By: Daniel Juol Nhomngek, KAMPALA, APR/26/2014, SSN;
Democracy is the antithesis of human rights violations. Those who violate human rights with the aim of restoring democracy are actually destroying democracy indirectly because violation of human rights is a direct violation of democracy.
In this Article, I will try to be as simple as possible in order to expose the intention behind Riek and his rebels’ fighting in South Sudan using the recent killing of 200 people in Bentiu and other incidents that have never been reported as case examples with the intention of showing that in real sense the intention of Riek is not to restore democracy in South Sudan but to create Nuer’s hegemony or Nuerism.
On April 21, 2014, the action of the rebels came into light when it was reported on SudanTribune that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that over 200 civilians were massacred in Unity state through targeted killings.
What do the targeted killings mean and what does it explain about Riek’s democratic and political ambition? Is Riek in the bush to restore democracy? What is the difference between Riek and Kiir? In real sense, democracy under Riek is worse than dictatorship under Kiir.
Democracy where people are targeted because they are not South Sudanese or because they are not Nuer people is worse than dictatorship that preserves lives. So, the question again is: what are targeted killings?
It means the premeditated killing of an individual or groups by a state organization or institution outside a judicial procedure or a battlefield.
The definition appears to exclude rebels but in actual sense, it includes rebels who have the intention to destroy a specific group or enemy. Such advanced plans are carried out to achieve a certain goal by destroying any obstacles that deny the groups to achieve the goal.
In order to understand why it is a crime, there is a need to define the word “premeditated”. Premeditated means something done deliberately or planned in advance.
Therefore, if what happens in Bentiu was to be investigated, it would have been found out that such killings was planned somewhere before the killings was carried out.
Nevertheless, even if there is no any investigation into such massive killings, the plan to kill such innocent people even when they ran to God can still be established through circumstantial evidence.
The evidence is that after capturing Bentiu, the rebels started using Radio Bentiu to spread tribal hatred through hate-speeches as reported by the UNMISS.
Hence, targeted killings are a method of frustrated groups who do not have any hope of achieving their goal and in this case rebels see Sudanese as obstacles to capturing power in South Sudan; hence, the only hope for them to achieve such a goal is to destroy anybody that come cross their path.
As understood from the definition above, targeted killings is used by many people not only rebels in South Sudan.
In order to understand the extent to which targeted killings are used and in which places, it is important to use examples of some places where these killings have taken place. This means that it is not only in South Sudan where it is used but in other countries as well.
They were, for instance, employed extensively by death squads in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Haiti within the context of civil unrest and war during the 1980s and 1990s.
Furthermore, targeted killings have also been used in Somalia, Rwanda, and in the Balkans during the Yugoslav Wars.
Currently, the US government practices targeted killings semi-publicly, as with the killing of Osama Bin-Laden and Al-Awlaki. Targeted killings have also been used by narcotics traffickers.
Today, the use of targeted killings is done by conventional military forces which are a commonplace in Israel during and after the Second Intifada, when Israeli security forces used the tactic to kill Palestinian opponents.
Though it has been in use for a very long time in the world, targeted killings are unlawful when directed against non-military objects. In narrow sense, non-military objects under humanitarian law are civilians who are not participating in combat.
Once, non-military objects are targeted by warring parties, then, such an action can be considered as war crime or crime against humanity under ICC statute depending on the way it is conducted.
The gruesome nature and seriousness of this type of warfare explains why some human rights groups and ex-CIA station chief in Islamabad, Robert Grenier, have criticized targeted killings and compared them to assassinations or extrajudicial killings which according to ex-CIA chief are illegal within the United States and under international law.
Having discussed the targeted killings above, we do back to the question whether Riek Machar is in the bush for democracy and reform? If he were there for democracy and reform, why is Riek allowing uncouth militias under him to kill innocent civilians?
Not only what happened in Bentiu but in some other places. In fact, the killings have never abated since the war started in 2013 why?
Why the killings go on continuously may be explained by the fact that Riek does not care about the lives of the people of South Sudan and also he does not have any control over his group.
When Late Leader Dr. Garang was a rebel leader, there was a true government as it was characterized by the rule of law and respect for human rights in liberated areas. That meant that Garang had control over his rebel which Riek actually lacks.
Riek is not interested in saving lives but he is trying to apply the principle of end justifies the means. To Riek, it does not matter whether people died in large numbers or not provided that he gets power.
As I have stated above that killings have never stopped since two 2013, killings of people by rebels have been going unreported because the international community did not have any interest in people who were killed by rebels.
It was only after the killings in Bentiu the world became active yet the world has been keeping quiet simply because less important people were being killed. How many people died in Bor?
The report by the government shown on radios and TV indicated that about 2700 people were killed in Bor by rebels but no international community pointed finger at the rebels.
Yet when government complained of the way the UNMISS was conducting itself in relation to the rebels, the UN responded swiftly by condemning South Sudan of harassing the UN officials by calling government of South Sudan uncivilized.
What is uncivilized in complaining about the violation of one’s right? The UN members know.
