An Open Letter to Lakes State Governor, Chol Tong Mayay Jang

Cc: President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit
CC: Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny
CC: South Sudan National Legislative Assembly Speaker, Rt Hon. James Wani Igga
CC: SSNLA Deputy Speaker, General Daniel Awet Akot Thuou
CC: Governors of the ten States of the Republic of South Sudan
CC: Minister of Interior, General Alison Manani Magaya
CC: Minister of Defence & Veteran Affairs, General John Kong Nyuon

Dear Honourable Governor,

Re: Deadly Cattle Rustling, Selective Application of Civilian Disarmament and Unfair Stolen Cattle Recovery Process is Compounding Insecurity in Lakes State

We, the concerned members of the Cueibet County (Gok Dinka) Community would first of all like to seize this golden opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas and happy New Year 2012; it is our sincere hope that it will be a year of marked improvement in the lives of our state citizens in all aspects of modern human existence. We also takes this opportunity to congratulate the patriotic and brave people of southern Sudan in all their diversity, for the great achievement of a new Republic of South Sudan; it is a country founded on the merits of mass sacrifices by her people in their diversity, people whose steadfastness and determination in struggling to preserve both the integrity of their geographical homeland and cultural identity has endeared them to peace loving and dignity-oriented people and nations around the world. Well done to our people in the youngest country on earth, and congratulations to ourselves as a whole society united in purpose of liberation and nation building struggles; and in a very particular way, salutations to our freedom fighters both the living and the fallen martyrs, all who championed the fight for freedom and independence.

As we all know, it was a common aspiration for us to live in freedom, prosperity, creative and non-restricted lifestyles and to realize developmental aspirations for the greater motherland that forced our people to wage a very long and costly civil war in order to achieve an independent Republic in which no man, woman or child be discriminated based on ethnic, tribal, religious or geographical boundary affiliations! A country in which personal merits and achievement determine one’s status rather than relationship or any other social connectional affiliations.

Having been  active and faithfully loyal members of the Southern Sudanese society struggling for a dignified existence in a free and democratic, independent country, we the members of Cueibet County in Lakes State take particular note of the sacrifices made by our fallen martyrs since time immemorial, especially when foreign forces first attempted illegal and destructive entry into our motherland in the late 19th century, down to Anya Nya 1 Movement and to the era of Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by the beloved heroes and heroines, on top of them was Dr. John Garang De Mabior, the founding leader of our beloved movement, SPLM/A.

We also takes this opportunity to congratulate the SPLM and SPLA under the leadership of His Excellency General Salva Kiir Mayardit, for wisely steering the wheels of Comprehensive Peace Agreement amidst provocations and sometimes humiliating aggressions by the national congress party and its agents of destruction in the Sudan; the calm and cool-minded manner in which the SPLM leadership dealt with NCP meant a final walk through a peaceful transition into full independence for the people of Southern Sudan. So, we sincerely and humbly congratulate the President of the Republic of South Sudan and his government for their wisdom and cautious approach to issues in difficult situation.
Our Concerns and grievances in Lakes State:

Nevertheless, the main purpose of writing this letter is to draw your attention, Mr. Governor, to the many problems plaguing our people and of which we have allowed you nearly two years to attempt settling them; but unfortunately you have been unable to; therefore forcing us to take this initiative of writing to call your urgent attention to these issues as they are of utmost urgency and a matter for collective societal survival for the people of Cueibet County in your volatile state.

It has been nearly two years since we elected you into the office, hoping that being a beloved son of the state, and having been given the trust and mandate by our people throughout the state to run our political and developmental affairs, that you would rule with open heart, mind and arms toward all the inhabitants of this great state. It has also been our hope that since you are a man with preceding international exposure (you were schooled in India and Russia), that you would rise above politics of tribalism, shun all sorts of bad influences from agents of chaos in the state, particularly inside Rumbek town and do a lot to inspire the state’s population in positive ways and that you would show exemplary traits as your position demands. Cueibet County have given you and the SPLM a resounding lead in votes for the obvious reason that you officially represented the SPLM which is overwhelmingly recognized and supported in the county; unfortunately you have shown to us the people of Cueibet county, almost all the opposites of our expectations and hence we have now nothing left to hope for but only regrets for having casted our votes to give a mandate to a man whose agenda is seemingly to catalyse (speed) our downfall in all aspects of human life. 

