Tribute To Isaiah Abraham: Verbatim from the Memorial Services of Isaiah Abraham
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me. By Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, Germany, 1937.
By PaanLuel Wël, Juba City, South Sudan.
Tribute to Isaiah Abraham: The Dark Ages of South Sudan Liberation
Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol Chan, aka Isaiah Abraham, was killed on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, at his Gudele House, Juba City, in South Sudan. He was buried on December 9th, 2012, at his ancestral hometown of Kongor, Jonglei State. His Memorial Services, attended by around 7,000 people, was held today, December 13th, 2012, at May 16th Street, Pande Bioor Ajang Duoot (Bioor Athuot), in Juba City, South Sudan. Below are the verbatim from the charged funeral that was attended by all the leading politicians—Ministers, MPs, Governors, and state officials, business people, civil society groups, foreign dignitaries and ambassadors, media groups, and the lay people from all over South Sudan. The verbatim were collected and translated by Deng Dekuek and posted on his Facebook Page, just as the funeral was unfolding.
For those who might be wondering if the President, Salva Kiir, and the Vice President, Dr. Machar, were in attendance, they were not. They were invited but they decided, for one reason or another, better known to themselves and their advisors, not to attend, at least in person. I say ‘at least in person’ because there is no way that they could not have been, alertly, following the proceedings and speeches from the funeral, deep inside their houses/offices.
Not only the President and his Deputy who were conspicuously absent, so too were the prominent ministers from Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria Regions. Perhaps, according to Mach-Kuol, the Equatorians view it as an internal Dinkan power struggle that they should never involve themselves in while the Bahr el Ghazalians top politicians were, ostensibly, expecting a hostile reception from the relatives of the deceased owing to the fact that some people have been trying their best to twist the tragedy as a Bor Dinka vs Bahr el Ghazal Dinka strife. Yet, the first victims of such cruelty—Dengdit Ayok, Nhial Bol and Deng Athuai, among others—were sons and daughters from Greater Bahr el Ghazal Dinka.
Mach-Kuol still has it that Dr. Riek Machar was in a catch-22 position. While his heart might have been overwhelmingly with the grieving people of South Sudan over the assassination of Isaiah Abraham, his only true supporter from the Dinka Community who had come out openly, campaigning for his presidency when it is a near taboo within his community to do so, he (Dr. Machar) was equally aware that his mere presence, and even the slightest speech, on this occasion could have been used against him, with the claim that he is exploiting the death of Isaiah Abraham to his selfish political advantage by driving a wedge between the Bor and Bahr el Ghazal Dinkas so that he can later receive the presidency on a golden plate after the Dinkas have finished themselves. This is the best way—maybe there could be other plausible reasons—one can fathom his absence from the Memorial Services of Isaiah Abraham.
Interestingly, outraged as their messages boasted, none of the said speakers, particularly those in the echelons of government, have dared to resign till the killers of Isaiah Abraham are apprehended. Action speaks louder than words. Only the mass resignation of the said government officials—federal and state—would be as embarrassing to the government as much as the killing of Isaiah Abraham. Would President Kiir dare to accept their resignations and replace them? It is highly unlikely for the president lest he incriminates himself. The “outraged” officials would then have killed two birds with one stone: backing up their words with actions while still retaining their seats, and more importantly, compelling the government to identify, arrest and prosecute the killers of Isaiah Abraham (the killers are known, read the verbatim).
Verbatim from the Memorial Services of Isaiah Abraham as Recorded and Translated by Deng Dekuek According to his Facebook Page Postings.
| Twic East MP, Deng Dau Malek: What are we doing in the government if the government is killing our people… If the government is genuine, it should not be part of the investigation… The bounty is not worth it… If a nation cannot protect its people then we should form our militias (loudest and longest applause)… NCP has taken over the government; if you bring the behaviors of Saleh Gosh to South Sudan, even the President will not survive! You’re threatening our children. We are capable of protecting our children and ourselves…South Sudanese are people who cannot be threatened. If you threaten them they become wild… So don’t threaten them! The establishment killed Isaiah; we are saying it here and we don’t want people to run to Salva and say people are talking shit… We are saying it in broad daylight. We were asked a specific question in Kongor during the burial…1. Who killed Isaiah? 2. Who is going to form the committee? 3 Who will be investigated… You Bor people, if you can’t answer these, then what are you doing in the government…. You’re either with the killers or with Isaiah… If the government is not responsible, then those who did this should clean up after their shit! If you want to take our lives, you will take it at a very expensive cost to yourself.
