By Sindani Ireneaus
The SPLM leaders posting for a group photo in Arusha after signing the framework on October 20th, 2014(Photo: Nyamilepedia version)
Oct 22, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — The cat is out of the bag. At least the Tanzanians have made it to jump out of the bag straight to our eyes and ears. No one can longer deny it whether now or in future. The world has also heard. The African Union must have taken heed of it while the ICC prosecutors should be happy and excited that they will not longer delve deep in investigating the heinous crimes in South Sudan in order to unravel the people behind the genocide, mass rape, rampant torture, ethnic targeted killings, disappearance of people, violation of individual rights and mass displacement of people in Juba making South Sudanese to live destitute lives in their own country.
If you are still wondering what I am talking about, let me make it abundantly clear that I am talking about the surprising admission by the entire leadership of the SPLM that there are responsible for the crisis in South Sudan. Allow me to quote the Arusha communiqué; entitled: The Arusha Communique: Intra-SPLM party so as to clearly illustrate the point and make it abundantly plane to everybody. I quote “The parties acknowledge a collective responsibility for the crisis in South Sudan that has taken a great toll on the lives and property of our people”. The communiqué was signed by none other than Cde Paul Akol Kordit on behalf of SPLM in government; Cde Duer Tut Duer on behalf of SPLM in opposition and Cde Kosti Manibe Ngai on behalf of SPLM detainees and it is dated October 21, 2014. “The great toll on the lives” means the mass killings, torture, rape, displacement and incarcerations and disappearances”. “Great toll to property” means the destruction to private and public properties such as individual Nuer houses in Juba, destruction of public homes such as the one of the former vice president, destruction of villages in upper Nile and Bentui, looting of peoples’ houses in Juba, land grabbing and confiscation of travelers property such as goods, cell phones, money and any other thing that falls into category of property
Right from the start let me make it abundantly clear that the leadership of these factions have frankly and without shame owned up to the criminal act and brutality that has been meted to the people of South Sudan. My admitting that they are responsible for the “crisis in South Sudan that has taken a great toll on lives and property of the people of South Sudan”, it means they systematically planned, directed and executed all that befell the people. Secondly they are saying that whatever crimes committed by their subordinates that include the rank and file of the SPLA soldiers on both side of the divide in this criminal war, was methodically organized, plan and directed by them. There is nothing called random killing by rogue soldiers, nothing called revenge killings or being detained innocently. All have participated in one way or another in brutally murdering innocent children, women and civilians. They conspired to exterminate ethnic groups and planned ethnic killings in the country. They smartly planned and uprooted South Sudanese from their residences and made them to be refugees and internally displaced in their country. They directed mass rape as a tool of war. They displaced thousands of South Sudanese and forced them to refugee in neighbouring countries. They carried out targeted killing particularly of those perceive to be against the regime. They planned and directed the torture of human right activists in Juba in order to silence them.
Now that these leaders have admitted and owned up to the genocide, ethnic killings, raping, torture and the whole range of human right abuses in South Sudan, let me be clear on apportioning the crimes. By owning up to these crimes the leadership of SPLM in government has owned up to:
- Targeted ethnic killing of more than 20,000 Nuer civilians in Juba, destruction of Nuers property in Juba, Bor, Malakal, and Unity state particularly the destruction of leer in Bentui
- The targeted killing and disappearance of people in Juba such as the killing of Isaac Abraham because of his writings
- Torturing human right activists such as Athuai; the chairman of civil right organizations in Juba
- Attacking innocent Nuers who were sheltering in UNMISS compound in Bor
- Illegally using of banned chemical weapons on Nuer soldiers on Juba-Bor road where hundreds of soldiers died as a result of cluster bombs
- Carrying out rampant rape of Nuer women in Juba by government soldiers and operatives just because of their ethnicity
- The fact that it fabricated a coup in order to eliminate its opponents and create chaos and suffering in order to perpetuate tribal, dictatorial and corrupt leadership in Juba
- Consciously recruiting, training, arming, directing and commanding a tribal militia to carry out genocide and commit serious human right abuses in South Sudan
- Hiring mercenaries from Uganda and northern Sudan to propagate its genocide and ethnic cleansing policy
Likewise by signing the communiqué, the leadership of the SPLM in opposition has owned up to:
- The revenge killings that occurred in Akobo in the UNMISS compound.
- Alleged killing of innocent people in hospital and in a church in Bor
- Innocent killing of captured soldiers from Sudanese rebels in Malakal
- Ethnic killing of innocent chollo people because of their alleged support to General Olony, the leader of the Chollo militia in Malakal
Lastly the leadership of the SPLM detainees in collaboration with the other leaders of SPLM has owned up to the rampant corruption, tribalism, nepotism, molding a dictator, mismanagement of state affairs, inability to render services to the people of South Sudan while they were in government.
