Date: April 25, 2013, SSN;
Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan,
Ref: Requesting your Urgent Intervention to Stop Killing, Burning of Properties & Displacement of People of LOREMA & KIKILAI Boma of BUDI County, Eastern Equatoria State
We, the Buya and Didinga Community in Diaspora, hereby call upon your office to expeditiously and immediately call off the current military operations carried out by the Government of Eastern Equatoria State, under the leadership of Governor Luis Lobong, in collaboration with the military authorities in Juba, against the innocent civilians of BUDI County.
Your Excellency, on Monday April 16, 2013, we received very many phone calls from people in Chukudum, Lorema and Kikilai, all Bomas saying that Governor Luis Lobong had ordered/authorized unprovoked attack using the state’s military, particularly in Lorema Payam. The orders were carried out in response to Saturday April 13, 2013 incidence where some raiders who were youths had gone to raid cattle from the communities of LOTOME and BIRA Bomas.
The incidence coincided with the presence of the governor who visited and conducted a meeting with local people. Upon learning that there was raiding activity going on nearby, the Governor ordered 8 wildlife officers who were present at the meeting and some of his security guards to go after the raiders. Unfortunately Your Excellency, the 8 officers immediately fell into a fatal cross-fire with the raiders which ended up with all of the 8 officers plus 5 raiders killed. It was tragedy, which we profoundly regret and wish had never happened.
Following the BIRA/LOTOME incident, Your Excellency, the BUDI County authorities in Chukudum convened an emergency meeting to look into the matter as soon as possible. The authorities concluded the meeting with a pledge and solid agreement to pursue the raiders, locate the raided cattle and return them to their rightful owners. It was also agreed that the stolen guns from the killed wildlife officers would be sought after and located from the raiders and would be handed over to the government through peaceful means necessary.
Astonishingly Your Excellency, Governor Luis Lobong decided to act on his own by unleashing collective, punitive and lethal force against innocent women, children, and men of Lorema and Kikilai Boma respectively. We, in the Diaspora perceive governor’s actions as yet another clear violation of human rights in South Sudan. According to numerous witnesses, a mixed force of SPLA proper and Wildlife troops entered Lorema Boma, at the orders of the Governor Luis Lobong. These armed forces started firing indiscriminately at young men herding goats. They then proceeded to the ONLY Health Centre in the area, where they attacked health center staff and those who were with in the clinic at the time. The armed forces also set fire to much of the village completely destroying sixty eight (68) nearby homes as well as forty seven (47) shops. Another twelve (12) homes were partially destroyed in the fires.
As a result of this catastrophic event, Your Excellency, the people of Lorema Boma have lost their ONLY medical officer responsible for the Health Centre Mr. Peter Longorio Lopotongu, and several of the supporting medical staff. The incidence took place as follows:
• Mr. Peter Longorio Lopotongu was dragged out of the Health Centre, the gun held under his armpit and the bullet shot right through his heart.
• Two of his medical personnel were also dragged out of the Health Centre, forced to the ground, and shot exactly in the similar manner.
• Mr. Marko Aboho Nakabale who was within the Health Centre premises and in an attempt to escape the attack got shot from the back and he fell and died instantly.
• A female Nurse who tried to flee the scene of this despicable and cowardice act, also got shot from the back but sustained life threatening lung injuries.
We have also been informed that Ten (10) civilians sustained bullet wounds and other injuries during the attack. These have had to dislodged bullet fragments from their bodies without any medical attention since the clinic was destroyed and the health workers were among the killed and injures. These injured civilians have not been able to seek medical attention in neighboring areas due continuing military presence in the region. Many fear of being arrested if they attempt to seek medical attention in Chukudum Civic Hospital.
Additionally, the events in the village prompted many people to flee the area, and a number of children are unaccounted for.
