South Sudan Government must disarm the Murle Community Bushmen in bush first in order to avoid another mistake: This is a demand from the Lou Nuer Community in Diaspora
By Lou Nuer Media Team
“All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, unreasonably attacked, imprisoned or tortured . . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity and they have an equal right to achieve this rights.”
March 10, 2012 (SSNA) -- The Republic of South Sudan (RSS) has announced recently the deployment of its troops, namely; the Operations to Restore Peace in Jonglei State in order to carry out the disarmament of the civilians. This recent announcement and the dispatching of the SPLA troops to the Jonglei State had made the entire Lou Nuer community to be very concerned about how this current disarmament will successfully be carried out by the government troops in Jonglei State. The ruling authority, headed by President Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar has previously proposed the same type of disarmaments but failed to collect guns in the hands of Murle community. This unbalance, unplanned and inappropriate disarmament with no clear plan has led into the death of thousands of the Lou Nuer children in the hand of enemy within Jonglei territories (internal enemy in Jonglei).
It worth to know that the Lou Nuer Community has previously volunteered in two consecutive disarmaments to hand over their weapons to the government convincingly and peacefully while leaving the vulnerable children, women and elderly in deplorable situation in the hands of Murle rivals. This community at large had acknowledged the atrocities carried by Murle while the government that we trust so much had never put forth any protection of our children. Murle SPLA defector members left military garrisons in Juba and in Jonglei in a good numbers, and yet the ruling party has never condemns this inappropriate action taken by the Murle members. The Murle SPLA defectors went to ambush many villages with heavy machine guns that include RPG-77 and roped us off in front of the government troops but none of the SPLA forces had ever intervened to rescue our villagers or to bring back our children and livestock. The same defectors always go back to their assigned units (Military camps) in order to get bullets and military supplies but yet the SPLA command unit had never launch any investigation to those who left the military camps and come back later, after months without any permission.
As we speak today on March 9/2012, Murle gunmen, partly SPLA army defectors, attacked the Lou Nuer cattle Camps in Romyieri (cattle grazing camps). They had killed innocent children and women randomly at night; and stealing an estimate number of 20-25,000 cattle. Our Youth were deceived by the SPLA officers that they should come back to Akobo town in order to meet with the head authority for the disarmament arrangement; a call that was meant to deceive them, and allow Murle Bushmen to launch an attack after our young people left the cattle camps. Since the Lou Nuer youth came back from the Murleland, the number of attacks steadily increased in the Lou Nuer areas while the government is pressuring the Lou Nuer not to revenge. One may wonders why the government doesn’t prove that it can indeed provide protection to this vulnerable population after the pending disarmament.
For so long, the disarmament debate has ignored the fact that Murle community members are not in their home including the current Murle SPLA defectors who killed our members with the SPLA guns and bullets. They choose to go to bush in order to hunt our ordinary members and the other communities’ members within Jonglei State. This fact would have been used to assess and evaluate the policy of disarmament, fairly and equally to avoid the previous mistake. What is needed is a rights-based approach to disarmament. Ensuring equal disarmament would result into better understanding between the citizens and the ruling authority but using inappropriate and unplanned disarmament like the 2006 disarmament will pose a greater challenge afterward to the system and to the government as well. We do not want the government to misunderstand our community’s position. We understood the severity of insecurity in the State and would not mind to volunteer once again to lay down the weapons. But this will happen only if the government has understands and put the plan forth to prevent the severity of the ongoing daily killings of our community members by the Murle SPLA defectors and Murle Bushmen.
In December 2011, the South Sudan Government has sent its Vice President Dr. Riek Machar to Lilkwangole with intention to disengage the Lou Nuer youth who went to Murleland in order to bring their abducted children, and stolen cattle back after 4 months of waiting the government’s respond - reference to Uror County’s Massacre. We tried to pursue peace and many options through peace mediator; Rev Deng Bull while our children and cattle were in the hands of Murlemen. Murle community members rejected our peaceful call in front of the faith community and spiritual leaders. What can we do when in fact we had been patient while seeking justice through negotiation for the peace to prevail? We know that the government and its Vice President Dr. Riek Machar sincerely careless for our community and perhaps for the Dinka Bor communities but only worried for the Murle people. The Murle are more important in Jonglei nowadays; and anything that happen to them always forced the government and humanitarian forces to response immediately. We hold our breath for so long, and now we will not take such a risk any longer unless if the Government put forth a clear plan and objective of protecting our own properties and our children from the Murle members.
