Jikany, Padang leaders urge calm as ethnic violence rocks Upper Nile State

Former Governor of Upper Nile State, Simon Kun Puoch |Photo: Via Facebook

Leaders of Jikany and Padang communities are calling for peace in the wake of the recent revenge attacks that killed 12 people and left dozens wounded in Upper Nile State.

“The leaders of Jieng Padang and Jikany Nuer in the SPLM convened a briefed meeting at the SPLM House on 19th Jan 2021. Chaired by the former Governor of Upper Nile State Hon Simon Kun Puoch. This meeting was cognizance of the two incidents of attacks in Melut County in Upper Nile State.”

According to a statement extended by the former Speaker of Parliament of the now-defunct Maiwut state, Chuol Dep, the first attack took place on 13th Jan 2021, in Bai Ajak village, and is believed to have been carried out by suspected armed men from Nasir County and Ulang County, Upper Nile State.

“The attack left five innocent civilians dead, including two young men, a child, two women and an elderly person, but wounded more others. The attackers took over 500-700 heads of cattle, though later all cattle were recovered,” the statement further explained.

The second incident took place in Paloch on 14th Jan 2021, of which seven (7) civilians from Gajaak lost their lives and five others critically wounded.

“Due to these two bloody incidents in the State, leaders from the two Communities of Jieng Padang and Eastern Jikany Nuer expressed their sadness and grief for the tragedy in the State.”

The following are the Resolutions reached after the meeting to address the situation in question.

• We the leaders of these two communities are abhorred by violence incidents in Melut County, and condemned these attacks against the civilians in both Bai Ajak and Paloch in the strongest terms possible.

• We conveyed our heartfelt sympathies and Condolences to the bereaved families of Bai Ajak village, and also our Condolences to the family of our beloved Gajaak civilians killed in Paloch.

• Strongly appealed for the calm among the youth on both sides and work to restore peace immediately.

• We send this warning strongly to all anti-peace elements, to cease all forms of provocations and negative propaganda on social media.

• We urged all the youth to ease tensions in the Counties mentioned above, and to engage in dialogue as the only viable means to restore peaceful coexistence and stability in our State.

• Appealed to the Government of National Unity to apprehend these Criminals and bring them to justice. Appealed to all Organized Forces Stationed in area to protect Civilians lives and their property.

Response to Padang Community rejection on Upper Nile State Peace Conference

Eastern Jikany Peace Initiative Council (EPIC) | Office of the Executive Committee.

To: Padang Community

    Joint Press Release

After the decision of the Presidency dated 9, December 2020 that announced Upper Nile State Peace and reconciliation conference, Padang Community wrote a letter of complaint. However, there appeared to have been no consensus to participate in the Upper Nile State Peace Conference, citing as quoted.

“Dr Riek Machar as the Chairman of SPLM IO is the cause of the destruction and killing of the innocent people in Padang areas and his forces are still occupying Padang areas”. The second reason is that “Dr Riek Machar contradictory statement about the Upper Nile communities conference, which is contrary to the presidency statement, dated to 9 December 2020, article 3 and 4 where it states that the President shall issue decree to formalize of the decision of the Presidency and not Riek to do so”.

This is unfortunate move, and we strongly condemned it. It is wrong to trade accusations over the cause of this current political situation in this trying moment that the youngest nation is working hard to bring peace in South Sudan. Who does not know the root cause of South Sudan crises?

The current crises erupted in Capital Juba on December 15, 2013 and killed over 20,000 innocent Nuer lives in three days before it spread to other states. Vulnerable were burnt to ashes, forced to eat the flesh of their love ones, murdered, butchered, and hunted through door-to-door killing project at the watch of all 63 tribes from 16th – 22nd December 2013. It spread to other state because none of all 63 ethnic groups condemn the killing.

In this fact, the tears of those who survived, and the blood of those who were killed innocently in the streets of Juba and those trapped on their ways to UNMISS for safety and killed left us nothing but curses, and that explain why the crises spread to the other states after date 22nd December 2013. So, where was the position of Padang Community when the regime was busy implementing door-to-door killing project against their fellows Nuer ethnic group in Juba, that would today make you more special in Upper Nile State to the extent of rejecting peace that will only reunite us as people of Upper Nile State?

So, the Eastern Jikany Community had warned you (Padang Community). We also warn politicians for attempting to misdirecting the affairs of the communities of Upper Nile State for self-benefits.

We are both non-politicians, and therefore we must behave neutrally and embark on peace. Let politicians not over run the communities. In fact, currently the complicit behavior of some politicians as shown by their lack of concerns for the peace conference of the Upper Nile State has now emboldened the regime in Juba to negotiate in bad faith the appointment of Upper Nile State government. There is nothing better than rebuilding our trust.

