By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala Uganda, MAR/03/2017, SSN;
Before I delve into this discussion, I’d like first to state one of the Seven Social Sins from a sermon given by Frederick Lewis Donaldson in Westminster Abbey, London, on March 20, 1925, in which he stated as “Politics without principle.” Exactly, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng Garang is playing a politics without principles.
When I talk of principles in this context, I mean an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct or fundamentals, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived. In simple terms, principles are what we believe in or morals that govern our conduct.
Morals or morality according to Oscar Wilde is the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike. However, the fact remains that whether we like someone or not, we should not distort facts to suit our personal interests just because we want to harm someone we dislike.
The fact that Nyandeng Garang dislikes President does not warrant her to distort facts with the intention of destroying him politically; there must be a limit to politics when it comes to the national issues.
The institution of the Red Army is a matter of public importance and it is part of our national heritage which we must respect and value. However, reducing the whole institution into the institution founded by followers of food and services is something derogatory and done in bad faith by Nyandeng Garang.
To help those who have not had an opportunity to read the statement of Nyandeng Garang on the Red Army, I would like to briefly repeat what she said here. Nyandeng in an interview with Al Jazeera UpFront program, on the topic entitled who’s to blame for South Sudan’s civil war? (The interview can be accessed on: www.aljazeera.com/programmes/…/blame-famine-south-sudan-170221192501168.htFebruary 21, 2017) accused South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, of allegedly using soldiers from the Dinka tribe to commit atrocities on other ethnic groupings and called on him to step down.
When asked during that interview about her late husband alleged use of child-soldiers she rejected a previous Human Rights Watch report, which implicated her husband, John Garang for using child soldiers during the over two-decade civil war.
However, when the Presenter on Jazeera pressed her about the children among the soldiers, Nyandeng admitted, but justified the presence of the child soldiers as a necessity. She is quoted to have stated — “They children came with their parents and some of them just followed the army because sometimes when they go with the army they can find better services; food and things like that because we were in the bush. Some of the children even leave their parents and they follow the army. There was no official recruitment which was being done.”
As seen above, Nyandeng clearly rubbished the role and history of the Red Army in the liberation and creation of South Sudan which by implications means that the institution called Red Army Foundation should have not been established in the first place as its members are not important to the history of South Sudan.
What I can say about the above presentation by Madam Nyangdeng concerning the Red Army is misconceived and above all, it is a political error. It is the error because various reports contradict what she has said. For instance, the Report of Human Rights Watch indicated that in the early 1980s, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) recruited and began training boys as young as 12 to fight in its battle for independence from Sudan.
The child soldiers were called the Red Army (this is according to a 1994 Human Rights Watch report (pdf) and if you need it you can get this report online by writing it on google search engine).
In relation to the above, the Guardian.com (visit: https://www.theguardian.com › World › Development › Conflict and development) confirms the Human Rights Watch Report that the children who were later formed into the Red Army were not following soldiers because of food and services in 1980s but instead, they were inspired by liberation war.
For instance, the Guardian cited Adam Jaafer Manoah who joined the SPLA willingly or without being recruited. Adam Jaafer Manoah as the Guardian reported, left Yirol when he was 13 and trekked for nine months from his home in Yirol, in what is now central South Sudan, to a military training camp in neighbouring Ethiopia.
In the interview with the Guardian, Adam was reported to have stated that and I quote,”I was going to liberate my country,” he said.
As the Guardian reported, Adam joined the Red Army’s Zalzal (or Earthquake) Battalion and later became a political organizer and fighter.
Then, the Guardian concluded with comment that “the use of child soldiers is one of the more horrific moments in the history of South Sudan’s creation, though the former Red Army members do not shy about remembering their experiences. Instead, they are relying on the ties formed in combat to organise a new front”.
Apart from the above two sources, there are many other evidences from both primary and secondary sources that clearly show that Dr. Garang recruited Child-soldiers and also some children joined the army willingly.
The foregoing discussion proves beyond reasonable doubt that Red Army members were not going to the bush for the sake of food and good services. In fact, how can children leave home to join the Members of the SPLA who were depending on their parents?
The SPLA soldiers cannot deny the fact that since 1983 and partly up to date were and are still depending on the civilians who are the parents of the Red Army. This means that the argument put forward by Madam Rebecca Nyandeng to justify the presence of children in the bush is incoherent, erroneous and fallacious.
In addition, it is malicious as it is perplexing to see Madam Nyandeng Garang who considers herself as Mother of the SPLM/A denying the documented facts simply because she wanted to sound politically correct.
What she did not understand is that an attempt to be politically correct is the road to political hell sometimes. This is because it leads to political error and political downfall and political agony.
In this regard, if the people of South Sudan know their political rights and right political leaders, Nyandeng and other political gamblers would have been sanctioned and detained in the political limbo. Thus, Nyandeng Garang would have definitely been sanctioned politically because she is politically naïve and at the same time she is a political gambler.
In addition, when we analyze her statement carefully, we can also conclude that Madam Nyandeng wanted to deny the rights of Red Army members to history of South Sudan because they were not her children or children coming from where she comes from, Bor, Jonglei State in Upper Nile Region.
So, their contribution to South Sudanese history should be denied by all costs to make sure that they disappear in history. As a matter of fact, most of the children who served in the Red army were from Bahr El Ghazal area and this seems to be one of the motivation that pushed Madam Nyandeng into making political blunder.
In summary, denying the facts or distorting them just because we want to destroy someone we dislike in politics shows political immaturity of Madam Nyandeng. She is politically immature and also a political pathetic liar.
Nyandeng Garang must apologize to the Red Army because attacking their history shows her intention that she wants to destroy their history. It is injustice to deny the facts and the truth on which those facts are founded upon.
NB//: the author is South Sudanese Lawyer residing in Kampala Uganda and can be reached through: email@example.com/+256783579256