“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”, article 3 universal declarations of human rights.
By Peter Dragu
Yambio, Western Equatoria State
June 13, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Mr. President, you have a tough job and that is just an understatement, normally, all citizens should be sympathetic to you as you shoulder the big responsibility of leading the nation to realize its long awaited dream. For the same reason, people should love you too as you represent the hope of the nation.
All of the above are true for most presidents, but unfortunately as for you, the case is different. There are more questions everyday on the way you are leading or misleading the nation. This letter brings one of the questions to your attention. Why is there a preferential treatment of the IDP Cattle keepers in matters concerning them and the indigenous local people who depend on crop cultivation in the region of Equatoria?
In the entire Equatoria there are many locations where this preferential treatment is so open and aggressively pursued by members of the armed forces under your command. Moreover according to the trend that has now appeared to be clear, the entire Equatoria is shadowed by the threat of the indigenous people losing their ancestral land to the IDPs of Dinka origin.
Mr. President you may not like this fact to be brought to your attention and even fortify yourself by the argument that, if such was the case, the representatives of the People of Equatorian in the Assembly and in your government would have talked about it to you. Or at least the governors would have notified you of this threat that is openly tearing the country apart. You are right to have those assumptions.
The truths though, have these representatives ever told you things you did not want to hear? In other words do you know that they are not telling you the truth coming directly from the people? As for the governors, at least two: the governor of Western Equatoria recently addressed the people of Mundri and blamed them for not acting to drive away those who are destroying their crops when he spoke allegorically telling the people that they invited the snake in their house and now they are crying to him to kill it. This was later dubbed as a hate speech by some members of your inner circle.
In a similar manner the governor of Central Equatoria a few weeks ago, questioned why some cattle keepers were protected by the army in the wake of some skirmishes resulting from cattle rustling that took place. Even these clips of the two governors referred to may not have been clear enough for you to conclude that something of a proportion that discredited your leadership and the government is taking place.
As I mentioned there are too many cases that can be referred to but one or two may suffice to illustrate the point. The case of Nimule and Ma’di Land is surely a long story and has never missed to show up in different media outlets. The fact is very simple. In Ma’di Land IDPs or soon to be called ‘occupiers’ are with cattle and well-armed. They are not only carrying simple weapons like AK 47, but more powerful ones like Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) and different calibres of machine guns. These are men ready for battle not grazing.
One wonders why they left their homes in the first place and called themselves IDPs which suggests they are victims of violence and should be treated with sympathy. They proudly graze their animals in people’s cultivated fields, destroying crops and nobody can stop them because they are ready to use their weapons to impose their will to graze in people’s farm lands. What is really shocking and at the same time very telling, is the rigorous efforts by the army to disarm the local people who could otherwise, defend their own turf.
Nothing can illustrate this double standard better than what happened at the beginning of April to the chiefs of Moli Andru and the one of Kerepi. After searching the villages of these chiefs, the only AK 47 found with the chief of Moli was seized by the army while it was the weapon given to the chief by the government. The issue of protecting their crops aside, where in South Sudan of today, Mr. President, can you find the entire village without any gun including the chief? It was in Ma’di area because the so-called IDPs’ cattle were in the area of both Moli Andru and Kerepi.
The next example is what is happening in Mundri that has captured people’s attention for different reasons. It is the same pattern. Well-armed cattle keepers driving their animals in people’s farms.
Additional to that SPLA soldiers assigned to protect them. One would wonder why these soldiers do not protect the crops. But that is not to be. The SPLA soldiers are paid by tax payers’ money to protect the cattle keepers who have turned into invaders. It reminded people of the question of the governor of Central Equatoria as to why certain kraals were protected by the army. True these valued cattle represent the livelihood of these IDPs. And equally the farms are the only means of livelihood for the other people.
Breaking down this means of livelihood has a far reaching effect as it affects the entire community socially, economically and culturally; for it creates the instability on which it becomes impossible to have an ordered society where the bond of interdependence creates stability. In fact if there is famine in Ma’di Land and Moru Land which creates population migration resulting into insecurity, the invasion of these lands by cattle keepers is the main cause. Not only crops are destroyed, but people are subjected to daily intimidation, humiliation and harassment.
Mr. President, be reminded Arabs have never done those things in these places. As such people’s confidence in the State as the defender of right and guarantor of peace has disappeared altogether. Rightly the people feel cheated, abused and left in the cold. So is this really their government? Mr. President, that question is for you coming from all the people facing similar situation as I described above.