It’s worth empathising here and now that we the people of Cueibet County have endured unspeakable atrocities in the hands of some of our neighbours, particularly within the Lakes state boundaries with a dignified silence and in the vain hope that the SPLM government at various levels would do something to address our grievances; we were terribly wrong as nobody really bothered to look into our problems!! Instead, a well-designed propaganda machination by elements within your government and inside Rumbek town, your base of corruption, tribalism, nepotism and power, ensured that both the name and image of the Gok Dinka people is desperately distorted and projected in bad light in Media and in other social networking arenas, to deflect attention and scrutiny toward what is really happening.

While we do not claim the community in Cueibet County to be angels in the chaotic state of affair in Lakes State, as a matter of proven factual records, eighty per cent of cases of insecurity involving Cueibet County are mainly initiated by people other than those inside the County and the besieged community have been forced by circumstances and becomes desperate reactionaries or rather desperate retaliatory attackers! Our main purpose as the Gok Dinka members writing this letter is not to indulge in usual blame and counter-blame games on who causes what, but rather to draw critical attention of your government and that of any peace-loving South Sudanese citizen, particularly that of our leaders at all levels of governance in the Republic, to the escalating destruction of lives and property and to the double-standards being practiced by your government in Lakes State, Mr. Chol Tong Mayay Jang!

Being a group of people guided by principles of truth, justice and fairness for all in our Republic, we would like to acknowledge and empathize that all the problems in the state are not your personal making, nor is your government the sole neglecter of the concerns being raised herein; the fact is that you inherited some destructions, particularly the Akot and Cueibet fighting between civilians and the Army, what you failed to do is work on bringing about any solutions to escalating insecurity in the state, particularly between Cueibet, Rumbek North and Rumbek Central Counties.  Your term of governance has certainly comes with far more serious incidents of insecurity than has ever been! What is even more alarming is that you have shown an unsuppressed feeling and practice of hate against our people in Cueibet County. When more than fifty were killed in Cueibet County by gunmen from Rumbek North, you never bothered to visit the greasily scene; and when inter-clan fighting ensued in Rumbek East County’s inhabitants, you immediately reacted and took with you, hundreds of security forces (almost the entire force in the state) to the scene.
 
In fact, our intelligence gathering, which is partly fed by well-placed and reliable sources showed that your government through your Minister of information, Marik Nanga, distributed boxes of munitions to armed civilians in Rumbek North in the second quarter of 2011, under the pretext that Nuer rebels from Bentiu were about to launch a military assault on Rumbek North County, shortly before the massacre of innocent Cueibet county civilians who were largely disarmed. It turned out that the target was none other than the unsuspecting communities of Cueibet!

For the benefit of our readers, allow us to highlight the fact that since the signing of CPA and the formation of government at various levels in South Sudan, Cueibet County has become a shooting range practicing field where gunmen from neighbouring community groups, particularly those from Rumbek Central and Rumbek North Counties within Lakes State, and occasionally, Tonj South and Tonj East in Warrap state have on countless occasions, gunned down poor innocent Gok Dinka and drove away thousands upon thousands of victims’ cattle with impunity. Whenever the Gok Dinka retaliated, which they usually did after allowing concerned government institutions reasonable period of time to response to their desperate plea for protection, the Government quickly comes down hardest on them. We wonder whether we are really appreciated members and part of Lakes State and by extension, the Republic of South. The County people’s woes are worsened by the fact that the so called elected local Representatives in both state Assembly and in Juba have proved more of a bunch of self-serving and incompetent lots with no guts to question the injustice being practiced on their people!

It is to be recalled that the former Cueibet County Commissioner, Mr. Kongor Deng Kongor,  acted ruthlessly but sincerely and with patriotic spirit on orders and always recovered any stolen cattle from neighbouring Counties by people of Cueibet and gave it back to rightful owners; he accordingly penalised those guilty of cattle rustling in his County,  unfortunately, this was never reciprocated by any county Commissioner from neither Warrap’s  bordering Counties nor fellow Lakes neighbouring Counties of Rumbek Central and North. This has been the state of affair ever since and nothing is being returned to Cueibet County’s victims. It is a Biblical ‘TAKE AWAY FROM HE WHO HAS NOTHING AND GIVE IT TO HE WHO HAS EVERYTHING AND HE WHO HAS NOTHING SHALL BE LEFT TO GRIND HIS TEETH AND CHEW HIS LIP IN ANGER AND DESPAIR!’
 
