Oct: 2, 2017, I am writing to inform the South Sudan community and the Christian community in particular about the recent allegation that SPLA IO has detained and investigated Bishop Thomas Tut Gany in Gambella.
I am writing this letter at my personal level to the allegation written by Bishop Thomas Tut Gany in his letter without any date. I am sure the SPLA office here in Gambella respond to his allegation at later time. Bishop Thomas Tut Gany is a man of God and he came to Gambella through Addis Ababa to visit his family who lost one of the members. This is my understanding. In Gambella there are different liaison offices for the government and the SPLA IO respectively. As a normal protocol in ensuring safety of civilian, the Ethiopian Government is keen on people who are new coming into Gambella to know whether they are part of the government or the SPLA IO members, and to also monitor their activities.
This has been happening for a quite a long time. Once you are in Gambella, you report yourself to either the SPLA IO office or the Government offices so that you are guided during your stay. Government members and allied have been warned to travel to refugee camps as it risky for them. When we heard that Bishop Thomas Tut is in Gambella the responsible person went to meet him in his place. We know that he was residing at the Anglican Church.
The person went to meet with him to know his program. We thought he was going to one of the camps so that an SPLA IO officer could accompany him or be given a letter of approval to show that he has passed through our office in Gambella. But Thomas said that he is coming to Gambella to visit his family members who lost their person and he is going to go back to Juba very soon after the visit.
This conversation did not take a lot of time but not an investigation. Bishop Thomas also happily reminded our office of his association with the SPLA IO as one of its strong member. “I have been going to your locations and I have projects in those locations” Thomas said. I am an SPLA IO member and I don’t have any problem with the moment. Thomas Tut felt he was accused by some of his colleagues in the church, but we assured him that there is no any person who accused you.
We have not mentioned any person to him who accused him. The reason for this is to see how SPLA IO could help you and its members in Ethiopia without having any trouble. A time I was in Akobo in the month of early June, we received information about the consecration and ordination of Rev. John Jock Chol to be the Bishop of Akobo Diocese. A week later when the church was celebrating this historical and joyous moment I their church, information came in that Bishop John Jock is being used by the government to destabilize the community through the church. That he was given some huge money to mobilize the church to rise against the SPLA IO in Akobo.
This let to arrest of some pastors from the Episcopal Church in Akobo. After all we realize that the church is divided and those who are against Bishop John Jock were the one accusing Bishop John Jock. This was only for Bishop John Jock to be seen as an agent of the government by the SPLA IO authority.
We became to realize that all was not true, but just an accusation geared at tarnishing the image of Bishop John Jock Chol. To my surprise on Bishop Thomas Tut in his letter, I have seen him accusing Bishop John Jock again for being an SPLA IO agent. I have not come across any letter written by Bishop John Jock so far. The confusing thing is that in June Bishop John Jock was accused of being a government agent, now in September he is being accused of SPLA IO agent. The whole world knows that Bishop John Jock is a man of peace. He did a lot that none of these people have done.
To me I feel there is something more destructive than what we are reading. We all know that the church is always a symbol of justice, peace and love; we at the SPLA IO do not have any reservation with the people God. They are the peace makers and symbol of unity. Those who said Bishop Thomas Tut Gany was detained and investigated in Gambella, are the enemies of peace. There is no any SPLA IO who detained and investigated Thomas Tut Gany. This is a total lies and unfounded allegation.
SPLA IO is the most discipline institution and we have never been involved in any humiliation of our civilians and other public institution members. We all know that CMD headed by Bishop Thomas Tut Gany is operating in SPLA IO controlled areas in Jonglei (Ayod and Nyirol Counties). The organization has been supporting local people affected by the crisis. But to us we see him not an SPLA IO member as he mentioned but as a man of God who is ready to bring peace to the people of South Sudan who are also God’s people whether at the IO areas or at the government controlled areas. He has right as a citizen of this country and as the priest to go anywhere in the region.
If this letter was written by Bishop Thomas Tut that he was detained and investigated then he implicated himself. I don’t think SPLA IO will ever trust him again. Lastly I want to reiterate that there was no such a lies that happened to Bishop Thomas Tut Gany. We know he is our member. Nobody detained him and no one investigated him. And on top of the above there is no any person who accused him to us.
In Gambella, you are either the government or the SPLA IO member if you in the area so that the intended office should help you go about your daily programmes within the region without any fear. For those who may have received the allegation letter, please rubbish it. The person who wrote it is an enemy of peace. We don’t have an authority to detain and investigate in Gambella leave about detaining and investigating a man of God. May God bless the people of South Sudan May God bless the SPLA IO Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhourgon Oyee SPLA Viva