An Open Letter to the President of the United States of America, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the President of South Sudan, and the South Sudan Opposition Leader
Please stop this war!
We side with the people of South Sudan. About political parties we are neutral. It is not our purpose to side with any South Sudanese political group. Rather we side with the people of South Sudan but are not neutral about peace or the inhumane situation that the people face.
Rather than immediate, near term political objectives, our focus is the near term end of conflict and the ultimate establishment of a just and lasting peace. When the issues precluding the end of conflict arise, even if they are identified to one or the other party, we have an obligation to point them out and urge the political parties, IGAD+ and the International Community as well as concerned people of South Sudan to correct them.
The current situation is critical.
“The stories and reports of the human toll of the violence and brutality have been heart-wrenching: reports of people being burnt in places of worship and hospitals, mass burials, women of all ages raped; both elderly and young, women described how they were brutally gang-raped, and left unconscious and bleeding, people were not simply shot, they were subjected, for instance, to beatings before being compelled to jump into a lit fire. The Commission heard of some captured people being forced to eat human flesh or forced to drink human blood. All these accounts evoke the memories of some of the worst episodes of earlier human rights violations on the continent, including in South Sudan itself.” AUCISS Report Para 380.
“Within the limited time and resources available to it, the Commission was able to document various gross violations of human rights that have occurred during the conflict, and that continue to happen, albeit on a smaller scale despite the formal Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and on-going peace negotiations under IGAD.” AUCISS Report Para 381, emphasis added.
Although we understood from news reports over the past months that the report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) must reflect such a total moral breakdown of the warring forces, its release raises the situation to a new imperative. If we fail to take action when clear issues arise, we risk abandoning the people and allowing the spread of anarchy in South Sudan and conflict to a wider area in East Africa.
While the Compromise Peace Agreement (CPA*) has been signed, people are still dying at the hand of both government and opposition forces. The leadership of both sides are taking actions both in violation of the CPA* and that also prevent compliance with the CPA*.
• These are among the actions that are impeding peace: After signing the CPA*, government forces continue to attack civilians in Upper Nile State and use excessive force against civilians in Greater Equatoria. These are among other persistent complaints that the national army is being used for ethnic purposes. The AUCISS reports this is a general perception. These actions are fueling more rebellion when active peace efforts should be being taken. In southern Jonglei state, clearly the National Police Services are similarly involved for ethnic purposes;
• Both opposition and government forces continue to attack military and civilian positions in Unity State, which has resulted in more displacement, killing and suffering of the civilians. Some displaced persons in this area have been denied food on a regular basis since May;
• In violation of the CPA*, President Kiir announced the establishment of 28 states when the CPA* was based on the original ten states. This already has created both additional conflict and instability including further defections from the SPLA and the formation of additional opposition forces;
• SPLM-IO delayed signing the minutes of the security arrangement meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Such delays in the implementation of the agreement diminish the potential of a better tomorrow for the people of South Sudan;
• Dr. Riek Machar has been reluctant to return to Juba as required in the peace agreement citing lack of personal security. For the CPA* to be effective, he must be in Juba and must be afforded personal security. This is one example that demonstrates the lack of trust among key political leaders;
• President Kiir announced the dissolution of the SPLM leadership and infrastructure, further creating a sense of instability when stability is needed.
• We are very concerned that the leaders on both sides say one thing and do another. We call on the government and opposition to be mindful of the death, abuse and suffering of the people of South Sudan;
• President Obama said very clearly that he would deal with those who are impediments to peace. We support President Obama’s position and urge him to take the required action;
• We feel both leaders are not serious about ending this conflict. Therefore, we call upon IGAD - particularly the Prime Minister of Ethiopia - to double its efforts in requiring the leadership to implement the CPA* within the specified timeframe or face consequences;
• Once again CASS calls on the people of South Sudan to take action – avoid taking political sides and demand that the military leadership at all levels on both sides honor the multiple permanent cease fire agreements which their top commanders have signed.
Dear President Kiir and Dr Machar:
As noted by the South Sudan Council of Churches, “…this is a senseless war which must stop immediately. There is no moral justification to continue killing ourselves, regardless of any legitimate political issues with government or opposition…..The needs of the people must be met, not the needs of political and military elites. It appears that pride, power and politics have become a greater priority than peace.”
As the AUCISS reports, by many measures, South Sudan already can be considered a failed state; anarchy is prevalent. To reverse this, requires you to put aside differences and work together for the people.
Please stop this war!
The Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS) was established in April 2014 with the mission to help establish a just and lasting peace in South Sudan.
Our advocacy is directly informed by the situation on the ground and by the South Sudanese people who urgently seek justice, peace, end to violence, and the establishment of a democratic nation with equality for all.