|Bor MPs cautiously laud Riek apology about 1991 massacre, ask him to extend it to the grassroots|
|Written by Mading Ngor, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com|
|Thursday, 11 August 2011 11:53|
Hon. Malek Alier, MP for Anyidi, Kolnyang, Bor South (left) and Hon. Deng Dau, MP for Twic East, on Wednesday waded into Dr. Riek Machar’s apology to the Dinka Bor community on Sunday for crimes committed in 1991 under Nasir Faction
( Juba NSV) – Two Dinka Bor MPs from the National Assembly on Wednesday waded into Dr. Riek Machar’s Sunday apology to members of the Bor community for the gruesome killing of thousands of its citizens by the Nasir Faction’ forces in 1991, then commanded by Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
In the same year, the community also saw its property looted and livelihood put into disrepair by the faction.
At a gathering held at the home of the late Dr. John Garang to commemorate the sixth anniversary of his death on Sunday, Dr. Riek Machar, South Sudan’s Vice President stunned those who attended, when he unexpectedly owned up to the heinous crimes of the Nasir Faction in 1991. The apology came nearly twenty years after the massacre.
On August 28, 1991, Riek Machar and his comrades declared a coup against the late leader of the SPLM/SPLA, Dr. John Garang, called ‘Nasir Declaration.’
On Sunday, Dr. Riek explained the aim of his movement, which was initially supported by many southerners from different tribes, was to restore democracy and human rights in the mainstream SPLM, whose late leader was allegedly autocratic. However, the Nasir Movement went on to commit human rights abuses, culminating in the ‘Bor Massacre.’
The Sunday occasion was organized by Garang’s widow, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng, and supported by the committee, which was charged with organizing Martyrs Day, The New Sudan Vision has learned.
Madam Nyandeng invited MPs, government officials, the Speaker of South Sudan parliament, religious leaders, the President, the Vice President, and members of the public. The event was announced at Emannuel Jieng church in Juba , and through SSTV.
President Kiir did not attend the prayers, but the Vice President, Dr. Riek was one of the invited dignitaries who turned up.
“The family [of the late Dr. John] took the opportunity to remember Dr. John in a bigger way because the vision and the legacy of what he fought for is now achieved,” Hon. Deng Dau Malek, MP for Twic East County , explained to The New Sudan Vision on Wednesday.
Hon. Deng, who also spoke at the event in his capacity as representative for Twic East, where the late Garang hailed from, said most of the speeches at the occasion, bordered on memory of South Sudan’s fallen heroes and heroines, in light of last month’s historic achievement of independence for South Sudan, and what awaited its future.
Apology for 1991 massacre
‘“Dr Riek, when he stood, and talked about the painful event of 1991,”’ narrated Hon. Deng, ‘“His statements were that whatever that happened in 1991 should not be associated to other people, namely people like Dr. Lam who was his deputy, and person like Gordon Kong, who was also member of the Political High Command during that time.”’
The lawmaker went on further: ‘“He said I should take squarely the responsibility of the events of 1991. And he said the people that have suffered were people of the Greater Bor, and the entire Jonglei.
‘“He took that day to express his apology to the people who are affected by the events of 1991”’, he concluded.
When he was narrating the events of 1991, Dr. Riek broke down and wept, to the point where he nearly collapsed, several witnesses confirmed to The New Sudan Vision.
The Vice President was then joined by his wife, Dr. Anjelina Teny, who was also reportedly in tears. The dramatic scene provoked a moment of raw emotions, where some of the victims started wailing in memory of their loved ones who had died in the massacre or its aftermath, while others were bewildered by the apology, The New Sudan Vision understood from various accounts from witnesses.
In response to the apology, Caretaker Gov. of the Central Bank of South Sudan , Elijah Malok, as elder in the Bor community and immediate relative of the late Dr. John Garang, took the microphone. He was said to have expressed his bitter feelings about 1991, before concluding that he would personally forgive Riek, but that he would refer the case to the larger Bor community for deliberation on the next step.
Madam Nyandeng, on the other hand, spoke the last words. She blamed Riek for setting the South backward with his 1991 move, when SPLM/SPLA was on the verge of victory at the time. She reasoned the Republic of South Sudan would have been achieved a decade earlier were it not because of the defection, The New Sudan Vision was told.
