‘If you ran, they would shoot you’ – South Sudanese testimonies

By Katy Migiro

SPLA Soldiers in Bentiu(Photo: files)
SPLA Soldiers in Bentiu(Photo: files)

May 09, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nairobi) – Unimaginable atrocities are being committed in South Sudan, Amnesty International said on Thursday in a report comprising testimony from interviews with more than 100 people.

Here are some of their stories:

Sarah was in a group of around 300 mostly women and children from the Nuer ethnic community, travelling in Unity State in December when government soldiers attacked.

“When they started shooting the big guns, we lay down in the grass. There was a big pick-up truck with a big machine gun on it. The car ran over the people in the grass.”


Nyaliap, another woman in the group, went to fetch water during the journey and found soldiers lying in wait.

“The soldiers said, ‘We will kill you’, and started firing. People scattered.

“There were four men in our group who were carrying children on their shoulders, they were all shot dead. The children fell from them and some ladies ran to pick them up.

“Bullets were firing from all different directions.

“The soldiers came back and took all 11 men in our group. They stripped them naked and tied their hands behind their back. They lined them up and made the women and children sit down.

“The soldiers were saying bad things like, ‘We are going to kill you, you are the people of Riek Machar’ – the soldiers had turned the men to face the bush, and they killed them.

“After they shot the men, they turned to the women and said, ‘Now we are going to shoot you.’ If you ran, they would shoot you.

“They killed three women and a child who tried to escape. One was my niece Nyanok and her two-year-old child.

“If you looked them in the eye they could kill you, so I just kept looking at the ground.”

Of their group of 300, only 50 survived.


Susan described how soldiers took her 20-year-old son, his friend and her 67-year-old brother-in-law from her home in Juba in December.

“At about 2pm soldiers came to the house. I think they were looking for Nuer men. We are Nuer.

“They took them outside and tied their hands behind their backs and then tied their feet with the same rope, so that their hands and feet were pulled together like sheep and they could not move.

“Then they shot them repeatedly, killing all three of them, and then left. They said nothing to them or to me. There were many soldiers around, about 25 of them.”

She fled to a neighbour’s house where she and nine other women were abducted and gang raped by a group of soldiers.


Nyagoa, another woman who was in Gandor, Unity State, in February said government forces chased them from another town called Leer, raping, killing and destroying property as they went.

“I saw seven men killed. They were shot on the spot. After that the soldiers went inside and saw there were three men inside the tukul (hut). So they locked the door and set it alight. The three men were burnt alive.”


A woman called Nyaruot was hiding in the trees during an attack in Gandor. She saw four women and one girl being raped by both government and Darfuri soldiers.

One of the women was pregnant.

“She was around 17 years old. We saw seven people rape her outside, and when they finished, she lost her baby.

“She was crying, and saying, ‘Leave me, you’re my people, we’re one country.'”

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