Six South Sudan opposition groups have joint forces and are now calling on the world to recognise that the country has sank into a genocide perpetrated by the government.
In a joint statement issued Monday, the six opposition groups said that President Salva Kiir’s regime, with the direct participation of the SPLA army and state-sponsored Mathyiang Anyor militia, are carrying out dehumanising acts including cold-blooded and calculated executions of community and church leaders as well as torturing and raping civilians.
“President Salva Kiir and his regime are wiping out non-Dinka communities through ethnically targeted massacres in the Greater Upper Nile, Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal regions. The unfolding genocide is a repeat of the December 2013 Juba massacres of ethnic Nuer civilians, which resulted in reprehensible reprisal attacks against Dinka civilians in other parts of the country,” notes the statement under the title, As Genocide Unfolds in South Sudan, Much of the World Looks Away,
The six parties are the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement - In Opposition led by Dr Riek Machar, the recently-formed National Salvation Front led by Gen Thomas Cirilo and the National Democratic Movement led by former Agriculture Minister, Dr Lam Akol. Others are Dr Hakim Dario's the People’s Democratic Movement, the South Sudan National Movement for Change led by former governor of Western Equatoria Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro and the Former Detainees.
The group is calling upon the region and the international community to urgently investigate, document, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the recent genocide in Wanduruba, Yei, Lainya, Pajok and Kajokeji in Equatoria, Wau in Bahr el-Ghazal, and the entire Upper Nile.
They accuse the region and the broader international community of "standing by and excusing the aggressor, President Kiir."
“This impunity and inaction by the world, which continues under the assumption that such acquiescence will earn the trust and hence entice the cooperation of Juba to behave in a more civilised fashion, has only fuelled the genocide. Their continued silence and denial only emboldens, encourages and indeed rewards the perpetrators of the crime and punishes their victims,” notes the statement.
Govt officials dismiss "opposition alliance"
However, top government diplomats have dismissed the "opposition alliance" as a desperate move to seek relevance after failing to either stop fighting or joining the National Dialogue declared by President Kiir last December.
John Anduga Duku, the director of International Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The East African that the armed opposition should first stop acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians if they are to be taken seriously.
“Until they stop violent acts such alliances will remain nothing but media propaganda by power-hungry individuals seeking relevance in the current context. There are only two choices for the so called alliance: Implementation of the current agreement and National Dialogue and election to test their popularity in the ballots boxes,” said Mr Duku.
The South Sudan permanent representative to the African Union James Morgan, who is also the country’s ambassador to Ethiopia said that the push by the opposition to renegotiate the August 15 peace agreement is futile because such an exercise would not guarantee peace.
“We have always made it absolutely clear that the National Dialogue is inclusive, minus only anyone carrying a gun,” he said.
Warning on genocide
Since last year, the United Nations and various human rights organisations have been warning that South Sudan is on the brink of a genocide.
The special adviser to the UN Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng had warned that genocide is looming, while on April 12, the British Secretary for International Development, Priti Patel, while in Kampala, Uganda said that the violence in South Sudan has degenerated into a genocide.
"There are massacres taking place, people's throats are being slit ... villages are being burnt, there's a scorched-earth policy….it is tribal, it is absolutely tribal, so on that basis it is genocide," said Ms Patel.
- READ: South Sudan edging closer to genocide, says UN
- READ: Five year-old South Sudan coming apart as inter-ethnic divisions worsen
On Good Friday, Human Rights Watch released a report noting that government soldiers and allied militias deliberately killed at least 16 civilians in the western town of Wau in what appears to be an act of collective punishment, because the attacks were against people presumed to support the opposition because of their ethnicity.
“The pattern of abuses by government forces against civilians in Wau has become predictable, with soldiers taking revenge against unarmed civilians based on their ethnicity,” notes Daniel Bekele, senior director for Africa advocacy at Human Rights Watch, in the report.