April 19, 2014 (Nairobi) —On Thursday 17 April, 2014, a group of armed Police, military and Wildlife soldiers in plain clothes together with some elements of Dinka Bor Youth, armed with AKM- 47 rifles and machetes (Pangas), attacked thousands of Nuer IDPs in the UNMISS camp in Bor, the Capital of Jonglei state. The IDPs have been under protection of UNMISS in its camp since the outbreak of fighting in South Sudan in Mid December last year. Details of casualties relayed by survivors of the attacked who attended to the burial of the dead in mass graves are 145 killed and 207 wounded. UNMISS initial report on 19 April 2014 puts the figure of the dead within the camp at 58. Three (3) UNMISS personnel also lost their lives and others got wounded in the attack. Some of the IDPs ran aimlessly into the surrounding areas where their killers may still follow.
We condemn in the strongest terms this killing of innocent civilians on the basis of their ethnicity. There is no doubt that this callous attack was instigated by some senior government officials in Juba who hail from Bor County. The killing of civilians is a crime against humanity and a serious breach of International Humanitarian Law. The UN should conduct thorough investigation into this horrific attack. It is to be noted that South Sudan has acceded to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols. Indeed, South Sudan has incorporated the Conventions into its domestic law through the enactment of the Geneva Conventions Act, 2012.
The United Nations is called upon to intervene in what is happening in South Sudan. The government is responsible for the collapse of law and order in the country through its negative policies and inability to protect the lives and property of the citizens. It is now possible that the country can disintegrate into mutually antagonistic regional or tribal enclaves if the situation is not quickly addressed. The UN itself is now under threat in its camps in Juba as attempts are being made by government soldiers to attack the IDPs in Juba itself according to credible sources in Juba. Therefore, there is need for the UN to treat the situation in South Sudan with utmost seriousness if those unfortunate events which happened in Rwanda in 1994 are to be averted in South Sudan.
Sadly, the government is consistently obstructing the efforts of IGAD Envoys to mediate speedily resolution of the crisis. The clear objective of the government seems to be the escalation of fighting in order to impose a military solution with the help of foreign military forces. Certainly the achievement of such an objective is unattainable and its pursuit can only lead to nothing but the total collapse of the country and consequent disintegration of our communities.
Since the claim of a failed coup attempt by the Juba Government in mid December last year, the targeted killing of members of the Nuer ethnic group has never stopped. The Juba government is undoubtedly determined to implement a policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Nuer people. This is a violation of its constitutional duty to provide equal protection for all citizens. More than 18,000 Nuer men, women and children were killed in cold blood in Juba by the Presidential Guards and armed Dinka civilians in execution of a deliberate policy to exterminate the Nuer. This policy if not quickly reversed, has the risk of being picked up by the communities to avenge their members as has happened in Akobo, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal. The great danger is that the young country can easily be broken into pieces that may become difficult to put together again.
The elites responsible for this genocidal policy are politicians and military elements mainly from Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states. Their names will not be difficult to reveal when the time comes for justice and accountability. They have planned and concocted the so called ‘failed attempted military coup’ as the stratagem and smokescreen for justifying the genocide and victimization of individuals as well as communities. We call upon all patriotic sons and daughters from these two states, the affected communities and from other peace loving parts of South Sudan to condemn this criminal policy and refrain from taking similar actions. Let us all put the interest of the country first in addressing the current national crisis that gravely threatens the existence of our country.
Now, it is clear from the court proceedings taking place in Juba against four SPLM leaders, that there was no coup. This is evident from the testimonies of senior SPLA officers who have stated on oath as prosecution witnesses that there was no attempted military coup, that they were aware of, that have taken place on 15 December, 2013 as claimed by the government.
Finally, we call upon the United Nations, AU and the IGAD region to speedily intervene in the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in South Sudan where millions of lives are still at risk. While welcoming the establishment of the AU Commission of Inquiry, under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obassanjo of Nigeria, we earnestly urge the Commission to speedily start its work given the continued deterioration of human rights situation in the country. We equally urge the UN and the International Community to put the human rights records of the Juba government under strict scrutiny and to hold perpetrators accountable.