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Rumbek: Another Side of the Burning Home!

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- Just as the country is wavered by rebellion where individuals lost their beloved ones, bulk displacement of people, where others are almost starving in the camps, yet our people in Rumbek are still killing themselves amid crisis in South Sudan.

In Rumbek, past events are forwarded to the present. The weight of the past, the traditional ways of doing things is massive. The past tension of 20th century is forwarded to the 21th century. He who killed my uncle in the past is still remembered as an enemy when compensation and reconciliation were done. Why do we reverse the past gears? I like the way Agar people act politically, but partially hate their individualistic approaches to their local issues as Agar and clans.

The wrongs of the past should be forgiven. And if we look to the past, let’s do so for the lesson it had taught us. An act of revenge increases the problem to hopeless sense. However, there is no smoke without fire, but people should stop revenging because all of us are one. There is a need to sit down and solve our own problem.

I have been anticipating for years to see politicians from Lakes state coming forward as leaders or the sons and daughters of Lakes states to condemn the tragedies that have had been rocking Rumbek for years if some of them have never been the part of the insecurity in the state.

Many of us in South Sudan have social, political problems or grievances to be spoken but not the nature of Rumbek’s. There is solution to everything, and the people of Rumbek should say enough is enough to their own problems. I am not saying that my Agar people – who are Dinka are not good. I love them and wanted them to live peacefully. Buka ye puot e rot. Tetke aleei wiic wek yeeth, {literally translated: do not fight. Wait for an enemy to invade you!}

Former governor, Daniel Awet Akot tried his best to forge calmness but the situation increasingly intensified during the time of Chol Tong and Matur Chut. And again, those who are asking for governor Matur’s removal are yearning for the worst. Governor Matur came to stay. No surprise. Just tell them. It’s you – the ordinary people who are the problem to yourselves – nature or mentality not the governor! And if it’s the governor who is the problem, then let it be known than trouble innocent people.

During the opening ceremony of Mayardit Hospital in Rumbek, President Kiir urged the people of Rumbek to stop fighting. He also added that people are not killing themselves in Aweil or Twic in Warrap because they have lost many people during the protracted civil war in Sudan. There is no need for people – same family to kill themselves. The crowd listened to the President’s speech at Rumbek freedom square – and after a week, a paramount chief was killed in Rumbek. What is really forcing people in Rumbek to kill each other?

They state authority had sacked some paramount chiefs when Engineer Chol Tong was the governor but the same problem is still yearning. People should respect the law. As community chiefs, local leaders tried to solve the problem but invincible, I urge the youths to reconcile, live together. The civil society, youth organizations and woman groups should join hands and critically look into the problem. The research institutions should also carry out studies to pioneer the root causes of the problem for a lasting solution.

While Bishop Deng Bul is in Rumbek – urging people to obey the law and work together as one people, however, the problem lies within the people. These people should be asked to speak out their minds before featuring solutions, lest the problem shall not stop. Did they stop doing the obvious in Rumbek when President Kiir begged them to cease killing each other? Will they stop fighting when Bishop Deng leaves Rumbek?

Those who are thinking of solving anything in Rumbek are supposed to begin with the youths where the problem kept starting. When the house is on fire, neighbors see the smoke and begin coming for rescue. Many people fight fire with water, sand soil, and green leaves of trees. And if the house is burning and we began asking the owner of the house for the root cause of the fire than pour the water on the fire, then are we helping to stop the fire? Our people know how to fight the fire with water, oil and sand. However, we must decide which method is the right method to stop the fire burning the house, lest the house will be burned into ashes. In other parts of the country, youths or individuals have been politicized by politicians to act against their rival fellow politicians, is it the case in Lakes state? The Youths in the cattle camps shouldn’t be political camps cattle herders.

The social intimidating complexity by the people of Rumbek deserves brotherly actions, concrete thoughts based on grass-root consultation with local community or chiefs. The problem is from within – cohesively needs law-enforcing agencies to take proper measures against ring leaders. Moreover, people sometimes don’t obey the law when favoritism, interference are done by individuals within law-enforcing agencies, in which others may feel their cases seemed to be vulnerable and think of revenge as the last solution. All in all, Rumbek may need law-enforcing agencies’ forces from different states in the country for fairness and social neutrality.

