By: Bol Garang de Bol
Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir
Mayardit, as you may be aware, although our requests, advice, opinions seem to be ignored
by you and your Ministers, we, will not abandon our responsibilities as citizens of South
Sudan to let our voices be heard. I write to you or about you not to attack your policies
or interventions either in the present or in the past. However, on this occasion, I am writing
to you to let you know that many South Sudanese including myself still believe that there
was still South Sudan, our country, which we had once fought for, our freedom, democracy
But where is it now? The aim of this article is to ask you to use your powers and position to
tackle the issue of ethnic cleansing through parliament and in your cabinet.
There are two distinct issues in connection with political turmoil in South Sudan that has
claimed at least estimated 120,000 lives since 2005 and displaced more than 250,000 people.
The failure of government to address corruption and violence that has transmuted into
ethnic cleansing across the country is the biggest issues facing South Sudan. The second
issue has alarmed the entire international community because the world views it as the way
Rwanda genocide began.
Your Excellency, President Salva, over the last seven years, I have always dreamt that one
day, a single God or a group of gods will come and solve South Sudan’s problems. In the
process of waiting for these gods, I have realized and even learnt that the New Nation’s
biggest problem is the dangerous mind-set of our people, yours and mine inclusive, which
needs no superman to solve because I/we and you can do it.
Ending the political violence and ethnic cleansing must be accorded the top priority for two
reasons or more. First, a stolen verdict can be fixed in a year or two but it will take decades
or a generation to fix a country destroyed by ethnic violence. If, I may recall that the
collapse of South Sudan began in 2005 immediately after the death of Dr. John Garang de
Mabior. The country used to be part of old Sudan has not recovered socially, economically
and politically and it needs estimated number of years to be rebuilt. It is so easy to destroy
but formidable task to rebuild. Second, ignoring ethnic violence is the major threat to nation
security in our country and contributed to the failures of our country. The failure of
government to deliver badly needed services to the people proved that the Republic of South Sudan is not the country we fought for.
Mr. President, General Salva Kiir, during the 22 years of SPLA struggle, you, late Dr. John
Garang, William Nyuon Bany, Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Lam Akol, Commander, Arok Thon
Arok, James Wani Igga, Kuol Manyang Juuk and many more always talked about an
important country deserves to be liberated. Shall we wait for that country? Or you mean, the
current South Sudan under your leadership is the country we fought for?
If this independent South Sudan is the country we fought for, the past years
since our country signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) are characterized by a
pile of disappointing experiences such as; failures, let downs, state/rebel sponsored murders,
torture, rape, forced-sodomy, social neglect and other awful experiences which many South
Sudanese have had to endure, have caused a great deal of anger, hate, revenge-motives and
the dangerous social divisions which exist in our societies. These negative experiences have
and continue to re-affirm old suspicions, doubts in the future, deepen mistrust, shatter hope
and have now started producing even greater despair and this is not the country we
fought for or proud to be citizens.
You and many politicians point at social capitalization as the only way to redeem this
country out of the dark abyss in which it is. And I agree that social factors, most especially
those which are negatively associated with health, cause disorganization and disruption,
perceived helplessness and lack of support, low educational attainment, and poverty. In the
same reasoning, I also posit that you cannot achieve these development goals when the
majority of the people in our communities are angry, revengeful, hateful, and are waiting to
carry-out their unfinished business.
In my opinion, I would argue that whilst there is a need for massive development projects
which we all think that will develop our country, there is a need for all sections of the
society to develop a new relationship which can take account of our importance to each
other and which will also inculcate a reciprocal nature of our connection that will help to
avoid a repeat of the painful past experiences which our people have endured.
Since June 12 1947, at the time of Juba Conference, South Sudan has not had the
opportunity to address their past, neither have they ever addressed the pains it caused them.
Our people have never healed because they have never been given the opportunity to heal.
All they get is the threats of revenge, genocide, and hate by different aggrieved parties.
How can a society with hidden dirty feelings forge a united future without any remorseful
spirit being coached between and amongst them?
President Jaafar Nimeiri used a wrong approach since he took over in a military coup in
1969 by only focusing on security and development and forgetting to help the nation to heal.
President Nimeiri never gave the Sudanese the opportunity to bury the hatchet and to start a
new emotional chapter since the signing of Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972. The same
mistake done by President Nimeiri is facing President Kiir Mayardit. By so doing, the
current development in South Sudan may turn into dust.
Mr. President Salva, the purpose of this letter is to inform you that South Sudan needs an
amnesty law which will help those who have perpetrated injustice to fellow South Sudanese
to apologies and be forgiven unconditionally. This will help South Sudan to draw the line
with their past, open a new chapter in their history and start re-building the nation all over
again. I am fully aware of the expired amnesty law but this law only catered for recent
events yet the grievances of our people pre-date this period.
President Mayardit, to me and other advocates of social justice, it is very challenging ,
to sort out and work through the barriers which exist between the perpetrators of injustice,
their victims, and the social political environment that inhibit progress. This has
increasingly made it difficult for us to turn the painful experiences of our people into
opportunities for growth and change. However, I do have hope that this can happen because
it occurred in South Africa and Kenya during Mau Mau War.
The positive experiences which this amnesty law shall bring will engender hope and trust,
to the people of South Sudan. It will also convey a comforting sense of being understood
and accepted to the changed-perpetrators of injustice. Mr. President, this desire is also true
for people of South Sudan who keep asking questions about their experiences and getting
no answers from the perpetrators of injustice. At the same time, the perpetrators of injustice
are very insecure and in one way of the other, their insecurity even drives them to carry out
more injustice out of fear that people are out there waiting to kill them.
I do have a strong belief that healing will be brought about by the kind of forgiveness
which will be protected by the amnesty law. By making such a huge political intervention,
we will be able to address other issues such as health and social inequalities. At the same
time, we have to be mindful that if we do not support healing through forgiveness, we shall
be fuelling the continuous cycle of political and military abuse of our people’s human rights.
It will be of paramount importance for our country and for all men and women of good will if
my request meets your consideration. As such, the outright denial of bail for certain
offences would constitute a fundamental breach of human rights which accord equal
protection of the law to all.
Lastly your Excellency, to add rioting to the list of the category of offences that should not
be granted bail, assuming that all persons who may choose to peacefully demonstrate and
voice opinion on matters affecting them are criminals. This will have the net effect of
deterring South Sudan from exercising their fundamental human right to freedom to
assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully.
The Executive arm of government, in simple term, your Ministers must respect and
uphold the rule of law and that all organs of the Government are independent and free from
interference. The Government has to ensure that all criminal cases are dully investigated,
prosecuted and that individual criminal responsibility is apportioned impartially without
undue regard to an accused person’s political inclination. This will go a long way in
eliminating impunity and will deter the wanton abuse of human rights by state and non-state
Bol Garang de Bol is a South Sudanese living in Canberra, Australia
He can be reached at email@example.com