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South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community

Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019

Release by The Lafon County Youth Union:

We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and the killings of innocent people from the Pari community on the 24/3/2019 at Lokiri, Imatong state.

We write this press statement to the Imotong State and the government of South Sudan reminding them that the Pari community is known for their contribution towards the SPLAM movement. In our thinking, we believe that the wolf who comes and eats our men comes from outside, we never thought that the wolf would come from within. As we mourn for our loved ones, we ask the justice to prevail. We call upon the Government of Imotong State to launch an immediate investigation into the root causes of the fight with a view bring the criminals to book. We would like to say that claims reported in media that the Pari community were the ones who started the fight was untrue. It is the Lokiri side which started the fight and not Pari community.

On 23rd March, 2019 the State governor ordered two commissioners from Torit and Lafon counties to go and solve the problems between two communities of Pacidi and Lokiri. These two commissioners were to address the looming and growing tensions there. They both complained that they were not prepared and had no fuel for their cars but the governor said he would fuel the two vehicles. From the beginning, no-one understood the complexity behind the initiative and order given to those two commissioners. It sounded good at the time but the result was so very sour.

The fact is that many lives were lost. Twenty people from the Pari community were killed and eight wounded while only two of the attackers (Lotuko from Torit County) and one chief from Lohila lost their lives. The Torit commissioner said that the Pari started the fight but what was their motive? Why would our innocent community be killed in the name of Peace dialogue? We need to clarify the causes. Many things must have happened before the actual confrontation. The Pari people are always ready for dialogue as the way to solve problems and that would have been the best tool to use to avoid conflict.

There have been several occasions of provocation against the Pari people. Recently, some young girls walking from Torit to Pacidi were ambushed when they reached Lokiri. They were beaten up and their luggage were taken by force. On another occasion, some goats were stolen and some youths were attacked as they were going to cut makuti /Kani for thatching roofs. These incidences were perpetuated by Lokiri youths and men.

We would like to inform the public and the government that Pari were trapped by Lokiri people in the name of peace dialogue. The fight which broke out on Sunday 24th March 2019 was planned by all the Lotuko kingdoms including Torit County. We would also like to mention and condemn the involvement of Gen.Thomas Chirilo’s Army officers in the community conflict. When the fight broke out, some soldiers from NAS who happened to be from Lotuko joined the fight against the Pari community. These were the senior officers from National Salvation front (NAS), who were involved, namely Brigadier Gen. SEBINO Celio Thiobolo, Lt col. ERANSE OKER, Col. Jacob Ohisa. This clearly indicates how maliciously it was planned against the Pari people. The involvement of others from the Lotuko, Loronyo, Orieju, Ongalith and Lokiri villages of Torit County testify to the earlier preparation and mobilization.

The Torit County commissioner was aware of this that is why he gave false information. The rebel groups in Torit County in coordination with their counterparts in the government, they took advantage to clean up other ethnic communities, in particular, the Pari people, yet the government at the state level is busy conducting peace rallies while people are being massacred. What sort of peace rallies are people talking about in Torit?

The Pari people need to know that they are now vulnerable because the state government and the rebel groups and Lotuko of Torit County, particularly the NAS groups who have their base in Loronyo, Torit County, in Eastern Equatoria State have mobilized the Lotuko villages to gang up against them. It shows how our government responds to such attacks when soldiers were sent twice to the scene from Torit and ended up taking sides. They did not reach Pacidi to hear from people on the ground. It was unrealistic for the state government to be satisfied with only one side of the report which came from the Torit commissioners who were using the media throughout. In other words, the whole thing was planned.

We therefore strongly urge the Torit Commissioner to withdraw his false statement and the lies he had spread against the Pari people. The state and national governments should strongly question the Torit county commissioner about his collusion with the parties mentioned above. The state government must be clear on this. The South Sudan Vice President James Wani was in Torit during that time should and should have nullified the first report given to him by Imotong state government because it was a one-sided report. The National Government should also question the Imotong state government as to why the Lotuko mobilized themselves with the rebel groups(NAS) based in their villages against one community. Indeed, why did the governor give orders to the Lafon County commissioner? What did he know about it? Will the people of Pari ever accept such a peace dialogue again in such a manner? It is unfair and unacceptable. We, the Lafon Youth, condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

The Chairperson of Lafon County Youth Union

Paul Ukach Nyibuch