How I Survived The December 2013 Nuer Genocide In South Sudan National Capital, Juba
By By Gatluak Michael Dieu,
Dec 15, 2016(Nyamilepedia) ——- The month of December 2013 commenced with suspicion, worries, uncertainties and indication of bloodbath in the capital Juba and across the country!
On the 14th of December, the day the SPLM Liberation Council Meeting was concluding; as the sun was setting down, the whole city was upside down; residences were rushing to their houses, unfortunately the main three roads, which were also the only roads in Juba were blocked by police and army for unknown reasons! You have to sneak through narrow paths to reach your house! As I was hurrying up, I had to go through Juba-Nabari to reach Eden suburb where I was residing. I decided to stop by a gas station along Munuki-Bilpam Road to fill my car with Petrol, immediately I proceeded to my house.
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I logged onto Facebook browsing when a news from a friend’s Facebook’s “Timeline” suddenly appeared on my “News Feed” at around 9: 48 PM, Local time. It said “It has started!”. I was like what is it? Immediately I received a phone call from my father asking my whereabouts, I told him I was at home. He said, don’t move anywhere, people are fighting now at (Presidential Barrack at Jamus)! His house was just next to Jamus Barrack, his fence was the first to be shot at with an RPG. He was in the house with his old mother, his third wife, 11 month old daughter, my 15 years old sister, Nyamuoch, One man who was blind and lame, and two kids who were 3 and 5 years old. All of them went under their beds as the shooting and bombardment was continuing. Except dad, he was looking here and there thinking on how to rescue his family.
The fighting continued throughout the night. I was so worried about them because I knew the distance between his house and barrack was not much. After few minutes, gun shots erupted at New Site, next to my residence. It was so heavy. We were four in the house; Michael Guei Liah and I were in one room. The fighting then intensified and escalated to our area. Our neighbours were Dinkas from Rumbek, we didn’t use to be in good term with them; They were armed with heavy machines gun including PKMs and RPGs but we had none.
At around 1am, we dressed up with black clothes, shirts, trousers and shoes, all black. I left anything including the key of my car and IPAD 3 that I was using for browsing. I only took my IPHONE 5 and Samsung along with me. It was so dark that you could not see a person 10 meters away. We went to the house of one of our friend at Mangoteen suburb, they were awake. They welcomed us in. We remained awake throughout the night, just sitting outside the rooms.
In the morning, at 6am we left the house only to find everyone was on Mangoteen Road, fighting was still on. As it appreaches, we went to Miasaba (107) suburb to the house of Biliew; we stayed there up to 4PM. At around 3.20 pm, I received a phone call from my cousin Biel, he told me Mr. So and so were killed including my MP who represented my county in Jonglei State Parliament. His name was Jal Thiech. He was killed together with 13 others who were my immediate relatives. I was shocked and unconscious.
Unknowingly the phone felt down and broke into pieces. After a few more minutes, we heard a gun shots at the house next to us, they were killing the Nuer in that house, we could hear screaming of children and women. We then decided to leave the house, as we were approaching the main 107 road, we saw a woman, she was from Equatoria, she shouted please go back, they are coming, they are coming!. She was in fact seeing MathiangAnyor coming from 107 building toward the big Hole, immediately they saw us, they fired at us, we ran inside the hole, they continued shooting, three among us were shot dead, I was missed five times.
During the shooting I felt down a few times and picked myself up again. I ran and hide behind the fence. At this point, the next important step to take to survive, at least at that movement, was to cross Bilpham Tarmac road. Crossing Bilpam Tarmac road was terribly hard. The Dinkas were sitting on the roads shooting randomly at anyone crossing the road. They already knew that they were unarmed Nuer who were crossing as they were escaping death at their houses. We ran crossing the road, they shot at us, again and again, one man was killed but five of us sustained bullets; only Guei and I were safe! As we entered Juba Nabari, the Dinkas, mostly from Bhar El Ghazal, were arming themselves, sitting at the gates of their houses. The Dinka militias at Juba Nabari or Thongpiny by then did not receive the order to kill Nuer as it was at 107, New site, Mangoteen, Eden, Hai Referendum, Gudele, KhorWilliam, Loglogo, Gumbo and other areas that were populated by Nuer tribe.
We passed by but luckily they did not say anything. We stopped at a certain shop trying to buy water, we were very thirty. Among us, only one person understood Dinka language, he heard them saying “these are Nuer, kill them”. Fortunately, one of them intervened and asked “why do we have to kill them?” Then we left right away, heading to UNMISS after receiving a phone call at around 5.50 PM that people were running to UNMISS for protection.
Running to UNMISS, we saw many dead bodies littering by the roadside. We couldn’t believe that we would ever reached UNMISS but we luckily did. The compound was full with children, women, elderly and youth. My dad and the family were still at Khorwilliam, they couldn’t reach both UNMISS of Jebel and Tongpiny because the roads were blocked by Kiir militias hunting for the Nuer. They slept for three days without food and water. Dad and I talked to one of our relatives who worked for national security, who then went with his colleagues and brought dad and the family to UN camp after terrible four nights!
At the UN camp, we learned that the Dinkas informed their fellows before the day of the incident to cut their hair as an Identification from others; especially from Nuer such that they identify Nuer and kill them . Again, the six (6) Manhood Mark which are on the forehead of a Nuer man was nicknamed as a “Death Certificate” by Dinkas during the genocide days. In UNMISS I spent two days without water and four days without food. I was sleeping on the ground for eight (8) nights. None of us knew that if we survive the genocide, we would survive the hunger.
On the 19 December, we sent a woman to check our house. She found nothing. The house was looted; everything including my car, original certificates & documents, beds, mattresses, sheets, bags, even the roof ceiling, carpet were all taken. The Dinka did not just want to kill us, they wanted our property, whatever little a Nuer citizen had was as good as his or her life. The entire life establishments were stolen by none other than people we have known as our brothers and sisters. This was the biggest Dinka leadership failure in the story. The woman only found my passport dropped near the toilet. They knew none of them looked like me, so the passport was useless to them.
On the 24th December, my girlfriend (her name withheld for her safety) from Lakes State booked me a ticket to Nairobi. By then I did not take shower for eight days and nights. I was literally a dead body. The clothes were smelling, my body was all wasted and paining.
Two of my cousins who worked for National Security came and picked me up at the UN compound’s gate. Before heading to airport, one of them reminded me of my suit and the shirt that were brought from Singapore on Friday, 13 December, that I left in his hotel room, he told me to go and dress them. We drove there. This was a second chance to reclaim my body.
I took a quick shower and dressed up once again as the time of my departure was fast approaching. They took me to the VIP lounge, the security officer was hesitant to stamp my passport simply because he realized I was a Nuer, but my cousin called another colleague. He talked to the second man, who mercifully accepted my desperate plea. As i was sitting waiting for KQ to Nairobi, five Nuer men who were waiting for their flight at the VIP lounge were taken by Salva Kiir security. I later learned that they were killed that day, very unfortunate. I was helplessly praying for my life. After one hour and 45 minutes, we boarded the KQ to Nairobi. I never seen my house again from 16 December 2013, from 1am up to date!!!
In memories of our loved ones and fellow citizens who have died undeservedly in this man-made conflict, may your souls rest in peace. To my fellow Naath nation, who were massacred in a genocide between 16-20, December 2013, we shall never forget the tragic event that innocently claimed your lives; justice and accountability must be served. Whoever is denying or refusing to acknowledge the Nuer Genocide of December 2013 is a devil and must equally be held accountable!
The author, Gatluak Michael D, is a Civil Rights Activist. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or through his Facebook: Martin G. Michael