October 14, 2012 (BOR) – Jonglei state MP Judi Jonglei Boyuris, on Saturday rejected what he calls the South Sudan army’s (SPLA) treatment of members of the Murle ethnic group “as enemies.”
Boyuris was talking upon his return from Pibor county where he was attempting to dissuade citizens from joining the ranks of the Murle rebel leader, David Yau Yau.
He described a perception amongst members of the SPLA that Pibor as a whole has joined Yau Yau’s rebellion against them.
He claimed that many of Yau Yau’s recruits were youths from Gumuruk and Likuangole regions who were ill-treated during the statewide disarmament programme in March 2012.
Murle leaders met in Pibor on 27-30 September; 61 chiefs, youth leaders and the commissioner, Joshua Konyi, attended to discuss peaceful resolutions to disquiet in the state. After the event the participants danced I the streets, according o Boyuris.
Boyuris said that they travelled from Maruo to Pibor attempting to convince people to not join Yau Yau’s rebellion and to improve their relationship with the SPLA.
Boyuris went on to deny Yau Yau receives support from the Murle, "although he is from our ethnic group". He claimed that "the people who sent him to destabilise the community are not from Murle.”
He explained that his role was to help separate the civilians from Yau Yau and leave him to be dealt with by the SPLA.
David Yau Yau took up arms against the authorities following the 2010 general elections in which he lost the seat of the commissioner to the incumbent member of parlaiment presenting constituency 135, Boyuris. In 2011 he then signed a peace deal. He flip-flopped once again and took up arms against the government in April.
Yau Yau is a member of the Murle ethnic group. There has been scant information from the Murle Diaspora and the Murle in South Sudan on their perspective of the conflict in Jonglei state, unlike the vocal Luo-Nuer who claim that the Murle have been driven to abducting their children as they are suffering from an infertility endemic; a view shared by the country’s president, Salva Kiir.
According to the UN Environmental Program the Murle were in Ethiopia until the 19th century. Some remained their until the 1990s while others were driven west by local Nilotes. They established an homeland in Pibor county, Jonglei state in the 1930s, since which, environmental pressures have impinged upon their pastoralist lifestyle.
Little evidence can be found to support the infertility claim. However, the motivation to rationalise the denigration of one of South Sudan’s pariah ethnic groups, in order to legitimise the attribution of blame, is self-evident.
The SPLA spokesperson, Philip Aguer Panyang, said in September "the proof is beyond doubt" regarding Yau Yau’s backing by the Khartoum government.
Both Juba and Khartoum have traded numerous accusations of backing one another’s rebel movements.
Boyuris noted that flooding in the region has resulted in widespread crop damage; he called for the intervention the government and international non-governmental organisations to offer humanitarian assistance.