We count on the government that it turns blind eyes onto our community’s problems. Our Community has the largest number of people that died between 2005 and 2012 than any other communities in South Sudan. We have never witnessed the government to respond positively to our community problems rather than simplifying it. The best example of our claim was on August 18/2011 in Uror County’s massacre, and Pieri massacre when a large number of our community members were murdered and slaughtered intentionally in daylight by a group of Murle SPLA gunmen who dressed in SPLA uniforms. Neither the Vice President Dr. Machar nor President Kiir has visited our community particularly when the members were mourning for the death of their beloved one. There was no government emergency response team on the scene, no protection and there were no Journalists or media reports while the ruling authority was well aware that they had disarmed our community twice; and not the Murle community as per the policy of the disarmament.
Basically, we could not have peace or an atmosphere in which peace could grow in Jonglei unless the government recognize the rights of the communities (Dinka Bor, Nuer and Anyuak) to be protected from the enemy (external and internal enemies). We could not always exchange our life for negative peace in expense of the government policy that does not care much about our wellbeing. As a community that is desperately and peacefully eager to live in peace with its neighbors, our youth has respectfully and repeatedly listened to the Vice President’s disengagement policy and calls. Our Lou Nuer youth had agreed to return to the Lou Nuer land as requested by the government during December retaliatory attack, with particular proposed agreement between Riek Machar and the Youth in Lilkwangole. We thought that the government is the mother of the society, and it should not lie to its own people or give unfulfilled promises.
The Vice President has promised the Lou Nuer Youth that they should return back to the Lou Nuer land immediately with promise that the government will bring all cattle and the 180 children from the Murle community. Now, where is the Vice President’s promise to Lou Nuer Youth in Lilkwangole? The Lou Nuer Youth’s anticipated attack to Lilkwangole was meant to bring back our own cattle and 180 children. Where is Dr. Riek Machar promise that the Lou Nuer’s belongings including their abducted children will be brought after them by the government? Where is Dr. Marial’s promise when he told the Aljazeera English News that “the Government is going to compensate anything the three communities had lost due to war between them?” Where is the security protection that he promised to “protect women, children and elderly in both communities?” We haven’t see things, and will never see any protection in Lou Nuer land. We only witnessed that the government is humbly caring for the welfare and the security of Murle children, women and elderly while providing them with enough food to hunt our communities.
The Murle community members always leave in a day light, in front of the SPLA forces but the SPLA leadership have never warned our community that the Murle are going to attack you. Recently, we have heard that the Murle community had rejected the Murle elders and the SPLA proposal in Lilkwangole and choose to go to the bush in good numbers. This resulted to the current attacks in Romyieri’s three cattle camps. This is reference to the recent Murle activities that the State government had witnessed. Is this government for all or it is for half communities in Jonglei? We certainly caution the fact that Operation to Restore Peace in Jonglei will not be able to control the Murle community members. This is simply because their gunmen are currently scattered throughout the bush in the Lou Nuer territories and the Dinka-Bor land as well; launching massive attacks on innocent people everywhere.
Counter attacks began in Lou Nuer territories since January, and it continues until these days of March, 9/2012. One of the attacks, which claimed the lives of 13 people, occurred in Yiedit and Ulang. Four women, two of whom were nursing babies and two others were pregnant, were recently killed by the Murle gunmen in Nyirol County. They killed 19 people in Gatnyanhial of the Akobo West, and 22 people in Dengjok payam of Akobo East. During the Wechdeang attack by the army defectors from Waat Army base, 17 people were killed. The most recent attacks were carried out on March 2, 2012 in Nyirol County and claimed the lives of 23 people and the latest in Romyeiri that claimed an untold number of casualties carried out by three groups: Murle, Kachipos and Jiah. Again, we wanted to reiterate that all these attacks took place after the troop deployment in the state. Is this the sign of situation to come in the Lou Nuer land after they have given their guns to the government? In all the above attacks, no government protection, no media or journalists’ report, and no humanitarian emergency supports from the State government and the government in Juba as well.
Having expressed our deepest regret and serious concerns, our community is strongly disagreed with the government’s proposed disarmament without deployment of alternative forces that can protect the lives of Jonglei residents after their guns are taken. The mere disarmament proposal will automatically place the life of Lou Nuer and various Jonglei Communities’ members at risk in the hands of Murle Bushmen and warmongers. South Sudan government must understand the seriousness of our concerns that, if Murle Community is not completely disarm first we will continue to live in uncontrollable insecurity in Jonglei state and this will allow the disarmed members to seek an alternative ways of protecting themselves. The government must first define the real needs of the Murle Community before launching Disarmament in Lou Nuer and other communities in Jonglei State.
