Sunday, March 11, 2012

Open Letter Reflects Ongoing Internal Crisis in Jonglei State in South Sudan


Date: February 28, 2012

Rgt Hon. Speaker of Assembly,
Jonglei State,
Republic of South Sudan [RSS]

Sub: Akobo Anyuak Plea for Justice

Rgt Hon. Speaker,

This is the first time the Anyuak of Akobo appear in your office as a Community. This is a serious interruption during your tight work schedule. Thank you so much for allowing us to present ourselves to you.

The Land Act, 2009, Section 9, classifies land as ‘‘public, community or private land’’. As such the Akobo Anyuak have the community land as any other ethnic group in South Sudan.

The Land Act 2009, Section 84 (2), states that ----‘’any person who settles or occupies a land without customary or legal title...... or without the express consent of the owner or person legally in charge of the said land before the commencement of this Act, shall be considered an unlawful occupant’’.

In light of the above we have a problem with the Lou Nuer, the clan or section known as the MOR. They occupied our land as a result of the long civil war, politics and force. With arrival of peace the MOR refused to vacate saying they took the land by force. Akobo Anyuak are not independent yet. The Arabs have gone but the Morr are still sitting on us. We want independence and justice peacefully through the Assembly’s intervention.

Akobo Anyuak are insecure at this time. They intimidated. They could not plant because the Nuer say the land is theirs. The Mor view the Anyuak as strangers in their own land.

In our Country and indeed in our State, the vulnerable voice is not heard. The communities fighting, raiding and looting are those whose voices are often heard. This is not wisdom for development, from the Anyuak point of view. Law and order must work.

We want you to hear our voice. The Assembly is the seat of Government. We find it appropriate at this time to table our troubles and concerns through your office. We need justice through the law.

Rgt. Honorable Speaker,

Here are the main troubles and concerns that we want your good offices to record and to find resolutions:

The 1956 borders have been disrespected and destroyed. The Mor of Lou Nuer annexed the Anyuak land of Akobo County to the rest of the Nuer lands. [Click here to see Akobo Land annexed to Lou Nuer Counties] Who erased the border between Lou and Akobo? Creation of greater Akobo should not result into erasing borders and calling Akobo a Lou Nuer County. This has become an obstacle for Anyuak refugees not to return home to avoid fighting. There are about seventeen thousand [17,000 +] Akobo Anyuak in Piny-Udo Refugee Camp; twelve thousand 12,000+] in Pochalla county with kin and kith; many more in Renk, Malakal, Khartoum and elsewhere in South Sudan at the moment.

The few Anyuak available in Akobo are squeezed in one Payam by the Mor Lou Nuer enduring intimidation.

All Anyuak villages on both sides of the river are occupied by the Mor Lou Nuer. Akobo county by this measure is a colony for the Mor Lou Nuer. They boast having taken Akobo by force, so the Anyuak must retake it by force. We believe there is no wisdom in killing when there is an independent country with government and rule of law.

Wanding [Wanga-Ading] which has been part of Akobo was cut and given to Nasir Nuer by the Mor Lou Nuer to make peace with Jikany Nuer.

The Mor Lou Nuer renamed places to express their occupation, e.g. Akobo Payam to Bilkey.

Akobo Secondary School has been renamed as Riek Kerjok not relevant to Akobo history. Riek never been a resident of Akobo in his lifetime.

Anyuak has never been a commissioner in Akobo since the Arab rule. The Arab time was one of pitting one tribe against another. Now it should be different.

Rgt. Honorable,

We want our independence from the Lou Nuer Mor in the following ways:

Akobo is Anyuak land within the 1956 borders. It must be pronounced and recognized by this Government. We understand the Mor pressure and presence in the RSS system that they may cause obstacles to the administration. That should not prevent the Anyuak from remaining as a people. The Dinka land, the Murle land, the Lou land or any other tribes’ land will not be divided or shared against their will to satisfy another. This is a message to the government. We do not need the lands of Diror, Walgak and Kaikuiny which are politically and superficially annexed to Akobo.

Akobo is an Anyuak County not a Lou Nuer County as it is called now. We want Akobo cancelled and the map be returned to 1956 borders. [Click here to see the map of Akobo County in 1956] Creation of greater Akobo must not mean annexation of lands. The President of the South Sudan Republic said many times that minorities must have own counties which they govern for their voice to be heard. The Lou Mor are on our shoulders.

So you cannot hear our voice. We do not want to continue living in the Mor shadow. We have to be seen face to face not through the Lou Mor mirror. It is very humiliating. We are a people with life and blood. We can feel pain like anyone in the Republic of South Sudan [RSS]. We are standing up to it now in front of you.

The Nuer to vacate all the Anyuak homesteads and the villages on both sides of the river. Anyuak IDPs and refugees who return must not be under trees as if they are guests who never lived in this land. If the Mor people would not evacuate then we will take it as denial of Anyuak rights by the Jonglei government and the RSS.

Rgt. Honorable Speaker,

Our brothers and sisters in diaspora have met the President of the Republic two times in the USA. Other members of Government were met in Australia and Canada. The President was presented with a petition. The Land Commission in Juba got a petition by e-mail from diaspora and many other attempts. Our voice has not been heard.

In 2009 the UNHCR offered twenty thousand US dollars [$20,000] for a peace conference between the Nuer and the Anyuak. His Excellency the Governor of Jonglei State, tried his best to bring the Lou Nuer to the table. The Lou Nuer refused to come to the table.

The present attempt through your good offices is therefore not just the beginning. It is a beginning because the State has a constitution ready to govern the citizens. Accordingly the Akobo Anyuak want to feel the presence of government and the rule of law. The Parliament is the maker of laws and has mechanisms for the laws to be enforced.

We are copying this document to the Executive branch of our Government through the State Governor and the Judiciary through the State Ministry of Justice. They too have very important roles in the protection of vulnerable citizens.

Rgt. Honorable Speaker,

Our position is clear. It is peace through the laws of the land. South Sudan is a country. The sons and daughters must not be left to seek rights by unlawful means. We wish to hear from your good offices.

Long live the Republic of South Sudan. Long live Jonglei State. Long live Akobo County and its true people.

Thank you.

Anyuak Community Committee Members, Jonglei State, Bor

1. Deng Nyigwo Oman -Chairperson
2. Gilo Gilo Nasir-Secretary
3. Chief Chol Odio
4. Eunis Achol Ojullo Okoth
5. James Oman Didumo
6. James Okwom Okan Adonyo
7. James Ochang Ojoch
8. Philip Omot Jook
9. Omot Okey Odari
10. John Majong Nyigwo
11. Okelo Gilo Oriet
12. Peter Ochan Odolla
13. Thomas Onyongo Okan

c.c. H.E. the Governor, Jonglei State, Bor.
c.c. The Ministry of Legal, Jonglei State, Bor
c.c. Land Commission, Jonglei State, Bor
c.c. Peace Commission, Jonglei State, Bor

For contact reach

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