Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 2 August 2018

South Sudan needs justice through peace rather than violence

By Dak Buoth

We are closely monitoring the peace negotiations in Khartoum from a far distance in Nairobi. For a long time now, our eyes are pegged on any initiative geared toward restoring peace in South Sudan that had been extremely ruined by greed, corruption, tribalism, and ignorance and so on and so forth. It is our daily prayer that peace should soon return to our motherland, South Sudan. Once that is done we will flock to our respective villages and take part in moving the country to the next level.

The day this country reach in the hand of those who believed and fought for it, who believed in justice, who believed in freedom, democracy and equal opportunity, and not money, sex and alcohol, no child will wail in the refugees camp with her empty stomach facing the sky.

Those who believe in South Sudan are many; I can count them by names but this is not the right time to do so. Just rest assured that we are not short of men and women of substance in our midst. Certainly, peace will come and engulf our country. It’s just a matter of time before we could settle as a stable society in this continent. Of course, I know peace won’t come in cool blood, it will have to be waged like war itself. And we are already doing it now.

We really applaud the mediators who are doing everything in their possession to see into it that normalcy is restored sooner than later. I think this is the point worth mentioning no matter what. The applause must be directed where it is deemed fit. My appreciation goes to the new Ethiopian Premier who doubled as new Chair of IGAD Dr Abiy Ahmed for enabling the South Sudan peace negotiation to roll and continue again after it stalled for one year and a half.

Were it not for him, this peace talk would not have been inclusive and Dr Riek Machar would not have been released soon from illegal detention in South Africa. The former’s predecessors were busy pushing things that are detrimental to the common south Sudanese.

Even after we communicated what they should do right, IGAD Presidents namely Uhuru, Museveni, Bashir and their buddy Salva Kiir keeps writing us off. These wealthy folks completely refused to chart new path until recently when Dr Abiya came and took over as IGAD Chair.

Without doing an induction, Dr Abiy went straight to do the right thing first. And as result the wide consultation he had undertaken, the peace talks had begun to crawl and walk again in earnest.

Though the phase at which this peace talk is going is akin to tortoise race, at least something is being done. As always said, let hope for the best and expect the worse.

The people of Unity State and South Sudan as a whole are longing for peace because they are the one who bore the brunt of this brutal civil war. Most villages in Unity State are littering with bones of those who are killed in cool blood. The world is very much informed that barbaric massacres are being carried out nearly every month in our region and many parts of South Sudan.

On 15th July, the UN Human Rights monitors release a report again saying over 232 innocent civilians were massacred in the southern part of Unity State.

The report indicated that about 120 women were raped by SPLA between April and May 2018. It is the same region where you hear the Amnesty International saying Boys and men had been castrated in 2014.

One would want to imagine how terrible lives are in the aforesaid areas if these grave human Rights abuses are committed where there are no clinics.

Clearly, the Regime in Juba is out to impoverish and execute scorched-earth policy in regions where opposition leaders hail from, forgetting that, those innocent civilians that they often kill are functionally unaware of what politics and power entail.

In view of the aforementioned, we would say that the so-called Leaders of South Sudan are very irrational for what they do is absolute abnormally.

There was one Army Commander, Buay Rolnyang who happened to be the son of Unity state where this writer came from. He was opposed to the human rights abuses in Unity state where there was the order of violence against civilians.

At one point, the same regime that he was working for incriminated him of harbouring rebellious views. Hence, they soon hatched a malicious scheme to arrest or kill him. And on 30th May 2018, he was ambushed and captured.

Eventually, his hands were tied, stripped of shoes, chained on the ankle; he was taken to Juba via plane against his will. And on landing at Juba airport, he was pulled down and pushed in front of cameras while being shown live on National TV, SSBC like a slave. This was the most horrible treatment one has ever witnessed or think of in this modern era.

He was not found guilty in any court; he remains a merely accused person. Even if he was a prisoner of war, he ought to be accorded his rights if it was country where rule of law prevails over the rule of persons.

More often than not, we called upon the drafters and the proponents of the International Laws to put their ears and eyes on the ground. We keep propagating that there are rampant violations of fundamental principles of just war which ruled out intentional attack on non-combatant civilians. It seems they are paying us deaf hears in the face of a blatant breach of international laws and statutes. Nevertheless, we are pretty sure that in the long run and in the near future, sustainable peace will be ascertained through the IGAD mediators now appeared to be interested in silencing the guns only.

Stanley Hoffmann, co-author of the book entitled ‘what is a Justice peace?’ said and I quote ‘’outside mediators tend to focus on achieving a ceasefire above all else’’.

He argued elegantly that, ‘’if the victory of violence is not followed by an effort to resolve the root causes of the conflicts and to reach an agreement which is acceptable to the warring factions than peace will remain fragile enough, and the feelings of injustice strong enough, for violence to start anew’’

Having this hope and idea of justice in minds, we need to make two things clear and understandable to the downtrodden in the trenches, that in a war situation like this, peace must come first before justice.

This notion of prioritizing Peace over justice is an old norm and practice of saving lives in a time of violent conflict. It has been tried overtimes in other societies that have had wars in the past.

In any event, those of us who are rooting for peace before justice must not be likened to other absurd lots who had veered off the path of struggle and eventually surrendered to the haves and the oppressors in Juba, South Sudan.

For obvious reasons that we are privy to, the war cannot be won by the barrel of a gun. Therefore, I call on all opposition leaders to strive for justice through peace. This is what I think prompted Dr Riek Machar, the Leader of the opposition, SPLM/IO and the Gen. Gatdet Yaka, the Leader of the armed movement, SSUM to sign the agreement weeks ago in Khartoum.

The countries like South Africa fought bravely and abolished the apartheid regime by mean of seeking justice through peace. In light of this, the opposition parties should now shift their energies to peace talks and diplomacy but fight in self-defence. The better ways and means to fast-track much need change is the unity of the opposition groups. This is an opportune time to give meaning to an old adage that there are many ways to kill the rat.

The Writer is the Chairman of Unity State Community in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own. He can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com