Many people in Unity State were not aware with the magnitude of gross human right violations particularly inflicted on Nuer by Kiir’s regime until they have had the taste of it. After the war broke out, between the presidential guards in Juba, General Peter Gatdet who hails from Unity State, but deployed in Bor to fight the Yaw Yaw rebellion instantly developed natural response and declared war on Juba after hearing that his fellow Nuers, most of whom were defenceless, were targeted by the president’s private Dinka army.
Interesting though, is the fact that, Gatdet’s sentiment was not transpired by many in Unity State. Although Unity state followed suit and joined the Upper Nile and Jonglei all of which felt under the rebel control in the first phase of the war, Kiir used his tactic, dividing Nuer to reach his goal so as to rule South Sudan unchallenged.
He was able to get his message across convincing some inhabitants in Unity State such as the Bull Nuer that General Taban Deng Gai joined the rebellion ostensively for the governorship of the state. As a result, Nguen Monytuel who was the current governor of Unity State until last week worked hard to promote hatred among Nuer reminding Bull that they will loose the governorship for Jikany Nuer in Bentiu where General Taban comes from.
When SPLA troops were deployed to capture the town from the rebels, many people were reluctant to fight on the notion that the defence of Bentiu from the Dinka take over has much to do with Taban rather than the quest for democracy and general gross human right violaton particularly the extra judicial killing of Nuer most of whom were burnt alive.
Consequently many people, who fought bravely last week in the recapture of town from Kiir’s forces, made way for SPLA forces in January when the rebels were flashed out not knowing that they were agreeing with an evil monster which most will regret.
The four months occupation by Kiir’s forces was brutal and a nightmare for many in Bentiu. The notion that the issue was a lot to do with Taban had just became the reverse. Kiir’s forces resorted to their status quo doing what they love doing torturing Nuer in their ancestral land.
In Leer county for example, hospital and schools were destroyed even though there were no any sign of rebellion in the area. When elderly people asked why they were doing that, three of them were instantly killed and the remaining two were let go being warned that they will meet the same fate should they dare to ask. All of these were designed to punish Dr. Riek for raising up his hands for a challenge against President Kiir.
These violations of human rights were not only confined to Leer. Other counties of the state experienced the same magnitude of abuses which many later realised that it was a serious mistake not to withstand the government forces when they first attack the town.
In Bentiu, women and young girls were raped in the eyes of their families. Anti Nuer songs were being sung by SPLA soldiers chanting death death to the Nuer. Many prominent figures of the Nuer vanishes in the town on a daily basis with no one to hold to account. The Nuer soldiers in the army were unable to convince their Dinka collegues that what they were doing was wrong.
As life become a nightmare for the people of Bentiu, those in the army cannot wait for the rebels to attack the town again and free their people from Dinka slavery. Many civilians who cannot put up with the ongoing injustice on Nuer escaped the town and joined a training camp run by the SPLA in Opposition.
The trainee as well as the soldiers who defected from the division 4 were all determined to liberate Unity State from SPLA once and for all so that people could regain their lost freedom.
A resident interviewed by the Gambella Vision who declined to be named was crying in tears when he memorised the painful period he said they went through. He said, “they rape women, they rape young girls and they are killing us when we ask them why they are doing that? We had no choice but to go to the UNMISS compound. We became refugee in our ancestral land. We became unsecure in our father land”. Asked about the prospect of the SPLA regaining control of the town, he said “we knew what they are like. Raping our women and girls. They will come to Bentiu by air not through tanks as they did last time”.