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South Sudanese Women Cry For Peace Express Sadness Over Death Toll; Urge Warring Parties to Commit to Peace Talks

South Sudan Women Cry For Peace’s Second Statement on the Urgent Call for Peace
Date: 21st February, 2014

February 23, 2014 (SSNA) -- Following our communique on the current crisis dated 7th January 2014, the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on the 23rd of January 2014, and the resumption of the second phase of the IGAD led peace talks, it is with sadness that we the South Sudan Women Cry for Peace (SSWCFP) write this second statement, as we:

1. Note with grief the alarming death toll and displacement of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children, well after the cessation of hostilities agreement. We are particularly shocked by the fact that the displaced seeking refuge in UNMISS compounds in the country, are subject to hunger, violence and threats of forced return!

2. Troubled by the failure of our leaders on both sides of the conflict to abide by and implement the cessation of hostilities agreement in good faith, to pave way for further negotiations and a sustainable peace. In this regard we note especially the:

  • Continued hostilities to date as reported in Central Equatoria, Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Warrap States resulting in continued deaths and displacement of vulnerable innocent civilians.
  • Disregard for safe and secure humanitarian corridors to meet the life saving humanitarian assistance for the displaced vulnerable women, children, the elderly and the sick in the affected States,
  • Continued partisan involvement of Ugandan troops in the South Sudanese crisis, prolonging the killings and suffering of vulnerable South Sudanese and hampering the efforts for a peaceful resolution;
  • Failure of the Government to release the four political detainees (including Hon. Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba) still in detention, tainting the initial good gesture shown by the release of the seven detainees, and thereby delaying the resumption of the peace talks;
  • Continued cynic and negative propaganda by both parties in the media that is widening the divide among the warring tribes and damping the good will to resolve this crisis peacefully.

3. Concerned that phase II of the IGAD led negotiation process is taking a painfully slow pace with little consideration for inclusiveness, thereby disregarding the vital fact that the underlying cause of this conflict has more to do with poverty, poor governance, uneven distribution of resources, tribalism, poor political structures and systems, disrespect of the rule of law, lack of freedom of speech, lack of a vision and therefore lack of a common identity that unites us as a nation. 

4. Further concerned by the reluctance of the international community to respond to the urgently needed humanitarian assistance following reports only 17.7% of the $1.27 billion UN crisis response plan appeal for South Sudan has been funded (UN OCHA South Sudan Situation Report - 21st Feb 2014).

While we:

  • Applaud the role of IGAD in the important progress made towards the agreement of ‘cessation of hostilities’ and the ‘status of detainees’
  • Acknowledge the support by regional members, the African Union, the United Nations, the Troika member States and China, in the deployment of the ‘cessation of hostilities’ monitoring team and the 5,500 UN peace keepers
  • Welcome the efforts of the African Union to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the violations of human rights in South Sudan, as stated in the AU Peace and Security Council 416th meeting Communique, dated 29th January 2014
  • Concur with the Civil Society recommendations to the AU for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, as detailed in their statement of the 25th January 2014
  • Appreciate the inclusion of women representatives in the government and opposition delegations to the second phase of the IGAD led peace talks.

We reiterate the importance and urgency to ensure recommendations below are fully implemented, to create a conducive environment for the second phase of the talks. SSWCFP call upon:

I. The Government of South Sudan and the opposition to stop the continued hostilities and protect civilians in areas under their control respectively, and ensure humanitarian access for the delivery of immediate life saving assistance to the affected vulnerable civilians.

II. The Government of South Sudan to expedite the withdrawal of Ugandan troops in South Sudan so as to demonstrate their commitment and create a conducive environment for the second phase of the talks.

III. The Government of South Sudan to release the remaining four detainees (including Hon. Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba), as a gesture of true leadership and commitment to a comprehensive and peaceful resolution.

IV. The Cessation of hostilities monitoring team to urgently establish the parameters for monitoring the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement and work with the UN Peace Keeping force for their effective deployment in the affected areas. In this regard, we call on both the government and the opposition group to fully cooperate with both teams so as to enable them implement their mandate.

V. The concerned International community and the private sector to respond urgently to funding the South Sudan crisis response plan, to avert the endless suffering and save lives of the affected vulnerable women, children, the elderly and the sick who desperately look to you.

VI. The IGAD mediation team to ensure that after the cease fire negotiations, the next phase of the talks to involve proactive participation of South Sudanese civil society groups, including women, youth and religious representatives.

As wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of South Sudan, we call on our people, wherever they are, to unite as one people regardless of tribal, religious and/or political differences, understanding that it is the sum of our differences that defines us as South Sudanese. As we pride in our diversity, we remind our leaders that as wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of South Sudan, we cannot choose sides in a conflict between our husbands, fathers, brothers and sons but will continue to love them all regardless of tribal, political and/or religious differences; that as humans we are all exposed to doubts, fears, mistakes and failures, but can over come these through admitting our imperfections, miscalculations and stubbornness and learning to trust, forgive, compromise and share of ourselves; that it is in our conscience and compassion as humans that we respond to avert suffering and despair and strive for hope and restoration of the dignity of our people.

So as a people, let us turn a new chapter and walk together towards a South Sudan of a higher order; the new nation our heroes died for; a nation where our children grow up in a united, dignified, free, democratic and prosperous South Sudan, and look back to history with enormous pride; a history that will continue to guide our children in facing the challenges of their time.

God bless our Country, its leaders and its people.

Mabaan Community in Canada/USA Strongly Condemn the Government of South Sudan Plan to Arm Melut Malitia to Attack Mabaan Civilians Living in Adar

February 22, 2014 (SSNA) -- We members of Mabaan Community in Diaspora Canada/ USA are writing to express our deep concern and extremely condemning the government of South Sudan recent move to arm Militia in Malut to exterminate innocent Mabaan people from their territory Adar (Ban Ketta) by using the reason of oil facilities security protection. Where on earth the government allows militia to guard national resources? What is the responsibility and role of national army? We are seriously disappointed with the government conspiracy to destabilize people lives in order to invade their territory. This kind of act is unacceptable and should be investigated seriously.

Malut militia aggression to attack Mabaan in the oil fields is politically motivated by their elites in Juba that undermining the unity of our people. We are calling for the government of South Sudan to stop arming untrained civilians to attack our peace loving people.

The government plan to equipped militia in Malut with weapons to attack Mabaan people in the oil field is not a surprise thing to us, we have been aware of it for a longtime. Our right to get 2% of oil revenues was denied by the current regime that we are not entitle of it, farms has been destroyed by the oil exploration companies, yet Kiir regime denied Mabaan eligibility to get some compensation for environmental damage caused by oil companies.

When you look at Kiir government of A, B, C in Juba, no single Mabaan is appointed, did we complain? If not, why government continues arming his militia in Melut to destabilize our people since they denied our share and no one complained about it? Our position as Mabaan intellectual is very clear that our people should not associate themselves with any attempt to wage war against any tribe but only in self defense because we believe Kiir government is the source of all tribal conflicts who seek to finish our tribes by all means.

These groups of militia organized by the government in the title of oil fields security protection as Melut commissioner said on Radio Tamazuj; violating the rights of territorial integrity and attacking innocent people of Mabaan which is contrary to the principles of peaceful co-existence between the two tribes.

We come to question why Juba government continues to accumulate more weapons to militias and never cease tribal war which is not an interest of the people of South Sudan. They view this senseless war as a business ventures and done nothing to end the needless suffering and massacre of their own people. We are against the government that promotes tribalism, nepotism and policy of divided and rule. Our communities deserve peace and development, not senseless war that planned by dysfunction system in Juba.

We members of Mabaan community in Canada/ USA are blaming the government of South Sudan for dividing people based on their tribal line. They lost the legitimate power and guidance to create the atmosphere of peace; love and harmony live among our society. Such government should be considering as enemy of peace, stability and their influence must be rejected because they did a lot of damage and turn our tribes to hate each another.

We want to remind all the people of South Sudan that let’s keep our hope and never be discouraged with the violence that created by our government to murder his own people, South Sudan is above Kiir dysfunction administration. All of us belong to this country regardless of your ethnicity and have the opportunity to make substantial contributions, both in words and actions to overcome the difficult journey that unwillingly enforced by Juba regime.

The statement is signed and released to media by Mabaan Community in Canada/USA Executive Committee and they can be reachable at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +12266005560 Ontario Canada.

Mark Eisa, Chairperson
Paulino Kieta, Deputy Chairperson
Philemon Daud, Secretary General

Independent Investigation of Human Rights Violations in South Sudan Must Start Now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Priscilla Nyagoah
Advocacy Officer, South Sudan Law Society (SSLS)
Member, Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ)
Tel: +254 729 707 034
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Independent Investigation of Human Rights Violations in South Sudan Must Start Now
Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ) Urge the AU Commission of Inquiry to Begin its Work

Juba, February 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- On 30 December 2014, two weeks after the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) called for the creation of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations and other abuses committed in South Sudan, and to make recommendations on the best ways to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among South Sudanese communities. The AUPSC requested the Commission of Inquiry to submit a report of its findings within three months.

Almost eight weeks later, the members of the Commission have yet to be named and the terms of reference have not been published, leaving doubt as to when and if the Commission will actually commence its work.

“Each day that the Commission delays, evidence disappears, survivors and witnesses are exposed to increased risk of intimidation and violence, and the prospect of justice being served for the serious crimes committed by all sides of the conflict becomes less and less likely,” said Wani Mattias, Secretary General of the South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) and a member of Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ).

