Media Release: Nuer Youth Executive Council, Juba, South Sudan
OCT. 17/2012, SSN; The Nuer Youth leadership in Juba is deeply troubled by the events which have been taking place in the city since October 11, 2012, the day Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel was arrested at work in Bilpam Headquarters. We thought that his arrest was something related to administrative issues until we read the press release of Jieng Community Association in Juba which categorically stated that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec was incarcerated due to his support to Nuer Prophet Dak Kueth and Murle rebel commander, David Yau Yau. The legal department of Nuer Youth Association began to investigate the real cause of his arrest despite claims of Jieng Community Association and discovered that he was detained by Military Intelligence (MI) that was ordered by the Commander in Chief of the SPLA army, 1st Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit.
The chief of MI told the leadership of Nuer youth that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec was detained -because he was working with other politicians to stage a coup against the leadership of President Salva Kiir.
The Nuer Youth dismissed the claims of MI because Juba has been rocked with rumors of coups since last year. It should be noted that there is no month that would pass by without a rumor of a coup in Juba. Last year, it was rumored that Deputy Minister of Defense, Dr. Majak Agot, was planning a coup to topple President Kiir. That rumor died down without any incident. In July this year it was also rumored that Presidential advisor on Human Rights, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng Garang met with some Bor officers and appointed Maj. Gen. Mac Paul to stage a coup against President Kiir. That rumor was even published in the media. However, it was discovered that Rebecca Nyandeng did not plan any coup and was being blackmailed in the media. Moreover, when the son of late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Col. Mabior Garang de Mabior, gave an interview to McClatchy newspaper in Nairobi expressing his dismay on the leadership direction in South Sudan, it was also rumored in Juba that he was planning a coup.
When the agents of Military Intelligence said that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel was detained because of allegation of a coup, everybody dismissed it as another rumor mill in Juba spewing nonsensical charges against a respectable officer like Simon Gatwec. However, the Nuer Youth is shocked today, Tuesday, October, 16, when President Salva Kiir confirmed in the meeting with officers at Bilpam Headquarters that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel was arrested because he and unnamed politicians planned to stage a coup against his government. The President said that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec would be taken to court and if found innocent he would be released. The statement of the President put to rest the doubts of all those who were dismissing the allegations of a coup as the usual joke and began to ask serious questions.
Sources within the military intelligence revealed that the coup leaders are Deputy Minister of Defense, Dr. Majak Agot and Hon. Dr. Riek Gai Kok, a member of South Sudan Legislative Assembly representing Akobo County of Jonglei State. However, when meeting military officers at Bilpam Headquarters on October, 16, President Kiir praised Dr. Majak Agot and Lt. Gen. James Hoth for foiling the coup while he was in Uganda. But the revelations coming from MI alleged that Dr. Majak Agot was in fact the leader of the coup who recruited Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec.
The question every reasonable South Sudanese is asking is: If Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec was part of the coup, where are the other officers? Where are the politicians who organized the coup? Why did President Kiir not arrest Majak Agot and Dr. Riek Gai Kok who are named by MI as leaders of the coup?
According to sources within the MI, Dr. Majak Agot was the one who gave President Kiir the list of 31 officers ranging from Brig. Generals to Maj. Generals as officers who planned to stage a coup. It is said that Majak Agot denied being part of the coup and told Kiir that -the Nuer are the ones planning to overthrow Dinka government-. The funny part of the allegation of a coup is that the politicians who organized the officers have not been arrested and only one man is targeted. That begs the question and the Nuer Youth are having difficulty believing President Kiirs version of events because it would be the first time on earth that one Maj. General could stage a coup alone without politicians backing him up.
If the rumors which have been circulating since last year are being believed by the President, the question is: Why would the President not believe the previous rumors linking Majak Agot, Rebecca Garang and Col. Mabior Garang to the conspiracy of staging a coup against the government? Col. Mabior Garang is on record calling for removal of President Kiir when he gave interview to McClatchy newspaper. He never denied his interview but qualified it recently by saying that he was calling for -peaceful uprising against the government-. After the events of Tunisia, people know that the line between popular uprising and a coup is indistinguishable. Yet, President Kiir did not detain Col. Mabior Garang when he returned to Juba on October, 9.
