30 January 2013

South Sudan: An Appeal for Community Solidarity, Leadership and Peace - Addressing Tension Between Koch and Deer Sections of Makuach Payam


Alberta, Canada — We, the sons and daughters of Bor community in Diaspora - particularly the Bor County Association in Alberta Canada, are outraged by the recent heartbreaking events of confrontation between Koch and Deer sub-communities of Makuac Payam. We are saddened by the loss of lives due to this dispute. Our condolences go to the families who have lost their loved ones. We hereby condemn this act of violence in the strongest terms possible and appeal for timely and peaceful resolution to the conflict before it escalates any further.

We are challenging regional authorities, community headship, local chiefs and the elders to demonstrate leadership in safeguarding and promoting peaceful coexistence among communities. We especially urge chiefs, elders and youth of Makuac Payam to embrace civility in resolving this issue to stop further bloodshed and loss of lives in the hands of our own people. These intersectional conflicts are particularly disheartening knowing very well that our community has been targeted by armed groups from surrounding areas several times in recent history. We all know of militias and hostile groups that continue to terrorize the entire region, take lives and property, and many people have been displaced from their ancestral grounds due to growing insecurity as a result of the same.

We believe Koch and Deer and the rest of peace loving communities should be there for one another against those common adversaries; not against one another. We all agree that Koch and Deer are permanent neighbors and should not be using heavy weapons against each other. We urge both communities to realize that this endless cycle of revenge is detrimental to each side and to the entire community and is therefore not the solution to the border dispute. We know very well that holding bitter grudges that drive violent acts against a neighbor will never resolve territorial rows. Deer and Kuoi are the same people. The Bhar Al Gazalle Dinka has a song that says: "Akut e Jieng aman tong baai ku nhieer tong lok e ke ngeeny ce ciec ee, anyaar ee ce ya mathon".

Dear brothers and sisters, we will not be wise to turn those heavy weapons against each other as neighbors. Those heavy weapons were meant for liberating and protecting our heritage from the outside enemies who attack our country and interests. We should not shoot our way out of every situation. We should let peace prevail in our society. Let us not give our enemies a chance to laugh at us for systematic failures.

Most of us grew up in villages and cattle camps and we are aware of how these conflicts can escalate. We also know how they can be resolved peacefully. Let us not resort to violence as the immediate solution to our local problems because violence can create an endless damage to our community. We know that if the Chiefs Athieu Madol and Mach Aluong Mach for example were there today this conflict would not escalate to the level of tragedy that it is coming to now. Please folks do not allow us to question your leadership during this global era.

We hope one or all of the addressed parties already have an intervention strategy that includes the following suggested approaches to resolve this tension. If so, we give you our support. If not, we are strongly appealing for a timely action in the name of peace and community solidarity. Our message is simple:

We urge the two communities involved to cease violence and brinkmanship right away and prepare for peaceful dialogue.

We ask the authorities to deploy and maintain civil police within the communities until order is convincingly restored and credible assurance to refrain from future conflicts achieved.

We appeal to the addressed authorities to convene and mediate a dialogue between the two communities to resolve this cattle camp dispute in accordance with the Bor Dinka norms or traditional ways of resolving these kinds of disputes without any biases.

Finally, we urge the local authorities to exercise their obligations and utmost powers as given under the Jonglei laws to keep peace and harmony between all communities.

H.E. Gov. Kuol Manyang Juuk, governor of Jonglei State, South Sudan;

H.E. Michael Makuei Lueth, MP of Bor Central constituency and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs in the National Government;

Honourable Mr. Alier Agoot, Commissioner of the Bor county;

Honourable Dr. Ajuoi Magot Chol, Chairman of Bor Community Association in South Sudan;

Honourable MPs of the Bor Dinka caucus;

Church Leaders of Bor Diocese;

Bor Community Chiefs;

Bor Community Elders and the Bor County Youth.

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