Mundri Community’s letter to the Western Equatoria State Governor Mundri Community in Kenya PDF Print E-mail

 

-  P.O.Box,60837,Citysquare 
-  Nairobi 
-  Kenya 
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-  11th October 2005

-  H.E.ColonelPatrickZamoi 
-  Governor,WesternEquatoriaState 
-  Yambio, South Sudan

Your Excellency,

We, the Members of Mundri Community in Kenya would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as Governor of our beloved State, the Western Equatoria State. Your appointment has come at a critical time, when the people of Southern Sudan in general and Western Equatoria State in particular, have won the first phase of the armed struggle with the singing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The conclusion of the peace agreement should mean that every Southern Sudanese live in freedom, free from oppression and injustice, regardless of ethnicity, region, political affiliation, gender and religious beliefs. This is the vision of the New Sudan, and therefore, the people of Mundri Counties would like to affirm their support in your leadership, and work with you in the difficult and challenging task that lay ahead of us.

Your Excellency, first and foremost, we are writing to you at the time of deteriorating security situation in our State, caused by the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Bor Counties and their cattle. As you may already be aware, this is not the first time that the people of Mundri have petitioned relevant authorities with these kind of letters to address the persistent security problem caused by huge presence of the cattle. We are writing to you to express our disappointment, and condemn the outbreak of the recent violence in the strongest terms possible, but also urgently request your intervention before the situation escalates into major clashes between the Morus and the IDPs. We believe, if the proper actions were taken, the conflict could have been resolved and the loss of human lives and property could have been avoided.

Background Information

The conflict between the Morus and the IDPs is not new phenomenon, but has been there for many years. Mundri County in Western Equatoria State has been hosting a large population of the Internally Displaced Persons from Bor.

The influx of the Dinka Bor Population into Moruland was attributed to the split in the SPLM/A on 27th August 1991. The split was along tribal lines, with the dissidents drawing support mainly from Nuer, while the Dinka ethnic groups largely supported the mainstream movement. Confrontation between these factions culminated into Bor masscare in 1991. Taking the advantage of the split, the Government of the Sudan (GoS) attacked and recaptured Bor town in 1992. These incidents resulted in mass exodus of Dinka Bor westwards. Initially, the IDPs had wanted to settle in Bahr El Ghazal, but after they were refused settlement, they continued their movement until they arrived Mundri and were only allowed temporarily to settle there after Bishop Nathaniel Garang pleaded with Church leaders in Mundri to allow his people to settle.

The security situation in Mundri County has been deteriorating since 1994 due to the presence of Dinka Bor IDPs cattle camps. The main causes of the conflict centered around: destruction of host communities crops by the cattle, occupation of reserved shrines, destruction of forests and polluting water points, disregard to local values and lack of respect, undermining of the host communities and local authorities, illegal harvesting of the honey of host communities and preventing them from accessing their beehives, obstructing hunting and fishing grounds etc. The arming of the cattle camps with weapons and radio communication sets has further exacerbated the situation.

Many attempts have been made, including numerous complaint letters written and sent to the leadership of the SPLA/M, in addition to meetings with pertinent regional authorities and leadership with an attempt to resolve the conflict peacefully, but all the letters and resolutions of the meetings were not acted upon.

Last year there was a renewed interest; particularly among International Organisations with the aim of resolving this conflict. While NGOs have spent millions of dollars on relief kits, both human and animal medicines to facilitate the return of the IDPs and facilitation of Joint Team’s work, the host communities were not compensated when their crops are destroyed, or even when they lose their lives. The incidents in Bangolo and Ladinwa are case in point. In the latter, Hussein Kuyu, a handcuffed alleged cattle killer was killed in Koto`bi on April 20, 04, before being judged or even proven guilty. Where is justice, fairness and equality, the very principles and tenets on which the liberation war was fought?

