BARI COMMUNITY PETITION FOR THE RELOCATION OF THE NEW CAPITAL OF SOUTHERN SUDAN AWAY FROM THE PROPOSED INDIGENEOUS LAND IN JUBA AND SURRIOUNDING VILLAGES.
Date: March 3, 2011
Subject: Support for the Relocation of the Capital of Southern Sudan to a "Befitting" New Location Elsewhere in the South and other Issues of Concern to the Community.
To: HE.1st Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit,
First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan,
President of the Government of South Sudan,
SPLM Party Chairman & C-in-C of SPLA
Your Excellency, Salva Kiir Mayardit,
We the Bari Community and intellectuals in Diaspora would like to take this ample/rare opportunity to congratulate the leadership of the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and its people for the peaceful, transparent and successful conduct of South Sudan Referendum with overwhelming positive outcome in favour of secession. At last the marginalised and the oppressed people of South Sudan have voted unanimously for their freedom and respect for human dignity. We also want to extend our sincere gratitude and whole-hearted support for the wisdom and determination exerted by the leadership of GOSS, SPLM, SPLA and all security forces in ensuring peaceful conduct of referendum across Sudan and in Diaspora in bringing about the realization of the hopes and aspirations of the Southern Sudanese through the referendum that culminated in the birth of the 54th independent country in the map of Africa. One of the reasons of the two successive wars waged from 1955 to 1972 and again from 1983 to 2005 was to put an end to the marginalization of the indigenous inhabitants of Southern Sudan.
We, the Bari Community and intellectuals here in Diaspora wish to bring to your attention the following issues of concern to the community:
(A) The Land Grabbing in Juba and the surrounding Villages.
(B) Request for the Creation of more Electoral Constituencies in Juba.
(C) Concerns with the Proposal for the Development of the New Capital of Southern Sudan Presented by the Ministry of Investment.
(D) Rumshiel as the Preferred and the Best Option.
When the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) was signed in 2005, the idea of Juba being the capital of the GOSS during the interim period was widely accepted by many Bari community members within and without South Sudan. The communal decision taken by some few Bari and other Equatorian elders and intellectuals at the time was based on the fact that, Juba was to host the seat of the GOSS until the time when circumstances/independence of South Sudan is achieved. Now that the dreams of the people of South Sudan have come true and the realizations of independence have been attained, we therefore strongly urge the GOSS to take necessary measures to relocate the capital from Juba to its previously suggested suitable location at RUMSHIEL. Let the government decision on the Capital of such a blessed new nation not defy the reasons why arms were taken in the first place.
The issue of land grabbing and ownership in Juba and the surrounding Bari villages has always been a painful experience to the community. Historically and traditionally, the Bari Land has been at the centre of our existence, civilization and development since time immemorial. The community ownership of the land in South Sudan is guaranteed in the provision of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) and the interim constitution of Southern Sudan which stipulates that: "All lands traditionally and historically held or used by local communities or their members shall be defined, held, managed and protected by law in Southern Sudan" (chapter two, Article 180 through 182 of the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan, 2005). We therefore urge your leadership to live up to this amazing clause because any changes to this as a way to suit government interest to control the use of property that deprives the community of the right to ancestral domain will not be accepted. It is therefore with great concern that we would like to highlight the following:
(A) Land Grabbing In Juba and Surrounding Villages:
For the last five years, the issue of the atrocious/notorious crime popularly known as Land Grabbing in and around Juba have become a nightmare not only for our fellow Bari community members but for almost all of the residence of Juba and the surrounding areas. The land that comes under the barbaric act of grabbing includes both surveyed and un-surveyed land. This has created a lot of challenges/problems to the local residents and in particular land owners who have not been able to develop their legally acquired pieces of land (plots) due to the severe consequence of the last devastating civil war in South Sudan. There are sufficient evidence/testimony to prove that some residents in Juba and the surrounding areas have their pieces of land grabbed at gun point thus leaving other land owners gripped with severe fear and pain of losing their ancestral land.
To make matters worse, those individuals who shamelessly engage in this lucrative business of land grabbing are the very people (security forces/SPLA forces) who are supposedly charged with the responsibility of providing security and eradicating injustices in our new hard-earned nation of South Sudan. Those who attempted to resist the illegal acquisition of their valuable land (plots or farming areas) were either beaten, threaten with death or killed. Despite the efforts exerted by the Land Grabbing and Demolition Committee in Juba, unlawful acquisition of peoples' pieces of land, intimidation, torture and even killing of the rightful owners is the order of the day.
