Unmasking the politics of collusion and double standards in South Sudan (Part 2)

Attack on a UN Protection of Civilians (POC) site with 18 civilians killed

The views expressed by David Shearer aren’t confined to him and his organisation. They are shared by at least one member of the TROIKA group of nations. Its Special Envoy repeated what Shearer said during a closed meeting in March 2019. But drumming up for the R-ARCSS would prove to be a big mistake. The supporters could call it Plan A and the only option on the table, but that alone would not bring about a lasting peace without people’s backing. 

Hitherto, no logical argument has been put forward to explain the need for 5 Vice Presidents in a country where the population size is only a fraction of the ones in the US and China. As we know, the US has one Vice President (VP) while China has none. It’s ironical that these superpowers don’t see any advantage in having that number of VPs while a country topping the list of the World’s Fragile (failed) States requires that crowd of them. Also, at the time when having a lean government seems the right approach to tackle the economic collapse – the R-ARCSS abolishes that principle. It stipulates the expansion of the government by increasing the number of members of Parliament to 550. The Council of Ministers and other sectors underwent similar expansion. The whole thing looks like a joke.

Moreover, the R-ARCSS appears to be a departure from the norms and highlights the hypocrisy within the international community when we draw comparisons. Worryingly, the examples below support the above assertion and indicate that the international community is about to set a precedent in its approach to the atrocities committed in South Sudan.

Outside Africa, we recall the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror that devastated Kampuchea in the 70ties of the past century.  Over 2 million people perished under the terrible Communist regime of Pol Pot. The living perpetrators didn’t escape the long arm of the law and were all tried by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

The Srebrenica genocide in July 1995 where over 8,000 people, mostly men and young boys fell victims to the Bosnian Serb Army and Militia, drew a strong and decisive response from the international community. NATO, led by the US, swiftly intervened with massive aerial bombing of the Bosnian Serb positions in what was called “Operation Deliberate Force”. By early 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had already convicted 61 people for war crimes in connection with the war in Bosnia. 

Former President of Yugoslavia and then Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, died in his prison cell on 11/03/2006 after being convicted by the ICTY for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo between 1991 and 1999. His colleagues in the crimes, Dr Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb Leader, and General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb Military Commander, were on the run for quite a while. But eventually, they got apprehended, extradited, tried, and sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY in 2019 and 2017 respectively.

In Africa, the way the international community dealt with the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide (07 April to 15 July 1994), should remain as a benchmark of what should be done in similar circumstances.  It resulted in a stable and prosperous country. Those responsible for the Rwandan genocide were not left to continue ruling the country like in South Sudan. They were tried in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) established by the UN Security Council Resolution 955.

The former Liberian President, Charles Taylor is currently serving a fifty-years jail sentence for war crimes and crimes against Humanity committed under his watch in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. It was estimated that over 300,000 people were killed in that war.  His conviction took place at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherland. He is currently at the Frankland High-Security Prison in County Durham, United Kingdom (UK).

It’s worth mentioning that the UK intervened militarily in Sierra Leone on 07/05/2000 under the codename “Operation Pallister” which was further expanded with the launching of a new operation codenamed “Operation Barras”. British intervention proved to be crucial in preparing the ground for peace and stability in the West African Country. Such actions can only receive praises from the peace-loving people across the globe. 

Over 400,000 people were killed since war broke out in Juba in December 2013 according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in a report published in December 2018. Apart from the Khmer Rouge and the Rwandan genocides, the number of lives lost in South Sudan is far more than in each of the other countries. The international community seems to have taken a different set of criteria and standards in dealing with the perpetrators of the atrocities in South Sudan. If NATO could bomb the Bosnian Serb army and militia as mentioned above to end the war in Bosnia and bring those responsible to justice, then the international community could undoubtedly do better in the case of South Sudan. We are not asking for similar actions like what took place in Bosnia and Kosovo, but rather to apply the international law in its entirety on South Sudan.

The R-ARCSS, in its current form, rewards those who plunged the country into a civil war that was entirely avoidable. The supporters of the deal are propagating the argument that says – “let peace be given a chance.” It’s beautiful to say that, but they ignored the fact that peace stands no chance at all under the current circumstances. Furthermore, there’s a problem with that argument because they want the perpetrators to lead the transitional period. Here are some valid questions that beg their answers:

1. In all the above countries, did any of the perpetrators continue to be in office after the end of the conflict? The answer is no.

2. Has anyone deemed responsible for war crimes and crimes against Humanity escaped prosecution? Again the answer is no.

3. Did the measures taken by the international community to ensure bringing the perpetrators before justice; impede the peace process in any way in those countries? The answer is that they instead reinforced peace and hasten reconciliation and healing. 

A big cheer went up from the public gallery and from those watching the event on television screens across the world when the Bosnian Serb Leader, Radovan Karadic was ordered by the Court to stand up to hear the verdict at The Hague in March 2019. There’s no doubt that the general public anywhere in the world supports holding the perpetrators accountable. It’s more or less a pre-requisite for peace to prevail. 

It’s audacious that those who rejected the R-ARCSS for good reasons are being called anti-peace groups, peace spoilers and sometimes the nonsensical term of negative forces. Some of the non-signatories might not have fired guns in their entire lives, yet they are being called anti-peace and warmongers, huh! 

Ironically, those who have blood on their hands are the ones leading the false propaganda. Notwithstanding, the non-signatories to the R-ARCSS are on the right side of history and find great solace in the overwhelming support for their stance from the South Sudanese people.

Lotole Lo Luri

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