This is an open letter sent from South Sudanese journalist Manyang Mayom Meen to President Salva Kiir.
To: H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit Date: September 20, 2013
President of the Republic of South Sudan
Commander In Chief of SPLA
Dear Mr. President
First of all, I am very grateful to you for the new cabinet you have chosen, it is a job well done and a good improvement to increase transparency and accountability of those serving this gallant country of ours. Having left out our Lakes state sons and daughters sends a strong message that they have to establish peace at home first before they can contribute to rule on a national level. It is with great pride that I write to you again for the second time in reference to Rumbek, the capital of Lakes State, is in unrest situation of insecurity and injustice. And the sons and daughters of Lake State are deeply concerned and send a strong message watching their state left in ruled with aggression and increasing blood shed and that they cannot contribute to maintain peace at national level first before securing the local region of Lake state in peace. They were peace-makers during the struggle period in the bush till 2005, and now have turned themselves into night-politicians, speaking against themselves within the same party in the same cabinet. Political disputes overwhelm them.
I have a solution to offer. People in Lakes state have suffered enough and their support of you and the ruling party – SPLM policies are becoming untrue due to present situation of harassment in Lakes state counties. I am very alarmed by situation as people continue being affected by rough injustice and raise complaints of lack of real justice.
Mr. President, There is no way that a darkness can take out darkness - only light can do that. Hate cannot take out hate: only love can do that.
Mr. President when you won the election in Lakes State on 2010, you did not strife to win. As the election was peaceful, free and fair, I would request you to also apply the same peaceful option to Lakes state current condition. The following activities were found to have negative impact on the community and the region of Lake State and urgently need to be addressed and resolved;
- The production and sale of alcohol was officially ban, without economic alternative
- Observed cruel security measures and harassment of Youth without justification
- Continuous use and exercise of brutal activities against justice in military cells of Langcok, Ngangtinya, Yirol West and Wulu
- Lakes State Parliament has been on forceful recess since April until now!
The ban on alcohol sale has directly affected livelihood of the poor widows who have no access to alternative resources and funds to maintain and manage their families. Only brewing and sale of local alcohol was the source of income for widows for payment of school fees and medical care of their orphan children (children of your colleague Comrade).
Unfortunately, the ban of alcohol selling is been violated by the politicians who continue to sell alcohols in Wulu and in Rumbek Central County. In Rumbek Central County, Palm-tree, Hillview Hotel and Safari Style Hotel key top three politicians are found to be involved in selling this alcohol. If we have ability to rule our people, why should we oppress them and implement laws impartially and not apply for all?
Regarding cruel security measures in Lakes State there is an urgent need for reform of the rough injustice, which undermines the ruling party policy of democracy, justice, prosperity and liberty for the people of the Republic of South Sudan.
Mr. President, the traditional laws and court powers has been seized by judiciary laws and this has negative impact on the community. Nevertheless, the judiciary system is inactive and completely lacks ability to apply the justice required by the community, as Local cases should be solved by traditional chiefs instead of payam court, and regional court who have no capacity to deal with all these minor cases before them. Why chiefs are only recognized during election campaigns? The traditional system is known and understood best by the people and can address minor crimes as they did very well before during the struggle.
Shutting down of schools is not the solution to current situation. It is a destruction of the country’s future, the coming generation and positive development of the nation. This reverse policy of the party policy of education for all children, ensuring uncompromised no liberty within the country. Suspending salary for student approved for study leave, medical leave undermines human dignity and right to life.
I have thought very long and hard about these problems of my people, which disturb me greatly and I humbly present to you the following solutions:
My solutions to Social Inadequacy and support of the weak in our societies:
- Support of the less fortunate, widows and orphans with sources of income and means to generate funds, or reversing the alcohol ban allowing them to provide their livelihood
- Encourage Lakes state Indigenous non-governmental organization (NGO’s) and UN humanitarian agencies to provide grants to projects that can generate job opportunities for the less fortunate.