South Sudanese public have mostly been fed with lies and concocted news orchestrated out of Rumbek by some tribal “Journalists” with questionable motives and characteristics, oftentimes turning victims to be perpetrators; for example, all those who were shot dead in passenger vehicles between Rumbek and Cueibet towns in 2010 and earlier 2011, were all exclusively innocent members of Gok Dinka of Cueibet County, who were going about their normal life businesses; yet the tribal propaganda arm of Chol Tong’s government or allies turned the whole thing other way round, meaning the poor and victimised Gok Dinka were falsely blamed for attacks on the High Way leading to Wau in the border area between Cuei Arol in Cueibet County and Abeer in Rumbek Central County. The area is in itself a major source of quarrel and insecurity between the two counties, which requires a political solution. As the name suggests, Cuei Arol is named after the late Cueibet County Paramount Chief, Arol Kacuol because he once based his court there; the area is entirely part of Cueibet County and archival evident in the old united Sudan proves this beyond reasonable doubt. However, some political strategists in Rumbek Central have illegally moved one of their county’s payams there; against the persistent complain by local inhabitants! Your silence on the matter is proving that the occupiers have your blessing, Honourable Governor.

Mr. Governor, since you assumed state leadership in May 2010, attacks on Gok Dinka people and territory intensified.  As if the many years of Injustice were not enough, the unruly elements of SPLA Army in Cueibet in 2010, just at the time when you were prospecting for the Governorship, finally turned things upside down, from a frying pan into blazing fire by assassinating the County’s last reigning Paramount Chief and set ablaze the whole Cueibet town as desperate living beings in the town, both humans and animals as well as birds of the air ducked for cover as they made desperate escape to nearest surrounding forests. For nearly a week, Cueibet was a ghost town and a battlefield between the rogue troops and local warriors. All these were happening before elections in 2010, yet the Gok Dinka did not lose sight of their overall patriotic stance and voted overwhelmingly for the SPLM party whose offshoot army was responsible for the massacre; we unanimously voted for you Mr. Governor Chol Tong!

Alongside our fellow Lakes state people, we gave you full mandate to govern us, despite the fact that although you were the official SPLM Candidate vying for votes in all counties of Lakes state; you never bothered to visit the county in pain in the aftermath of barbaric assault and never publicly released any statement of sympathising with the County population. You continued to tour other counties and arrogantly overlooked Cueibet County, simply because it is a Gok land and for you Chol Tong who is rumoured among the most tribally fanatical intellectuals and politicians in Greater Rumbek, Gok problems are Gok problems!! This assertion has since been confirmed by many events that followed your ascension onto Governor Throne.

Shortly after elections and once you assumed leadership of the state, Mr. Governor Chol Tong, you are consolidating the occupation of Cuei Arol Boma of Abiriu Payam of Cueibet County, by your people of Rumbek Central County who have naively baptised it with the name of “MAYOM” Payam; this issue is a bone of contention in the deadly border between the two counties, how many human heads do you want to roll and dry before you address the issue, Sir? You also conspired with other anti-Gok Dinka elements in the army and political arena, and ordered comprehensive disarmament of Cueibet County, using the pretext that the people there have fought the army when their dear paramount Chief was unduly assassinated in 2010; people were badly tortured with some people’s faces dipped into pepper filled water and bones broken and some have consequently lost their lives. The people of Rumbek East County in Akot were the first to fight the unruly troops in the State, yet what was done to those in Cueibet in term of how disarmament was ruthlessly carried out was never done there! We do not wish our people of Akot Payam or any part in our beloved Lakes State anything bad, this is just a comparison of the situation. You pretended to be an outsider to all that was happening.

But it was not long before your true colours were exposed, when the army moved on to disarm Rumbek Central County (your home County) and Rumbek North, the Gallant SPLA army had the same intention and resolve to disarm civilians there. But alas, little did we know that Governor Chol Tong, you were a purely an Agaar Governor! To the surprise of the SPLA troops themselves and the poor beaten Gok Dinka, Governor you ordered the troops not to search inside Rumbek town and any administrative headquarter in greater Agaar Counties, for reasons best known to you. What were your Reasons, Honourable Governor of Lakes? Our reliable sources discovered the fishy reason behind your decree prohibiting the army from extending search of arms in towns, your community arms were hidden there!

Once it was ensured that they were rendered completely unarmed and defenceless, a series of humiliating hunt for our helpless Gok Dinka men, women, children and elderly then began in earnest. Assassins from Rumbek Central and Rumbek North Counties and in what appeared to be a collusion with some few elements from Tonj East County, began nocturnal affair of hunting for human Gok Dinka heads to roll and indeed greasily rolling many heads in Cueibet county did!! None was spared and the outcry of the Gok Dinka felt on your deaf ears as patriotic Gok Dinka politicians, youth leaders and the Diaspora were busy pleading with their victimized community to be calm and wait for “government intervention”, little did the Gok people know that their deaths were somehow being celebrated and their despair was being misread as a sign of defeat inside Rumbek town the headquarters of your grossly incompetent government.

