Home | News    Friday 15 July 2011

SPLA refutes Amnesty International claims of unlawful killings


July 14, 2011 (JUBA) - The army of newly independent South Sudan has denied claims by Amnesty International, a UK-based human rights body, that the former rebels, turned national military, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), are responsible for “unlawful killings and the destruction of homes and other civilian properties”.

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers march during a rehearsal of the Independence Day ceremony in Juba July 5, 2011 (Reuters Pictures)

In its report released on the eve of South Sudan’s independence, Amnesty said intense fighting between the SPLA and armed opposition groups have killed hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 10,000 people in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States of the new nation.

“SPLA forces have been responsible for serious violations, including unlawful killings and the destruction of homes and other civilian properties,” the organisation said, while calling for accountability for abuses allegedly committed by soldiers, police, and other security forces in the region.

Reacting to the report, Phillip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson completely dismissed Amnesty’s claims, describing it as a “malicious and fabricated” report allegedly aimed at tarnishing the Southern army’s image.

“Why should the SPLA get involved in killing and destroying properties of innocent civilians it has been mandated to protect? This Amnesty International is [a] bias[ed] institution whose reports need to be largely ignored,” Aguer told Sudan Tribune on phone.

He however challenged the organisation’s researchers to visit the states mentioned in their report to carry out first hand assessment of the situations on the ground.

In the week before South Sudan seceded from the North as part of a 2005 peace deal, the governor of Unity State Taban Deng Gai sacked the commisioner of Mayom County after he accused the SPLA of killing over 200 civilians and burning down over 7,000 homes in May this year.

The Mayom commisioner Charles Machieng Kuol alleged that on 21 May the SPLA destroyed civilian property as it chased a rebel militia group out of the area. He went on to condemn the SPLA and accuse them of terrorising citizens from his county.

South Sudan’s army - the SPLA - is in the process of transforming itself from the rebel army that fought over two decades of civil war into a national army after independence.

The SPLA claim they killed over 80 members of a militia loyal to Peter Gadet, who defected from the Southern military earlier this year. Gadet has attempted to base his rebellion in Mayom County. He announced his defection in statement on April 11, which he called the "Mayom Declaration" vowing to overthrow the South Sudan government due its alleged tribalism and corruption.

After Gadets militia - the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) - attacked the the town of Mankien in Mayom County on May 20 the SPLA responded by forcing the group out of the area.

Following the attack SPLA Maj. Gen. Koang Chuol operation officer for Division 4 of Unity State warned civilians south of Mankien to move away from the area to avoid being caught up in what he described as a war zone but also said that those fleeing the area with would be treated as rebels.

“Anyone found in those areas with militias will be push[ed] away with rebels and would be termed as siding with them”. He urged civilians to move east of Mayom to find safety and security.

Chuol said that civilians who remain to look after their property would not be considered as supporting the SSLA.

The SSLA claim they are trying to protect civilians from raids from neighbouring Warrap State, while the SPLA maintain that Gadet is supported by Khartoum in order to destabilise the South - Sudan’s government and Gadet both deny this.

Arms trade

Amnesty’s report went on to criticise countries that have armed or provided training to both North and South Sudan.

Amnesty International placed blame on the Ukraine, for transferring a major shipment of arms to the SPLA through Kenya and Uganda in 2007 and 2008. The weaponry and munitions, it adds, included tanks, anti-aircraft guns, multiple rocket launchers and automatic rifles.

Also mentioned in the July 8 report is the US government, which reportedly provides $100 million a year worth of military assistance to the SPLA in South Sudan and that very little detail has been made public on this kind of assistance.

Recently, a leaked US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, made reference to “our training program for the SPLA, including combat arms soldier training.” This evidence, the organisations says, exposes the US military’s disregard for human rights principles.

“The role of the big powers in supplying arms and military training that is stoking conflict in Sudan underscores the urgency for an Arms Trade Treaty with teeth. The treaty must include effective measures to ensure states comply with and enforce all of its provisions,” said Amnesty International’s Brian Wood.

He added: “The permanent members of the UN Security Council must now throw their political might behind efforts to make the treaty effective to save lives and prevent human rights abuses, or risk undermining its purpose and jeopardising the whole process.”

China and Russia have also been accused of having allegedly provided weapons or military training to both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA, specifically citing the Russian-made aircraft, reportedly involved in indiscriminate air strikes that led to civilian deaths and injuries Southern Kordofan last month.

“Civilians are being killed and injured in Southern Kordofan with weapons manufactured by governments overseas who fail to rigorously assess the potential humanitarian and human rights risks before doing business with armed forces,” said Erwin Van Der Borght, Director of the Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

Borght urged the big powers like China, Russia and the US to support the rule banning weapons and ammunitions from being sold to forces that pose threats to human rights during the global Arms Trade Treaty, due next week.