We are not impressed with the role of the Diocese of Bor and its leadership, especially, Bishop Nathaniel Garang, who in person requested his counter-parts from Mundri to allow IDPs there on humanitarian grounds. While the Church leadership from Mundri has played significant role to bring the conflict to its peaceful resolutions, Bishop Nathaniel has not taken his moral and spiritual position to talk to his folk in Mundri or to thank the people of Mundri and lead his people to return to Bor. We expect Bp. Nathaniel to play the same role that he played in Nuer - Dinka reconciliation in the Moru-Dinka Conflict. He has been invited to several meetings held in Mundri, but had turned down the invitation, and he has not even visited his people. We find this absurd.

SPLM/A Leadership and Direction

The people of Mundri share and are deeply committed to principles and vision of the New Sudan. This is not only expressed in words, but through the tremendous contributions that we have made towards this common and shared goal. However, the people of Mundri are deeply disappointed in the manner the leadership of SPLM/A has demonstrated in resolving this conflict. Over the years, we as Community, have sought SPLM/A’s intervention to resolve the IDPs problem. Without narrating all the details of our initiatives, we would like to highlight the following:

1. In 1999, the Executive Committee of Mundri Community in Kenya met with the Late Dr John Garang to seek his intervention to resolve the conflict

2. The Church Leadership of Mundri and Lui Dioceses met with the Late Dr John Garang over the same issue on several forums and called on his administration to intervene and solve the problem between the host community and the IDPs.

3. The Community met with other SPLM/A leaders including our current President, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit and our former Governor, H. E. Samuel Abu John on several occasions.

4. In a meeting called to address the cattle issue in Maridi in 2001, our Current President, H.E. Salva Kiir issued orders for immediate repatriation of cattle from Mundri.

5. In the year 2003, the Equatoria Regional Congress addressed the cattle issue and made resolutions for the cattle to move immediately.

6. A Joint Team was established to tackle the issue of the cattle in 2004

7. In June 2004, Current Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riak Machar, while on the visit to Mundri County, which coincided with the Mundri Socio-Economic Recovery Conference, had meeting with local authorities, Non-governmental Organizations, chiefs from the cattle camps, Joint Team and SPLA officers. After an elaborate discussions and consultations during the meeting, he ordered the cattle camps to move from Mundri.

8. In as recent as March 2005, another big conference was organized and held in Tali, in which safe passage for the IDPs and the tracking cattle were discussed among different stakeholders. In the same meeting, SPLA was particularly requested to provide forces to escort the IDPs through their journey to Bor.

9. Follow-up meeting was held between representatives of Moru and IDPs communities in Rumbek, during which repatriation timeframe was drawn up between April/May 05, and safe passage for the IDPs was agreed upon.

Your Excellency, these were some of the many attempts made with an intention of resolving this crisis amicably at an early stage, but alas, all these efforts have been frustrated and curtailed by the lack of interest and zeal exhibited by the SPLM/A leadership. We are bewildered and perplexed to note that of all the recommendations and resolutions passed, commanders appointed, orders issued, none were implemented although these orders were issued by the highest leadership of the SPLM/A. Officers assigned for the task failed to execute their duties and were not held responsible to account for their failures. For us, this is alarming and disturbing.

Security Agents

There are evidence that security agents are used to intimidate and scare; not only the local leadership in the Counties, but also civil society organisations and members of the community, especially those who have been vocal about the presence of IDPs with their cattle in Mundri. In December 2002, there was fight between IDPs and two persons after two cows went into their field and destroyed the crops; consequently, two cows were killed in Bangolo Payam. After the news of the incident reached Yei, elements within SPLA dispatched a platoon to the area. On arrival, the forces committed atrocious crimes, burning houses, looting and torturing innocent people and taking along with them bicycles, hundred of goats, sheep and cows. When the case was reported to the leadership, no one was held accountable for ordering the mission.

In 2003, Rt. Rev. Bullen A. Dolli, and Rev. Canon Kenneth Baringwa together with Rev. Peter Hammond of Front Line Fellowship were arrested and detained for six days in Yei, South Sudan.

