Home | News    Saturday 20 July 2013

Army committed “serious abuses” against civilians in Jonglei: HRW


July 19, 2013 (NAIROBI) – A rights groups said the South Sudanese army (SPLA) has committed serious abuses against civilians in its anti-insurgency campaign in Jonglei state, further inflaming ethnic tensions in the region.

An injured man is taken to hospital after recent ethnic clashes in Jonglei state’s Pibor county (ST)

Thousands of civilians have since fled the abuses by soldiers and ongoing conflict with rebel fighters, making them particularly vulnerable to recent large-scale attacks as ethnic violence intensified in the region, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.

The group has also accused the army, which is massed in largely empty towns, of failing to protect civilians from the latest attacks.

Fighting between the Lou Nuer and Murle again erupted in Jonglei state during the first week of July, when thousands of armed Lou Nuer men travelling on foot moved into remote areas of Jonglei’s Pibor county, an ethnic Murle area.

Murle and international organisations working in Jonglei allege that the army supported Lou Nuer groups with weapons and other supplies, including food and water.

Although HRW has not been able to confirm the allegations, it says they are serious enough to warrant and immediate government investigation.


HRW has called on South Sudanese president Salva Kiir to publicly condemn the attacks and ensure that authorities immediately investigate and identify all those responsible, including government officials.

It also urged Kiir to order the military to publicly investigate the actions of the army and hold abusive soldiers accountable.

“Yet again the government of South Sudan has utterly failed to stop armed Lou Nuer youth from moving into ethnic Murle areas, despite advance warnings that they were mobilising,” HRW’s Africa director, Daniel Bekele, said.

“This failure, together with a spate of serious abuses by soldiers in the area, only reinforces the perception that South Sudan’s leaders are taking sides in this ethnic conflict”, he added.

The government’s anti-insurgency campaign against David Yau Yau, a rebel leader and political aspirant from the Murle ethnic group, got underway in March.

South Sudan’s army deployed thousands of soldiers to Pibor county’s main towns – Pibor, Gumruk, Boma, and Manyabol – as part of the campaign.

Earlier this month, military officials told HRW that the soldiers, hampered by rain and a shortage of troops, would only be able to protect civilians in towns, not in remote areas. However, almost all Murle civilians had already fled the towns during the anti-insurgency campaign, often after soldiers committed serious abuses against civilians.


“People fled to the bush because of the conflict between soldiers and rebels but also because of soldiers’ abuses that have made them afraid to return,” Bekele said. “Outside of the towns, Murle have no health or other services and are even more vulnerable to ethnic attacks.”

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled towns after fighting erupted between SPLA soldiers and Yau Yau’s group. HRW has also documented a string of serious abuses by soldiers against Murle civilians, including killings and widespread intimidation.

In interviews with HRW, witnesses reported that a number of civilians had been killed by soldiers, including women and children, between December and May in and around the town of Pibor.

HRW has also heard numerous accounts of verbal and physical abuse, as well as looting of civilian property by soldiers over the last months, especially in mid-May.

Both the SPLA and South Sudanese government have blamed alleged abuses committed by rogue soldiers on a lack of command and control, saying civilians were killed in crossfire between rebels and the army.


Although the total number of casualties remains unknown, the SPLA, and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) airlifted nearly 200 injured Lou Nuer men to the state capital, Bor on 15 July, while injured Murle, estimated to be in the hundreds, have yet to be located.

HRW has called on UNMISS to conduct a full human rights investigation and report publicly on the conflict and the human rights abuses committed in Pibor county since the conflict between Yau Yau and the government intensified in August 2012.

These latest incidents follow serious abuses, including killings and torture, by the army during a disarmament campaign in 2012 and failures by the government to hold perpetrators of earlier ethnic violence to account, creating an environment of impunity.

Dozens of displaced Murle interviewed by HRW in June and July said that it was fear of further killings and looting by the soldiers in the town that made them flee.

On 18 July, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that all six major population centres in Pibor had been abandoned, with about 40,000 inhabitants displaced. At least 8,500 Murle are estimated to have fled to neighbouring countries this year, while about 7,000 escaped to the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

“We were hoping that the soldiers were coming to protect us [from Yau Yau’s forces], but instead they are killing us,” said a Murle civilian from Pibor who fled to Juba.

The attacks in July have caused further displacement, with aid workers telling HRW that the recent clashes caused most civilians to flee Gumuruk, the only remaining town in Pibor county with a significant Murle civilian population.

“Soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes against civilians, which has fuelled distrust of the military and the depopulation of towns,” Bekele said.

