The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (South Africa), along with Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, issued the following statement April 12, 2013, concerning the violence and genocide emergency in Jonglei state, South Sudan.
STATEMENT ON THE CRISIS IN JONGLEI, SOUTH SUDAN
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) hereby expresses deep concern regarding the scale of violence occurring in Jonglei state, South Sudan, and condemns the recent killing of UN peacekeepers, SPLA troops, members, and civilians.
Reports suggest that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and armed Nuer youth are poised to confront Murle civilians along the Nanaam River, with the potential outcome of casualties on all sides. In the words of an official in Juba, who cannot be named for security reasons, “I fear civilians in Nanaam river will be massacred all. Yes, nobody will survive when SPLA will attack from one side while Lou Nuer armed youth attack from the other side.“
The SPLA have suffered great losses from a battle with David Yau Yau’s armed group at southeast of Pibor town. Nuer armed youth are reportedly mobilizing from Akobo, in retaliation for an attack on Nuer civilians by Yau Yau’s armed group, which took place in February, in which over 100 civilians were killed. (1) An escalation of the crisis is therefore imminent.
The violence appears to be affecting women and children, echoing concerns from the 2011-‐2012 violence that massacres are intended to “wipe out the entire Murle Tribe on the face of the earth,” as said in the press statement released by the Nuer youth White Army, “as the only solution to guarantee long-term security of Nuer’s cattle. There is no other way to resolve Murle problem other than wiping them out through the barrel of the gun” (2), and according to Genocide Watch, the ethnic massacres constitute a “Genocide Emergency” that has reached the level of “extermination.”(3)
According to a high level contact who has just travelled through Jonglei to Juba, “when the soldiers retreated from the battleground on their way to Nanaam, they intercepted women and children who were traveling from Gummuruk to Pibor. The soldiers opened fire on these women and children, killing nine of them. Among the dead was the wife of the Pibor County Education Director Mr. Nyabok Ngali.” According to a security brief presented to the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) Parliament last week, SPLA soldiers have killed civilians in Gumuruk and surrounding areas, including multiple children.
A Troika composed of the United Kingdom, United States and Norway, as well as France, Canada and the called on all leaders within the Government of RSS, its organized forces, faith and ethnic groups to urge their people to stop the violence, to move back from confrontation and return to the agreed resolutions of the All Jonglei Peace Conference and urgently implement the measures therein. The Troika reiterated the Government’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions on the protection of civilians, and its commitment at the Jonglei Conference to address grievances, including to conduct investigations into alleged abuses by SPLA and others and promote peaceful dialogue. (4)
In an 8 April press release, UNMISS called upon the country’s authorities to take all necessary steps to protect civilians during military operations in Jonglei state, stating “all communities and state bodies in Jonglei need to take urgent measures to prevent the mobilization of armed youth to carry out retaliatory attacks that would trigger another deadly cycle of inter-communal violence.” (5)
“It is vital that the SPLA does its utmost to distinguish between combatants and civilians,” said Hilde F. Johnson – the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan. “People who are not taking any active part in hostilities must not be harmed,” she said. “Women, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable and need protection.”
Yau Yau’s movement/armed group, the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army (SSDM/A), has released the Jebel Boma Declaration, calling for “swift action to resolve the tribal disputes by peaceful means.” (6)
In the spirit of solidarity, the IJR and SAAF thus echo the concerns expressed by the Troika and in the UNMISS press release and strongly urge the RSS Government to ensure the protection of all its citizens, to condemn in the strongest form, any ethnic-cleansing related rhetoric and engage all stakeholders, particularly the youth, in an earnest and committed peace process able to bring reconciliation to Jonglei.
Eager to see the development of a prosperous and democratic future for South Sudan, we thus appeal to the RSS Government to re-engage in negotiations with David Yau Yau’s SSDM for an immediate ceasefire to prevent the death of more civilians, and to put pressure on General James Hoth to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Murle people.
(1) Press Statement By Greater Akobo MPs, 11 February 2013, accessed at http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press‐releases/greater‐akobo‐mps‐condemn‐the‐killing‐of‐innocent‐civilians‐urge‐peaceful‐coexistence.
(2) Lou and Jikany White Army Press Statement, 25 December 2011, accessed at http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press‐releases/nuer‐youth‐have‐captured‐lolkuangole‐and‐are‐advancing‐to‐capture‐al-‐murleland.
(3) Genocide Watch, South Sudan Country Profile: The Birth of a New Nation, International Alliance to End Genocide, 2012, http://www.genocidewatch.org/southsudan.html.
(4) Press release: ‘Troika’ concerned about Jonglei, accessed at http://radioamazuj.org/en/article/press-release-%E2%80%98troika%E2%80%99‐concerned‐about‐jonglei.
(5) Press Release “UNMISS calls on South Sudan authorities to safeguard civilians in Jonglei,” accessed at http://unmiss.unmissions.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ZmjYmCoPN1A%3d&tabid=3483&mid=9133&language=en‐US.
(6) “The Jebel Boma Declaration,” South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army, 28 March – 2 April 2013, accessed at http://www.sudaneseonline.com/news/7160‐the‐jebelboma‐declaration.html.