By Bijiek Gatwech Jieknyal
February 10, 2018, I am writing to let you all know that the SPLA major general William Gueh Duop Changath passed away on Friday, February 2, 2018, in Cairo, Egypt. Gueh was admitted to hospital in Cairo for liver cancer he had been suffered from for several months. The doctors performed surgery to remove part of the liver, but unfortunately, Gueh did not survive the operations. William Gueh was 63 years old. Gueh was born on May 3, 1955, in the remote village known as “Tuur” north of Rubkotna Town and west of Kaljak town in Unity State, South Sudan.
William Gueh was raised by a single mother on the farmland with several cattle, goat, and cheep. His father died when he was so young. Gueh’s mother “Nyadot Chan Yut” had 6 children, 4 boys, and two girls. Gueh was the last born. Gueh was married and had children; his two sons are currently studying in secondary schools in East African countries. Stephen Tor Gueh is studying in the secondary school in Kenya and Yien Gueh Duop is studying in the secondary school in Uganda.
William Gueh military‘s career had begun in 1983 when he joined Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) struggle for independence. In April 1983, Gueh left Bentiu for Biel Pam to seek military training. Gueh was trained in Bongo with Jamuth battalions of SPLA division in 1983. After graduating, Gueh and other young men were appointed bodyguards by then the deputy SPLA’s chairman Kerbino Kuanyin Bol. Mr. Gueh had participated in countless battles in the Blue Nile and Kurmuk towns between the SPLA and Sudanese arm forces in 1983 to 1985. Gueh returned to Bentiu where he belongs after his boss Kerbino Kuanyin Bol was arrested and sent to prison in 1985.
In 1985, Gueh was promoted to Second Lieutenant and gradually walked his way up to higher ranks. In 1986, Mr. Gueh was wounded in counterattack battle between the SPLA and Sudan government. In spring of 1986, conveys of Sudanese military have left their defensive position and matched toward Leer town with the intention to retake the town of leer from the SPLA forces. However, the SPLA units adjacent to Bentiu where Gueh assigned planned counterattack on the Arabs convoy and driven them back to their trenches in Bentiu town. Gueh was wounded in the left leg, between ankle and knee in that battle. Luckily, the bullet missed the bone.
In 1987, Gueh was promoted to the first lieutenant. In 1988, Gueh went to Pinyido refugee camp in Ethiopia for kidney infection medical treatment. In 1989, Gueh left Pinyido for Gambella, Ethiopia to seek additional medical attention. After completing his medical treatment, Gueh had reported himself to Biel Pam military barrack. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1990. As a young captain, Gueh was assigned to lead SPLA battalions to Nuba maintains.
In 1991, SPLA Split. Gueh was among several military officers who had accepted to fight for self-determination. Mr. Gueh supported the SPLA Nasir faction under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar, which fought for self-determination from 1991 to 2001. Mr. Gueh Supported the SPLA Nasir faction because he believed that self-determination would be the only way to end Sudan’s civil war. In 1994, Gueh led untold battles against those who opposed self-determination. William Gueh battalions defeated the enemy in Marial Bay and Mayen Abun in Bar El Gazal regions.
Following Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 that led to South Sudan independent, William Gueh became Brigadier general. He was appointed as head of the SPLA Division 5, in charge of Western Bar El Gazal state. General William Gueh was the commander of SPLA division 5, who was in charge Western Bar El Gazal state from 2005 to 2014. Brigadier General William Gueh did not respond to Nuer Massacre in Juba but was watching the development of peace deal closely that was initiated in January 2014 between Dr. Machar and Salva Kiir’s groups.
However, General Gueh was deeply disappointed by the deliberate killing of Nuer officers and trainees at Mapel Military training Centre in Western Bar El Ghazal state. On April 26, 2014, the government soldiers have carried out attack on over 5000 Nuer who were in the training camp at Mapel training center. According to Fox News and other news media, 220 bodies were collected on the scene and buried. Survivors of this fatal attack scattered all over the bushes and forests of Western Bar El Gazal state.
The frustrated general, William Gueh, dispatched hundreds of soldiers as search rescue teams to search for the survivors in the bushes, forests and swampy spheres around Mapel and the surrounding areas. The soldiers were able to find hundreds of thousands of survivors in the forests and swampy areas and brought them to where General Gueh was living. After his search rescue teams have returned to Wau town where he was dwelling, Brigadier General William Gueh decided not to serve the tribal government that purposely orchestrated ethnic Nuer cleansing in the national capital and elsewhere in the country. In May 2014, General Gueh quit his assignment in Western Bar El Ghazal, abandoned the area with 4000 plus soldiers, and went to Unity Stated to join the SPLA IO.
In 2016, Gueh was promoted to Major General in the SPLA IO. When Taban Deng Gai was sworn in as First President, following the renewed fighting that has broken out in South Sudan, the national capital, Juba in July 2016 that pushed out by then Frist Vice President Dr. Machar, Major General Gueh Duop decided to support Taban Deng Gai. General Gueh was assigned as head of the SPLA Division 4, in charge of twin towns Bentiu and Rubkona, Unity State. When Gueh took his job, he stopped random killing and looting of civilians’ property by the government in the area.
The contribution of Major General Gueh Duop Changath in the SPLA from the beginning of SPLA to the independence of South Sudan was exceptional, extraordinary, and admirable. However, his sudden death is heartbreaking, sorrowful and regrettable. The Leeh community, Nuer and South Sudanese, in general, have lost the man of wisdom, the national hero, and the top icon in South Sudan struggle for independence. The body of Gueh will be transferred from Cairo to Juba on 9 February 2018 will be buried in Bentiu’s Cemetery on 10 February 2018. William Gueh, you will not be seen again but your role, hard work, and achievements will stay alive forever as long as South Sudan still exist.
Lastly, I am deeply pained and words are of no help in expressing the sorrow I feel at this moment. I would like to pass my sincere condolences to Gueh’s wives, children, relatives, and friends. May almighty father forgive and accept his soul into the Garden of Eden, near the throne of whom he seeks and loved. May God put him in a special place from where he will be watching us, the people who loved and cherished him, and look upon down to see the development of the country he struggles for its independence. Rest in peace, my beloved uncle. May God receive your soul in eternal life; forgive you as you have been forgiving many people who have often wrong you during your lifetime.