We belong to one state and we must be called “People of Upper Nile State”. It is this fact that we strongly warned you for politicizing and undermine the Peace conference by omitting all potential progress and amend any suggestions in the interest of spoiling what would re-brand the broken relationship between the communities in Upper Nile State. Your move is the evident that the Presidency failed to convene the peace conference on its original schedule.

Upper Nile State is occupied by five ethnic groups namely, Nuer, Chollo, Maban, Komo and Dinka. They have been living together irrespective of political, religion and social status. Their social relationship and mutual trust have been developed by long history of intermarriage. However, many rebellions in Sudan including Anyanya I and II did not separate this social and cultural coexistent. But, after 15 December incident in Juba, some of the potential responsibilities tossed apart and the unity of the people of Upper Nile State remains under question. That is why Eastern Jikany Community had welcomed the peace conference.

We welcomed this tremendous idea since it will be the first inclusive peace conference in the history of Upper Nile State. The people of Eastern Jikany Community describe it as bold step to build peace in the state. That mean, the Presidency had remembered Upper Nile State in the Map and hope that it will open the way to resolve contentious issues that derails the formation of the Upper Nile State.

On separate development, last year 2019, the people of Eastern Jikany Community under its Community Based Organization named as, “Eastern Jikany Peace Initiative Council (EPIC)” also discussed and scheduled to convene popular Peace and Reconciliation Conference (PPRC) with all her neighbors and beyond. This came after the community decided to revert from its long history of political bandages, torture and killings of her innocents lives and recruited peace for the sake of South Sudan. So, we ask the people of Upper Nile State and particularly the Padang Community to focus on mechanisms that would bring peace in the state.

We, the people of Upper Nile State are morally obligated to change the course. It has long since the country missed its future, but today, peace and stability are something we can do to help the people of Upper Nile State, rather than hold fruitless meetings and mobilization in support on the crises that increase each month. We knew all along that the regime’s disdain for peaceful negotiated settlement and proclivity for military violence in the country make it clearly inherently unwilling and unable to lead South Sudan from current conflict trap to stable and long-lasting peace.

We call on the R-TGONU to totally reject the interest of the people of Padang Community since it does not supersede and supplant the course of durable peace for the people of Upper Nile State.

We call on all five ethnic groups in Upper Nile State to recognize on the reality on the ground and immediately embark on inclusive peace process that would address the root cause of the conflict

We urge our fellow members of Padang Community to reject any alterations that may be imported by politicians in the recent announced peace conference and work to realize the real peace. It is after this conference that would bring peace, slow violence, slow flow of arms and probably open road network so that our civilians resume trade and other related activities.

We also urge the Parties to the agreement to find the political will to compromise on the longer-term security and governance arrangement that would meet the needs of the people of South Sudan, particularly the formation of state governance and the Revitalized Transitional Legislature both in National and states as resolved in SPLM IO Peace Conference held in Juba.

Eastern Jikany Community worldwide is calling upon the R-TGoNU to accept the appointment of Lt Gen Johnson Olony as the Revitalized Governor of Upper Nile State because it is in the provision in the R-ARCSS. Lt Gen Johnson Olony was nominated by his Political Party just like other nine governors nominated by their Parties.

We call upon R-TGONU, IGAD and Trioka to consider seriously accountability measures for those who refused to pursue peace and stability in the country, particularly individuals being arms by the regime in the direction of Morota, Maban and elsewhere.

Merry Christmas to all 64 ethnic groups. May the Lord Jesus Christ bring peace this year 2021.


Undersigned by:

  1. Mok Riek Badeng – Acting Chairman of EPIC
  2. Simon Ngut Kun – Secretary-General of EPIC
  3. Lew Lual Deng – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community Council of Australia
  4. Dak Wal Miyong – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community in USA
  5. Koang Malual Khor – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community in Western Canada
  6. Dang Gatwech Deng – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community – Eastern Canada
  7. Tar Jal Bol – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Youths Union of Australia
  8. Chuol Bidit Duol – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community in Juba (POC)
  9. Thakuey Tut Dey – Chairman of Eastern Jikany Community in Egypt

Does R-ARCSS allow Padang Community to partake in choosing a political party or personality that governs Upper Nile State?

SPLM-IO nominee, General Johnson Olony Thambo picture during a military briefing
South Sudan’s ministers taking oath of office in Juba | Photo: PPU

Opinion | By Bol Khan


Introduction


August 11, 2020 (Thessherald)–One would have opined his opinion on the above subject matter earlier on, but expectantly thought the parties concerned were going to solved the issue sooner than later. Unfortunately, it seems the matter is not easily going away; I can still hear or read some warlike statements coming in from the higher Office—the Presidency.