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  • 15 July 2011 07:30, by Akaai

    If the report could incriminate all prominent world countries like, USA, China,Russia and Ukraine, how could their accusation succeed without the support of those giants countries whose any positive outcome pass before them.

    Ooops! our Unity state brothers of Gatdet Yak, you are running a loss game of justice.
    The authenticity of any case assert that you must minimize implicating everybody on a problem but instead befriend some if you are to win a case.

    Good Luck with your loose and loss justice!

  • 15 July 2011 07:50, by Deng Thiak Adut

    Dear friends;
    South Sudan was born out of humanity and there will be no exceptional circumstances where we can become perpetrators of these kinds of atrocities. We must observe human right as paramount consideration. The most basic right of all is that to life-guaranteed by article 8 of the Universal Declaration. At its highest, namely when the State takes life pursuant to a policy of genocide. How, a child born yesterday could start to commits these horrific crimes? What are the differences between the NCP and the SPLA now? Whether these are allegations are not, it must be investigated thoroughly otherwise.

  • 15 July 2011 08:40, by doublebookdialled

    It is very bad start for a new country to have her National army(SPLA) to immediately have criminal record against its peoples.

    my word to Aguer is that denial doesn’t prove you to be innocent but prove yourself with record and evidences otherwise the report will be right from the Amnesty international.
    give room for the army to be investigated and let the Amnesty give its prove so that we see who right and if you are proved right then you have right to go to court for being defamed or if it is the reverse you will be to ICC but your word indicate your red handiness.

    • 15 July 2011 09:18, by Land-of-Cush

      Dear readers!!!

      You will accept the human rights claimers when things happen inside your home door. First just go to south Sudan then stay near where south Sudanese army live no matter what tribe you are, after one day you will be the first person that will claim against them rather than Amnesty who fought and raise the humiliations carrying against civilians. The UN declaration on Human rights in 1948 offers right to life and right to fairness trail, but the former rebels haven’t yet become familiar or adequate with such dignitaries.
      Philip Aguer is just someone who is always denying the pact, he thought he would be the best or loyalty to the government of Republic of South Sudan but he don’t realise yet as this is how Omer Al Basher was condemned and remain in ICC list when he carrying genocides against Dafur people. Now we have already granted and have UN membership; the ICC shall be always in our home door quote it.

      • 15 July 2011 09:45, by Mading Makuac

        Dear fellow citizens,
        You know SPLA does not respect human right completely but
        the army suppose to change that behaviors of mistreating
        civilians.Brothers and sisters of South Sudan let not blame
        them because many of them are primitive and majority of them
        are those who join the army to get only money.The real SPLA
        soldiers who joined the movement in early 1980s and 1990s are
        not still operating and they were the most patriotic ones!!

        • 15 July 2011 10:00, by koriom

          Dear Mading,
          You are right brother.Thank you for your comments

      • 15 July 2011 10:07, by Cibaipiath Junub Sudan

        Dear commenters;
        Let us not contribute much on this article. Some of us like myself have accepted transformation and begin to realise the fundamental Human rights while the rest did not accept. There is no smoke without fire. All world Superpowers are accussed in this report plus the SPLA the ultimate implementers of Human killings.

        First where do this Human rights Amnesty Gruops come from?
        And why do Col. Philip Aguer react to this joined accussation? It may have happened in Mankien and other places where rebels erupted but that was not intended.

        Transformation of the SPLA is a continuous process that will also take similar years like the years spend for the Struggle and therefore, no need to condemn the Army of the new Independent State.

    • 15 July 2011 09:48, by Mr Point

      The Amnesty report seems to be based on claim by former Mayom commisioner Charles Machieng Kuol that on 21 May the SPLA 7,800 homes and killed over 200 civilians as it chased a rebel militia group out of the area. This was reported in Sudan Tribune on July 5.

      The Nuer community is looking for ways to raise an investigation into the alleged massacre and have asked the International Criminal Court investigate the SPLA’s actions in Mayom.

      These claims need to be investigated in detail. Any community in South Sudan should be protected by the security forces. The security forces should do more than simply deny the charges. They should be able to show that they act responsibly to protect civilians and not to cause them harm.

      If they did burn villages and if they did kill civilians they will create further support for the militias of Gadet and his like. Gadet would not function if the local area stopped supporting him. The SPLA should weaken Gadet’s support at the roots by providing security that the Mayom community can trust.

