April 22, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — It is our utmost concern that, once again, more lives of innocent South Sudanese were lost on the 14th of April, 2014 in the historically renowned town of Bor. This time, however, these killings were prompted by unwarranted provocations by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which is a direct contravention to the UN charter and the mandate of the UNMISS in South Sudan.
On the 14th of April, a group of youth from the Greater Bor were marching in a peaceful procession to deliver a petition letter to the office of the UNMISS, the office of the Governor of Jonglei state, and to other stakeholders in the government of Jonglei state. In the petition letter, the youth demanded the following:
• Either the UNMISS removes the rebels hiding among the IDPs sheltering within the camp
• Or relocates the camp from Bor altogether because the presence of the rebels within the UNMISS’s premise is a serious threat to peace and harmony in Bor.
These demands were precipitated by the actions of the rebels within the UNMISS compound such as:
• The rebels have been known to throw stones at anybody passing by the UNMISS compound.
• When the Governor of Jonglei State visited the IDPs in the camp, ostensibly to convince them to come out of the camp and return to their homes, he was greeted hostilely by the rebels masquerading as IDPs within the camp. Stones were thrown at him and his entourage, and songs phrasing Riek Machar were sung in his presence. Simply, these rebels in the compound almost lynch the Governor and the members of the cabinet who accompanied him.
• The rebels have been making anonymous phone calls to the town residents, telling them to leave ahead of a potential ‘White Army’ invasion. This has created an atmosphere of fear and panic among the town-folks.
• Recently, when the rebels triumphed in Bentiu, their comrades in arms within the UNMISS camp became elated and celebrated quite openly in glaring view of the town-folks.
While all these were happening, the UNMISS’s staff did not take any appropriate steps to control the rebels masquerading as IDPs in the camp. These provocative undertakings continued unabated in the full knowledge of the UNMISS compound management.
It is to be recalled that when the violent incident, which plunged the country into the raging civil war, started in Juba, the combined full force of the defecting Nuer under the command of Gen. Gatdet and the Nuer residents in Bor Town descended upon unarmed Dinka Bor civilians and slaughtered them in their hundreds. In this killing spree, they were later joined by their armed youth of Lou Nuer known as the ‘White Army.’ These Nuer rebels carried out what amounts to a blatant genocide against the Dinka Bor people.
When the SPLA wrestled Bor Town from their murderous grip, some of these white army elements fled to the UNMISS compound together with their civilians. Under the protection of the UNMISS, they have been mocking the host community whose right they’ve recently violated without any shred of remorse. While the host community was burying and mourning her deads, these remorseless rebels continued to rough the salt into that fresh wound by dancing joyously, celebrating every murderous feat pulled by their comrades in the battlefields of Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States.
These actions, which are unbecoming of people who are seeking protection among the people whom they have wronged, were the basis of the Greater Bor youth’s peaceful procession which ended rather horribly, thanks to the UNMISS’s lack of appropriate mechanisms to keep peace. When the protesting youth arrived at the UNMISS compound with their letter of petition, they came under fire from the machine gun nests within the UNMISS compound. This resulted in the death of seven (7) youth and the wounding of fourteen (14) more; some of them innocent young boys and girls and defenseless women.
In self-defense, some of the armed youth shot back into the camp, and this also resulted in an inadvertent slaying of some IDPs within the UNMISS compound. These unfortunate deaths and injuries were completely avoidable, had the staff of the UNMISS acted responsibly as the custodians of peace and order in this country. Hadn’t the staff of the UNMISS provoked the youth by firing at them, the youth would have delivered their petition as planned, and the IDPs would have never been hurt.
Although it is not our desire to continue to be at a loggerhead with the UNMISS since we don’t have any axe to grind with this UN body, our demands, as stated in the petition and herein, still stand. The dynamics of co-existence between the host community and IDPs have been changed by the recent and previous events; it is therefore imperative for the UNMISS to act with a fierce urgency in addressing our demands. It is our sincere hope that the UNMISS will pay a listening ear to our call and does what is honorable to avoid further unfortunate incidents of this kind in the future.
Bor Community Youth Association (BCYA)
Bor County, Jonglei State, Republic of South Sudan