- Improvement of education system, giving priority access to orphans and less fortunate
- Improving medical facilities giving the widows and their children access to healthcare and medical facilities at low cost or no cost at all
- Improving accessibility to water sources and digging more boreholes with the help of UNDP, INGO’s and RUWASA
- Re-opening of all the (23) primary schools that were closed down in Lakes state due to insecurity – The public need an explanation why children are being denied access to education, and are the future contributors and leaders in this country, insecurity is not their making.
- We have to exercise a policy of free education in primary level (this is a global millennium development goal which humanitarian agencies and the government need to work closely together to seriously achieve the 2015 deadline). Completely free education for orphans both in primary to secondary school and at private university is necessary to enable them equal opportunity to escape their current life cycle My solutions for Rule of Law are:
- Rumbek prison should be refurbished to improve standards for prisoners with a strong focus on rehabilitation of prisoners, treated with respect so they can become better citizens, who can contribute positively, through creation of vocational center within prison as part of reform of prisoners with skills and experience that will assist them and the state after their release.
- Apply real justice in court of law in accordance to South Sudanese laws – people need to see adequate justice for crimes committed, then they will respect rule of law and understand how it benefits them in a positive way.
- Define separation of duties between police and traditional leadership so their roles are clearly defined and each have respect and power to uphold their legal obligations.
- Empowerment of the traditional courts to manage community matters as Adultery and girl elopement cases to be handle by traditional court
- Empowerment of legal institutions and bodies and enforcing cooperation with mutual respect between chiefs and commissioners and the community members in order to achieve and implement smooth justice.
- Politicians must make sure that traditional courts are independent from direct and indirect political influence. This should be redline.
- Empowering the police to detect crime before crime breaks out into violence. The rush to get dead bodies needs to be replaced with a rush to prevent such incident occurring in the beginning: by doing this, the criminal investigation department (CID) needs skill training to increase criminal intelligence methods. Mr. President, you cannot keep peace by using force, peace can be only kept by achieving understanding and goal for peace in people’s heart. Working around the clock for peace must be the fulltime duty of all. It is all about protection of civilians, controlling elections, and disarming your ex-combatants and winning people’s attention toward your policies and respect to rule of law as the constitution has stated. Lakes State has a historical significance for peace, liberty and justice progress for the people of South Sudan. From Anyanya one to SPLA/M, the contribution of the people of Lakes State remains and will for generations stand crystal clear. Probably, the most recent one was the 2004 hosting of the SPLA/M leadership reconciliation and mediation process to sort out the administrative misconstructions between the incumbent President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit and the late leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior. One must strongly state that the people of Lakes State have been patriotic and peace loving. However, for the last five years, the state has been experiencing a series of inter-ethnic conflicts and a number of political disturbances, threatening security, stability instead of the desperately needed development.
I ask myself “What Went Wrong?” the answer in my mind is as follows:
Politics is destroying Lakes State. In 2008, SPLM party told the public to turnout for the census, and public response positively, and census was done according to party priority. In 2010, the Party asked the public to participate in the election, the answer from public was yes, and it was done in accordance with party interest, and in 2011 the public was told to vote for referendum, and again a great positive response, this was also done in support of the party and the good of the nation. Did I and the public vote to secure corruptions, insecurity, cattle raiding, threats, intimation, and rough justice? We did not, we voted for a free and fair atmosphere so that families and war victims feel they are having services and protection. We voted for Orphan’s to yield the fruit of their father’s struggles. Instead, lawmakers are not going back to their constituencies. You, yourself have not revisited some states since election campaign finished in 2010. MP’s are being paid when parliament is in recess. Where do these MP’s go for their recess?