We want to make it crystal clear that Murle problem in Jonglei State is not only affecting the Lou Nuer community, but it also affects the Dinka Bor community as well as the Anuak. We all need to see a successful disarmament plan in place but for it to happen; Murle Community must completely be disarmed first before any other Community in Jonglei State or in South Sudan in general. This is due to the evidence that Lou Nuer or Dinka Bor youth never go to Murle to kill Murle people randomly or stealing their cattle. The Murle youth are the one to attack our communities first and that is why we strongly recommended their community to be disarmed first before the others follow. For the successful disarmament operation to happen in Jonglei, the government must do the following:
- The government troops in the state should create a buffer zone now before the disarmament so that these daily killings can stop. No trust can be built when civilians are dying every day. Allow 6 months grace period to evaluate the effectiveness of the buffer zones. If no attack occurs within these 6 months grace period, then a voluntary disarmament would commence.
- During this grace period, the government and UN troops should provide immediate protection to the civilians across the Lou Nuer land as being done to the Murle communities. It should be noted that since the December attack, there has never been a single attack in any of the Murle villages from the Lou Nuer.
- Deploy SPLA forces within the counties of Jonglei to protect the communities from the attackers after their guns are taken away from their hands.
- Bring the Murle SPLA defectors to Justice to face immediate conviction and create a ground policy or rule for those who may defect later to face the Justice, or army squad immediately.
- Provide three Gunship Helicopters to the Operations to Restore Peace in Jonglei, so to monitor the movement between the rival communities in the entire Jonglei State.
- Bring our 180 children and cattle as promised by the country’s Vice President to the Lou Nuer Youth in Lilkwangole.
Subsequently, the Lou Nuer Community has understood the severity of Security negligent that the South Sudan government has done to them. We completely understand that none peace lovers including the Government of South Sudan have aggressively defamed or tarnished the reputation of our community. For so long, the South Sudan government has used all means to upstage the attention of the world media from all malicious acts done to our community by our neighboring Murle Community. The government has disarmed Lou Nuer twice and promised to protect them but dramatically failed to do so which ended to the loss of many lives in our community.
We have noticed that the South Sudan Government has intentionally prohibited the media and journalists to accessing all the areas attacked, including all massacred carried on since August 18th 2011 by the Murle gunmen who dressed in SPLA army uniforms. If the government is for all and for the people, then equal consideration of both communities should be seen in government policy reference to their promises and delivery of the services. We must and should not live in shadow of the government that does not care much for our community’s wellbeing. The government always tried to convince us that the state authority will design a plan that will address our claim but until these days, all the promises they had made are nothing but lies.
They had promised to bring back our 180 children from Murle land and until these days, there has never been any news either to bring the children or not. We would like to assure the government that we are an entity to the government and we deserve to be protected by the government. Failure to protect our lives, and if the ruling party is still down-playing our peaceful calls as usual, we must legally appeal and seek an international opinion or the international justice against the ruling government because the country’s leadership had totally failed to protect our lives, our properties and our children from the Murle community while restricting us not to launch an attack against the Murle in order to bring back our children and cattle.
Finally we wanted to remind the government that the guns they kept collecting from the hands of the Lou Nuer Youth are bought by individual; using his/her own cattle/resources in order to protect his family and properties from the enemy. The government collected guns in the hands of our youth twice without compensations. When our youth see that the government is not protecting their children from the Murle, our youth find an alternative ways to use their resources in order to buy guns only for community protection because the government failed to protect our lives or enforce laws against the violators. Now if the government wanted to collect guns again, that is fine but we strongly caution the government that all guns must be collected in the hands of Murle Youth who are in bush. As soon as progress is noticing, our Lou Nuer youth will lay down their weapons to the government peacefully without any opposition.
We would like to conclude it with our respective views that the Government of South Sudan is responsible for the causes; and existence of insecurity in Jonglei State. We had been deceived, thinking that the Government is for all people and not in favor of certain communities. We tried harder to approach our partners through peaceful dialogue but the government have never back up our peace negotiation and dialogue where the root cause of the problem should be addressed. We hope to live and build a peaceful Jonglei State, a far better State when in fact the dignity and the rights of all communities in Jonglei are respected. We have rights to nurture our children and our children have basic rights to be nurtured by us; the biological fathers. Anything that aims to destabilize our cultural rights, our natural rights and dignity must not be accepted and it will be opposed radically or peacefully. We love peace and always willing to accept peace whenever the Government start showing fairness, offer endless protections and respond efficiently to an emergency situation in our communities. We ended up with the quote below that represents the stand of our community.
“Peace is more than just the absence of war. People everywhere seek an inner peace that comes from the right to voice their views, choose their leaders, feed their families, and raise healthy children” (Jimmy Carter