| Oyai Deng Ajak, Minister of National Security: I don’t want people from Bor to resign from Government and if it is confirmed that it is the National Security who killed Isaiah Abraham, I will resign from the Government…If the government is killing our people, we will fight the government…we shouldn’t resign… In revolutionary school, we were not taught to resign; we should fight for reform…Nothing will save face for us in National Security until we find the killers of Isaiah Abraham…The people threatening people are not using communication systems from South Sudan but are using Skype and it has been very difficult for my team to track them and we hope FBI will help us with this….On Sunday, 3 days before the killing, we had a meeting with Beny Kiir about security meeting with Khartoum… Then after the meeting, the President said he would call a meeting of all security organs to review security situation in Juba… Then following Isaiah’s death, we were all called with all our directors including the Governor of Central Equatoria. We briefed the President… In a serious way the president said you all have to investigate… The interior is investigating, the national security, CID, military intelligence is investigating…you need security sector reform, that is what I have told the President…
| LAWRENCE KORBANDY, the Head of South Sudan Human Rights Commission: The Minister of National Security should resign and those of other security organs if the government is sincere…. Government should not condemn government, it should let civil societies condemnn it… South Sudan will be born as a failed state prediction is becoming true…Human Rights Abusers are more than the citizens here in South Sudan… Journalist, I must tell you this: the assassination of Isaiah should be a determination for you to wage war against what you see is wrong in this country.
| Nicodemous Arou Maa’n: I know you security people are in attendance, I ask you, who are you protecting by killing people? Who is it that you are protecting? The government is messing up and if you don’t want to be corrected, whoever the coward you’re and responsible for the death of Diing, please avail yourself!
| Ministry of Interior representative, General Kur Michael: The killers are unprofessional, they don’t know the messages are recorded not just in the phone (end of speech, the shortest). This was in reference to the fact that the killers took Isaiah Abraham’s phone that contained all the threatening messages he had received earlier before his death. The messages are not just only in the phone; they can be found too at the Mobile Phone Provider Headquarters where everything is recorded and kept electronically.
| The Citizen Newspaper Editor, Nhial Bol: Isaiah asked we go into exile, I told him I am too old but I promised to get him a ticket on Friday but he died on Wednesday. The bounty ($50,000 USD) should go to the National Security because they know who killed him… Please minister takes your money…Government investigates yourself…the money should go to National Security, the same security sending people messages… You think we will leave Juba, you will have to leave like Jallaba…we won’t leave this country and you can be assured of that.
| Deptuy Minister, Dr. Majak Agoot: Before I went to Bor I was informed by Isaiah that he was receiving death threats from unknown numbers… We wanted to help him after Majok Ayom’s burial but he was killed on the day we returned from Bor… Isaiah is bigger in death than in life… This community has witnessed a number of mysterious deaths since the times of struggle… We want this to be the end of mysterious deaths in this community… If the government doesn’t find the killers, then there is nothing that will change the view that this was an officially endorsed killing.
| Deptuy Minister, Dr. Majak Agoot, quoting a Twic East Dinka Paramount Chief, Manyok Ajak: South Sudanese are calling for a second liberation because this is not the government we fought for…. A country founded on the ideals of freedom and human rights should not be killing its people. As a cattle keeping people, if a cow does not nurture its young one, it is sold. And if the neighbor knows this cow is worthless, he won’t buy it. Then the only option is to kill it because it is no good except for its beef.
| Gabriel Alaak Garang, Master of Ceremony and the SPLM Secretary for Finance: All the three organs of the security are represented here. Manyok Biar, Mading Ngor, Deng Atem, Kuir Garang, Mabior Garang and many more are being threatened… The message to the killers is: you kill them in cold-blood if you have a problem with us. We will not tolerate this. You want to kill innocent people, there are rebels in this country and some live in Juba, why don’t you kill them? This is a message to those who have been threatening people… I understand that some people are still receiving death threats… Why do you kill writers? IT IS AN OPINION! You don’t kill people because they talk. South Sudan cannot be developed by those who don’t talk.
| Civil Rights Activist, Deng Athuai Mawiir, addressing President Kiir: You put all your cousins as security and you let 30 people drive you… What are you afraid of? If you’re afraid of governing your people… If you can’t govern your people… You cannot govern with left-hand looking for history and steal from the people with the right-hand! To the international community, don’t leave us alone we will push this government away by all means.
