June 11, 2018 When he was here, there was peace, there was harmony, and there were commemorations and celebrations. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, a uniting factor, has been a beacon of hopes and a center of peace in South Sudan history since he joined the SPLM/A in 1984. Although his opponents would disagree to agree, history would fortify that amid internal power struggle between the SPLM/A under the leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior and the Anyanya dominated breakaway faction under the leadership of Col. Samuel Gai Tut and Hon. Akuot Atem, mostly in the then Upper Nile region, in early-to-mid 1980s, Dr. Machar, who was then the zonal commander of the war ravaged Western Upper Nile, managed to harmonize peace and stability among the most diverse communities of Western Upper Nile, an area that ranges from the borders of the former Unity State to far northern Upper Nile and all the way to Ethiopian border. The Nuer, Dinka, Mabaan, Chollo (Shilluck) and Anyuak in these areas lived in relative peace and in good terms with their neighbors despite inadequate resources and modern services. Machar did not only inaugurate peace and harmony, he also fought the NIF successive regimes and captured strategic border towns. This stability and peaceful co-existence lasted until the same known enemy of peace implanted seeds of evil and immerse hatred among the SPLM/A leaders that led to many defections between 1991 and 1997.
As soon as Dr. Machar was pushed out of SPLM/A in 1991, the top cadres of SPLM/A including the two main founders of SPLM/A, who fired the first shots of liberation in Bor and Ayod in 1983, Gen. Kerbino Kwanyin Bol and Gen. William Nyuon Bany, respectively, were forced to defect. Soon after, a loop of defections between Dr. Machar and Dr. Garang, and South-Sudan conflict continued until the two learned principles learned beyond reasonable doubts that the only way to end the to-and-fro defections, circles of inter-ethnic revenges and intra-SPLM/A conflict was only if and only if the two leaders reconcile and work as a team to achieve their aspirations and aspirations of their people. In 2002 that statesmanship and true patriotism was shown to South Sudanese around the world and the dividends of Dr. Machar and Dr. Garang reconciliation became the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), South-South Dialogue, peace and reconciliation in Southern Sudan and subsequently this led to attainment of South Sudan independence on July 9th, 2011. Neither Salva Kiir nor Dr. John Garang would ever have achieved all that the three leaders achieved together in less than ten (10) years, 2002-2011.
Similarly, it’s worthwhile to also mention that South Sudan would have been in peace and harmony today if the enemies of peace did not push Dr. Riek Machar to the limits in December 2013 in attempt to silent or eliminate him and his entire community. Like 1991, many senior cadres and majority of independence cabinet of South Sudan, which was composed of the SPLM/A leaders, was forced into exile or rebellion and subsequently inter-ethnic revenges and massacres followed. This downfall continued until South Sudan had a second chance in May 2016 when Dr. Riek Machar successfully returned to Juba to implement the peace agreement and to restore peace and stability.
For those two months, relative calm and stability returned to South Sudan. There were no more defections and a permanent ceasefire was beginning to hold. In addition refugees and IDPs were returning home from refugees’ camps and IDPs shelters. There were many celebrations in Juba as communities poured out their hearts, celebrating the return of their hero, Dr. Machar, and return of peace to South Sudan. Many communities including the Awanchan Community of President Salva Kiir, various youth organizations and religious groups came to Jebel Kunjur to commemorate the return of peace and stability until the enemy of peace strike again on July 8th, 2016.
As a consequence of July 8th dogfight that forced Dr. Machar out of Juba, again, many senior cadres including the most loyal Chief of Staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan, some of his deputy Chiefs of Staffs and prominent members of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) started defecting. Over 2 million civilians are now displaced, starting from July 2016, to refugees camps and IDPs centers. Death and suffering have become more pronounced that they are no longer a news as war escalates; while famine is booming and South Sudan economy is melting down by the hour, inflation is strikingly high.
Again, like in 2002, the only solution to end the current catastrophes in South Sudan is only through the return of Dr. Riek Machar Teny. This is the contradiction that many South Sudanese must live to accept. South Sudan is Dr. Machar and Dr. Machar is South Sudan. For peace, harmony and unity of our nation and our people, the South Sudanese at home and in Diaspora must stand together to embrace the return of Dr. Riek Machar Teny, who has been under house arrest in Pretoria, South Africa, for the last two years.
Dear Leaders and Friends, it has always been our great regard to show the world how much our communities care to build a democratic and diverse nation where each and every one of us can enjoy the liberty, rights and freedoms we have struggled for so long to achieve.
As we are all aware, unfortunately, we have been robbed of these fundamental rights and freedoms and as a consequence, our people are suffering, however, we now have another chance to restore our dignity through peace, forgiveness and reconciliations and that is through the return of Dr. Machar Teny Dhurgon.
The return of Machar, as the world has envisioned and succumbed to, carries a significant opportunity to restore peace in South Sudan and we therefore call on peace activists, partners and the South Sudanese people around the world to dedicate a day or two to gather in one place to welcome the release of Dr. Machar and his first meeting with president Kiir.
It is in our best interest and the interest of our suffering populations to see all of us united, organized and matching in commemoration of this significant progress [the return of Dr. Machar] in South Sudan peace process.
Conclusively, we are calling on all the South Sudanese communities worldwide to come out and hold peaceful rallies in support of Dr. Riek Machar’s release, the upcoming meeting between Salva Kiir and Dr. Machar, and possible milestones that will be made in revitalization of South Sudan peace agreement in the near future!
Thank you all for bearing with us,
Zechariah James Machar (aka Zee Machar) is South Sudanese activists that can me via firstname.lastname@example.org.