Deng Mangok Ayuel is a South Sudanese columnist and blogger, lives in Aweil. He can be reached via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

A Tribute to Ambassador Page

By: Biel Boutros Biel

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us (Albert Schweitzer)

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- On 18 August 2014, I happened to read a version of news story published by the Sudan Tribune online: (http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52090), that a top United States ambassador was due to ‘leave’ South Sudan. My heart threw a beat and it was rightly so, it is Ambassador Susan Page (Amb. Page), to be leaving! As I read through the news material, my mind recalled the courageous articles and statements on South Sudan, ocassionally authored and issued by Amb. Page. I wondered aloud within, thinking the gaps, the learned Ambassador would leave behind! However, my thoughts lamely reconciled, that perhaps, the new Ambassador ‘Charles Twining’ reported to replace her, would be giant enough to share his ‘candle’ without fear or favour.

Whom should we thank?

Sometimes, as human history would have it, there are individuals who do much priceless work for others but remain uncelebrated. However, if there are few international figures that the poor and the oppressed South Sudanese should give thanks to; Amb. Page, is among those who rock it! Her love for the ‘republic of vulnerable’ and most especially the Africans, from Rwanda unto us, it would be inglorious not to thank her. Amb. Page stood with us, South Sudanese, not only at the times she was posted to Juba as the United States Ambassador to South Sudan, but also since then and through the times of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) between South Sudan and North Sudan. At that time, she was a legal advisor to Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).Using her legal knowledge, Amb. Page was one of the brains behind the drafting of the CPA protocols. In her own words she said;

I think about how privileged I am to have witnessed the signing of the document that ended the longestrunning Civil War in Africa (http://thepolitic.org/an-interview-with-susan-d-page-u-s-ambassador-tosouth-sudan/)

For sure, the CPA gave us the right to vote for our final freedom as South Sudanese people. For some, it might be ambitious to say, that I believe the ‘Oyee’ we say on every 9th Day of July, Susan Page has a ‘page’ in it.

How far has this iron lady put South Sudan into her heart?

It can never be contested that since 6 December 2011, when she arrived in Juba, to take up her position, Amb. Page has never looked back. She stood with us; at times, she even says things that South Sudanese government might not be happy to hear. It is on record for most of us, working in human rights defence that, Amb. Page pushed much on South Sudanese government to conduct thorough investigations on who killed our colleague Isaiah Abraham. She also has oftentimes stood tall and bold when the freedom of speech and expression is abused by the agents of our government. In May 2013, while commenting on press freedom Amb. Page stated that; 

the state has the constitutional mandate to protect journalists.

I think, this was a gentle reminder on how our ‘holy lords’ in the government should have known that the protection of a free speech, is not a privilege to be accorded to the citizens at the mercy of the state but rather a right that people’s government should not abuse and instead, protects it.

Amb. Page never stopped there, seeing our country as a close political ally to her own, she was bold enough to clearly convey the concerns of the U.S. government over our messy media situation and she remarked that; the US government is very concerned about the deteriorating levels of press freedom in the country. The continued push back, intimidations and harrassment of journalists is a violation of their rights and freedoms

Rightly to say so, Amb. Page, has come to South Sudan not to monitor the abuses of human rights and rule of law per se and to report the same to Obama’s administration so that a guilotine is put on our ‘Hitlers.’ No, she believes that her presence is meant to continue moving together along the thorny road with the poor and oppressed South Sudanese in their quest for true liberty. This explains why in many ocassions, she has always made statements that raise eyebrows and leave some conscience guilty among those who entirely claim the ownership of the liberation struggles with the same song ‘holier than thou’.

Amb. Page, understands us and sincerely believes that we are not hopelessly hopeless, but a people with dignity, who are only devastated by the effects of protracted wars. In 2012, to be sure, that the ‘iron lady’ means business for us, while in interviews with the media she said; 

-----------they really had to start from scratch. We are not talking about just ordering some new furniture they didn’t have pens, papers, and stationery, let alone computers, electricity, and running water, vehicles, roads. It certainly is nation-building, but to try to encourage South Sudanese along their path to build a nation and using their resources to try to help the citizen population.

