We, the Equatorian Leaders in the Diaspora, express our grave concerns over the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan. We believe this insecurity is the direct result of the irresponsible military strategy being pursued by the government of South Sudan and its armed forces. The recent killing of civilians on the Juba-Yei road, and the Juba-Nimule road is a tragedy. We condemn these incidents along with all incidents that have taken place throughout the country where civilians have been targeted.
Civilians have been killed in Juba and elsewhere in Equatoria, at the hands of the so called “UNKNOWN GUNMEN”. These killings preceded the outbreak of the civil war in 2013 and continue to take place with alarming regularity.
We note with regret that President Kiir has shown insufficient concern over these killings. He has consistently failed to ensure that investigations into the killings are conducted and followed through to a satisfactory conclusion.
Only now that the victims are from his own Dinka community, does President Kiir display any alarm or regard for the outcome of the investigation. We believe this demonstrates that the President is partial. We are forced to conclude that he is unfit to govern the country, because he has failed in his obligation to treat all South Sudanese equally.
We are shocked and alarmed by the threatening statement made by Michael Makuei, the Minister of Information on national television. In this statement, he made it clear to communities in Equatoria that the government and its armed forces will not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants when engaged in upcoming counter-insurgency operations.
We have also been made aware of the beatings of innocent Equatorians in Aweil. This MUST stop immediately. These civilians are working for the benefit of their fellow South Sudanese in that area, and have neither incited nor committed any acts of violence. We have learned with regret the escalation of the situation in which “Angry Youth” from Dinka have decided to take matters into their own and have threatened to start killing Equatorians in Dinka land.
According to reliable sources, about a hundred Equatorians are reported to be taking shelter in NGO compound in Aweil, awaiting evacuation, but the Government has refused for them to be evacuated. We express our grave concern of the implications for the whole country if the situation is allowed to carry on in this path.
The ongoing and ethnically discriminatory targeting of innocent civilians in Juba, without due cause, by the National Security Service must also stop.
The solution to ending the misery facing our country is to ensure justice and fairness is accorded to all South Sudanese, and that all citizens are treated fairly and equally. A true and lasting peace will remain elusive while our country is held hostage to the twin injustices of kleptocracy and ethnocentrism, as masterminded by the Jieng Council of Elders, and faithfully implemented by the Government. Peace loving South Sudanese citizens will have no option but to continue to fight for their rights, for justice and for a fairer society in South Sudan.
We end by quoting a reflection by the prominent South Sudanese liberation leader, Mr. Joseph Lagu, on the lessons of pursuing justice without hatred. In this quote, which relates to the mutiny of the Southern Equatoria Corps in August 1955, we are reminded that it is wrong to target individuals on the basis of their ethnicity or appearance:
… Those Southern soldiers who mutinied killed Northerners indiscriminately. Starting with their Northern officers who failed to get away, they then broke out of the garrison into the rest of the town of Torit. From there, they went on the rampage throughout the province of Equatoria and beyond, in the South, killing men, women and children. This was the result of accumulated racial hatred that I shared at the time.
Later, I realised that the massacre of Northern civilians, simply because of their difference in colour of skin and appearance, was wrong. For that we in South Sudan were also guilty of racism. …That is a temptation that often affects us all. It is the evil from which we need to be delivered and protected, as we remember the concluding portion of our Lord’s prayer: ‘And deliver us from evil.’ (Joseph Lagu, 1994)
He further continued:
“Of course, I still maintain that any people deprived of their rights have a cause to struggle for justice. I stand for ‘The struggle for justice without hatred’ because hatred does not make one think soberly. It derails one from the real track, poisons one’s blood and harms oneself far more than the people hated.”
From: Equatorian Leaders in the Diaspora
17th October 2016
THE EQUATORIAN LEADERS IN THE DIASPORA:
1. Mr. Federico Vuni, Equatorian Community Leader in the UK
2. Mr. Kwaje Lasu, Equatorian Community Leader in the USA
3. Mr. Joseph Modi, Equatorian Community Leader in Canada
4. Mr William Orule Equatorian Community Leader in Australia
For correspondence: Mr. Federico Awi Vuni; firstname.lastname@example.org