Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 18 December 2017

Remember Juba Nuer Massacre


By James Nguen

This brief excerpt discusses the Juba Nuer Massacre and other Massacres like it. Juba Nuer Massacre is by far one of the deadliest, most notable and tragic ever in South Sudan history and in African’s context. Juba Nuer Massacre is the most noxious in term of human cost and it has dealt a profound impact on the lives of all South Sudanese both the victims and villains – the penetrators.

Today marked the 4th year when innocent Nuer civilians were murdered innocently in cold-blood on 15 of December 2013 by the Government of South Sudan. Members of the Nuer Community were murdered in their thousands in their houses, on the streets and hotel rooms simply because they were Nuer.

Thus marked December 15th, 2013 as one of the prime testimony when the sense of humanity and one citizenry were besmirched by men who call the shots in South Sudan, particularly the president. By all accounts, President Salva Kiir was ill-advised and prompted to commit a callous mass murder of 20, 000 innocent Nuer civilians based on their ethnicity. Four years on, nobody in his/her right mind would deny that members of the Nuer Community were targeted and summarily executed in their thousands by the State. The mass murder of innocent civilians Nuer was planned and directed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit himself.

Independent investigation reports such as the African Union Peace and Security Commission, led by former Nigeria H. E. Olusegun Obasanjo confirmed that Juba Nuer Massacre was a “state policy”. It was simply put as a State-sponsored massacre against one ethnic group, the Nuer by the State.

This narrative was also collaborated by Right Groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, United Nations Security Council, and above all, through the way in which the mass murder was executed. For example, members of Nuer Community were searched from house to house, identified and executed.

Other security reports also showed another disturbing detail on how innocent Nuer civilians were round up and savagely murdered in cold-blood. These reports indicated that Juba was divided up into four quadrants –called killing zones. Each killing zone was assigned to one of Salva Kiir Mayardit’s lieutenant with specific instructions.

The instruction was to search, identify and execute the Nuer. Without any doubt, this specific instruction was effected with remarkable precision and debilitating effects on the victims. In four (4) days, Salva Kiir Mayardit and his lieutenants were able to kill 20, 000 Nuer civilians and sent thousands of thousands to the United Nations’ Protection of Civilians (POC) bases in the capital, Juba.

By any major, this marked the Juba Nuer Massacre by far one of the rarest and unique state planned genocide in African historical context. As such, I would like to remind my readers that this is not the first time members of the Nuer Community were targeted, round up and murdered in cold-blood by a supposedly legal authority in Sudan, particularly in Southern Sudan.

In 1985, Gajaak Nuer were mass massacred by the Sudan People Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) led late Colonel Dr John Garang de Mabior. Thousands of Gajaak Nuer civilians were killed following a similar merciless lust to kill or taking a human life at will without any ground as in 2013. Evident showed that Gajaak Nuer were massacred in their thousands in their huts, farmlands and cattle camps without any alleged crime committed.

In 1993, three thousand (3, 000) innocent Gawaar Nuer civilians, women and children were put ablaze alive in Ayod, South Sudan by the same SPLM/A under late Col. Dr John Garang. To put this into perspective, the men who commanded and executed this mass killing were Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk, the current Minister of Defence in the Republic of South Sudan and Gen. Pieng Deng Majok, the current General Inspector of the Police also in the Republic of South Sudan. In this context, people may only recall and remember the iconic picture taken by South African photographer/journalist, Kevin Carter of a child being plunge by a vulture while starving.

It’s good to stress that these mass murders against innocent Nuer civilians were committed by personalities from one community and this speaks volume in term of tribal body politics in South Sudan. However, the notable difference between these massacres such as the Gajaak Nuer Massacre in 1985, Ayod Gawaar Massacre in 1993 and the Juba Nuer Massacre in 2013 is the fact that South Sudan was not a sovereign state both in 1985 and 1993.

Also, even though the Gajaak Nuer and the Ayod Gawaar Nuer Massacres were so bloody, so nasty and as brutal as Juba Nuer Massacre in 2013, members of the Nuer Community were not fed with their dead relatives’ flesh in 1985 and 1993. Similarly, Nuer boys were never castrated and left for dead as in 2013. And more importantly, the SPLA’s soldiers were instructed to rape Nuer females, young or old and soldiers not instructed to set up rape camps in lieu of their rations as it was in 2013.

The other fundamental difference that ought to be mention in both instances is the style of leadership during these massacres. In fact, late Dr John Garang never ascribed to any tribal inclination both in 1985 and 1993 as opposed to Salva Kiir in 2013. So much so, Dr Garang did not on any occasion had a slipped of a tongue fanaticizing the Dinka X and Nuer, Y as opposed to Salva Kiir in 2013.

As a matter of fact, President Salva Kiir has openly accepted that Nuer civilians were targeted and he was in charge. Finally, in this regard and to late Dr John Garang’s credit, Garang maintained the composer and stature of being a national leader even though he was just a mere rebel leader under big trees in the bush.

Subsequently, this brings me back today memorial, December 15thn 2017. Across the globe, members of South Sudan communities are commemorating Juba Nuer Massacre and other Massacres like it. Thus, it’s imperative to underline that this massive loss of lives and notable absence sense of nationhood and nationalism were perfected and promoted by Salva Kiir.

Salva Kiir’s mindless act in 2013 is to blame, Salva Kiir has destroyed South Sudanese’ social fabrics. South Sudanese no longer see themselves as one people and whose relations were cemented by the blood of their martyrs who died during the 21 years’ war of liberation.

As a consequence, survival of fetish took a centre stage and became a mode of ensuring the existence and to prevent the extermination of one ethnic group by the State. In this regard, the Nuer -the victim community took upon themselves to rescue themselves from premediate ethnic cleansing. Young men and women across Nuerland were forced to take arms and took to the bush to fight and die with dignity.

With these contradictions, South Sudan ceased to be a stable nation but a failed state. As such, our sense of nationalism evaporated and lost in the mix. The pride of nationhood for which many of my colleagues and I fought for in the bush for 21 years is thrown overboard. Instead, criminal organizations such as the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) took the centre stage and in the driver seat, perfecting their selfish interests in the name of the Dinka community. This has landed us to the abyss.

However, leading up to today commemoration, I saw some sense in the youth of South Sudan. This time around, I noted with a keen focus that youth and learned young men from other communities, particularly from the Dinka Community came out and acknowledged the mass killing of members of Nuer community in Juba by the state. This is a positive sign and right spirited in the right direction.

As such, I like to mention that Dinka as a community did not partake in the planning and execution of the Nuer civilians. Few brainwashed youth from Barh El Ghazal region were used. But, it’s sensible to mention that Dinka community name was also used as a pretext by Dinka selfish politicians. Majority of the Dinka were dumbfounded by the magnitude of the crimes committed by their own sons against Nuer. The speed at which the massacre occurred traumatized many Dinka. As a result, they and didn’t know how to respond.

Now, the truth has been laid bare that President Salva Kiir is responsible for killing 20, 000 Nuer civilians. That the mass murder of the Nuer caused the current civil war in the country. To this effect, I like to stress that we need to seize the opportunity by continuing acknowledging the truth before it’s too late.

Also, I like to urge all South Sudanese to not accept any peace agreement that does not include justice and accountability. Failure to hold those responsible for the crimes committed in South Sudan is a receipt to future revenge and possible scramble and partition of South Sudan.

J. Nguen is a South Sudanese advocate, analyst and political commentator. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com.

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