Those words said by a diplomat, show how deep she is in our shoes. Amb. Page, in the current South Sudan’s civil war, she remains hopeful and a source of our encouragement. Like United Nations former head in South Sudan, Hilder F. Johnson, Amb. Page, even at the point of uncertainity, she feels our hurt, pains and sufferings and wants us to have hope still as she said; 

Do not to lose sight of your dream of building a united and prosperous country, even in the wake of the violence that has wracked South Sudan (http://www.voanews.com/content/south-sudan-us-ambassadorsusan-page-message-unrest-diplomacy/1841001.html) 

To my mind, Amb. Page wants a peaceful South Sudan and since December 2013 when evils through our ‘votes’ befell South Sudan, yet it has been her wish that peace should return. She sometimes states things that neither please the Juba government nor the rebels but she believes South Sudanese have burning issues which could only be resolved through peaceful dialogue and she said: 

We reiterate, there can not be a solution militarily to this conflict that is first and foremost political and where demands of people need to be heard. U.S. government will continue to press for a national dialogue for South Sudan to promote democracy and the interests of all South Sudanese people.

Much as some of the things pushed by Amb. Page, didn’t succeed until the time of her leaving, issues such as apprehending and bringing to justice the suspects on the assassination Isaiah Abraham and making sense to the advocacy of the media freedom, however, it could be argued that, it has been because, the learned Ambassador’s words, have always landed unheard in the ears of ‘politically active generals.’  

Amb. Page understands South Sudanese and to many, she is a fearless lady who believes in freedom for all. Her courageous stance and hopeful statements on South Sudanese issues, to some powerful gurus, they seem ‘foreign interferences in domestic affairs’ whereas, to the oppressed and dying South Sudanese, she speaks the very issues for which our colleague Isaiah Abraham wanted South Sudan to be freed from and the same that led to the 15 December 2013 bloody start.

John F. Kennedy once remarked; we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives

Precisely to assert, I would say, this is the time to thank Amb. Page, for truly, she believes in the fundamental freedom discourses for which men like South Sudanese leader Dr. John Garang and American civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, died for. That is why, the ‘iron lady’ has been saying things which a certain Minister of Information would say; ‘she has exceeded her mandate.’

One for home:

Ambassador Susan Page; kindly convey to President Obama that, the current shape of affairs we are in from Nimule to Renk, from Raja to Gambeila, if not completely peacefully dismantled, then South Sudan will not have a stable future any time soon. Tell Mr. President that the wounds are too big to be healed by a mere coalition government as the negotiations in Addis Ababa would suppose. Neither the Ocampo’s language nor the Chinese guns would offer solutions. Tell him, the ongoing war is not about Dinka versus Nuer but more deeply rooted, in the evils against which men like Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, spent their youthful lives fighting successive Sudanese governments. Tell him that, in order to have a peaceful, reconciled and united South Sudan once again, South Sudan needs a complete u-turn in its structure and state composition. The economic gap between the poorest of the poor and comrades who have become too rich too soon, isn’t anything to trace aside. Tell him that the common South Sudanese are looking for a governance system that won’t glorify individuals but one that will adore supremacy of the Constitution, a system that won’t care who becomes the President but that, which ensures;- that the president acts in accordance with the just laws, the one which ensures that the poor are fed from the oil money and revenues for which their sons, husbands, relatives, wives etc, died. A system which ensures that the votes are not stolen, that one which ensures that the parliament is dominated by the people’s representatives, that tthe judiciary is not for the in-laws, that the army is not for the tribal warlords. Kindly pass to him, that deep grievances, injustices, oppression, dictatorship, name them, have taken over South Sudan, that these evils are the ones controlling the country and the only solution is to have peace negotiations that asks; questions still not asked. That addresses not only why there is civil war but that goes deeper to explore how this war should have been prevented.

Thank you Ambassador Susan Page for sacrificing your worth for Africa and particularly, for standing with South Sudanese people at the times we most needed you. Truly, from CPA hitherto, you have been one of us and we only hope that you will always remain standing with the oppressed people though you might soon find yourself in the politics of the ‘Kerrys’ of this world.

For Ambassador Charles Twining, over to you sir!

The author, Biel Boutros Biel, is an Executive Director of the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA). He fled to exile since December 2013 and is currently pursuing his Master’s of Laws Degree (LLM) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He can be reached on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The UN’S conversion into a prison management agency in South Sudan

By Elhag Paul

August 18, 2014 (SSNA) -- The United Nations protection camps in the middle of government controlled areas in South Sudan are frankly speaking prisons of President Salva Kiir managed by the UN and funded by the western world tax payers. I sit here and think: how on earth could a world body with the ability to master enough power from its member states to hold the feral leaders of South Sudan accountable have allowed itself to be reduced to prison warders and happily it goes along with it. 

