Sudan Tribune: South Sudan VP Dr. Machar confirms apology for Bor Massacre

Posted: April 4, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan

JPEG - 60 kbJohn Garang (left) the late SPLM leader reconciles with Riek Machar (Right) in 2002. (New Sudan Foundation)

“Giving an apology is the best way of bringing in peace. We don’t want to pass these painful things to our children. We want them to be living in a peaceful and democratic state in South Sudan,” said Machar.

South Sudan VP confirms apology for Bor Massacre 

April 3, 2012 (BOR) – South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, confirmed his apology for his 1991 defection from Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) which led to the killing of thousands of people from Dinka Bor ethnic group.

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South Sudan’s vice president, Riek Machar, Western Equatoria, April 2008 (Reuters)

So those, of us, who have survived and who seen painful things during the war, we need to kick off the process of national reconciliation”, Machar said in Bor on Tuesday during a peace workshop held to reconcile the warring ethnic groups in Jonglei state

Before the establishment of the state of South Sudan in July 2011, the SPLA were a rebel group fighting Khartoum. They were led by the late John Garang, who died in helicopter crash in 2005, fighting what was later known as “Anyanya Two”.

In 1991 there was disagreement between Garang and his seniors officers, Machar andLam Akol. The two made a collation with an intention of changing the leadership of the SPLA by removing John Garang.

In August 1991 Machar and Akol formed the SPLA-Nasir faction of the SPLA with support from the Nuer ethnic group.

On 15 November 1991, forces led by Machar waged war against Garang’s ethnic group, the Dinka Bor. The Bor Massacre reportedly led to the death and displacement of thousands of people.

Machar rejoined the SPLA/M in 2002.

Machar first apologised for his part in the Bor Massacre in August 2011. Machar said that his apology will bring unity to the Dinka and Nuer tribes.

Giving an apology is the best way of bringing in peace. We don’t want to pass these painful things to our children. We want them to be living in a peaceful and democratic state in South Sudan,” said Machar.

The main conflict in Jonglei is between the Nuer and Murle ethnic groups. In January the UN estimated it has led to the displacement of 120,000 people.


  1. Peter Nhiany says:

    Dear PanLuel Wel,

    I have a big problem with the repetition of this apology thing from Mr. Vice President. Do I want him forgiven? An answer to this question is obvious but Mr. Vice President just do not get it right. Does he understands that the human catastrophe he caused in Jonglei State did not occur neither in Juba nor in Bor town. This was a sweeping tragedy across Jonglei from Nyarweng to Anyidi in Bor South.

    Apologizing while in Juba does not constitutes legitimate apology, apologizing in Bor town does not constitute it either. Do not get me wrong; I’m not rejecting an apology from our Vice President. There is a missing piece which Mr. Vice President over looks every single time he repeatedly apologizes for his human destruction he committed in 1991.

    Mr. Vice President forgets those SPLA heroic soldiers who fought against his vicious army in those months in 1991. They were not not from Bor or Jonglei State. They came from all walk of lives from South Sudan communities. I mean from all tribes of South Sudan.

    When he apologizes, he needs not to forget that he caused harm to other tribes in South Sudan as well and that he should not forget. Kiir Mayardit knows it very well. The 1991 war between SPLA and SSIM did not only killed Bor civillians and Bor citizens who were soldiers, but soldiers from all tribes from South Sudan. I want Mr. Vice President to come clean by not apologizing to one part and leave another out. I love peace and I want our new nation to live in peace for the rest of the generations.

    Dr. Teny needs not only to apologize to Bor or Jonglei people but to the whole of South Sudan. Whether his intention was to bring victory to the South Sudanese over NIF/NCP, he did it in a wrong way. A way which took away the lives of those who would be helping in developing our new nation now. I do welcome his apology, but he still has more to do in order for him to come clean. Mr. Vice President needs to look at a bigger picture instead.

    I’m sure we people from Bor are not in position or seek any revenge for what Dr. Teny did to us in 1991. We love peace and will continue to love peace regardless of how much we hated by the enemies of Peace. I do thank all the soldiers who stood with our leaders to protect not only the people of Bor, but further escalation of the 1991 defection and divide within our party.

