“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi politician and Hitler’s Propaganda Minister.
Taban Abel Aguek, MP
In the last few weeks, there have been sustained warning of looming genocide in South Sudan. As reported by Sudan tribune, UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon, was the latest to add his voice to the matter saying before UNSC Monday last week, “If we fail to act, South Sudan will be on a trajectory towards mass atrocities.”
UN Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, had earlier also expressed fear of genocide occurring in South Sudan just after a brief visit to the country. The statements by both Mr. Ban Ki Moon and Mr. Dieng were not any different from those of US Permanent Secretary to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power, who without a bit of shame compared the situation in South Sudan to the one of Rwanda of 1994. Without fair evaluation, these UN elite personalities bought into false reports coined by Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, some bogus ‘paid’ civil society organizations and some wicked elements of the Enough Project. All connived on how to influence and usher quick move for sanctions and arms embargo on South Sudan.
For genocide warnings to be issued, there must be strong indicators, carefully examined and clearly justifiable, to unleash such warnings. According to media reports, Mr. Ban Ki Moon cites only two indictors: first, that President Kiir and his loyalists are “contemplating a new military offensive in the coming days against the armed opposition led by Machar”. Secondly, that there are clear indications that Riek Machar and their opposition groups are pursuing a military escalation.
The question now is, are these indicators tangible enough to warrant the alarm of genocide? First of all, one has to carefully assess the size of the army accumulated at one point targeting what community to come to a conclusion that genocide is planned on that community. Secondly, military offensives by both parties to the conflict have taken place from the onslaught of the conflict and no one has ever raised an alarm. Riek Machar on his part has declared war from day one, what is being hyped as of late about his war?
Neither are the indicators enough to point at a genocide nor the language befits the proper description of genocide itself. If Riek Machar is still in the bush and is still pursuing war, then he has to be fought. Fighting negative forces does not amount to genocide. UN telling South Sudan government not to fight opposition forces is like anyone telling the US to stop war against terrorism.
The people campaigning on genocide in South Sudan are very unlucky. Whatever their intention, I must say, they have mistimed their campaign. South Sudan’s days for fearing genocide are long gone. Between 2013-2014 there was very much likelihood of genocide taking place. This was the time when major cities like Bentiu, Malakal, Bor and Nasir changed hands between rebels and government forces several times in very brutal mass attacks. The best time to have warned of genocide in South Sudan should have been at a time 25,000 Nuer armed youths locally known as ‘White Army’ attacked and captured Bor before they were defeated while attempting to march to Juba. At that time, when the war was at its climax the same people who are shamelessly warning of genocide rejected arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan. It is strange and ironical that the same people who rejected sanction and arms embargo on South Sudan at the height of the conflict are now dirtily campaigning for the same at the time things have significantly normalized. There is now a suspicious feeling across South Sudan that some well paced individuals did not pursue arms embargo at first because they either had expected the rebels to win the war or were part of the groups supplying arms to rebels.
Otherwise, talking about genocide in South Sudan now is a laughable scam. It does not only challenge the honesty of its campaigners, it actually makes them appear very stupid. War has greatly scaled down in Upper Niles. There are no large military offensives akin to those of 2013 – 2014. There is no valid justified indication any tribe planning to launch a major attack on another. And again, there is in place a peace agreement and the Transitional Government of National Unity is existing and very active.
Well, Dr. Riek and a few others jumped off the peace wagon. And of course, there are pockets of insurgencies in some parts of Equatoria largely operating like terrorists and targeting members of certain ethnicities. But that has been going on since the conflict started and the Dinka have never planned any revenge. The number of the Dinkas killed by Nuer is many times bigger than the number lynched on roads by the elements of rebels in Equatoria. So, if the Dinka have never mobilized against Nuer, how can they do that against attacks of the Dinka on roads.
Lies as seen in the quote above have come a long way with the human race. The Dinka people say a false news of death of a dear one becomes a good news when it turned out in the end to be a lie. Similarly, if these warnings and nothing else, then we shall have to be happy with these lies because ‘genocide is worse than the lies about it’.
I actually thought Mr. Ban Ki Moon was going to be a bit cautious after it emerged in a recent report published by many media outlets that the institution he leads, UNMISS, gave a lot arms to rebels in Bentiu, the same arms they used a few weeks later to massacre civilians in large, shocking numbers including those in mosques, churches and hospitals. With lid blown off the corrupted system he leads, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, chooses not to restore its values and cleanse self but instead delve into loose stories created by the godfathers of regime change and stories damaging and full of vulgarity. It is hard to see people that should advocate for peace working to jeopardize it. That is being irresponsible.
All in all, South Sudanese are not worried about the hyping or sending out of alarm of genocide in the country. However much it is repeated and no matter the weight of those who hype it, South Sudanese should not be moved about what is called ‘impending genocide’. The real problem, rather, is the implication of the song sung in its name.
Stories like these stoke fear in people, increase suspicion and kill trust among people. There are chances that hyping genocide may triggers genocide to happen. Sometimes, those who warn of what is basically a lie have the intention to have what they lied about take place. In this case those who unleash warning on genocide in South Sudan are actually campaigning for genocide to take place because they will badly be left ashamed if the said story did not happen. There is this famous saying in South Sudan that “If you warn a mad man against setting a house on fire, then you could have reminded him to do so”. So, these people should not tell people of South Sudan what they have not thought of. When UNMISS separated IDPs in its Malakal POC into Dinkas and Nuer, they eventually fought inside the POC because they were made to see and feel it that they are not one people.
We know the tory has remained around regime change. Sometimes it goes from Trusteeship to international administration and from sanctions to arms embargo but it all revolves around one thing: regime change. Many other things around these are just lies and propaganda coming from people within the circle with that notion and supported by the media that they control. It is a pity this is still not known to some Africa’s big names like Prof. Mahmood Mamdani and Prof. Anyang Nyong’o.
Good enough, truth has already triumphed over the devil as the issue of sanctions and arms embargo on South Sudan were defeated yesterday at the UNSC. I applaud the nations that chose to stand with the truth now rather later after the damage is done.
Many years after the invasion of Iraq, many prominent leaders who hyped the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq admitted that they were wrong and badly regretted their role in the war created out of a baseless lie. I wonder why would some people want to repeat the same mistake in South Sudan?
It is our hope that South Sudan is going to survive the devil scheme, and by the grace of God, surmount all it challenges prove its prophets of doom wrong.
Taban Abel Aguek is the Government Chief Whip in Eastern Lakes State, Yirol. The opinions raised here are solely his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.