The initial decision of the UN in December 2013 to protect civilians by opening its gates wide is a commendable act and it must be praised. However, these camps should not have been allowed to morph into prisons holding totally innocent people who have not committed any crimes apart from being born members of certain targeted ethnicities.

While the UN is honouring its duty to protect the right to life, it has through the back door been pushed to violate other human rights of those it is protecting by acting as prison warders for the feral dictator of South Sudan. President Salva Kiir must be laughing his head off for turning a world body into his own instrument of oppression. Look at it, technically the UN in South Sudan is now complicit in the abuse of South Sudanese by its own naive acceptance to protect without immediately holding the criminals to account and letting itself become a violator of its own ideals of human rights. For example, life in these UN protection camps as spoken about by the aid agencies can easily be classified as inhumane. Please see, ‘Horrific conditions in flooded UN camp’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28714774 and ‘South Sudan’s New War: abuses by government and opposition forces’ http://www.hrw.org/node/126088

With all these violations going on, the super powers of the world are paying a blind eye. Well, these may be only Africans suffering and given the perception that has clouded the literature and interaction of the developed world and the third world, the appalling conditions of the South Sudanese in the UN camps may not be seen as deserving attention to invoke the instruments relating to grave violations of human rights. Obviously, the curse of oil and natural resources may have something to do with the unacknowledged abuse of South Sudanese by their dictator leaders.

IGAD is complicit in advancing and promoting the neglect of the rights of South Sudanese by pretending that it can solve the problems of South Sudan. Their trumpeted slogan of “African solutions for African problems” is a vehicle for the world powers to hide behind from their global responsibility to stamp justice in South Sudan. A responsibility, some of these powers are happy to embrace when advancing their own interest, but not in the service of humanity as in the case of South Sudan. The African solutions the IGAD pride itself on to say the least are product of malicious mind designed to protect the abusers. After all, IGAD membership has some of the worst dictators in Africa. Logically, how can any reasonable person expect a club dominated by some vile dictators solve a problem created by one of them. This is like accusing a fox who has stolen and eaten chickens to a leader of skulk howling about Fox solutions to fox problems with expectation of a just solution.

Let us look at their African solutions for South Sudan. IGAD is convinced that if it can reconcile the various warring factions of the SPLM, South Sudan will return to peace. Please see, ‘The solution of South Sudan’s political problems lies in new blood’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201404040507.html       and ‘IGAD’s inadequate strategy in South Sudan’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201404140864.html            In spite of the fact that this position is not supported by any evidence, they plough on with it while the damage on the lives of the innocent in South Sudan goes on.      

Now in Addis Ababa the warring parties with the blessing of IGAD are being allowed to negotiate themselves out of their grave crimes against humanity and return into power at the expense of the people (victims). Really, if the over 20,000 people killed in Juba; the over 100,000 people in the UN Protection prison camps; the over 400,000 people pushed into refuge in neighbouring countries; and the over 1,300,000 people displaced internally was to happen in the other continents, would the powers that be not intervene decisively and swiftly to right the wrong? When less than a 1000 people were killed in Bosnia, the world powers immediately intervened, saved lives and held the culprits to account. Why is the world then not decisive to end the abuse of the South Sudanese people? Why are the powers that be pampering the feral leaders of South Sudan whose hands are dripping with blood of innocent people? Why do the powers that be talk about ineffective sanctions and condoning the imprisonment of the innocent victims in those UN protection prison camps without a solution in sight?

The abuses in South Sudan should not only be localised for this may be the beginning of dictators around the world and specifically in Africa acquiring the tools of how to trash the instruments of human rights that took centuries to build. Some may be gleefully rubbing their hands and thinking about how to abuse certain ethnicities that they abhor for whatever reasons or another. The activities of dictators and non state actors in many parts of the world if allowed to go unchecked as it is being allowed in South Sudan in the long run may plunge the world into total chaos.

When world bodies are co-opted into the machine of abuse and terror like UN in South Sudan, something is seriously wrong with the mores of the global community embodied in this organisation. This poses a real challenge to the moral fabric of the world. Therefore, the UN and the world powers need to rethink their position on South Sudan. Like late musician Michael Jackson sang in his famous song, ‘Man in mirror’. “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” It is time that the moral of the world is restored before feral leaders around the globe begin to trash the current structures in place for world peace. Thus, UN must stop shouldering the role of prison management in South Sudan by intervening appropriately and decisively.