    I’m also sure that all people of Bor or Jonglei communities who were affected by the SSIM rebelling are at this time not seeking any punishment for Dr. Riek Machar-Teny. I hold no grudges against him, but if wants to continue to be our leader, really needs to re-strategies and develop new approach. May God bless RSS and South Sudanese.


    • Dear Peter Nhiany,

      I believe your argument that the atrocities committed as a result of the 1991 split didn’t only affected the Bor Dinka but the entire People of South Sudan is in place. Dinkas as well as Nuers’ civilians and soldiers were indiscriminately killed or maimed and so were other sections of South Sudanese society.

      But I also think that Dr Machar, as an individual and as a leader, has done enough of his part by leading from front instead of waiting to be pushed around or behind by others. He has initiated the process of national reconciliation and forgiveness. We must give him a chance and hear him out before we form and air out our next verdict on the man.

      What remain to be done is for a national conference of all South Sudanese people…since all were affected as you put it well though to varying degree.

      We can borrow the very model used in South Africa after the demised of Apartheid to bring about national dialogue and reconciliation. I think that is what Dr. Machar was calling for in his reaffirmation of his apology in Bortown.

      Remember how people reacted to his first statement offered in Juba? He was told to go to Bortown and made an apology. Well, he was now in Bortown and he humbled himself to do as he was advised by members of Bor Dinka community.

      I did welcome his first Juba apology and I wrote about it sometimes back. As someone from the Bor Dinka community in which the 1991 split is still a matter of personal tragedy in every family and as someone who lost relatives in the process, I need not be told what it feel like to broach the subject.

      But the Bor Dinka community must remember that it was their own sons, lead by by Dr. John Garang, who initiated and agreed to make peace with Dr. Machar.

      It was done lest the blood of the martyrs must have been shed in vain. The 1991 weakened the Movement to the point of annihilation. The Movememt had to make peace with Dr. Machar, and Dr. Machar had to make peace with the Movement, to ensure that the Movement is strong enough to confront the enemy and achieve its long term goal of political liberation.

      And it was achieved, with combined forces from MOST South Sudanese even though some where still collaborating with the enemy.

      I hold no grudge against Dr. Machar so long as he works, and he had been doing so since he rejoined the Movement, for the interest of all South Sudanese people. But if he had decided to offer an apology, I would accept it because it is human nature to apologize if you believe you have unfairly or unintentionally wrong someone.

      Dr. Machar is under immense pressure from some bigots within his community…there are tribal bigots in every community…and the Bor Dinkas must appreciate his resolve to do and say what he is currently doing or saying. For the record, he is the only leader so far to own up to his sins in South Sudan and probably among very few across Africa.

      No matter how much the agonies of the 1990s Bor Massacre may strive to cloud our present judgment of the man, we the Bor Dinka community must see him not only as the “Riek Machar” of the past accused of masterminding the massacre of innocent unarmed civilians but also as the current vice president of South Sudan pleading to have his apologies accepted and calling for national reconciliation and healing.

      The Bor Dinka community have lost many leading sons…more than any other community relative to their size…to the cause of South Sudan: Akuot Atem Mayen, Martin Majier Ghai, Arok Thon Arok and above all, Dr. John Garang himself. The victims of the 1990s Bor Massacre are more or less part of the costliest package paid to secure the independence of South Sudan.

      I will expand on it later and post it as an article. Let me hear your input though!

      Many thanks,
      PaanLuel Wel.


      • wich gatluak chuol says:

        Mr Paanlual, mine is a just advice to. when you are giving comments like this you also needs to acknowledge the sources of such a problems. Dr Riek has never killed any persons in Sudan as whole rather. How many Nuer people have been killed by your Garang? Mr Garang was the chief mediator of all those chaos.


  2. Dear Gatluak Chuol,

    Both “my Garang” and Dr. Riek Machar are South Sudanese leaders who are accountable to the South Sudanese people they led/are leading. In my opinion, it is not about Nuers or Dinkas, Garang or Riek; it is about how we should amicably come to embrace our troubled past and chart a new, less-controversial future for our young nation, ourselves and our future generations.

    PaanLuel Wel.


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