This is truly disturbing! Hence, I would like to start this opinion piece with two (2) simple questions. Does the R-ARCSS allow Padang Community to partake in choosing a political party or a personality of its choice that govern Upper Nile State? Can the R-ARCSS also give other section of communities in South Sudan the same right to decide who should or should not participate in the Revitalized Transitional Governments (i.e. at national, State & Local Level) during this Transitional Period? So far, South Sudan’s nine (9) States’ Governors together with three (3) Areas’ Administrators have been appointed by Presidential Decrees.

We sincerely applauded the Parties to the R-ARCSS (viz; the OPP, FDs, SSOA, SPLM-IO & SPLM-IG) and notably Gen. Salva Kiir Mayadit for the progress made in the interest of suffering South Sudanese people. However, the nominated oil-rich Upper Nile State’s Governor, Gen. Johnson Olony was not appointed, why because Padang Community objected his appointment.

In an open communication to the Presidency, the Padang Community said “Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO (White Army) and Gen. Johnson Olony’s Agwelek Militias” had destroyed “human lives and properties of Padang Community” during the recent past civil war and for this reason “Padang Community in Upper Nile State will not accept to be ruled by the SPLM-IO and Agwelek Militias in person of Johnson Olony.”

The same statement proceeded and said “Padang Community envisaged SSOA as a unified Political Party to Unite Upper Nile State.” Therefore, the Padang Community asked the Presidency of the Republic of South Sudan to consider one of the following conditions: 1) The SPLM-IO to either replace Gen. Johnson Olony with a Nuer/re-allocate the State to SSOA; 2) Or axe Upper Nile State into Administrative Areas, giving Padang Community its own Administrative Area (annexing JS’s Pigi County).

The alleged atrocities and the land issue at Eastern Bank of the Nile.
It was on 17th June & 10th July 2020, respectively, when Padang Community wrote an open letters to the Presidency asking the later not to appoint Gen. Johnson Olony as Upper Nile State’s Governor. In that letters, the said Community described Gen. Johnson Olony as a symbol of a “possible instability—a threat” to Upper Nile State’s people because he Johnson and the SPLM-IO have created “unhealed wounds that the communities still bears and will be a factor for conflict” in the State.

Can the atrocities allegedly committed by the SPLM-IO (White Army/Agwelek) during the five years old civil war prevent Gen. Johnson Olony from leading the Revitalized Upper Nile State’s Government? An answer to this question must be a BIG NO. Why because “There shall be established an independent hybrid judicial court, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS)” as stipulated in the R-ARCSS Chapter V Article 5. 3.1.1. Once that court is established “It shall investigate and where necessary persecute, individuals bearing responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable South Sudanese Laws, committed from 15th December 2013 through the end of the Transitional Period”.

And while “Carrying out its investigations, the HCSS may use the report of the AU (COI) on South Sudan and other existing documents and reports, including but not limited to those in the possession of the AU for use as the Prosecutor deems necessary for his/her investigations and/or prosecution of those alleged to have committed serious human rights violations or abuses, war crimes, or crimes against humanity”.

Its concludes in Article 5.5.1 in the same Chapter V that any “Individual Leaders indicted or convicted by HCSS shall not be eligible for participation in the RTGoNU, or in its successor government (s) for a period determined by law, or if already participating in the R-TGoNU, or in its successor government (s) they shall lost their position in government”.

So, Padang Community would have done a right thing if it had instead called for the formation of the HCSS so that SPLM-IO and Gen. Johnson Olony, among others, is investigated and then persecuted if found guilty. However, the truth of the matter is that, Nuer and Dinka are two major tribes whose members were widely accused of having committed serious atrocities in South Sudan, during the past five (5) years civil war.

But if you can allow these two (2) tribes’ members participations in the revitalized governments without conditions, then why should you block Gen. Johnson Olony’s participation in the same revitalized Governments? Should it be because Gen. Johnson Olony is from the minority group? To me, Padang Community and whoever may be supporting it is a lucid “possible threat” not only to Upper Nile State but also to South Sudan as a whole.

In other words, the Padang Community’s aforesaid conditions are tantamount to final abrogation of the R-ARCSS. The first point I am making is that the onus of holding individual leaders accountable for the alleged crimes committed during or after the civil war lies on the HCSS. But there is no certain section of community such as Upper Nile State Padang Community, to take law into its hands and tribally try to hold an individual leader accountable.