On her own behalf and that of her children, the Former First Lady said she forgave Riek Machar for his crimes.
On Monday, the Dinka Bor community called an emergency meeting, also held at late Dr. Garang’s home, and attended by representatives of the Bor community, intellectuals, citizens, and politicians to agree on how to handle the issue.
Although those who attended said no consensus emerged from the meeting, the predominant ideas can be broken up to about three, according to Hon. Malek Alier, MP for Const. 15, Anyidi, Kolnyang, Bor South:
In the meeting, a committee made up of Bor representatives to follow up on how genuine was Dr. Riek’s confession, was formed. Its members are waiting to meet with the Vice President to sought whether he stood by his apology, and to agree on how to best proceed with the issue.
‘Truth and Reconciliation’
For Hon. Deng, Dr. Riek’s apology on Sunday was a welcome development. “As members of parliament, we say this is a good gesture for general reconciliation, and this is what we call Truth and Reconciliation. People must talk about the bitter things that had happened,” he told The New Sudan Vision, in an interview.
On the timing of Dr. Riek’s apology, he said it “could be political” but also “reality” because reconciliation will be nonexistent if the people of Bor do not express their feelings about the horrific memory of the massacre.
He carried on: “People of Bor have been uprooted by 1991. And we are saying we cannot do it alone here in Juba because Greater Bor people, who are affected, are at the grassroots. It may not be understood by people who are at home in the villages.
“We encourage Dr. Riek to extend this gesture to the people who are really affected, and we’re talking about people who are in the rural areas,” he added.
Ready to forgive…
Hon. Malek held similar sentiments with his counterpart. “Generally, people are ready to forgive but they think that, this thing should be said in another bigger gathering, where people who have been affected or victimized, who have lost many [relatives], should be heard first,” he told The New Sudan Vision on Wednesday.
“It should not be done at the political level. It has to be extended to the grassroots, so that those who are bitter, those who have lost their dear people, they have to air out themselves, and if that forgiveness comes out from them, then all are going to be healed,” he said.
Dr. Riek’s belated apology has triggered all kinds of speculations about his intentions. Others wondered whether his apology was meant to solicit Dinka Bor support in his leadership ambitions.
“This apology should not be misunderstood, as if we have something we’re cooking,” said Hon. Deng, when The New Sudan Vision asked him about the political implications of any resultant forgiveness from the community.
“It’s from him, and he knows why he has said this at this time,” he said.
“As a people of Bor, we’re firm behind the leadership of the SPLM, led by comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit. And so whatever reconciliation that is done, is done within the context of the existing structures,” he concluded.
What’s more, Hon. Malek stressed the importance of having a uniform apology from the perpetrators.
“What we want to know, is that, is this idea, the idea of Riek Machar alone, or the idea shared by those with whom he was doing this together. Riek alone, even if he’s forgiven and others are still maintaining that bitterness, it will not help. So I want this thing to be extended and we hear from others who were with Riek Machar, whether they are ready, what Riek has said, is what they have, then it would be good for us,” he told The New Sudan Vision.
“We’re convinced that [the apology] is a good initiative, it’s really a national initiative, because we want Southerners to forget all the bitterness. We want Southerners to forget the past. We want to begin anew so that we build our
nation,” he added.
Machar move on the 1991 Bor Tragedy is patriotic
By Isaiah Abraham
Sudan Tribune: August 11, 2011 — The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) broke up in August 1991 until 2002, when the two sides came together again. The break up at that time was so devastating and nearly put the liberation struggle to its knees. There were problems everywhere: on the military and political fronts. The ugly part of it all is the tribal dirty seeds it has sown among our people. It was a split that never to be talked about openly unless one is prepared to soak all kinds of salvos from those against and for it.
The split by our people at that time, just not to waste your precious time, was unnecessary fratricide and horror we must now leave behind as we look forward to rebuild our nation. A healing is badly needed, the very pain caused by the aftermaths of the 1991 split. No amount of reparation could assuage that pain of destruction in that land, but admission of the miscalculation or mistake does. A bright chapter was opened to important section of our society. It took one man initiative to burry the matter (hatchet).