History can talk: With all the military might, intellectual ability and money, the British did not absolutely succeed to force Agaar Communities into submission. Between 1901 to 1904, the entire population of Agaar staged rebellions here and there. Malual Mathiang and Wuol Athian continuous battles from Pakam to Chum Nuer in South-west of Rumbek (Abyei-Ajok) against both: British and local allies are recorded in this contemporary history. Dhiei Section, to substantiate my point has a war song in remembrance of that period. Wuol Athian, at the last moment of his death (1947), decorated a grim picture of his period for having not annihilated the local enemies that supported the British. With all the atrocities, oppression and suppression done, our communities would always evaluate the British repressive era as the best. They would say, "British are impartial and fair." Our communities are highly impressed by justice, openness and fairness. Although, few may be unjust specially, the chiefs due to socio-economic needs, courts and cases are openly attended and, decision-making processes are close to the people who ensure fairness and local level accountability – this is important grass roots democracy. The Communities of South Sudan since time immemorial have not experienced any physical safety, socio-economic security or peace and justice. The repressive civil wars (1955-1972 and, 1983-to date) waged by Arabs against South Sudan have seriously added their own culture of violence within us and politicians are taking advantage of this weakness.
I have lost trust in both National Assembly and States Assemblies, Mr. President, do not look at Lakes State as an independent state from South Sudan. My people are also victims of rush hours politics and manipulation. I was born in 1982, and I grew up in this war situation until peace was achieved in 2005. I am a witness of what happened up to now. I have never grown up in a refugee camp. I was with you in bush until my father died in 1986 in Tergol as SPLA soldier. My people need an explanation for what has happened since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). My people need to understand why we are still victims of violence, oppression and manipulation. This explanation needs to come from you as their respected leader.
My people need to have faith that improvements are possible through fair and constitutional process. Only you can give them this faith. This can be achieved through public apologies by politicians for the plundering of resources meant for the common people and a promise that this behavior will not continue. Stealing is not part of South Sudanese culture and we must not lose these important traditional and historical morals and values, which bring us pride and promote nationalism.
We must not run away or deny our tradition and history, our base of struggle and foundation of the future that unable us succeeded for many decades! Our history has brought us pride and respect. When politicians look to the future they should remember the past very clearly and serve their people.
I hope your action will serve Lakes and will be mostly welcome and appreciated.
- Mr. President to Visit Lakes state and talk to people
- Conduct elections in Lakes state as a public choice.
- Immediately you seize cruel security measures reform and replaced with real justice.
- Offer free and fair environment for orphan and widows with access to social services, starting by reopening all the schools that were closed down.
- Closure of all military cells that detain civilians and improvement of the main prisons in Rumbek Central, and for use of the law to address suspected person through the court. Sincerely, Manyang Mayom Meen, Lakes State, South Sudanese citizen and a South Sudanese Journalist +211914875183 or +211955253210 Cc:
- South Sudan Vice President Hon. Jame Wani Igga.
- SSNLA – Speaker Rt. Hon. Manasseh Magok Rundial
- Lakes State Caretaker Governor: Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol
- Lakes State Assembly speaker: Rt. Hon Speaker John Marik Makur
- My Area MP. In LSLA Hon. Madhieu Makuac Adhil.
- SSNLA (all) Lakes state MPs.
Expression of Concern on situation in Lake State
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Dear Mr. President,
General Salva Kiir Mayardit
I wish to express my disappointment with the current treatment of young men throughout South Sudan and in particular Rumbek. The discriminative and arbitrary arrests of youth, who are subjected to extremely brutalities on daily basis at the hands of military is unacceptable. The prolonged and arbitrary detention of countless numbers of young men without access to relatives, health services, legal aid and no promise of a court appearance or official charge are unconstitutional. What is currently occurring in Rumbek is in my opinion, undermining of justice and the rights of civilians for whom you were elected to protect.
In a democracy which is our current system of rule; elected leaders who are elected by their constituents should enforce law and order with use of police to impose rule of law. This is not the function of the military. The principle of human rights for all people must be upheld within our new democratic country. Respect for basic human rights is a sign of our own integrity and maturity as a nation; and a demonstration of our strength of character for our people and the international community at large. Every human being, widows, disabled, elderly, children and youth included, fought and died for the freedom of our country and their lives and efforts must be respected and their dignity upheld by all means.
