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    Posted January 5, 2014 by
    Juba, South Sudan, Sudan

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    Jok's Update: Talks to end violence is underway: January 5, 2014

    By: Jok Madut Jok

    It seems that South Sudan's talks to end the on-going violence are finally underway in Addis Ababa. Taban Deng Gai, former governor of Unity State and the leader of the delegation representing the rebels at the talks, made the discussions on cessation of hostilities conditional on a commitment to investigate human rights abuses. He also said that they demand the release of the 11 political detainees accused of participation in the recent coup attempt that sparked the whole confrontation. Mr. Taban also demanded that Uganda withdraws her troops from South Sudan. We might all quibble about most of these demands, but i find the mention of human rights abuses by a rebel leader very interesting. This is exactly what South Sudan needs, accountability for atrocities committed by politico-military leaders who seek office by force. But perhaps the rebels would have had ground to push for this item, if they had also kept their hands clean during this past 3 weeks of killing. We have seen how much damage was done in Juba in terms of human life, ethnic relations and property. To this effect accusations were labeled against government forces, to which the government has made overtures that it has already started to investigate and that it has actually arrested some suspected soldiers who targeted Nuer civilians. I have described this situation and the experience of Nuer people in Juba in my earlier posts. But what I have not had the chance to chronicle, which perhaps Taban Deng Gai might be interested to know, is that the rebels and their tribal militias have committed just as much atrocities if not worse in Bor, Akobo, Bentiu, Malakal, Mayom and then in Bor for the second time. I applaud their willingness to subject everything that has happened so far to independent investigations. We would not wish for such large number of our people to be killed and then simply swept away by expedient political settlements that only aim at dividing power between politicians. So let's keep Taban and company to his demand.

    It was easier to write about what had happened in Juba, because i witnessed most it first hand. I did not have that chance with regards to all the other areas mentioned above. But I have been investigating and probing into these incidents. I have interviewed government officials who were evacuated from these places; I have talked to ordinary people who have since fled these areas; I have communicated by phone with people who are still in these places and I have talked to medical doctors who have visited the sites and have witnessed the destruction and have treated the survivors.

    What has emerged from all this investigation is that in Bor town alone, more than 1000 people were killed in the first attack when Peter Gadet rebelled and joined Riek Machar. More than 200 more were killed in Bor on the second attack when the White Army invaded the town. We all know that Riek Machar did not initially want to be officially linked to these Nuer Lou tribal army, but on their ascend on Bor, Riek went on record to declare this militia as part of his fighting force, so there will be no claiming that the killings were committed as some kind of the usual tribal feuds, as war criminals sometimes tend to do when they are cornered.

    The road from the Bor airport all the way to SPLA offices and to UNMISS, for those who know Bor, was littered with dead bodies of police, military and civilian. One of the doctors who visited the town after the SPLA had retaken it briefly told me that he had "only heard in the past stories of people left for the vultures to eat in war times, but I had never thought that I would see it with my own eyes, not least in times after South Sudan had freed itself from colonialism." The Governor's offices, hospital, including the World Health Organization, the department of finance, drug stores, the market, Kenya Commercial Bank were all looted and some destroyed. The only Dept of health's ambulance and the hospital's generator were also destroyed. Some nationalism, right? You want to rule this country but start your quest for power with destruction of public property, something that will cost your government more resources to rebuild, should you succeed in taking power? Twisted logic indeed.

    Those who fled Bor town have now ended up in miserable circumstances in Awerial County, 75,000 ordinary civilians of this country. A leader who wants to rule this country should have thought of the consequences of his move, especially if he is going to wax righteous about killing. But no, these who were killed in Bor died in the name of tribal revenge for what happened in Juba, but was there no single person who could stand up to prevent this, so that the Nuer would look better than the people they accuse of killing their people?

    Some of the most ghastly killings we have yet heard, were committed in Bor. For example, a middle-age woman, caught, raped and then shot in the head, body left naked near the airport. so many people drowned in the Nile as they tried to cross to safety. Now, Malek, Pandiar, Pariak, Panwel, Malual Adurbar Arek and Dakyoum, all villages and suburbs of Bor, were destroyed and so many people killed there as well. There will be no denying the incident in Akobo where a group of Lou Nuer youth stormed the compound of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and removed 38 Dinka and killed them, along with 3 Indian peacekeepers who tried to prevent entry into the compound. This is too is a serious crime. Many dead have not be counted or buried, some of them simply eaten by vultures and their bones remain exposed to this day, evidence of the heinous actions of the very leaders who are now calling for crimes investigation. I am with you on this Taban, but beware, truth will catch up with you and with the rest of your kind, the leaders into darkness.

    If that is the level of hatred and vile revenge that the Nuer could mete out against the Dinka on account that this is some kind of payback for what happened to them in Juba, then of course there is no hope for this country's future unity. The cycle i have always feared has been set in motion, and no one will be more the loser than the Dinka and the Nuer themselves, both equally.
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