Your Excellency, you can imagine the commotion, the confusion and the state of panic witnessed by the young children, women and men of all ages as a result of the unexpected presence of troops in the area. The soldiers fired indiscriminately into the village area, producing a chaotic scene and prompted the pupils from the nearby school to scatter in different directions. Some of these fled to neighboring villages, one was killed and several more of these young students are still missing. A body of a young school boy, Lokang, who was the son of Oyabei was found a few days later not so far away from the school. 20 school children had ran and are currently housed by a local organisation CDSSS in Nahichod. Ten (10) others managed to reach Chukudum.
Until now, some parents have not been able to locate their children. And because of this unexpected invasion, Your Excellency, fighting erupted between the local people and the SPLA troops. A battle ensued all day until dawn and the SPLA troops retreated back to Chukudum town leaving behind three (3) soldiers dead and 13 seriously wounded, including the commanding officer.
Your Excellency, we deeply regret the loss of lives on both sides, and dozens of other wounded soldiers & civilians during this incident. We know and believe that they were only following orders from their superiors which led them to this unfortunate loss of lives. A loss of life in this manner is quite painful to any human being, be it soldier or innocent civilian.
In addition to the tragic loss of life, the community sustained significant damages to personal and public property, much of which are critical to the wellbeing and security of the community. The amount of cash money excluding the value of goods destroyed during this incidence for Lorema Boma’s local businessmen is $100,308.00 US dollars. In addition to the loss of cash and damaged goods, the three (3) grinding machines were also set on fire and destroyed completely. At the medical centre, the Radio Communication System, the Solar Panel and Converters which is the only source of power had been set to fire and destroyed as well.
Your Excellency, we, BUDI Community in the Diaspora and those on the ground, condemn, in the strongest terms possible, these atrocities inflicted upon innocent families of Lorema Boma by the government forces. We equally condemn the local raiders who had raided the people of Lotome and Bira, which ended up with unnecessary loss of lives. We believe this matter would have been, and should be handled and settled amicably through healthy discourse between the affected communities.
We are aware, Governor Luis Lobong included, that cattle rustling syndrome existed for many decades, and it has always been a tragic tradition of all of the affected communities. We believe in permanent solutions. But these cannot be achieved through violence and collective punishment. Ordering military armed forces to terrorize innocent local villagers and burn homes, businesses and clinics does little to end the cycle of raiding violence.
There are peaceful methodologies to apprehend the raiders and hand them over to the authorities for serious disciplinary action. However, the choices made by the Governor Luis Lobong, are quite uncalled for and deemed deplorable and unnecessary.
Another approach to this unfortunate situation would have been for the Governor to consult BUDI County State representatives, the Commissioner, local chiefs and elders of both sides. But for whatever reason, Governor Luis Lobong disregarded all the proper mechanisms to tackle this sensitive matter. What he did was a collective punishment, which is a direct violation of human rights which deserves legal arbitration in a court of law.
This act of killing innocent people is uncalled for, especially at this stage, when we are all seeking peace and reconciliation in our beloved nation, South Sudan. We cannot tolerate reckless actions such as the one initiated by our Governor. These actions will only act as catalyst to the already rampant insecurity, peace instability and under underdevelopment in Eastern Equatoria State.
Your Excellency, while the families and the people of BUDI County at large are mourning those who were killed by the SPLA troops in Lorema Boma, we were shockingly alerted of yet another incidence of raiding on Friday April 19, 2013 taking place in Ngauro/Lauro Payam. This time, it’s the Toposa of Kapoeata East County who had raided the cattle and killed two (2) during the raid. Three (3) people were confirmed wounded and were rushed to Torit Dioceses Medical Center in Kapoeta. At the Torit Diocese Medical centre in Kapoeta, one of the wounded died upon arrival. This brings total deaths to three (3) for this particular incidence. The reported raiding took place at about Four O’clock (4:00 A.M) local time. In addition to those killed and wounded, the raiders also left six (6) houses burnt down to ashes.