The South Sudan conflict and the recommended process to address it challenge the moral of the world. If all the ideals that are at the core of human rights ideology intended for advancement of society built in the last 300 years are not to wear off then the world truly needs to do something radical to address it. The structures for maintenance of world peace erected initially in 1920 and later on replaced by the United Nations after the Second World War risk being gradually destroyed by cynical actions of dictators and non state actors in different parts of the globe. For example, the case of South Sudan is a typical one.

The universality of humanity is now parcelled into relative geographical regions without emphasis on the rights of humanity as stipulated in the various instruments. Under this arrangement it is easy for the powerful countries or the supposed guardians of the world to turn blind eyes to the grave crimes against humanity in faraway lands like South Sudan. The new buzz words and phrases are “African solutions for African problems”. What this presupposes is that if Africans are massacring themselves, that remains their problem and the world needs not to intervene.  

In South Sudan, a monster slaughters children, women and elderly in broad day light in their tenth of thousands and displaces over million people causing serious regional problem unbelievably  it stirs no moral outrage whatsoever in the conscience of the custodians of the world. In relation to Africans, the question that has been asked for centuries remains truly valid today: has the life of an African any value? Are the decisions taken by the custodian of the world really not clouded by the beliefs of “them” and “us”, “civilised” and “savage” developed world and the third world? Else why is the death of tenth of thousands of African people down played by the western media and not taken seriously as it should to draw the attention of the world?

IGAD has been a total failure and numerous calls for it to be discarded and replaced by eminent person have been met with deaf ears. The shameful failure of IGAD is capped by the passing of its deadline on 10th August 2014 in relation to formation of interim government in South Sudan. The United Nation Security Council’s recent visit to the region though understands the situation it still puts faith on the hopeless process. “The council has made it very clear that it is prepared to impose consequence if there continue to be spoilers, if there continue to be people carrying out gross violation of human rights” “We will not tolerate violations of cessation of hostility and people who spoils peace agreement. We have delivered that message here and will deliver it to Riek Machar.” Stressed Samantha Powers of UNSC. Please see, ‘South Sudanese president vows to form all inclusive cabinet, http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52014 and ‘UN Security Council visit to South Sudan’ file:///C:/Users/Rosemary/Downloads/08-14%2520UNSC%2520Press%2520Stakeout%2520Transcript.pdf

Samantha Powers is a well known committed advocate of human rights. Powers words should be taken seriously. However, her comments in Juba missed the point completely. The issue is not “if there continue to be people carrying out gross violations of human rights.” The violations have already been committed en masse in December 2013 and they continue to be committed daily. For example, the imprisonment of over 100,000 innocent people in the UN Protection camps. Does the subjection of these people to confinement due to terror from President Kiir’s government not constitute ongoing gross violation of human rights? If it is not then the people of South Sudan and I do not know what it is.

Uganda’s UPDF, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Darfur and SPLM North of the Sudan remain in the country actively participating in military operations against SPLM-IO. Why is the UN quiet about this violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement? Why does it not demand the withdrawal of all foreign forces as stipulated in the agreement? Is this not a constant standing violation by South Sudan government and IGAD of the agreement? What more violation of the agreement does UNSC want?

Therefore, the time for “ifs” is long gone. It is time for compliance and action. It is time for consequences and accountability. It is this point that the UNSC has missed. The entire SPLM leadership are responsible for the mayhem in South Sudan. They need to be dragged to court to account for their collective crimes against the people of South Sudan arising from gross negligence of their beloved party and the management of the country. SPLM-IG, SPLM-IO, SPLM-G10 and their military chiefs should be facing honourable and respectable international judges and not pussyfoot with mediators intent on rewarding them for their crimes against the people of South Sudan.

President Salva Kiir by default is benefiting from the cultures that led to colonisation of Africa. He is getting away with mass murder because the South Sudanese Africans have been deemed to have no value. No wonder President Kiir is able to convert UN into a prison management agency. Ironically, the very regional body (IGAD) that is tasked to solve the problem of South Sudan is ignorant of its own position and responsibilities while promoting subtly laid down discriminatory approaches under nonsense like “African solutions for African problems”. If the structures of the world are based on instruments whose foundation is anchored in universalism like globalisation, then the right slogan should be “global solutions for global problems”. Under such a slogan feral leaders like President Kiir would not get away with crimes of similar magnitude committed by Slobodan Milosevic, General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. After all, the entire world is supposed to be a global melting pot.

[Truth hurts but is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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