Similarly, the same thing to the so-called land issue of Eastern Bank of the Nile contested between Chollo Community and the Presidency’s backed Padang Community. This issue has to wait also if every is for Peace, all should stick to IBC’s recommendations.

As the R-ARCSS’s Chapter I Article 1.15.11 says “The parties accept to implement the recommendations of the IBC in full at the beginning of the Transitional Period. And also in Article 1.15.18.7 “In the event that any tribe claims that the IBC report is violated, that tribe is entitled to resort within a maximum of two years of the alleged violation to arbitration and bring its case against the RGoNU or any subsequent government of the Republic of South Sudan before the permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague”. Period!

In conclusion


The former ITGoNU and current incomplete R-TGoNU have failed beyond reasonable doubt in following the right implementation pathway of the 2018 signed R-ARCSS. Presumably, the right implementation procedure would have been started with the Security Arrangements first, then follow by formation of the Presidency, Reconstitution of TNLA, formation of Cabinet at national level, the State Governors, States’ Legislative Assemblies, States’ Cabinet, Counties’ Commissioners…etc or with any other Articles deemed necessary. However, as I write or as you read this piece everything about the R-ARCSS’S implementation is in a coma.

Nobody is sure whether the R-TGoNU is implementing PEACE—re-building hope and trust among the South Sudanese people as expected or it is re-building tribal hatred in South Sudan. Due to this unchallenged intransigency within the R-TGoNU, Padang Community managed and objected successfully the appointment of Upper Nile State’s nominated Governor, Gen. Johnson Olony. Therefore, this opinion piece seeks to know whether or not it is the R-ARCSS that allows Padang Community section the right to participate in choosing Upper Nile State’s Governor.

To the best of my knowledge, the R-ARCSS does not allow the Padang Community to participate in any thing to do with R-ARCSS’s implementation. I have read the IGAD’s logoed document calls the “R-ARCSS” times and again but I have never come across a single Article/clause that gives Padang Community the RIGHT to choose a political party or a person of its choice to govern Upper Nile State. Where does Padang Community get it power, then? Padang Community got its power from the Presidency—the Office of the President.

Conclusion

The support Padang Community is getting from the Presidency.

With all due respects, at the end of this opinion piece, I would like to put forward the following four (4) questions. Is it legal for Presidency of the Republic to support Upper Nile State’s Padang Community against the R-ARCSS? Will the SAME Presidency also allow other section of communities in South Sudan to make choices (in connection with “unhealed wounds”) as to who should or should not participate in the Revitalized Transitional Governments (i.e. at national, State & Local Level) during this Transitional Period? Are the Padang Community’s conditions a dawdling strategy—pulling South Sudan back to former 32+ tribal States?

Is Upper Nile State’s Governorship issue a plotted final bomb on the already amputated R-ARCSS?

Therefore, in the name of the R-ARCSS, I appeal to the Presidency—the Office of the President to appoint Upper Nile State’s nominated Governor, Lt. Gen. Johnson Olony Thubo, forthwith. Otherwise, just like Padang Community of Upper Nile State; other communities in other States across South Sudan shall start coming up with similar issues targeting individual leaders from among the leaders who have already been appointed as States’ Governors and National Ministers. And the Presidency may not be exceptional, because some of its members are perceived “divisive” and seen as real “violent threat” to PEACE more than others in South Sudan.

Bol Khan is a concerned South Sudanese Independent Opinion Writer, Civil Rights and Peace Activist. He irregular writes opinion pieces about Rights, Peace and Democracy. He can easily be reached for comments at khanrom8@gmail.com . Twiter@khanrom

Apadang community’s leaders in IO back Johnson Olony

Leaders of the Apadang community during a meeting after paying a courtesy call on the First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar | Photo: Office of the FVP.

July 8, 2020 (Thessherald)–Leaders of the Apadang community in the SPLM-IO have paid a courtesy call on the First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar and voiced their support for the appointment of Johnson Olony as Governor of Upper Nile State.

Leaders of Apadang community in the SPLM-IO met with the First Vice President of the Republic, Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, in his office today, Wednesday, 8 July, 2020,” the office of the FVP said in a brief statement.

“The Apadang community leaders in the IO, led by Elijah Awuol, said they registered their unwavering support to Johnson Olony, or any other nominee to become the Governor in Upper Nile State.”

The community elders affirmed their willingness to work with Gen. Johnson Olony should he become the Governor of Upper Nile State.

” They emphasized their readiness as Cadres of the IO to support and work with Johnson Olony, if he becomes the Governor as decided by the leadership of the Party.”

“They also discussed with Dr. Machar a number of other issues including their would-be participation in the State government as well as at other levels and institutions of Government.”