As loyal citizens of the beloved South Sudan upon which some sons and daughters of Bari Community have paid ultimate price during the liberation struggle, we are ashamed/perplexed that the unlawful activity of Land Grabbing in Juba is perpetuated by the very comrades (SPLA officers/men in uniform) who fought alongside Bari martyrs in the last war of freedom and independence of South Sudan. There are sufficient documented evidence known to the victims, the police, Court, Land Grabbing and the Demolition Committees. Furthermore, on many occasions during their execution of duties, The Land Grabbing and Demolition Committee came under sustained confrontation and threats made by the senseless land grabbers in the attempt to remove them from the illegally obtained plots.
Similarly, the recent concurrent confrontation between Bari Community and the Land Grabbers at Khor Wolyang and Komiru in January 2011 reveals that, high ranking army officers were involved in land grabbing. All these activities are nothing but a denial of the social existence of our community members; and in doing so defy the basic principles upon which our glorious revolution for freedom and justice was based. It is, nonetheless, worth mentioning that, land is the basis of the survival or livelihood of our community members; that is why we strongly urge Your Excellency to intervene at this crucial stage to halt the perpetuation of land grabbing in Juba and the surrounding areas. Furthermore, the Bari Community in general would like your most esteemed office take appropriate action in relation to this important matter sooner rather than later to prevent our people/loyal citizens from taking reasonable self-defence action against the land grabbers.
(B) Request for the Creation of More Electoral Constituencies in Juba:
For the last five years, the community made a request on numerous occasions appealing to Your Excellency to consider the issue of under-representation of citizens in the current Juba County.
This county is currently overwhelmingly too large given the vast land and its people; yet other places that are smaller or equal in size (population or land wise) have been accorded more counties. Furthermore, the criteria that came up in allotting the counties is something that is unfair to the citizens of Juba County because those very criteria were not used in the first place when counties were being formed. We therefore urge your leadership to put the promises made to the community into practice. If this is fulfilled, the creation of the promised counties will not only render deserved services to the citizens in and around Juba, but it will also give an opportunity to the sister neighbouring tribes who share with us the same county to have equitable representation.
Juba County alone is in need of lot of work to bring it up to modern standard; and if more counties are allocated in its surrounding, we do believe that, our representation in the government will be effective leave alone rendering deserved/necessary services to those individual counties as enumerated in the request that is currently awaiting final decision/declaration by your esteem leadership.
(C) Concerns with the Proposal for the Development of the New Capital of Southern Sudan Presented by the Ministry of Investment:
Under your chairmanship the Bari Community wholeheartedly welcomes the resolution passed on Friday February 6, 2011 in the Council of Ministers meeting whereby, the government announced the proposed decision to relocate the capital to a "befitting" new location elsewhere in the South. This is an important and credible decision which will offer the people living within the vicinity where the new capital of South Sudan is going to be instituted a golden opportunity to socio-economic prosperity. It is worth mentioning also that, the Master Plan with the Modern Buildings that has been recently presented is what we would like to urge your leadership to consider, but not what the Ministry of Investment presented in the Cabinet Memorandum.
While we applaud the idea of the relocation of the new capital away from Juba, we are profoundly troubled and concern with the Cabinet Memorandum: Proposal for the Development of the New Capital City of Southern Sudan, presented by Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, The Minister of Investment. In accordance to the document:
"The area proposed to be the capital of an independent Southern Sudan lies across the Nile spanning from Rajaf East and Aru Junction in the South and extends Eastwards to Ngangala, Khor Ingliz and Lafon. It then extends Northwards to cover Southern Grasslands of Jonglei State. To the West it mainly borders the Nile from Rajaf to Mangala and Northeast to Pariak. This area is approximately 13,000 Square Kilometres and would be curved from the three States of Central Equatoria State, Eastern Equatoria State, and Jonglei. An estimated number of 500,000 indigenous populace would fall within the premises of this new proposed capital."
As clearly seen from sketch/topographic maps provided, it is apparent and deep trepidation that if this planned relocation of the new capital is allowed to go ahead; it will sadly result in displacement of 90% of Bari villages East of the Nile in Juba. This will also amount to total annihilation of Bari people from their own land. Hence, we the Bari Community in Diaspora unequivocally reject any attempt to implement this project or slicing a piece of Bari land to be part of this project of the new capital of South Sudan. Moreover, this proposal itself is a violation of the indigenous land rights in international law which also violates the United Nation's Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 ("ILO 169"), the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the violation of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Since GOSS and the people of South Sudan are heading towards freedom, independence and formation of the 54th new nation in the African continent and potential realisation of their aspiration and expectations, the government have to develop fair policies which respect basic human rights and uphold rule of law. For realisation of optimum peace in the new Republic of South Sudan, the GOSS has to refrain from coercive measures. In other words, the government discriminatory policies of land deprivation and indirect extermination of other tribal community livelihood and identity be avoided. We therefore condemn in the strongest terms the idea of establishing the new capital of South Sudan in the area identified above. Rather, we strongly suggest the proposal made by our late hero, Dr. John Garang De Mabior about relocating the capital to RUMSHIEL.