Dismissing Nuer Officers: After a thorough scientific investigation, the Nuer Youth discovered that Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel was not incarcerated because of allegation of a coup since all the facts revealed that the allegation of a coup is a lie. We have discovered that President Kiir wanted to implement a policy of purging the Nuer officers out of the SPLA army. This policy was delayed when Paulino Matip was alive because he was against it. After his death, President Kiir and his Dinka elites revived the policy and identified thirty five Nuer officers to be removed from the army so that the Dinka would firmly control the South.
The allegation of the coup is a ploy to cover up the real plan. Using coup as the reason to detain Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel is a tactic to detain all the Nuer officers one by one because official retirement of all Nuer officers at once may raise suspicions. Salva Kiir himself said in August in a meeting with officers in Bilpam that he would be retiring military officers starting from Brig. General upward. He did not implement that plan right away because he was advised that it would create tribal tension.
The Nuer Youth would seriously advise President Kiir and the Dinka community at large that the politics of tribal domination and nation-building are antithetical. The same tactics being employed by President Kiir in targeting the Nuer were used by the Hutus rights after the independence of Rwanda in 1961 and led to first Rwanda genocide. After the resistance launched by the Tutsis in defending themselves from Hutus dominated government, the Hutus political elites decided eventually that the only solution was to exterminate Tutsis on earth and that policy culminated into the second genocide in 1994.
However, South Sudan is a multi-ethnic society and the Nuer community is a heroic community that could not be dominated. For the last three hundred years, Dinka never defeated the Nuer in any battle. In 19th Century, the Nuer conquered Dinka lands and assimilated 30% of Dinka. In the 20th C, the Nuer is the only tribe in Africa which fought the British for thirty years with spears. The Nuer were the first to bring down British plane with a spear, an experience which shocked the British empire up to now.
When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, the Nuer community came to conclusion that past conflicts with Dinka should be brought to an end because nation-building demands that South Sudanese people transcend tribal politics in order to forge a viable nation state. When Paulino Matip signed Juba Declaration on January 9, 2006, the Nuer community applauded the spirit of cooperation between him and President Salva Kiir. Despite the glaring mistreatment of Nuer for the last six years, our community endured humiliations in the name of South Sudan. Maj. Gen. Bol Kong in 2006 was the first SPLA officer that fought his own people of Lou Nuer to carry out the government disarmament program in the name of South Sudan.
Today, the Jieng Community called him Nyagat (fifth columnist) after defending South Sudan from external threats because he is a Nuer. When war broke out between the North and the South in March this year, it was Maj. Gen. Bol Kong and other Nuer officers who heroically defended South Sudan border. More than 80% of SPLA forces along the North-South border are Nuer. More than five thousands SPLA soldiers killed in Heglig and Jaw battles were Nuer.
It has become a habit that when there is a war between the North and the South, the first people President Kiir relies on are Nuer. In 2008 fighting between the SPLA and SAF in Abyei, it was Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet who heroically defeated the SAF. After the end of the fighting, he was called Nyagat in Juba and denied medical benefits to go for treatment in Nairobi after a long fighting in Abyei. That was one of the reasons he left the government in 2011 and formed a rebel movement.
After Peter Gatdet formed South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) in March, 2011 to fight the government of South Sudan, it was Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel and Maj. Gen. Bol Kong who convinced him to abandon rebellion. Indeed Peter Gatdet signed an agreement with the government and he is now the deputy commander disarming civilians in Jonglei. Had it not been for Nuer officers like Bol Kong and Simon Gatwec Duel who rejected rebellion, South Sudan could not have been independent last year. Today, all their work to save the South is thrown to dustbin because they are Nuer and the only reward they get is to label them as Nyagats.
The Nuer Youth are aware that President Kiir wants to endanger the very survival of South Sudan as a viable state after achieving independence last year. However, the Nuer community refused to be part of the failure of the South and stood firmly in safeguarding the territorial integrity of South Sudan from external threats. The Nuer who died in the border war with the North died in defending the honor of South Sudan. Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel has more than five family members killed in action defending South Sudan.
