Foreign Fighters: a Reality or Imagined Situation In South Sudan’s Conflict
By Gattuak C Guek,
Secretary of SPLA-IO , Canberra
June 17, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — This article is to clarify some allegations purported by some members of South Sudanese community in Melbourne on 3rd of June 2015 on SBS in relation to the current civil unrest in South Sudan.
South Sudan’s conflict started on December 15th 2013 with a disagreement in the ranks of the country’s ruling party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) regarding the reforms suggested by the former Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar.
These reforms were met by resistance and violence on the side of the President Salva Kiir and his allies who are mostly from his Dinka tribe. The reforms were seen as a challenge to shift power from the Dinka community which claimed to be one of the largest ethnic group in South Sudan. The main focus of the reform was to democratise both the party’s and country’s constitution. According to South Sudan’s current constitution the president has the right to sack elected members of the government and parliament who have been mandated by the people. As an example, Unity State elected governor Taban Deng Gai and Lake State governor Chol Tong were both sacked from their positions as governors in 2012.
To confirm his firm grip of power president Kiir recruited private militia groups: “Mathiang Anyor” and “Duk Ku Bany” who hailed from his state Warrap and Northern Bahr El Gazal aided by his die-hard ally General Paul Malong Awan, the current Chief of General Staff.
When the conflict started the main target of the Dinka militias were the innocent Nuer citizens living in Juba suburbs. An estimate of more than 20,000 unarmed civilians were killed in three days only in Juba, the capital city, by “Mathiang Anyor” and “Duk Ku Bany” Dinka militia groups loyal to the president. The killing was randomly targeting one ethnic group “the Nuer.” Even some loyalists to the dictatorship regime were also killed because of their tribal affiliation.
As such the government lost its legitimacy by killing its own citizens. In a democratic society, where a government is elected by the people, this situation is unlikely to happen. However, in the situation of South Sudan, the worse ever genocide committed against one ethnic group by this regime took place in the day light on the 15th of December 2013 yet the international community and the united nation security council is silent.
Some dual citizen’s holders such as South Sudanese Australians who were caught up in the fight in South Sudan fled with their relatives to different parts of the country. Even those who were working in the government could not stay because they were not being protected specially the Nuer. They were targeted by the regime because of their ethnicity and therefore, they were left with no any other choice but to be with the freedom fighters to protect themselves.
There might have been some implications in relation to the conflict in South Sudan on South Sudanese Australians. However, the impact of these will never jeopardize the relations among the South Sudanese communities and Australia at large in terms of posing security threats.
Though the Australian Law does not allow an Australian citizen to join unlawful armed group, but in the situation of South Sudan this does not apply because the government has lost legitimacy. Killing innocent citizens based on their ethnicity reneges the contract between the government and the South Sudanese people.
The simple question that everyone can ask in relation to the conflict in South Sudan is: if the government failed to protect its own citizens, what do you expect these South Sudanese Australians to do in such complicated situation? Clearly, the answer is “they have to defend themselves.” That is exactly the case with the South Sudanese Australians.
Based on this clarification, it is quite clear that there are no “foreign fighters” in South Sudan conflict. It is a community conflict mainly shaped by ethnic divide and a struggle over power. Unlike the Islamic Jihadist group, the case of South Sudan has no negative implications on Australian people or interests whether in Australia or overseas. There is no any clear ideology that binds the group fighting on the side of the government or the opposite side.
When the conflict is resolved, there will be no any expectation that the Australian South Sudanese dual citizens may cause any harm to or jeopardize Australian interests.
SPLM in Opposition Office in Canberra
Gak D Woul – Chairman
Gattuak C Guek – Secretary
Stephen Jovensio – Treasurer
James Lokudu – Information
Manyuon J Kuel – Coordinator
Eyn Deng Gai – Legal Advisor