(D) Rumshiel as the Preferred and the Best Option:
Though we do not have a say to stop any other community in South Sudan from accepting or objecting to the establishment of the Capital of the New Nation, the Bari Community by virtue of being citizens of the South would like to encourage your leadership to revisit and adhere to the proposal of making Rumshiel as the Capital of the New Nation.
The report of the feasibility studies in the Memorandum provided by the Balkan Consultancy Group that concluded that "Rumshiel was not suitable for a new capital due to many challenges associated with the area such as the swampy terrain, difficulties and high cost associated with building remote infrastructure, transport, supplying water and energy in and around the swampy areas" is baseless and not convincing enough for the South to resort to a different option.
As a matter of fact, some of our African well known cities with complicated topographical features such as Ethiopia with its great geographic diversity of mountains, high plateaus, deep gorges, river valleys, and lowland plains were still able to erect a beautiful city. Likewise, Egypt which is predominantly desert was able to overcome the same challenges by erecting modern buildings in and around the country.
Typical examples are also found in some European countries such as Norway and Holland which despite their complicated geography, their magnificent cities were able to be erected in desirable locations which became centres of attraction for tourist from around the world.
Contrary to the proposal by the Minister of Investment, the choice of Rumshiel as the new capital of The Republic of South Sudan by late, Dr. John Garang de Mabiour was taken on the basis of its geographic, political, administrative and strategic reasons. In other words, Rumshiel is situated in the centre/heart of South Sudan; thus, accessibility to the central government services by all citizens of South Sudan in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Greater Upper and Greater Equatoria will be feasible. That is why, adhering to the Balkan's proposal is in itself an insult to our capabilities to build a New Nation.
Having looked at the sketch maps of the proposal for the relocation of the capital to the area East of Juba Town, it is apparently clear that the Minister for Investment, H. E. Oyai Deng Ajack has underestimated the cost of compensating all the tribes/communities- ranging from Bari villages East of Juba Town, Lulubo villages, Lokoya villages, Lokoro villages, Lotuko villages and many other villages in Mundari, Murle and Dinka lands - who will be affected by this unnecessary, unfair and undesirable decision. It will cost GOSS awful amount of money in legal cost for fighting lawsuits brought forward by the affected communities, let alone their compensation should GOSS succeed in securing go-ahead in building the proposed capital of South Sudan. Since Rumshiel is situated in uninhabited area, its development will pick up phase with relative ease as there will be no many challenges/hurdles facing investors. Therefore, it is worthwhile and wise for GOSS to take up the option of Ramciel and use the hard-earned resources pledged by donors and other investors sensibly.
Furthermore, Rumshiel will be a property that is owned and controlled by the Government; thereby, relieving the new nation of the struggle of "who owns the land" leave alone any form of "Land Grabbing," intertribal conflict over land and difficulties that might arise as a result of who claim the ownership of the city.
In conclusion, the leadership of Bari Community within and without South Sudan unanimously concur and strongly recommend the choice of Rumshiel as the new Capital of South Sudan as this will relieve its people from the threat, intimidation and victimisation by the senseless and barbaric land grabbers in Juba. The Bari Community as whole will remain undeterred and committed to support your leadership in the quest for better life and prosperity amongst the people of South Sudan. Especially, at the crucial moment when it is declared an independent country, the Bari community sincerely stand by you and GOSS in facing the immense challenges that will come along with the independence of the country.
Thank You Very Much.
(1) H.E. Ben Ki Moom, UN Secretary General, New York
(2) H.E. Barrack Obama- President of the United States, Washington DC
(3) H.E. Lt. Gen. Alfred Ladu Gore, GOSS Presidential Advisor for Diplomatic Affairs/President of Bari Community - Juba
(4) H.E. James Wani Igga, Speaker of GOSS Assembly - Juba
(5) H.E. Clement Wani Konga, Governor, Central Equatoria State - Juba
(6) H.E. Thomas Pitia, Commissioner of Juba County - Juba
(7) Honorable Members of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly - Juba
(8) Honorable Members of Central Equatoria Legislative Assembly - Juba
(9) H.E. Jimmy Carter, The Carter Centre, Atlanta, Georgia
(10) H.G. Paulino Lukudu Loro, Archbisiop of the Archdiocese of Juba
(11) All the Bari Community Chiefs, Sub-chiefs, Elders and Youth Groups.
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