Humanity Dignity Follows from the Right to be Respected and Listened to

Posted: April 5, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Humanity Dignity Follows From the Right to Be Respected and Listened To: The Case of Ruweng People

By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, Kampala, Uganda

 kiir with Desalegn in ethiopia, Feb 2017

April 5, 2017 (SSB) — Ruweng people have absolute right to fair hearing. Thus, they government must accept their demands or be ready to die. It is their democratic rights to be consulted on how they should be governed. Hence, Ha-Joon Chang once stated that “democracy, despite its limitations, is in the end the only way to ensure that policies do not simply benefit the privileged few”.

In relation to the quote of Ha-Joon Chang above, it is important to observe that the people of Ruweng are exercising their democratic rights as provided for under the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan. Article 1 (5) of the Transitional Constitution of the  Republic of South Sudan, 2011 provides that South Sudan is founded on justice, equality, respect for human dignity and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Article 1(5) I have just cited is the basis of democracy in South Sudan when read together with article 9 of the Constitution.

In that regard, Article 9(1) of the Transitional Constitution establishes the Bill of Rights. Bill of Rights in this context is a 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.

In other words, Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of social justice, equality and democracy. This implies that the Government of South Sudan has entered into social contract with all South Sudanese including the people of Ruweng State. As mentioned in the foregoing sentence, South Sudan is founded on social contract as the people of South Sudan (including people of Ruweng State) have  implicit agreed among themselves to cooperate for social benefits by sacrificing their individual freedom for state of South Sudan protection.

Hence, the question of legitimacy of the authority of the state of South Sudan over the individuals and people (like the Ruweng people in this case), solely depends on the State respecting the social contract as provided for under Article 9 of the Transitional Constitution as already explained above. As John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau have argued, people enjoy their rights and freedom which the State like South Sudan in collaboration with citizens has an obligation to respect and defend them. Thus, the central assertion of social contract approaches is that law and political order are not natural, but are instead human creations.

The social contract and the political order as we see in South Sudan today are created through the agreement or covenant. They are the means towards an end of the benefit of South Sudanese who agree with the Government to establish South Sudan and because of that the Government is legitimate only to the extent that it fulfills it part of the agreement.

Nevertheless, if the government fails to observe its duties as provided for under the agreement, then according to Hobbes (in whose view government is not a party to the original contract) citizens are not obligated to submit to the government when it is too weak to act effectively to suppress factionalism and civil unrest. For this reason, if the government of South Sudan fails to secure the natural rights of the people or satisfy the best interests of society (called the “general will” in Rousseau), citizens can withdraw their obligation to obey, or change the leadership through elections or other means including, when necessary, violence.

It further means that the rights of South Sudanese as provided for under the Transitional Constitution must be protected by the State as they are inalienable and therefore supersede government authority and it is also through democracy (self-rule) they can be protected well. It is also the best way of ensuring the general welfare while maintaining individual freedom under the rule of law.

It is upon that ground the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan provides that the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups enshrined in the Bill of Rights shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons.  In addition, all rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified or acceded to by the Republic of South Sudan shall be an integral part of the Bill of Rights.

In that line Transitional Constitution protects the people of Ruweng State against all arbitrary actions from any person including the State authorities.  Thus, their rights and freedoms must be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons, which is the duty imposed on the State and individuals under the Social contract as already explained above.

However contrary to the duty of the State and its leaders as discussed above, the President and his Vice are clearly violating the rights and freedoms of the people of Ruweng State. Their action exhibits high degree of double standard. This is because the people of Ruweng have clearly and categorically stated that they do not want to join and become members of the SPLM/A –In Opposition (IO), but the two are pushing hard to ensure that the people of Ruweng must become rebels by all means against their will, which shows hypocrisy and double standard of the side of the two men.

