DEAR NAATH IN UN JUBA BASED – A REPLY TO TEARZ AYUEN: NOTHING PERSONAL.

By Nyanyuon Bany

Nuer-IDPs 2014-04-03 at 8.23.41 PM

Internally displaced persons living in flooded UNMISS camps after heavy rain in March 2014 (photo: submitted|Nyamilepedia)

April 03, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — It is assumed for the purpose of this reply that the topic confined to Naath in Juba is not an attempt to ignore the suffering of South Sudanese around the country. This include Dinkas under attack in rebel occupied places and other tribes which we sadly forget to respectfully mention in this Dinka/ Nuer narrative of the conflict.

It is also assumed that Tearz Ayuen is not living in the UNIMISS compound and therefor giving me the liberty, as a person outside of that compound to reply with the same distance and constraints.

I do not doubt and believe that Tearz Ayuen is a passionate and patriotic South Sudanese who care for all its people. But I disagree with him on many topics, including this. And thus the title, nothing personal. Despite the strong words used, I have deep respect for this young gentleman. My strong words are exemplary of the extend of our disagreement and not of the person.

Finally I am also a Naath and I embrace this identity to the extent it recognises your right to live a dignified and free life as a Dinka and as a South Sudanese.

The reply.

We can admit at least, that Juba is a particular issue. In the middle of the capital of the state, the only place the government can claim with certainty to have control over, more than 20 thousand IDPS, mostly from Naath tribe, are sheltering from a government they voted for. It is a grave indictment of the government character and public and international vote of no confidence.

When you read Mr Ayuen heartfelt statement, especially the first emotionally moving paragraph, you can be forgiven to believe the author truly sympathizes with those caught up in this predicament. I think he does. They are innocent as he said, their only charge that of being innocent. But good intention, and indeed moving writing is hardly enough,it must also embrace the facts are they are, no merely as they ought to be.

By the time you finish reading Mr Ayuen call to the IDPs to go home, one is left with a feeling that these Naath are helpless cowards, striped of their dignity and who willingly allowed this indignity to continue when they have choice to leave the UNIMISS compound even if it is to die. Mr. Ayuen state, “let those who kill, kill”. On my reading, the article as a whole, almost mocks the suffering of these people, trivializing their experiences by suggesting a simple solution, go home. Am sure Mr Ayuen did not means this, but that’s what one is left with after reading the article carefully.

Mr. Ayuen, assumes it is ok to leave, even if one is to be killed because not all Naath can be wiped out. That may be true, but what if I get killed, will the Naath community raised my wife and kids? Death is individual Mr Ayuen, it is not communal experience. So one cannot get killed because other Naath will exist, or will continue to exist. This is a remark with very little regard for the value of life. In addition, death is absolute. One cannot change their mind after they die, unlike other things, you don’t get a second chance. So gambling with one life should not be taken lightly. Besides, if these people did not value their lives, why should they in the first place run to the UN compounds only to come out to be killed or gamble with a chance to be killed.

Even if it was to be a matter of bravery, you can’t possibly suggest or appear to suggest that people, in this case mostly women and children, disarmed in UNIMISS compound, should walk out without a means of defending themselves. That is far from bravery and much closer to stupidity.

Am also bewildered; If it is ok for you to be killed outside, what is the difference of dying inside? Both have the same result. One may even suggest dying inside a UNMISS compound because of starvation, diseases or because of an assaulted and vandalized dignity, is equal to being shot dead whilst being called a nyagat and your wife being raped at the corner.

Finally, what if they do decide to leave UNIMISS and if attacked defend themselves, does that not make the rebel?

Moving on, most people in UNIMISS, has pointed out, have lost their homes; either because they were grinded to the ground with tanks, or occupied by those who displaced them. So what home should they go to? What home are you calling them to go to? Is the streets enough? And if the streets is enough, is leaving on the streets any different from leaving in a tent in UN compound?

Second, the government reported that the 100 soldiers who killed their family members like dogs, have escaped, so do you think if those who took lives cannot be held accountable, those who took property would be?

What about most of them who lost their jobs? (and going to claim your pay after being force into a UN compounds is met with bullets), how do you think they will feed their families? But I suppose, let those who starve, starve? Is one meal a day not better than no meal a day?

What about the UN making money? Were they not making money when most of us were living in UN camps in other countries?

And how come we did not unite as one people and walk out of those refugee camps to our homes in South Sudan and face the Jabala? Since when did it become an indignity and act of cowardice , to seek safety and refuge when your government has not only, in its action, declared you and your tribe an enemy of the State, but acted upon that intention to the best of its abilities and have applied all means at it disposal to impose such an indignity on a portion of its people.

Mr Ayuen, no one decides to be a pauper in their own country. No man make a choice to abandon their dignity. One is rob of their dignity Mr Ayuen. The dignity you appear to be talking about, is the dignity left between the choice of a beggar to beg or to steal. These people were rod of dignity at a gun points, at the same time, whilst they watched their wives, husband, children, brother and sisters mercilessly murdered and continue to be pursued and hunted down like animals in Juba and other places. Even as we speak, it remains unclear whether the government’s mission is reconciliations or alienation or even extermination.

So lets the put the responsibility were it belongs, the President and his government decided that they will do this, and only they can end it. The President and his government decided that they will be paupers, and paupers they shall be, not by choice but by force . Maybe one day, a better day will raise. It is not today. And I am not prepared – an neither should anyone with the courage to stand with the truth, intellectuality or morally pretend that day into existence.

The embarrassing truth, as a matter of personal observation, is that one is guaranteed safety in Juba on four conditions ( the other is a matter of luck);
(a) That is if you are a dinka – generally speaking (some dinkas are or may become targets).
(b) That you have a strong dinka connection or protection to keep you safe.
(c) That you are a Naath who is not only sympathetic to the government, but who publically and daily and ritualistically, sometimes at the expense of those in the compound, reaffirm your unrelenting committed to the very government that killed and displaced your relative.
(d) Finally, to some degree, one is safe if you are a Naath with a name of some sort, so the Nyuon Bany and the likes.

As matter of common-sense and an option that obviously recommends itself; anyone who could live in a better situation, than their present suffering, does not need a messenger to tell him so. So if the option to leave UNIMISS, really as a matter of practicality existed, these Naath, would be in their home. Neither you or I need engaged in this useless endeavour. I say useless because only the government and the rebels – to some degree, can end this mess. But we can agree that the current situation is not a matter of convenience- choice by the way is a convenience. Neither is it a matter of what is practical, but a matter of necessity.

In conclusion, these people are no longer citizens. They are IDPs, and has you rightfully pointed out, they owe their lives to the peace keeping force (and few kind Dinkas). For when a government they voted for, decided to use collective public resources to killed, rape and pillage, it also ceased to have a claim upon their persons, a moral claims at least. So nothing is simple. With all due respect, nothing is simple. And their is no home yet, for home is more than a physical location, it is also an emotional condition.

So I respectfully and vehemently disagree with your suggestion. It is not a solution, and it’s much closer to adding salt on an injury. This conclusion is so, despite the best of your intentions, simply put, your intention miscarried in this instant. The burden of what those people experienced failed to be captured in your supposed plea.

I am deeply convinced that you and many others want this country to move forward, but the ugly truth, will have to be addressed head on first. We want a search of truth, so deep and so true that it leave us crying together because of what we have done to each other, and not mocking, not trivialising, not recognisant of the greatness of the task of rebuilding and reconciliation that lies head.

Related article:

DEAR NAATH (NUER) IN UN JUBA BASES

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