In the face of intensified insecurity – killings of women and children and not mentioning cattle theft, our community found itself hunted and cornered in their proud homeland and as if to send a message to entire Gok Dinka community that travelling to Rumbek or Juba through Rumbek was out of questions, innocent Gok Dinka people travelling in private or public vehicles were ambushed and callously killed. Poor students and town dwellers inside Rumbek town were stabbed to death in daring crimes. Your tribal agents in Lakes State Media never reported this and you never uttered any statement condemning the barbaric state of affair in the state! Founding itself helpless and on the verge of being annihilated and uprooted from their ancestral homeland, some Gok Dinka young men sold whatever they have in order to re-acquire the few arms to halt the insecurity. Some community members desperately hit back hard and into the heart of their aggressors’ territory. That is when you came out forcefully and flexing your muscles, Mr. Tribal Governor. Your narrow-minded style of ruling a culturally diverse state like ours, with one tribal lense has exposed the decadent nature of Rumbek as a powerhouse. When Gok Dinka dies and groan in pain, you turned a blind eye and when an Agaar dies or cries, you quickly dispatch your ruthless state security machines! That will not take us forward; we want a state where the rule of law is applied to all regardless of their tribal affiliations, for greater good of all Lakes State citizens.

Thousands of Gok Dinka cattle are now scattered into greedy hands of those who illegally and criminally acquired them after killing innocent and rightful owners in Cueibet county; yet you never pressed Commissioners of Rumbek Central and Rumbek North to do more, instead you have been exerting undue pressure on the Cueibet County community and their Commissioner to return the few cattle that some County Community members have taken in desperate attempts to recover their stolen cattle.  You should be ordering all the Commissioners to do their utmost best to quell insecurity with your full personal involvement, not sitting in Rumbek and using some nimble-minded tribal politicians in the state Assembly to engineer destructive and divisive Policies.

Latest Disarmament of Civilians in the state
After independence and following the announcement by the President of the Republic that all civilians were to be disarmed and ridded of all types of illegal weapons, the Gok Dinka community welcomed the move but with weariness and in fact told the disbarment commander that the so called Lakes State civilians disarmament were never inclusive and fair as past experiences has shown. The Gok complained that they have always obeyed governmental orders and policy but what pains them as a community most is the fact that some of their neighbouring community groups, who have some members longing and baying for their blood and property were never fully disarmed and they had no reason to trust this latest disarmament exercise. The SPLA commander responsible for exercise assured them that he was there to “protect” them. The community peacefully gave up their arms and warned the government to look out for them as something fishier was always brewing against them in the neighbourhood.
 
It was not long before the community’s fears were realized and confirmed! Just one and half week to Christmas last year 2011 which just ended, suspected gunmen from Tonj East or Rumbek North Counties have already attacked and killed five people and injured undetermined number in the north-west of Cueibet County. Three days later there was another attack in Pagor Payam in North-east where hundreds of cattle were driven away and at least one person killed and another seriously wounded. At around the same time, Abiriu Payam in the South-East of Cueibet County was attacked and nearly fifty heads of cattle stolen and one person is killed cold-bloodedly in separate incident in the same payam.

The relevant questions are, where are the security forces deployed in the area and what happened to the disarmament that was much publicized, Mr. Governor? You have ordered a comprehensive disarmament of all civilians in Lakes State, which we welcomed and will continue to welcome it, as long as it is done to all civilians in the state in good faith. So far, unfortunately, our intelligence show that as always, it is the Cueibet County yet again, who have willingly given up their arms and your backyard of Rumbek Central , Rumbek North and Rumbek East Counties are still a washed with illegal firearms in the hands of civilians.

These latest killings of innocent Gok Dinka people and deadly rustling of some of their cattle is yet another ominous sign of the worst to come this dry season! Have you, our dear Governor Chol Tong played more tricks again allowing your County to remains armed while the poor Cueibet County is disarmed? Where is the justice, equality and progress that we in the SPLM/SPLA fought for in the last twenty eighty years? Have our votes in Cueibet County suddenly become insignificant and us as community irrelevant and unimportant members of Lakes state, Honourable Governor? Is this unending insecurity and fear being instilled into Cueibet county Community a long term strategy of slow but sure way of ethnic cleansing? There are certainly more questions than answers in our minds and in the entire Cueibet County social fabrics.