    • 15 July 2011 10:54, by Nhom wadit

      Brother Doublebookdialled,
      Government should tell the people of its own to abstain from keeping and accommodating the rebell but those civillians were supporting the rebells and gvt should not leave them if they are supporting rebells. The rebells are against the government.so my advice to civillians should consider whatever said by government. Thanks

    • 15 July 2011 11:09, by Nhom wadit

      Dear Doublebookdialled Good governance for keeping wrongdoers from pple and civillians were involved in rebells activities that was why they were killed it is not a criminal record.They are rebells govt should not leave them bse they are against it.

  • 15 July 2011 09:57, by Aleu

    ROSS and GOSS must be carefully about friendship. The rebels have made a lots of mess but why they don’t blame on the rebels.? Khartoum government government violent every single human rights and the International did not take action against Sudan government.

    I think there is some thing behind the rebellion.There are people seem to be your friend while, their business is very hard to know please watch out otherwise, these people will cause more problems in South Sudan.

    • 15 July 2011 10:20, by koriom

      Please don’t depend GOSS because it is sleeping ,there will be no
      development it will bring to us unless those people change
      the rate of corruption .everybody is corrupt especially the
      president .At this time we are not suppose to compare GOSS
      with Khartoum government because GOSS is our government ,it
      suppose to protect the civilians instead of killing them like
      Khartoum government.

      • 15 July 2011 12:53, by Chol A.

        I think Amnesty International reports clearly base on Mayom commissioner who has been sack as mentioned by some colleagues early. Of cause no doubt Gadet supporters may have contacted Amnesty and talks against SPLA. But it seems that GOSS were very clear warning Mayom resident before their raid telling them to abandon the area!. If there were not enemy to GOSS why are they wait to be Killed?. let them deserved because Nuer learned on what they have seen not by hearing it and accepts. Surely those who were killed were Gadet army gangs since they have no colour of knowing who is Gadet army and who is not.

  • 15 July 2011 12:05, by Josh

    Time has come to hear about the mother of crimes commuted by Dinka and Nuer. Most of the criminals are the old Anyanya one Veteran, what they know is killings, raping, rootings, stilling properties of people. They know nothing but corruption.

  • 15 July 2011 13:16, by Rising of the Sun

    We all know the role the SPLA has played in liberation of South Sudan.
    But we also know the terrible atrocities committed by SPLA before and after the CPA. These are facts only the witnesses can testify when the time comes for us to look into these issues and investigate them.

    There are also other groups which committed atrocities, but as the SPLA is viewed as the symbol of our liberation it is totally unacceptable to see these continue to happen.

    Across South Sudan SPLA soldiers continue to intimidate and harass people who speak what they don’t want to hear and use military influence to grab people’s land and property.
    They have to change the jungle behaviour and stop embarrassing South Sudan. In fact they are receiving a very big budget for doing nothing other than bragging around in uniform not acknowledging that they are no longer rebels but a national army.

    It is common that SPLA soldiers take sides with their tribes and are not neutral in most cases when dealing with civilians.

    I don’t encourage people to offer blind loyalty.
    We should accept the truth so that we correct our wrong doings.
    We all have brothers or relatives in the SPLA but we just can’t support the kind of behaviour they are exhibiting even in broad day light.

    Enough is enough.

  • 15 July 2011 13:56, by Wanibuluk Ciciliba

    Hi Hi,
    Do you all know that any movement that has come to power must clean the ground of the most disturbing Chimbaziz whos front heads are cut deep to the skull and teath plucked from the gum? Anyway not a joke now! for the government to maintain its position it must keep away those who are notorious and disturbing the Gvn’t thats all not crime against humanity but creating a stability no matter who falls a victim or not.
    Is it the concern of the Amnesty Int.when a Country builds it’s defence? What was their interest particullarly in the South?

    • 15 July 2011 20:02, by Murle Intellectual

      Well then, what if the victims decide to fight back and revenge for all those innocent civilians whether in Nuer land or Murle land. I don’t who the criminal is, if the victims remnants decide to take arms and form a force to strike back, where will you enjoy your ill-gotten wealth through looting of other people’s wealth and through corruption which theft by government officials and SPLA. A town like juba will need very few gunmen to terrorise the neighborhood all over juba, road side bombs and kinds of violent acts. These SPLA crimes against the helpless civilians can lead to this unpleasant situation. Remember the so-called arab pring was started by just one Bouazizi in Tunisia. The worst terrorist dictators who were worsipped like gods were quickly humbled in a matter of hours. Salva and supporters can go in a moment if they don’t stop their crimes

  • 16 July 2011 10:01, by Sam.Eto

    I salute those southern brothers that speak up when the SPLM does wrong. The rest of you brainwashed SPLM supporters are nothing but hypocrites - when Amnesty accuses the SAF doing things your the first to agree and call for intervention or ICC. When its your own government and army doing it - oh Amnesty is bad and wrong - you are jokers and ignorant fools.

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