It is double standard due to the fact that the government is hunting down day and night every person who expresses dissenting opinion against misgovernment in South Sudan on the ground that they are rebels. Thus, the government of South Sudan has created two types of rebels in the country: those rebels acceptable to the Government and those rebels that are not acceptable. The action of the Government in this respect is creating the state of confusion and misunderstanding.

Despite the fact that the people of Ruweng State have rejected the demand by the President and his Vice to turn them into rebels, the Government does not listen to them and it is now in the process to impose the IO on them. The whole project has its origin from Taban who has special interest in Ruweng State and because of that the People of Ruweng are prepared to die if they president does not accept their demands. Thus, the People of Ruweng State have agreed that if the President wants peace to prevail and to avoid any unrest, he must work within the following points, which are both positive and negative. The positive points are those which offer friendly solutions to the present conflict and which include—

The first point is that the Government of South Sudan should avoid the tendency of favouring Taban at their expenses and hence, the Government must be neutral in this conflict.

The second point is that they (Ruweng people) have completely rejected the SPLM/A-IO and its presence in their area or within the Ruweng State.

The third point is that since they have rejected the IO, the Government must unconditionally reinstate their former government, Hon, Theji that was removed under the influence of Taban Deng Gai. This is because as already discussed above the people of Ruweng have democratic rights to choose their leaders and they have choosen Theji and their will must be respected.

The fourth point is that the government must solve this issue in their favour because if the government does not then they are in position to join Abyiei in the North.

The fifth point is that Ruweng people call upon Jieng Council of Elders to intervene before it is too late.

The sixth point is that Ruweng people are calling upon the Government of South Sudan to reinstate and deploy their generals such as: Major General Jou Kuol as Division Four (4) Commanders and Brigadier General John Miyar Mayiik as his deputy at the area of Jou. They are proposing these two generals in good faith as it is in the best interest of South Sudan as that area is at the border of Sudan.

The seventh point is the government should deploy the Police at Ruweng State. The National Government should provide State government with trained police force to protect Ruweng people from crimes.

The eighth and final point among the positive points is that there is a need to relocate the Army State from Panakuach to Kubkura (sorry of the Spelling of these two places error in any case).

The above are positive points or proposals which the people of Ruweng State want the Government of South Sudan to follow if the present crisis is to be solved peacefully. However, if the Government rejects the above points or proposals then they will have plan B which is also called negative proposals. These include—

Firstly, the people of Ruweng state have clearly stated that if they government fails and continue to listen to Taban, and then they will be ready to face the government in self-defense.

 Secondly, they have agreed that if the government refused to accept their demands as listed above, then, the only option is for the Ruweng Citizens working in the government to resign and join their people on the ground to die with them.

Thirdly, Ruweng State and its people may ask international community to put Ruweng State under trusteeship until when they are ready for self-governance or the government has accepted their demands.

Fourthly, that the Ruweng people will be forced to fight against the government by taking ruthless means that is currently taken by the rebels and which was taken by Yau Yau and Thomas Cirillo. This is because where rights are under threat the only option is to go on self-defense.

Fifthly and finally, if the government refuses to listen to their demands then they will be ready to join Southern Kordofan as already stated above.

The positive points above show that people of Ruweng State want the government to listen to them  and it is only when the government has failed to give heed to their demands that is when they can resort to the negative points.  In my opinion people of Ruweng State are right because they have right to self-determination on how to determine who should govern them and how their resources should be used. Hence, their approach shows that they know their rights and the government must listen to them.

In summary, it is important to conclude with this quote “Our democracy is not something to be taken for granted. You have to fight for it. You have to commit yourself to working for it – for the long haul.” Thus, if the government of South Sudan takes the rights of Ruweng people to democracy for granted then they will be ready to fight for it. Humanity dignity follows from the right to be respected and listened to.

Hence, the people of Ruweng have agreed that unless the President accepts their demands, they are ready to die defending their land and will never accept to be used as proxy rebels by the Government. They will be forced to be outright rebels against the Government does respect them.

NB//: The author is human rights law and can be reached through:

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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