Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 5 May 2018

Open Letter to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations

By Gatdiet Peter

Her Excellency,

I write to your excellency dear Ambassador Nikki Haley, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN and the UN Security Council, with great dismay and too much pain about the ongoing mass killing and displacement of people of my hometown Leer and Mayiandit county in South Sudan – southern Unity state. Dear Ms Ambassador, the mass killing, and displacement in the abovementioned locations are being perpetrated by the government of my country, which by the principles and terms of the constitution should protect the lives and dignity of unarmed civilians by any mean possible.

Your Excellency,

Since April 20, 2018, onward, there are deliberate attacks, targeted killings, gang raping of women and young girls, mass displacements of innocent civilians, and burning down of the villages happening in Leer and Mayendit Counties by troops loyal to president Salva Kiir and armed militias loyal to the First Vice President (FVP), General Taban Deng Gai. There are also thoughtful destructions of civilians’ livelihoods, looting of cattle & goats, and properties in Leer and Mayendit. These acts of violent collective action against civilians’ amount to crimes against humanity in accordance with the principles of international humanitarian law and the universal declaration of human rights – Geneva convention!

Troops loyal to president Salva Kiir and the militiamen allied to Gen. Taban Deng were mobilised purposely to carry out premeditated murderous actions against civilians in Leer and Mayiandit counties, simply because Leer county is the hometown of the opposition leader, Riek Machar. The goal of such actions against civil population encapsulates a punishment to Riek Machar (the elites’ main rival), which does not in any way make sense at all corners. This is a dangerous illusion and it must be stopped at all cost!

Your Excellency,

Dear Ms Ambassador, I take the floor of this opportunity to condemn in the strongest terms possible the heinous crimes against civilians by the government forces of my country. I also condemn any kind of human rights violations, not only by the government troops but, moreover, by any armed actors in South Sudan soil.

The punishment and political violent-collective action of my country’s government that is being perpetrated on innocent civilians qualified in terms war crimes and crimes against humanity and those who committed these crimes must be held accountable and face justice. Dear Ms Ambassador, I call upon your responsible leadership and concern on humanity to persuade members of the UN Security Council to take punitive measures against the perpetrators of crimes in Leer and Mayiandit counties for justice to take its course with immediate effect.

Dear Ambassador, I want to bring it to your attention that the violent actions of my country’s government presumed to be counterinsurgency measures are wrongly directed to the wrong targets in Leer and Mayiandit counties. The people, who are going under attacks and mass killings are purely unarmed, helpless, and vulnerable. They are just civilians and have nothing to confer with the political affairs and/ or political system of South Sudan than being plain civilians. They neither support either side of the conflict.

While taking this endeavour on Leer and Mayiandit counties, it is quite acknowledgeable that similar attacks on civilians are taking place across all corners of South Sudan, such as in Yei river state, Wau, Yambio, areas of Lou Nuer (Akobo), Nasir, Pagak, etc. The government and its allied militias are responsible for such attacks and targeted killing of innocent civilians. it is also acknowledgeable that the government of my country deliberately continuously block the humanitarian access to affected communities whereby necessities, such as medicines, food, mosquito nets, blankets, and temporary shelters are desperately needed.

The atrocities by government forces in Leer and Mayiandit came not by surprise because President Kiir in a speech in Billpham military HQs, Juba, has declared war during a ceremonial funeral service of late Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, the former chief of general staff of South Sudan defence. Salva Kiir has given stern directives and ordered his forces and militias to crush armed oppositions, which has now turned into murdering of civilians and burning of their villages. Meanwhile, the governor of Northern Liech state, Joseph Nguen Monytuil addressed the public two days later after government forces and militias attacked innocent civilians in Leer and Mayendit. Mr. Monytuil informed the gathering that the government is crushing the armed opposition in Leer and Mayiandit countries. This means that the atrocities committed on civilians are done with an informed consent from the country’s top high-profiles.

Therefore, Ms Ambassador, I call upon your country’s right of veto in the UN Security Council to push for a go-ahead measure and take necessary action against the government of the Republic of South Sudan, which failed to protect civilians. One of the well-known responsibilities of the UN is to ensure that all civilians are protected irrespective of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, political opinion, etc. Hence, as a concerned individual, I wish an-all-encompassing accountability for the government of South Sudan to answer all the horrible acts committed on civilians.

Your Excellency,

Dear Ambassador, it is worth noting that during your visit to the South Sudanese Capital Juba in October 2017, it was your humble self who reported to the all-world that ‘‘president Kiir is unfit to rule South Sudan.’’ The unfitness of my country’s president is nothing but a niche of unwillingness to protect vulnerable civilians and their scarce properties. Here forth, I urge the international community, especially the UNSC to immediately intervene and pressure Salva Kiir to resign as soon as possible and surrender power to those who can protect and provide security to all people of South Sudan.

Call for an arms embargo on South Sudan

Your Excellency,

Dear Ambassador, the continuous free flow of weapons and lethal military equipment to South Sudan, then into the hands of tribal warlords is very worrisome and one of the factors that make peace efforts more complicated thus, I urge your leadership to determinedly push for an arms embargo on South Sudan to save the lives of the remnants of the war. The definition of an arms embargo reflects the status of South Sudan situation so, the scope and terms of arms embargo should be applied on South Sudan.

‘‘The arms embargo, established by paragraph 2 of Security Council resolution 1390 (2002) and reiterated in subsequent resolutions, including paragraph 1 (c) of resolution 2161 (2014), obliges Member States to: Prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer, to the individuals, groups, undertakings and entities from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities’’. Retrieved from:https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/sites/www.un.org.sc.suborg/files/eot_arms_embargo_english.pdf

Your Excellency,

I believe the imposition of an arms embargo over South Sudan will not only stop the war but will, however, increase life expectancy among South Sudanese people. It is notable that people in my country died before they could be shot dead by the armed men widely known as ‘‘unknown gunmen in South Sudan’’ because they always live in fear, panic, and deep depression knowing the presence of lethal military materials in the hands of tribal warlords.

Finally, thank you for your attention!

The author can be reached at gatdietpeter86@outlook.com