Your Excellency, this is tragedy for the people of BUDI County and we are absolutely perplexed by this series of atrocities endured by out people. The burning question to Governor of Eastern Equatoria State, Luis Lobong is this; will he deploy SPLA troops to go after the raiders from Toposa tribe in a similar fashion (Same as the deployment of SPLA troops in Lorema and Kikilai Boma)?
We would never wish such a tragedy on another community, but feel that the issue of the government pursuit of raiders in Eastern Equatoria has not been even handled across the various communities.
Your Excellency, not only are we bothered by these rampant raiding activities in our County and from these other neighboring communities, we are also fed up and outraged by the labeling of BUDI County as security LEVEL 4. This categorization of BUDI County as security LEVEL 4 block many non-governmental organizations from going to BUDI County, hence depriving people of BUDI County much needed development services such as health, education, road, food, among others.
Your Excellency, we the BUDI Community in the Diaspora, have been closely monitoring the situation of this incidence from day one. We are also very disturbed by statements of the Governor and other state officials which claim the atrocities carried out in Lorema and Kikilai Bomas were committed by soldiers who deserted the operation carried out to pursue the rebel leader, David Yau Yau in Jongolei state. This is nothing but a pure propaganda aim at covering out the truth.
We, BUDI community strongly condemn this deliberate covering out of truth by governor and his spokesman; we would like to vehemently refute this allegation, and call upon UNMISS to go to BUDI County and conduct thorough investigation for this allegation.
Your Excellency, we Budi community in Diaspora fear that this approach of tackling community-based issues will destabilize peace in the region. We express our greatest concern over the leadership of Governor Luis Lobong. We are made to believe that the Governor is conducting ethnic cleansing in region in order to gain loyalty from those who admired his leadership style. This is very worrying and quite unwelcome gesture in the name of apprehending the raiders from particular community.
We know BUDI County people are exchanging cattle raiding with Toposa, Logir and the people of Lotome. But each time BUDI County people are raided, the Governor has never acted by ordering military or police operation to pursue the raiders. How discriminating is that? The Governor should exercise equitable action against the raiders from all the communities raiding each other in the region.
Your Excellency, we, in the Diaspora request for your immediate intervention and perhaps see into it that peace and reconciliation is sought in Eastern Equatoria State as soon as possible. We also request maximum and robust security force to be deployed in the affected areas of cattle raiding.
Your Excellency, we, in the Diaspora request for your immediate intervention. We would like for an inquiry to be set up to determine who is responsible for the actions of April 13, 2013 and bring them to justice. In addition we hope that your office can promote an equitable and just peace and reconciliation process among the communities of Eastern Equatoria. Additionally, we request maximum and robust security force to be deployed in the affected areas of cattle raiding.
As you know very well Your Excellency, Eastern Equatoria State is a very vital conduit to South Sudan economy because of its borders to our sisterly neighbors, Kenya and Uganda. If you don’t act and decide on what needs to be done to avert the heighten tension in the region, the situation will get worse and that will not be a good thing for anybody, including our young nation.
Your Excellency, to prevent similar situation from happening again, we BUDI Community in the Diaspora demands/resolved to the following:
1. Immediate withdrawal of the ordered SPLA forces from Chukudum town
2. Independent investigation headed by independent body such as UNIMISS
3. Immediate food relief, medical aid and non-food items to help the victims
4. Removal of the Level 4 stigma, which has been selectively and indiscriminately labelled against BUDI County since 1990s, inspite of the fact that BUDI County is a lot safer than some of the counties in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bhar el Ghazal regions.
5. Compensation for those who lost their lives, properties and livelihood
6. Sincere and unconditional apology from Governor Luis Lobong and Philip Aguer for misinforming to the world.
7. Deployment of rigorous law enforcement teams at the strategic locations where raiding activities are common and frequent.
BUDI Community in Diaspora
Cc: H.E. Dr. RiakMacharTenyDhurgon, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan.