CPJ calls on the African Union (AU) to quickly develop the terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry, appoint its members, and ensure that it begins investigations immediately. It should release a public report upon conclusion of its work.

In a February 2014 statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), CPJ also called on the UNHRC and its member states to provide robust technical support to the AU Commission of Inquiry, to encourage UN Special Rapporteurs to visit South Sudan, especially the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and to establish an independent expert mandate on the human rights situation in South Sudan.

Importance of Documentation

Independent bodies should investigate and document events now, while the evidence is still fresh, in order to build a body of information that can be used to design appropriate accountability mechanisms and inform eventual criminal investigations and prosecutions.

Documentation also provides acknowledgement of the crimes that have been committed, thereby helping affected individuals and groups come to terms with their experiences. Until credible and objective accounts are compiled and made public, parties to the conflict will continue to manipulate narratives to serve their own narrow interests.

“Truth must come before reconciliation and healing,” said Pio Ding, a member of CPJ. “We can’t expect people to forgive others for wrongs committed against them when they don’t know the facts.”

Need for Justice

Past peace initiatives in South Sudan have prioritized reconciliation at the expense of justice, and have failed to secure remedies for people affected by conflict. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was silent the issue of accountability for past human rights violations, and its provision for national reconciliation was never implemented. Time and again, efforts to negotiate with rebel groups in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states have been initiated with offers of blanket amnesties and attractive political and military appointments. Truth and justice have never been a part of the discussion.

“Impunity has become a habit, a way of plastering over discontent,” said Ding. “But in reality, failing to hold individuals accountable for their actions simply breeds more discontent. People lose confidence in the ability of the justice system to protect them, and decide that their only option is to revenge the crimes themselves.”

The atrocities that have taken place since 15 December 2014 would present a serious challenge to any justice system. The difficulty of holding people accountable is that much greater in South Sudan, where courts have repeatedly fallen short in addressing even commonplace crimes. Without robust international support, there is little hope that the perpetrators of the violence will be held to account and that people will know the truth of what happened to their loved ones. Truth and justice can only be secured with the direct support of international investigators, prosecutors and judges with experience handling war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Mediators and supporters of the peace process should not view justice as something that can be bartered and traded in exchange for other commitments from belligerent parties,” said Ding. “The call for accountability is loud and clear. This time justice is non-negotiable.”

Government-led Investigations

The government has initiated multiple investigations into the violence, including an eight-person Human Rights Abuses Investigation committee established by presidential decree and headed by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court. Approximately 100 individuals have reportedly been arrested for the targeted killings that took place in Juba during the early days of the conflict.

Little information has been provided about the identities of the detainees, the nature of the investigations, or the charges that have been brought. It is unclear whether the trials will take place in civilian courts and be open to the public or whether the accused will instead be tried behind closed doors in military courts, where their right to a fair trial cannot be independently monitored.

In cases of such overwhelming public interest, the independence and transparency of proceedings is critical to building trust and to reassuring the public that justice is indeed taking its course. The government should keep the public informed about the nature of charges brought against accused persons and the status of proceedings. But past experience has shown that government-led investigations alone are not sufficient to secure justice, especially when government personnel stand accused as perpetrators.

“Aside from the fact that members of its security forces have been implicated in many of the alleged crimes, parts of South Sudan’s territory remain under the control of opposition forces,” said Priscilla Nyagoah, advocacy officer for the SSLS and a member of CPJ. “Only an independent inquiry, such as that called for by the African Union, can ensure that investigations are conducted in an impartial and thorough manner.”

Other Initiatives

In addition to the AU Commission of Inquiry, there are other initiatives underway to document violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in South Sudan. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has promised a report on the rights violations that have occurred. Through the UNMISS human rights section, OHCHR has access to some of the most comprehensive reports on the human rights situation that currently exist. This information is critical to providing affected populations with a better understanding of events and to revealing to the international community the seriousness of the crimes that have taken place.

Since the earliest days of the conflict, South Sudanese human rights organizations have also worked to document human rights abuses in the country, but they have faced serious difficulties as a result of obstruction by government personnel and other armed groups. A number of human rights defenders have been forced to flee the country due to threats and acts of violence targeted against people who criticize the government’s failings in handling the crisis. The public space for engaging the government on issues relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms has been shrinking for several years and the outbreak of this crisis looks set to close off what little space was left. CPJ calls upon the Government to take remedial measures in this respect and ensure that civic space is protected in the interests of peace and democracy.

About Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ): CPJ is a broad based coalition of individuals and more than 40 organizations from South Sudanese civil society formed to promote a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict in South Sudan through social, political and economic transformation.

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