The justice system is in disarray, random arrests are shortcuts around the Constitution which overload cases, overcrowd prisons and undermine human rights. This is unacceptable, Mr. President. If arrests need to be made, then it must be within the boundaries of the law of which prisoners should be treated with respect and dignity, court cases processed efficiently, effectively and transparently. If people are being unceremoniously arrested, without trial or conviction, there is no need for them to be arrested in the first instance.
The SPLM party Constitution requires 35% of the seats to be occupied by women and 25% of the seats to be occupied by the youth. Whilst the uncles occupy the remaining 40%, their behaviour undermines the intent of the Constitution. Youth and women who should fill the 60% as per Constitution quota are undermined and disrespected by the dominating uncles. Such quotas are irrelevant if they are not upheld by the party elites. The outward disrespect for such Constitutional regulations undermines the democratic parliamentary process, the general will and the principle of democracy.
The most dedicated supporters of the current government are from Rumbek, Aweil, Torit and Bor which are historical SPLM strongholds. The level of neglect being displayed by your government toward youth in Rumbek and Bor particularly does not reflect the sacrifices their fathers have made to the SPLA/M cause. There was no bullet which targeted only the rich or only the poor, all people suffered equally for democratic and free South Sudan. Not one person in South Sudan has fought or died or suffered only to witness their youth being tortured, oppressed, victimized and jobless in the name of democracy.
Our youth require quality education to advance them and enhance their job opportunities. These young men and women are the future of this Country. Our young men are wasting away in the bush handed weapons, being manipulated, exploited and encouraged to fight and are then unlawfully punished by their manipulators. Nepotism, corruption and exploitation are the tail of democracy dragging us all behind and preventing household and individual advancement for all citizens equally.
Youth who have been exposed to war for all or most of their lives need support, livelihood opportunities and education. They do not need incitement and exploitation which prays upon their vulnerabilities caused by years of exposure to war and conflict. These young men have watched their mothers suffer and their fathers sacrificing, I myself lost my father in 1986 when I was age of four. We don’t need to see another internal war similar to 1991 - 1994 when SPLA split. SPLA armed youth to protect their cattle during the war and are now punishing them for behaviours taught and supported by SPLA /M in the past. It is time to think of a better peaceful option to remove arms from civilians without torture. Also, the public destruction of the guns recovered is necessary to prevent them from being circulated back into the community again.
Mr. President your duty is to serve justice. Let your colleague’s, widows, orphans, disabled and all people, feel that their suffering during the war has yielded the fruit of their dreams of equality, freedom and democracy. Give a chance to the press and rule of law to help you in protecting the democracy that you were elected for. These young men do not need to be beaten, oppressed, hunted down like criminals and locked away like wild animals; they are already frustrated, disillusioned and disappointed with the freedom and democracy they have tasted so far.
Therefore, I request immediate activation of the following:
- All forms of torture against civilians to cease immediately
- Youth who are not officially charged to be immediately released
- Relatives to be given urgent access to the youth who are officially charged
- The provision of legal counsel to those who require it, and
- The immediate transfer of all civilians from the military prison to the civilian prison.
Additionally, a new governor needs to be urgently, democratically elected in Lake State as per Constitution. Lake State is in a state of unrest where voters are the furthest distance from democracy, being terrorised and subject to torture through Unconstitutional martial law.
I need justice to be applied in all South Sudanese ten states; we need to believe wholeheartedly that our justice bank is not yet bankrupt! We have police and judiciary available to impose correct justice, Manyang Maker a 22 year old Australian graduate (and citizen) in criminology and justice could contribute to the solutions we need in this country, instead of being a victim of the problems in a Rumbek Military prison; let us recognize them all and their ability to invest meaningfully to this great nation, and eliminate the military rule being unlawfully imposed upon them.
Thank you Mr. President
Manyang Mayom Meen
Contact: +211(0)914875183 or +211(0)955253210
Cc: VP Dr. Riek Machar
Cc: NLA Rt. Hon James wani Igga
Cc: Lakes state Military Caretaker Governor