Cc: Wani Iga, Speaker of National Assembly
Cc: Minister of interior, South Sudan
Cc: Luis Lobong Lojore, Governor, Eastern Equatoria
Cc: Mr. Joseph Bakasoro, Governor, Western Equatoria State
Cc: Mr. Clement Konga, Governor, Central Equatoria State
CC: Maurice Kaunda, Budi Commissioner
CC: BUDI County State and National Members of Parliament
CC: BUDI Local Chiefs
Cc: Human Right Commission, United States of America??
Cc: Amnesty International
Cc: United Nation Mission In South Sudan
Cc: President Barack Obama, The president of the United States of America
Cc: Hon. Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister
Cc: Hon. David Cameron, Prime Minister of United Kingdom
List of Petitioners
1. Mr. Richard Lokure 2. Mr. Aldo Lokonyen 3. Mr. Mario Konyen 4. Mr. Amedeo Awai
5. Fr. Nicholas Nyabanga 6. Mr. Augustino Luciano 7. Mr. Patrick Awuas 8. Mr. Maurice Aduto
9. Miss. Flora Iyaya Lujana 10. Mr. Alex Wani 11. Mr. Mengisto Bilan 12. Miss Christine Nakuwa
13. Mr. Simon Biro 14. Mr. Peter Lohidichi Nangole 15. Mr. Jima Jacob 16. Miss. Lucy Najie
17. Mr. Lowate Daniel Novato 18. Mr. Robert Nataba 19. Mr. Kennedy Apii Nakwa 20. Mr. Fortunato Longok
21. Mr. Joseph Anyanga 22. Mr. James Ipee 23. Mr. Victor Longole 24. Mr. Darius Lowuach
25. Mr. Joseph Lomoti 26. Miss. Lucy Amoo 27. Miss. Sabina Pio 28. Mr. Lino Nakwa
29. Mr. William Natemo 30. Mr. Simon Loboi 31. Mr. Jackson Kabarika 32. Mr. Samuel Aduto
33. Mr. Peter Barnaba 34. Mr. James Lokoro 35. Miss. Christine Amoo 36. Mr. Clement Loki
37. Mr. Hector Malamoi 38. Mr. Paul Lagu 39. Mr. Maurice Anyanga Anthony 40. Miss. Elizabeth Ikaa
41. Mr. Joseph Odeng 42. Miss. Stella Aki 43. Miss. Rose Lokwang 44. Mr. Samuel Adiang
45. Mr. Jane Alima Loki 46. Miss. Esther Yaya Peter 47. Miss. Josephine Lore 48. Miss. Alima Jane Loki
49. Mr. Francis Lovok 50. Mr. Peter Loparamoi 51. Mr. Justin Lokoni 52. Mr. Paska Daud Loki
53. Mrs. Anisha Daud Loki 54. Miss. Mary Apoo Luka 55. Miss. Catherine Krumuk Kuam 56. Miss. Nunu Ben
57. Mr. Automoi Nakuwa 58. Mr. Marino Mauro 59. Mr. Peter Lodai 60. Mr. Gabriel L. Lonyume
61. Mr. Maurice Lobalu 62. Miss. Jackline Kulang 63. Mr. James Lomwa 64. Mr. Peter Nakuwa
65. Mr. Joseph Dario 66. Mr. Maurice Moro 67. Mr. Charles Macharinyang 68. Mr. Aurelio Lodai
69. Mr. Michael Kadenge 70. Mr. James Lomuria 71. Miss. Grace Lobalu 72. Miss. Peninah N.Yarish
73. Mr. Kamilo Philip 74. Mrs. Christine Kamilo 75. Mr. James Loboi Anthony 76. Mr. Peter Lokang Juma
77. Mr. Peter Lokonyen 78. Mr. William Lokiru 79. Mr. Philip Amura 80. Ms. Margaret N. Darius
81. Mr. Philip Lokang 82. Miss. Grace Victor 83. Mr. Mark Narikan 84. Mr. Stephen Lopulumoi
85. Miss. Stella Natodopura Salvatore