They were accused of smuggling firearms and ammunitions to Mundri, and according to the security operatives the Morus were being armed to attack the IDPs in the cattle camps - this allegation proved to be false. The arrest of people of Bishop’s calibre could not have come from anybody else but the highest leadership of the Movement. Moreover, local security operatives are continuously being used to undermine, intimidate and spread rumours against Church leadership and other personalities in the County. At one time, lies were fabricated that Church radio was being used to communicate with the enemy, consequently, Diocesan propertties were confiscated from Bishop Gwynne College, which included bicycles, radio communication sets, solar panels, vehicles etc. These were well- designed strategies aimed to disquiet the Church and her leadership from talking about the IDPs cattle in Mundri. The lies were spread and rumours fabricated in order to confuse, misrepresent, mislead and scare people. Last year, Oxfam-GB`s radio operator made false accusations against Mary Lusi, the then Oxfam Team Leader in Lui, that she has imported illegal items in the country; leading to her arrest in Lanyi and was tortured. These were tactics employed by local security organs, but the master plan could not have been the work of one person, but individuals in the positions of authority and the system in the leadership were fully behind the whole scheme.

Radio Communication

Your Excellency, we deplore the use of NGOs radios as instrument of oppression in Mundri Counties. For example, on 10th October 05, there was purported radio communications between MRDA and UN/ OLS on the Security situation in Mundri (see e-mail from Kristin of Pact Kenya). This information was utterly incorrect and MRDA has denied issuing such information. We believe this is the work of radio operators, who are working for Non-governmental Organizations operating in Mundri. We consider this as sinister motive and therefore the monopoly of radio communications are for no other reason other than for incitement, distortion, suppression and control of information. Equally, these radios are being used to fabricate rumours so as to create fear among the local population and protect cattle camps. We want this practice stopped immediately.

Indifference

It is now one month since the current conflict in Eastern Mundri flared up, but there was no immediate and decisive action taken by the SPLM/A leadership. Surprisingly, when a similar conflict erupted between Dinka Atwuat and Agar in Yirol last year, SPLM/A responded swiftly and promptly: SPLA forces were airlifted from Yei and elsewhere and the conflict was contained immediately. We are puzzled with SPLM/A leadership’s indifference in responding to the crisis in Mundri Counties with the same speed.

Your Excellency, because of the chronic insecurity and exacerbated by the renewed fighting in the Eastern Mundri, we are appealing to your leadership to intervene urgently, before the violence and the situation escalates further. We demand that:

1. Swift and immediate action by our State Government be taken to bring the situation under control and end the virtual imprisonment of our people in their own land.

2. Ensure that the IDPs from Jonglei are repatriated back to Bor in the shortest period possible so that our people can rehabilitate and experience peace.

3. In the interest of security, we demand that radio operators recruited to operate NGO radios be people of high integrity and report facts and only facts.

Conclusion

Your Excellency, we have presented before your good office the challenges facing our very existence as a community, and obstacles impeding development in Mundri County., With high hope and great expectations, we anticipate that your office will not fail and disappoint this community like the previous administrators. We urge you, Your Excellency, to act, and act swiftly so as to bring this endemic conflict to a speedy conclusion. We wish to restate that we have full confidence in your leadership and will continue to air our grievances before you until they are satisfactorily addressed.

Your sincerely,

-  Benjamin Gimba 
-  Chairman, 
-  Mundri Community in Kenya.

Cc: Lt General Salva Kiir Mayardit, 1st Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and President of South Sudan Lt. General Dr. Riak Machar, Vice President, Government of Southern Sudan H.E. James Wani Igga, Speaker, South Sudan Assembly

H.E. General Clement Wani Konga, Governor, Central Equatoria State

H. E. Philip Thon Leek, Governor, Jonglei State

Rt. Rev. Dr. Eluzai G. Munda, Bishop, Diocese of Mundri

Rt. Rev. Bullen A. Dolli, Bishop, Diocese of Lui

Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Garang, Bishop, Diocese of Bor

Mr. Manasseh Mac, Team Leader, Joint Team

Commissioners, Eastern and Western Mundri Counties

All MPs Mundri Counties

 
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