What is the implication of this admission to the future of South Sudan? First these leaders have admitted that they created chaos in South Sudan because of their failure to provide effective leadership. They have admitted that they are criminals, thieves, trbalists and dictators who are repugnant to democracy. Above all they have committed crime against humanity and human right violations. They have disunited and completely broken the bridges that had made the people of South Sudan to stick together. They have admitted that they have failed the people of South Sudan who had voted overwhelmingly for them to steer the country into prosperity and rapid development. They have admitted that they cannot unite, lead and administer the nation other than their stomachs and their cronies. They have above all admitted that they have failed the peoples’ mandate and instead turned to kill and maim the very people who elected them, looted the country for their individual gain, destroyed the property of the very people who they were entrusted protect.
The question is whether in any meaningful way these leaders have any legitimacy left to continue governing in South Sudan? The fact is that any elected leader who has turned against his people, massacred them, plunger their wealth and property, displaced them, raped and tortured them, in the eyes of the law has lost his/her legitimacy and cannot longer purport to lead and speak on their behalf. Therefore the current SPLM leaders are not longer legitimate elected leaders of South Sudan. They deserve not to speak on behalf of the people any more. Since they have collectively taken responsibility for the heinous crimes against humanity and human right abuses, their only option is to stand up boldly and answer to their crimes before the International criminal court in The Hague. As they stood boldly in their gray suites in front of Kikwete; the Tanzania President and owned up to their crimes, they should likewise stand tall, boldly and upright in front of the international criminal court to defend themselves individually or collectively. On the other hand they should also face their victims and relatives of their victims to whole heartedly apologize to them like the great men and women in South African who faced their victims and relatives of their victims and apologized under the tutelage of Bishop Tutu truth and reconciliation commission.
Finally what is my advice in this circumstance? My brotherly advice first goes to these leaders to tell them that this is a decision time. Either they make South Sudan to take the path of reconciliation and embark on peaceful co-existence and development of the country or they would like this great nation to sink with them during this period of their demise. Taking path of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence means the leadership in Juba should immediately resign or seek no leadership position in the transitional administration. Similarly the leadership of the SPLM in opposition and SPLM detainees must negotiate in good faith for peace and transitional government without them. This is because with them in any form of government, genuine reconciliation will not happened in South Sudan. It would be like covering a fire with mud without extinguishing it completely. Secondly, I must advise these leaders that they either face peoples’ truth and reconciliation commission to ask for forgiveness from the people of South Sudan because there is no South Sudanese who has not been aggrieved by their reckless leadership or wait to present themselves to the international criminal court where they can have the opportunity to clear their names as individual or suffer the consequences of their action. This is the only way to end the impunity that has been the order of the day in South Sudan.
My advice to the IGAD peace negotiators is that peace and reconciliation can only come to South Sudan when the root causes of the current conflict are fully discussed, agreed upon and future roadmap for thorough reforms including the institution of federal system is drawn up. Once this is achieved then a transitional government without these the self confessed SPLM butchers of South Sudan can be established. Excluding the entire leadership is crucial so that reconciliation and building of the social fabric of the people of South can begin. The SPLM leaders should be offered the chance to seek forgiveness from the people of South Sudan through truth and reconciliation commission or face the international criminal court to clear their names. By considering or allowing these leaders to participate in the transitional or future leadership in South Sudan without reconciliation or not answering to the heinous crimes they committed against the people of South Sudan, means IGAD itself is condoning impunity in South Sudan and in fact the South Sudanese will view this as if IGAD is adding salt on the bleeding wounds in South Sudan. Certainly this will not go unchallenged because there many patriotic South Sudanese out there who will take over the mettle of liberating the people of South Sudan from the York of murderous leaders, looters and plunderers of the country. It does not matter how long this will take but the people have to be liberated from these criminals and impunity must be ended.
My advice to the friends of South Sudan including the troika is that they should continue to stand firm in supporting the people of South Sudan during this trying time. There is no quick fix to the issues in South Sudan neither can there be quick fix by reconstituting SPLM of self confessed criminals and looters. The current leaders are bent to continue with their determined efforts to propagate chaotic crisis in the country for their comfort and comfort of their tribes and cronies. South Sudan is not devoid of leaders but the country has been taken hostage by leaders who have no future of the country in their hearts. For eight years they have been in government, they have only perfected the art of looting, corrupting and balkanizing the country into tribal enclaves. Nothing is acceptable than allowing and accepting the impunity that is striding the breath and length of entire South Sudan.
What about the Tanzania government. I must extend my sincere congratulations to the government of Tanzania for bringing these leaders together to finally take responsibility for the crimes they committed in South Sudan. They have been denying this for long and now they have owned up. My sincere advice is that Tanzania should make these leaders to realize that the confession they made is not the highway to assume leadership again but it is the rough road for them to stand up and face their victims or their relatives and say we are sorry or else they must face the law at The Hague in order to end impunity in South Sudan. There is no middle road for these leaders. They either succumb to the law or are forced to face the law.
For the AU commission tasked to investigate human rights abuses and crime against humanity in South Sudan, I would say that the Commission‘s work is made easier. The people have already taken responsibility for these crimes. The only work you are left with is to identify who bears the greatest responsibility so that the law takes its course. There is no time to waste now because the people of South Sudan need closure for their sufferings. Last but not the least please ICC take up the case of South Sudan as soon as the AU commission presents it to you. South Sudanese are yawning for justice and they want to see justice prevail and this should be done as soon as possible for any justice delayed is justice denied.