When Maj. Gen. Gabriel Tang, Maj. Gen. Simon Mabor Dhol and Brig. Gen. Gatwec Joak were illegally detained last April with orders of President Salva Kiir, it was Maj. Gen Simon Gatwec Duel and Maj. Gen. Bol Kong who calmed down the Nuer Youth. Up to now, Gabriel Tang and his officers have never received justice let alone being informed of the reasons for their detention. The South Sudan constitution states that any accused should be accorded due process in a short time possible.
However, all the constitutional stipulations have been ignored because the accused individuals are Nuer. When Maj. Gen. Marial Nuor, a Dinka, was accused of raping girls and murdering an engineer in Juba, he was detained for few days but was produced before a judge. He was allowed to have a legal counsel who argued his case and today he is out of prison after being arrested for only two weeks. Up to now, the government dropped the case against him although the UN documented his abuse of girls at night in the city. The reason for his release is because he is a Dinka.
Since his arrest on October, 11, 2012, Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel has been denied food for five days and his wife has been prevented from visiting him. He has never been accorded due process as stipulated in the Interim Constitution and was not allowed to retain a legal counsel let alone being told the reasons for his detention. While President Kiir is talking about justice, the only people who receive justice in South Sudan are Dinka, not Nuer because since April, 2011, Gabriel Tang, Mabor Dhol and Gatwec Joak have never received justice.
The Nuer Youth are calling on President Kiir to release Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel as soon as possible without conditions from our community. The patience of Nuer community is running thin and President Kiir should not wish to return the South to dark days of 1990s when William Nyoun and Bol Kong defeated him at Magiri with only seven hundred fighters while he was commanding fifteen thousands. Nuers fighting spirit is unquestionable; however, the Nuer community resolved that ethnic fighting would destroy South Sudan and return our people to abject poverty and suffering. The number of Nuer and Dinka who died as a result of factional wars in 1990s far exceeds the number killed by the Sudan Armed Forces in the course of liberation struggle.
When the Nuer Youth convened a meeting last year at Nyakuron Cultural Center, Maj. Gen. Bol Kong told the Nuer Youth that South Sudan should abandon violence and adopt the path of peace as the only way to achieve political power. Bol Kong advised South Sudan politicians to use ballot box as the only way to bring political change in South Sudan. Today, the Jieng Community labeled him as Nyagat after fighting his own people in 2006 to carry out government disarmament policy.
The Nuer Youth would not release another press release again to advise President Kiir to abandon destructive tribal politics. Instead the President should consult history and release Maj. Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel immediately. We have realized that Nuers pacifism is being seen by Dinka community as a weakness and some members of Kiirs elites have begun making presentations that -the Nuer are defeated-. This release is our last advice to the President because our patience is running out. The responsibility to keep peace in South Sudan is a responsibility of all people including Dinka community. It is the interest of every South Sudanese to see that peace reigns supreme in South Sudan. But if communities that have realized the importance of peace are being labeled as -cowards- or -being defeated-, the future of South Sudan is bleak.
As youth, we believe that peaceful South Sudan is our priority and will benefit us more than President Kiir who is getting old. The future of South Sudan belongs to the youth and we are the last sector of Nuer community to see South Sudan on fire. However, the Nuer community has inalienable right to defend itself if President Kiir is pursuing policies of domination and extermination. If President Kiir is interested to impose war on Nuer although they do not want it, it is instinct of every human being to defend themselves when attacked. The right of self-defense is a right recognized internationally. But our hearts break to see that the President of a newly independent country wants to return the Nuer and Dinka to 1990s factional wars.
We call upon peace-loving Dinka brothers to advise the President that the Nuer-Dinka war is the end of South Sudan. Such a war should not be promoted by anybody be it President Kiir or the youth of South Sudan who would be the losers. The future of South Sudan belongs to the youth and the next generation needs to see a culture of peace being promoted by our leaders.
But the policies of President Kiir will return us to factional war of 1990s when he and Maj. Gen. Bol Kong fought for a month in Equatoria and wasted more than thousand lives of the people of South Sudan who should be now contributing to our countrys development.
The Nuer are not cowards but our community resolved in 2006 that tribal wars would not take our country forward and there is a need to stay away from tribal tendencies which nearly destroyed South Sudan liberation movement in 1990s.
Peter Tut Hoth
President of Nuer Youth in Juba,