“South Sudan’s leaders should ensure that soldiers protect civilians rather than abuse them, and the starting point is to hold abusive soldiers to account”, he added.


HRW says the government has supported piecemeal peace processes in Jonglei since 2012, and has failed to investigate ethnic violence, as well as claims that government officials may have been involved in organising the clashes.

It also accuses the government of showing a lack of will to prosecute leaders responsible for attacks on civilians and ensuring accountability for the crimes.

HRW has urged officials from South Sudan’s government and army to urgently condemn the attacks and ensure that all Lou Nuer fighters leave Pibor county, adding that those suspected of supporting or carrying out the attacks should be investigated and arrested.


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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 20 July 2013 06:59, by Kurnyeil The Junior

    The HRW must be inversitigate too because they were aware of mobilisation and fail to give evidence to the Government to stop it,
    How do they HRW know that mobilisation was taking place if they were not part of mobilising? Go to hell. Any HRW who dosent condemn kidnap of children and senseless killing by murle themselves is labbeled as murle person,

    • 20 July 2013 07:19, by Dinkawarrior

      Where were HRW during the 1991-Bor Massacred and even now there is no indictment for crimes against humanity by Dr. Ceith Holocaust Traitor Riek Machar the of the Nyigateen. The kidnapping issues in Jonglei State cause by Murle Community while HRW has nothing say about it. I thinks HRW may be an agent of destruction if a special interest agent.

    • 22 July 2013 08:52, by Good South Sudanese

      Good South Sudanese
      The more women and children go to East Africa the better, so that we the murle warriors will fuck Nuer and Dinka very much when they come to our land. We will fight for our land. It is a war between Murle and Dinka Bor. SPLA and Nuer are just being used by Kuol Manyang for Bor purposes only.

  • 20 July 2013 07:24, by Bol Thon

    Kiir must go to ICC (the Hague)not only in Jonglei he is now planing war in Juba. He should be vote out to save the people of South Sudan. This is a message to everybody

    • 20 July 2013 09:29, by Arakataa

      Thon bol.
      understand the word militia and rebel don’t just complaint that kiir must face the icc while knowing that s.Sudan is not a member of icc once again the government is killing civilian he dealing with David yy but all murle are rebel including civilian in the areas

    • 20 July 2013 14:12, by Peacocktail

      Ton Bol
      Be very careful with your Official identification..ST do not like you to associate with Official. HRW is bias on South Sudan. He did the pressurize Young Government to install all institutions to be functioning.rubbish and David Yau with other Murle warlord must be dealt with aggressively till they know everyone right to exist.Blame David Yau and not SPLA. Kenyans are killing Somalians

  • 20 July 2013 07:29, by Bol Thon

    He is keeping Salva Mathok who kills on daily basis in Juba, which involves Dinka Bor and SS people. Kick him out NLA

  • 20 July 2013 07:36, by Bol Thon

    Has he really a humanity in him? Because it didn’t happen worldwide for a president to ordered no treatment to his people in Pibor. Army has been ordered to do crimes

  • 20 July 2013 08:00, by Gäär

    Two things will happen before or during the 2015 elections:
    1. Genocide as a result of war between Nuer and Dinka or
    2. Slava Kiir will leave the seat to make way for others
    Because what these Dinkas are doing is to make sure that their own Dinka man remains in power. WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THAT. We will fight tooth and Nail to liberate other South Sudanese from these illiterates. I promise you.

    • 20 July 2013 11:27, by Mohammed Ali 2

      Genocide is occuring now against Murle and other small tribes in Jongoli , right under the vision of the UN.

      • 20 July 2013 18:13, by Rommel

        The deaths of perhaps 4000 civilians in intertribal violence in South Sudan since 2011 is genocide, while the deaths of at least a quarter of a million [300, 000] people in Darfur, in Africa’s worst case of ethnic cleansing since the Rwandan genocide is strangely not genocide... welcome to Mohammed’s world; where 1 represents a far greater sum than 1000.

    • 20 July 2013 14:03, by Peacocktail

      Are you puppet of destruction? How long does it took us to into Sudan Presidency? Rieik Machar attempt to maneuver to Khartoum but He shy away after Government toughened stands. No short cut to leadership. Be Patient otherwise you scratching an old wound for Riek Machar to be indicted for GENOCIDES.
      Leadership kills and many lives have been lost through wars.PAST + PRESENT=FUTURE LEADER RSS

    • 20 July 2013 19:16, by panom lualbil

      Yeah RIAK MACHAR was behind this situation. He blamed the GOVERNOR KUOL b4 that he conspired with MURLE to attack NUER-LOU and killed 100people in the day disarmament supposed to place. These’re the same NUER-LOU that RIAK MACHAR was used to massacred DINKA BOR during the civil-war.

