6 April 2016, Urgent press release:
The establishment order No 36/2015 that President Kiir issued on 2 October 2015 was a serious and dangerous turning point in the land border conflict between Dinka Padang and Collo in Upper Nile region of South Sudan. The seriousness of that order comes from the fact that Collo land east of the White Nile and Sobat rivers were skillfully carved out and annexed to the new Dinka state known as East Nile.
No one needs to be told about the danger emanating from the order. In a rare move, Collo of all walks of live who usually remain divided over many important issues, have now firmly united their ranks behind the land issue. Collo people have decided to fight for the return of their usurped land. And nothing is being spared for that cause.
To Collo, the creation of the so called East Nile state with the presence of Dinka Padang in Malakal is nothing but forceful occupation of their land by Padang. That occupation must be dealt with in the same manner it came – force.
Occupation may take different forms but it effects are similar in many instances. Eye-witnesses from Malakal town and other parts of Collo land currently under Padang saw clear lack of respect for personal property. Houses have been broken into; some are being re-shaped while others are being demolished and the land changed to different uses.
Communal lands are also being abused in the same way. These barbaric behaviours are none other than those of an occupation force. The so-called East Nile state establishment is an occupation entity.
Another proof of their (Dinka) occupation is provided by the decision to mobilize their youth and organize them into an armed tribal militia that commits atrocities in Collo lands under their occupation. Occasionally the militia crosses to the west bank of the river to go to kill innocent and unarmed Collo people.
This has the objective of moving Collo further away from the river in order to create a buffer and safe zone for Padang leaders on the east bank. Sadly these atrocities have gone unquestioned until the Padang authorities got bold enough to attack the civilians in the UNMISS camp in Malakal in February 2016.
Further proof of the occupation is the re-call of Padang military personnel from all the organized forces under the pretext of guarding the oil fields in Paloch. Letters issued by Stephen Dhieu in this regard and a more recent decision by the new governor of the so-called East Nile State, Chol Thon, are indisputable evidences.
One may ask whether the oil is the personal property of Dinka Padang or it is a national resource. The answer is that the oil in South Sudan is a national resource and that the responsibility for guarding it lies with the national army not Dinka Padang.
The meandering tricks being applied by Padang may impose on others but not on Collo people. We know that Dinka Padang, with the help of their backers in Juba, are assembling a force, which they think will enable them consolidate their occupation of Collo land-period!
The people of South Sudan, who want to know the truth, are duly informed that Collo people are not party to the political power struggle engulfing the new country. In fact Collo people would have no problem with the central government if it didn’t take the side of Padang for no other reason except being their tribesmen.
This doesn’t mean that Collo people are not sensitive to the problems affecting people in other parts of South Sudan. It is our hope that those problems are being addressed by the IGAD sponsored peace process as it is also our wish that the same peace process leads to the cancellation of the unjust order No 36/2015 and thus return our land to us.
If not, the struggle for the liberation of Collo land will continue. In that event the IGAD mediators, TRIOKA and the international community at large will realize that they had not done enough to address Collo land problem.
By then nothing would be appropriate to address the problem except the language Dinka Padang understands best and which Collo can also perfect.
Our compatriots in South Sudan must also know that the war in Collo land is a Dinka war. The Dinka Padang created it through their unfounded claims on Collo land.
As already said the Dinka-dominated government in Juba got involved merely for tribal sympathies. It is clear the Dinka have now realized that they cannot win the unprovoked war they imposed on Collo. They tried the mercenaries from Darfur and Blue Nile before and failed.
The Dinka are now turning to the other tribes of South Sudan to fight their war. We want to stress that Collo are fighting in self-defense and that they know their enemy very well. Collo, therefore, have no quarrel with the people of South Sudan whom we strongly advise to keep away from this war.
Let the Dinka alone face the consequences of their arrogance and aggression. On the other hand we are confident that no sensible person will blame Collo for punishing the trespassers.
Long live the free people of South Sudan
Long live the new found unity of Collo people
Long live the just struggle of Collo people for their ancestral land
Signed: Samson Oyay Awin
Chairman, Collo Community Council, Khartoum