Again, when hundreds of people were killed in Bentiu and Malakal, the International community took no step to investigate the matter. This prompted SudanTribune to question the inability of the UN and the international Community to respond to such grievous human rights violation.
On January 17, 2014, for instance, Sudan Tribune newspaper was reported to have asked a fundamental question “why are the UN and the international community maintaining silence over these unwarranted and disheartening atrocities caused by the rebels lead by Riek Machar in Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, Bailiet, Akobo, Jalle, and Kolnyang?” This was a good question but it went unanswered.
As the saying goes that there is no smoke without fire, the malicious actions by rebels against humanity was now revealed in a day light in Bentiu. The rebels as we all know are pathological liars. They have been committing atrocities and denied accountability putting all blames on government, which is a bad sign for the group fighting to restore democracy.
The rebels’ habit of denying all atrocities they commit every time they capture town was rebutted in Bentiu when they massacred 200 Sudanese traders at day light.
As their habit of carrying out an act denying responsibility as the same time, rebels even try their level best to deny the accusation by claiming that government soldiers were the ones who killed them. A story that a reasonable person cannot believe for three reasons:
Firstly, why are soldiers from the government killing Sudanese traders at that particular time yet they have been trading in that town since it was recaptured from them some months back?
Secondly, why government soldiers kill their friends who support them in fighting the rebels as Rebel leader, Riek Machar claims? One of the claims by Riek Machar is that Rebels from Darfur are helping South Sudan government to fight him and his group. If that is the case, why is government killing them?
Thirdly, the UNMISS was an eye-witness when they were butchering such innocent civilians in front of God. Let their souls rest in peace!
In light of the above three arguments, it is hard to believe that government soldiers were responsible for the mass killings in Bentiu.
Besides the above arguments, even in President Obama’s statement when he was condemning killings he succinctly stated that rebels were responsible for the killings in Bentiu when he said that rebels betrayed the trust that he had for them. Why did he trust them is unanswered question.
Being pathological liars, rebels have got used to lying to the extent that they have forgotten that the world is watching every step they take. They were finally exposed beyond a reasonable doubt by the massacre in Bentiu.
In killing such innocent people in cold blood, the intention and plan of the rebels with their leaders have been exposed. Their intention and plan is not to restore democracy but to destroy South Sudan in order to rebuild South Sudan of Nuer tribe only, a policy of Roman Emperor which is very impossible.
It is impossible because South Sudan does not belong to any particular tribe. It belongs to all as provided for by Article 9 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan.
Article 9 (1) of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution provides that South Sudan is built on the rule of law as a result of covenant among the people of South Sudan and between them and their government at every level and a commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in this Constitution.
According to the provision of the constitution above rule of law is the cornerstone of social justice, equality and democracy, which implies that whether people fight for change or anything for the development of South Sudan, for it to be successful, it must be agreed by all tribes in South Sudan. Otherwise, the success will never come if one tribe tries to destroy other tribes.
The desire to destroy other tribes comes because of the lack of moral integrity and fear of God by the leaders and their supporters as shown by the rebel group behaviours. This was revealed by the recent killings of 200 people in Mosque by the Rebels.
The action of rebels was incomprehensible and madness. Any sane person cannot kill a person in front of God. It therefore appears that rebels do not have any morals or fear of God at all, because any normal human beings with normal human values cannot kill another human being who is not a threat to him or her. Moreover, who has sought a refuge in the house of God?
Such high level of immorality indicates that South Sudanese rebels do not have morals at all and is very dangerous to other citizens. It is the defect in the foundation of civilization of South Sudanese people.
South Sudanese have built their civilization on the graveyard of barbarism, meaning that barbaric acts are an enemy of civilization. It was because barbarism had been eradicated that is why civilization is able to be built not only in South Sudan but in the world at large.
Civilization or civilization (in British English) refers to state polities which combine basic institutions, having one or more of each: a ceremonial centre; a formal gathering place for social and cultural activities, a system of writing, and a city.
Hence, civilization means being in community to build one another and serve one another without destroying one another. In other words, it means going by reason but not by instinct.
Having explained above, it is important to point out that democracy and civilization are related in one way or the other. They are related to each other because democracy is rooted in the respect of human values, love and prosperity.
Hence, democracy means observing the rule of law by all whether in power or having power. There is need to differentiate the two terms: having power and being in power.
Being in power means being in position or authority while having power means holding something that can kill or scare or controls someone. It is actually associated with force and destruction.
The presence of these two components defines a strong society. That is why we have the president and army. The present is in position of the authority while the army is having power and it can actually destroy the people.
However, the society can only be strong when we employ these two components through caring and protecting each other. This means that to live in such a society, there is need for forgiveness and humility. This means that we can live in harmony in the society.
In order to be in community and co-exist peacefully, we must learn how to use power we hold and power we have for the benefit of all members without exploiting the ignorance of masses and their weaknesses for our own advantages. In other words, we must respect law and rule of the society that protect people’s lives.
This means that further means that there is a need to respect rule of law whether rebels or government. The rule of law means to adhere to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, observance of human rights and social justice.