That is why this man called Machar has gone to bed with the Southern Public. The man is here to stay whether you hate or like him. He has everything it takes to stay there, irrespective of what haters want done or not done against him. This is a beauty of people with big hearts. May this gifted man continue to offer directions to his people, Oh! May the vision of this great man be firm and unshakable, Oh!
But some people will rebuff the big man offer on the ground that it was ‘justice delayed and therefore should be denied’- that it came late. They also argue that the big man should have gone to Bor or Panyagor to express it under no pressure (recall how elders in the party started the argument. The other concern is that the Vice President made an apology after the man they have tried to wrest power has gone (dead).
The author however thought that time doesn’t affect the truth so long as it was done in good faith. Going to Bor/Panyagor or Duk again isn’t a deal; since the big man has gathered courage to do what a civilized person does, there is no elephant to make out of it to press him to the wall. Between him and father (Dr. Garang) and as politicians and learned ones, they had cleared their differences then and forever.
Radicalists within their camps in this regards shouldn’t make mountains again out of mound hills; they got to shut up, and allow our people this opportunity for healing. Machar has started it, others must follow.
Let’s look briefly at the so-called apology at Garang’s home in Juba on that cold Sunday the 7th, its importance to everyone and the leader (Machar) in question. We shall do it in few notes however. Our beloved Vice President chose the home of our hero (Dr. Garang) to make amend, something so symbolic and historic not done by any dead of living Southerners. What has killed our people and still will do them more harm is pride and arrogance. Time to forge ahead together is right here. It starts with you
Mama Rebecca de Mabior was just on a thanks giving service/occasion, and from nowhere politicians from there (Bor) scratched the matter and the big man didn’t disappoint. It was an emotional moment for everybody, something a coward and evil minded people won’t do. He stated what we usually say here that the rebellion was exploited by others, and wasn’t the policy of the break away faction; that is unmistakable truth. He took the blame as a leader, and he did it very emphatically and sincerely. We must be proud of this talent at the top!
Second, the elegiac will remind others who killed political prisoners in Ashwa or whatever near Pageri in Nimule County and Chukudum in 1993/1994 that what they did there to finish up politicians, officers and innocent people because of their political orientation or tribe was ingloriously a wrong. Whether the directives were given from ‘above’ or not, the loss of lives of our politicians, officers there remains unforgivable unless the authors of that wanton deaths of Southerners come out publicly and say ‘we are sorry’. Example is set by the Vice President how about them?
Take it right, this line above doesn’t allude to insinuation of group or one person, rather it is an expression of pain about what was done stupidly that must be let go out of our chests. Shamely though the officers who were engaged in disappearance are still being promoted, and are move from one plumb job to another. People know them and history will not be kind to such individuals in our society. Time has come for us to show maturity to the damage we did to ourselves.
Third, is that the said apology by the Vice President has put to rest (as far as Bor Community is concerned) a matter that has always divide our people; say Bor vs Nuer. The Big man (Machar) and by extension the larger Nuer community were targeted by Bor community for what had happened then in 1991. Yeah, brothers and sisters from Bor were on the receiving end of that rebellion and no right minded person could deny the destruction it has caused these people. But the by gone should be by gone, especially now that the big man has come out and say ‘he is sorry’. That is leadership, not because he personally ordered the macabre, no! Let no one again go over this matter again; it is close and is done. Congratulation to the big man for that job well done!
Forth just to wrap up, the entire Southern public shouldn’t take such moves with guile, wily reception or for that matter for granted. What this great son of South Sudan (Dr. Machar) did to Bor people in Juba (not necessary in Bor Town) on Sunday should be emulated by other leaders whose political path trails blood of innocent people in our land. Gen. George Athor Deng and Gen. Gordon Koang Chol should now renounce violence and say to Southerners ‘we are sorry’. By doing so, they are healed and allow others to heal too (Proverbs 28:13 and James 5:16). God bless Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhorgun!
Isaiah Abraham writes from Juba. He ca be reached at Isaiah_abraham@yahoo.co.uk