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty
| Civil Rights Activist, Deng Athuai Mawiir, addressing Isaiah Abraham mother: Those things that have happened to you are those that happened to my mum during Anyanya I, she lost her husband and most of her sons… In July, I looked into a grave but I returned from the brink… They’re still threatening people; we will bring you [the government] down…we will bring you down…we will bring you down!
| Political commentator and Opinion Writer, Ateny Wek Ateny: On behalf of South Sudanese Writers and Opinion Writers, the security is indiscriminately threatening all South Sudanese… The hope for a democratic nation is waning… Only a fool would consider a writer as threatening…. It is better to live with an intelligent adversary than to live with a fool…the 50,000 bounty would have helped if it were paid to protect lives.
| Prof. Taban Lo Liyong: We have MPs who don’t talk, they make laws but they don’t follow up how the laws are being implemented… This is why we have to write and teach this nation…
| Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth: You security people, bring the people who killed Isaiah to book, if you can’t then you’re the very people who did it. You cannot protect government through murders, threats and intimidations… A liberation without democracy, a liberation without rights is not a liberation… The writers are the correctors… Don’t misbehave in the name of the government… The 50,000 USD bounty is not a solution… It will not produce anybody… We tolerated death in the name of Liberation Struggle… But we will not tolerate deaths from cold-blooded murders…. We will give the government the benefit of the doubt but if you fail to bring the murderers to book…we will bring them as Bor Community.
| Late Isaiah Abraham’s Mum, Abuna Rebecca Lueth Wel: My sons died for this country… The eldest one was killed in Nasir, the other one was killed in Itang, and another one was killed in Yei and now you killed this one for me… I have been wondering when the Arabs came to Juba to kill Isaiah… I wrap my head in a white cloth because I wish South Sudan to be in peace and he who wraps his head in black and kills people at night is responsible for ruining your country; please count me out.
| Aguil D’Chut Deng: I am so glad that the head of security is here and he can go and tell President Kiir Mayardit… “Mr. President, if we can’t catch Yau Yau why are we killing the innocent people in front of us?”
| Susan Page (US Ambassador): I will talk about accountability and this is what it is called for here… I am surprised that the ministers, MPs and government officials are speaking against their own government. This is encouraging…. Accountability starts at the Ministry of Justice, if you catch these people, you must take them somewhere for justice to be served.
| Atem Garang Dekuek: The government we fought for and brought into power was for our prosperity…. If we feel that the government doesn’t serve our interests, we will go back to the villages…Death of Isaiah is a challenge to the government… People will assume 2 things… 1. The government is weak and cannot protect its own… 2. The government killed him… Whatever the case, if the killers are not brought to justice, the credibility of the government is questionable. Why did the police destroy the crime scene? The FBI should start by investigating the police….The Bounty ($50,000 USD) should be used to hire writers….if you’re stupid and cannot reply the writings, you shouldn’t be killing people.
| James Koak Ruei, Jonglei State MP: This country is being robbed; they came here by air, by road, by foot… You priest need to pray for this country… This culture of murdering people at night is not with us Nilotic people…we fight people in broad daylight; this demonic spirit needs to go…Jonglei State, the largest state where the liberation war started. Jonglei State where the loudest patriots hail from. Jonglei State with the largest population. Jonglei State, I will speak on behalf of Jonglei State. Isaiah is from the third Battalion that formed SPLA, Tiger. This is the government of Tiger, can Tiger kill a Tiger? Who’s this government that is killing people? We in Jonglei cannot tolerate this? This government is a result of Dr. John Garang, he is a son of Jonglei.
| The heartbreaking speech from the 14-year-old Aluel Isaiah Abraham: I believe my father was killed because he wanted a better South Sudan and I am not afraid to say that…my father’s passion for South Sudan has left me without a father, left my siblings without a father, left my mother without a spouse.
Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol, the first martyr for the Freedom of Expression in the Republic of South Sudan
Finally, all credits should go to Deng Dekuek who painstakingly recorded and translated, some from Dinka to English, the above quoted portions of speeches. I will upload sounds and bits from the Memorial Services tomorrow! It is my sincere hope, wish and prayer that none of this quoted speeches would ever find its way into the dirtiest hands of the security agency, to be used against any of the above mentioned speakers to either threaten, harass, kidnap, maim or kill them, on an account of what is quoted within these pages. This is only but a small token, a meriting tribute to our fallen comrade, Isaiah Abraham!!
PaanLuel Wël (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Managing Editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers: He can be reached through his Facebook page, Twitter Account or on the blog: http://paanluelwel2011.wordpress.com/