Article 9 of the Constitution as explained above gives us the important of what the rule of law is: a cornerstone of social justice, equality and democracy. When we talk of governance we mean that there are some values such as human rights and social justice that every person must observe whether rebels or government.
Without the observance of these two fundamental principles, the chaos and anarchies will be the order of the day in that society. In fact, Rule of law is one of the basic requirements to be fulfilled first by any person who claims to be democrat, for instance, like Riek Machar and his group, before being considered so.
A person cannot claim to be practicing or fighting for democracy if he or she does not know values of humanity. I have never been convinced by Riek’s claim of fighting for democracy because Riek himself has never been a democrat.
He has never been democrat because he does not know what is meant by democracy as his behaviour shows in many occasions whenever he broke away to form his rebels. If you do not believe in what I say here, read a book entitled, “An Insider’s view” by Adwok Nyaba and you will understand my assertion.
The book in summary discusses Riek leadership during Nasser coup in 1990s. In that book, Nyaba regretted for joining Riek because Riek preaches to the world what he does not practice. Such leaders are very dangerous to the new societies like South Sudan which needs trust and commitment in order to get united and progress.
The way Riek behaves whenever he is a rebel leader shows who he really is. There is a saying that what one does in privacy shows what that person really is. In the same way, the way Riek behaves whenever he is a rebel leader shows exactly what he will be when he takes the leadership of the country. God forbids.
Riek is even worse than Kiir because he does not have an ability to control the situation. What does that mean? It means that he is likely to become very serious dictator in the future when things are not going to be easy for him.
He will only seek refuge behind the status apparatus that will be out there to silence every dissenting voice and opinion against him.
The question the behaviour of Riek and his group begs is: is Riek Machar really for democracy or he is fighting for Nuer hegemony? This is a fundamental question which seeks answers from every person that will be reading this article.
If the person reads this article, he or she must answer it in comment after reflecting on the behaviour of Riek and his rebels especially their conduct in respect to human right respect since the war starts.
Another question that needs answers is: is Riek a substitute for Kiir? In my opinion Kiir’s dictatorship in Juba as many claims is better than Riek’s democracy in the bush.
Riek and his rebels claim to be fighting in order to restore democracy in South Sudan which Kiir’s government and his dictatorship have destroyed. What I can say on this claim is that it is a good claim but implemented through wrong intention by wrong groups led by wrong leader and try to win the war through the use of wrong methods.
I have asserted in the aforementioned paragraph that it is a good claim but implemented through wrong intention by wrong groups led by wrong leader and who try to win the war through the use of wrong methods because all South Sudanese loves democracy but it is wrong intention because Riek and his group are not in the forest to restore democracy but to impose Nuer’s hegemony not only on Dinka but on all tribes in South Sudan and to run the country according to Nuer’s aspirations and thoughts. In other word, they want to plant Nuerism in South Sudan and destroy other tribes.
It is spearheaded by wrong groups because the group is out there to destroy everything call South Sudan including human beings.
This was shown in the recent killings of 200 people in Bentiu and other massive killings that had gone unreported since the conflict began. No person without future ahead of him or her who can lead a country.
In the same way Riek and his rebels do not have any future because they would have not taken the mission of destruction as their mission.
The rebellion is headed by a wrong leader because Riek is not patriotic enough. His mission of being in the Bush is not to restore democracy but to get power and the rest will be history.
Riek is simply infatuated by the greed of power monger and he is in the bush to do anything to get power whether by crook or fair means. This takes me back to the title of this article whether Riek is for democracy.
What makes methods used by rebels wrong is because rebels have adopted impunity methods of war which has striking similarity between LRA like methods of war.
However, even LRA in Uganda was better because there were survivors and infrastructure was not destroyed completely; the way our rebels destroy every town that they capture. I can only compare the rebels of South Sudan with locus who eats whatever grass found in their ways.
South Sudanese rebels do not know anything like saving lives. They survive on the policy of extermination and destruction. This is shown by the fact that every town captured by rebels is always found destroyed beyond recognition.
What does this imply? It implies that Riek did not take up arms to restore democracy but he took up arms due to the frustration since he badly wanted to rule the country, which he failed so far.
Unfortunately, Riek exploits ignorance and ingrained tribal hatred of many Nuer people as a means achieving his narrow political ambition. I do not think whether he can achieve such ambition.
I do not think whether Riek will ever be successful in getting power because South Sudan is inhabited by more than sixty tribes and in order to rule the country, a person must have at least agreement of the three quarters of those tribes.
Even the Dinka President would have not ruled South Sudan if he did not seek for the consent of other tribes. Let me be clear here: there is a difference between ruling in peace and ruling but with many troubles.
Although someone uses force to get power, he or she will never be in peace unless people endorse him or her in that power. Power belongs to the people as Article 2 of the Transitional Constitution provides.
In this case, without the consent of other tribes, Dinka president would have not led the country to independence and beyond. But because other tribes agreed that Kiir is their president that is why up to now Kiir still a president.
NB//The Author is a fourth year Law Student in Makerere University and he can he reached through the following contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org; +25783579256