dear lives in South Sudan. Does human life worth differently from one part of the world to the other? “Interest” aside.
Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa
Graduate School of Business and Law (GSBL),
The Emily MacPherson Building
Building 13, 379-405 Russell Street,
Melbourne, VIC, 3000