There is no gain in saying there is a war therefore people are displaced from one region to another and this brought about the problem. For those who were keenly following the political developments in the country, this issue started back during the 1983 civil war. At one time it was said when peace comes the IDPs will return home and therefore, it was humanly important to bear with them, after all there was cultural contacts at a deeper level which brought out conflict. So that time it was to be considered a nation building process in the crucible of history. Therefore things will be alright with peace.
When CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) was signed nothing changed. In fact the matter became more political and the IDPs suddenly donned as army officers claiming they will not move as they liberated these places. Hence on two counts CPA lost its meaning: firstly the peace is not meant for those whose land is taken by these IDPs who have through the process of political mutation, successfully changed their coats and were to be reckoned as occupiers.
Secondly, a new regime dawned where the so-called Jalaba oppressors were replaced by these Dinka IDps [who become new oppressors with different colors of the skin] the smoke screen device to deceive people was that people should wait for the independence of the country so that the IDPs could be repatriated. That was the official line meant to appeal to patriots and members of the international community alike. After the independence, the language changed: ‘Nobody can be called IDP in his/her country’, the statement by Mr. Aleu Ayieng Aleu in Nimule when addressing the people in October 2013, flanked by General Isaac Mamur. And now another war and another IDPs and the whole story continues. We have gone full circle already. Anything to learn has been learnt.
Mr. President, many people are reaching the conclusion that the preferential treatment of these IDPs cattle keepers is a tip of the iceberg of a grand plan. The grand narrative which is at the bottom of your leadership is the systematic occupation of Equatorian land and the subjugation of its people to become slaves in South Sudan. If this is true, it dovetails very well with the narratives of the people like the Nuer, Shilluk, Murle, Fertit, etc, who also have seen the same thing.
With the added evidence of your government loaded with people from your family and clan, truly it feels there is something sinister. This is not to say, that the Dinkas have hatched a grand conspiracy against every other people in South Sudan. Some among Dinka who talk loosely may make people believe such a plan was possible. But critical minded people absolve the Dinka as a nation in a conspiracy like that because it is irrational to accept such an idea. Ethnicity is superficial and does not determine people’s being at ontological level so that actions flowing from a particular ethnic group should be identical.
History has proved this wrong in Hitler’s German. So we cannot paint people with the same brush. However for those who have reached to this conclusion of the conspiracy, they know this kind of ideas come from the old political schools of imperialism which was at the early stage of evolution and therefore modelled on the evolutionary concept of the survival for the fittest. It has no place in the 21st Century. If you keep this, you find yourself in perpetual contradiction among the decent community of nations. Everywhere you go, it is only rouge nations where this kind of politics is practised like by the Islamic State in Iraq as they try to exterminate Christians and the Yasidis or some of those fundamentalist regimes.
In the case of South Sudan, first it is really shameful to admit that this is happening in South Sudan of all places, a nation that has come into being as a result of both the struggle against this rotten politics as well as the support provided by the free and democratic nations. For this reason South Sudan has fallen from grace very fast and deep into the dungeon. Many nations would like to emulate the struggle of South Sudanese like in the North Eastern part of India, the people of Western Sahara, the Kurds, etc. And many powerful democratic nations would like to enter into partnership with South Sudan to reform the autocratic and totalitarian systems in the region. But now South Sudan is the bad example for everything.
The further impact of the preferential treatment is that many people are not identifying with your government. It is illogical to stand for a government that has broken the social contract it has entered with the people. A system that does not respect the covenant of rights cannot be legitimate. This is the basic ethos of the republican government since the American Revolution. The next quotation has become known in history namely that:
“‘Certain truth are self-evident’: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness—– That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed———– That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”.
Every American president remembers this statement and perhaps recites it every day of his time in the office. That may explain why it is the greatest nation. Even if our people in South Sudan do not know the exact wordings of this declaration, they have felt it and acted like this since the 1950s. So do you think the people should still tolerate your presidency and your government? Well it is not your fault that you are still there. It is the people who should make you leave according to the quotation above.
The truth is we are where we are because this fundamental principle has been overlooked and is being overlooked even now. So notwithstanding the convoluted political debate in Addis Ababa, there is more and more unification behind the common cause: at stake is the very existence of the people as a people!
The author is a concern South Sudanese, he can be reached at email@example.com
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