  • 20 July 2013 08:01, by Marco Bul

    Trying to impost laws on lawless pple is like taming a full grown lion.HRW are biased coz they only react when the perpetrators are dealt with.The innocent Murle civilians do not know one thing.They were fooled z Dinka n Nuer soldiers are coming to kill u by YauYau.They run with mercenaries to the bush.For Lou,the SPLA is not also protecting them from rebels,so they take law into their own hands.B

  • 20 July 2013 08:13, by Marco Bul

    @Gäär.For your information.There is a conspiracy from Lam Akol z larger tribes(Nuer n Dinka) will be made to kill themselves to clear ways for minor tribes.They started it in 1980s by arming Murle and now they are circulating it thro’ media,e.g.ST.
    Moreover,that "war for change" u are inciting will not end in one day! Do u know how long it took Somalia to bring change thro’ bullets?Think about i

    • 20 July 2013 08:29, by Mapuor

      Marco Bul
      You are right,in 1983 Pagan,Lokurnyang,Nyacigak and others started arming Murle and attacks were directed against Dinka Bor and Lou Nuer.They wanted to unite small tribes in the South against the two major tribes,when they failed they resorted to 1991 situation that was instigated by Lam.Hahahah if you want to lead just convince people don’t kill them.

  • 20 July 2013 11:36, by wang

    Dinka should start training their youth…. 2015 is not too far away, otherwise they will complain as usually that Nuer have attack them while they fighting with “Arab”….genocide is only available table option that will changes Jaang/slaves attitudes toward other groups…. it will automatically happened by itself without me or others start it…I .feel sorry for Murle people which are not our main targ

  • 20 July 2013 11:38, by wang

    I .feel sorry for Murle people which are not our main targets and paid more prices than our main enemy…

  • 20 July 2013 16:24, by Kim Deng

    I’m worried about other coward Jurs (Teet, Nyam-Nyam, Bar, Chai...) when the D-day comes between the Might Nuer Warriors and coward Jaang/Slaves in or before 2015. I wonder which side they will be in either with Naath/Nuer or Jaang/Slaves. Instead hope they watch the dirty game in a distance.

  • 20 July 2013 17:05, by Kim Deng

    (19th July, 2013) - The Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) has urged civilians displaced by fighting in Pibor County, Jonglei State to move to towns for easy protection.
    Humanitarian agencies have reported that more than 120,000 have been displaced by continued inter-communal fighting.
    SPLA Spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer, said people should move to towns where the army can extend protection.

  • 20 July 2013 17:09, by Kim Deng

    You always shamelesslly claim to be warriors, then, when the Mighty Nuer Warriors declares "Kac-lora/Mut," you ran like rats chase by cats betweent the bushes. Come out from your hidding and face the Mighty Nuer Warriors in the field of death.

    • 20 July 2013 18:23, by Rommel

      Kim Deng:
      Do what you must and be sure that you actually march, that you actually take part in the war that you so foolishly eagerly await. Act in three [3] dimensions. Don’t issue threats.

    • 20 July 2013 22:30, by panom lualbil

      Why worry about JURS if you’re not coward? You talk fool talk here, at least you know who always run to KHARTOUM with dick dangling behind legs! I bet, RIAK wont repeat it or death to all of you who care about agents of Arabs!

  • 22 July 2013 07:47, by Good South Sudanese

    The SOLA Dinka and their puppets Nuer are the ones carrying out these genocides in Murleland, what they are saying that the Murle civilians must come back to towns is actually trying to fool the poor civilians who do not know that they are being called to come to towns, so that they can kill them in towns as they did last time, when Riek himself was the one who deceived civilians to come back only

  • 22 July 2013 07:48, by Good South Sudanese

    The SPLA Dinka and their puppets Nuer are the ones carrying out these genocides in Murleland, what they are saying that the Murle civilians must come back to towns is actually trying to fool the poor civilians who do not know that they are being called to come to towns, so that they can kill them in towns as they did last time, when Riek himself was the one who deceived civilians to come back only

    • 22 July 2013 07:52, by Good South Sudanese

      only to fall into Lou Nuer killers who planned with Riek to comfuse the women and children who were fleeing the fighting, that was how the 2012 genocide was done by Riek Machar playing the role of the confuser. Now it is the same thing. They are calling the civilians to come back to towns, then they will be killed in the presence of the useless UN. Murle must not believe these murderers. Liars

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