The late heroic and beloved leader of the SPLM/SPLA, Dr. John Garang De Mabior Atem once said, “Colonization or oppression has no colour, whether done by your own brother or a practical and definitive enemy, it is what it is and its impacts are as consequential.”
Therefore, dear Governor of Lakes State, the kind of organized and coordinated oppression and practical physical elimination that is being suffered by Cueibet community in the hands of Agaar Majority, since you took over the governorship, attacks which are increasingly becoming politically motivated and strategic as opposed to the traditional rivalries over pastures and water points in cattle camps, are as painful as those suffered by Southern Sudanese in the hands of Arabs. In fact, relentless attacks by one’s own brother are more painful than those by a known enemy.

Please exert more efforts to ensure that none in our state is responsible for aggressing others, whether it is in Cueibet County or any other County doing it, rule of law must prevail and those causing instability are harshly dealt with in a competent and transparent process of justice in line with our constitution. Law enforcement must be robust and comprehensive; deploy Police forces in every Payam and Boma and ensure complete disarmament among all the community groups. There can neither be a tangible development nor harmonious co-existence when some community groups in the state feel increasingly threatened and insecure. It is not too late; you can still regain the trust, support and respect of the complaining community groups in the state. In fact, it is because we want you to adjust your style of governing and refocus your attention that we wrote this letter to you, an indication that we still believe there is a room for correcting the messy situation.
Recommendations for long term solution

• As our elected Governor, we do not want much from you but your sincere and patriotic efforts to ensure Justice, Equality and Progress for all in the State; these are pillars of vision on which the SPLM/A fought the war and won our beloved Republic, why deny some members of state the same, when in fact they actively participated in achieving the Objectives alongside all other fellow Southerners?

• Work hand in hand with all the state communities through their traditional leaders and credible Representatives to address the issues of insecurity in all parts of the state.

• Be in full control of the state’s affairs as you are currently the only democratically mandated Governor who should rule and be accountable to the electorates in the state; do not allow yourself be manipulated by some wicked politicians and opportunists who thrives in chaotic situation.

• Pay urgent attention to inter and intra-community peace education and awareness so as to help rebuild trust and peaceful co-existence. Those violating community peace and harmony should be severely punished to make examples of them and deters would be perpetrators of insecurity.

• Give priority to building major feeder and arterial roads to Link Counties and payams, so that transportation and movements of security personnel is not hampered during emergencies.

• Make some reform in the state’s public sector and those found to be flaming the situation should be sent packing out of the Ministries. There is a need to de-tribalised and de-nepotised state ministries and employ people based on their individual merits of academic qualifications and work experiences.In other words, creating genuine sense of belonging and togetherness among our people in the state can be part of long term harmonization and unity.

• Resolve all cases of murder and cattle theft to put urgent closure to lingering grievances, which ignites new cases of murder and insecurity.

• Make public incitement of inter and intra-community conflict illegal and severely punishable in the state’s constitution; this is necessary to safeguard the state’s long term security and peaceful co-existence.

• Regularly review the performances of your government officials in the areas of law enforcement and service delivery and take action to enhance quick progress where necessary.

• Where you cannot act, make urgent recommendation to the President of the Republic or Federal government officials responsible for action, to safe situation from escalating further.

In Conclusion, we hereby reiterate that we wrote this lengthy letter in all good faith and with no intention other than seeing our beloved Lakes State regain its lost glory and respect among the people of South Sudan. It is high time our people desist from negative perceptions toward one another and begin to see themselves as one people; and indeed one people our people are! This spirit of one people and togetherness can only be brought about by sincere, transparent, justice and equality based practices throughout the state’s system and styles of governance. One way justice and selective application of law enforcement only serves to alienates and drive desperate, those who see themselves on the verge of elimination, particularly the minority community groups. We hope that you will, Honourable Governor, find it important and necessary to appreciate and benefit from this letter and make possible adjustments for the greater goodness of our state’s diverse population and for your own long term Political survival.

Once again, accept our sincere thanks for your time and attention on reading this letter. Act on the above recommendations and you shall enjoy our unanimous support as a community longing for change and developments, things which can never come about without solid security guarantees!

Signed,
Comrade John Magelwath,
On behalf of Cueibet County Community Watchdog
CC: Lakes state Members of State Legislative Assembly
CC: Cueibet County Commissioner, Comrade Isaac Mayom Malek Dielic
CC: Cueibet County Politicians in Lakes State and at the Federal level
CC: All Cueibet County Chiefs, youths and women leaders
CC: Cueibet Community members in Diaspora.

For further communication regarding this letter, please respond through the given email address: gok.thiarkurou@yahoo.com
 

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