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Obama Backs Genocidal Government in South Sudan
The following is part one of an article covering the current situation in South Sudan, northern Sudan, Darfur, the history of colonialism in Sudan, the role of China, the history of the communist and rebel movements in Sudan, and the the unacceptable role of U.S. imperialism in the conflicts taking place.
[Photo: December 23rd, South Sudanese community of Calgary, Canada drawing attention to genocide being carried out by the western backed government of President Kiir. Credit: CTV News]
Obama Backs Genocidal Government in South Sudan
By Steven Argue
Rebels in South Sudan have captured the city of Bor and are marching on the capital city of Juba. Government troops are claiming that the rebels are abducting civilians, arming them, and forcing them to fight against the government. Of course a government in retreat and facing an angry armed population would make these claims. Meanwhile, that same government has slaughtered thousands of civilians in door to door operations that particularly target the Nuer nationality. Despite these well documented genocidal attacks on the population, President Obama has pledged his support for the government.
The current round of civil war and genocidal terror began on December 15th. Five out of the ten states of South Sudan and more than 20 of its cities and towns are engulfed in civil war. Government tanks have rolled over people’s homes, crushing the people inside. Additional civilians have been killed in crossfire between rebels and troops. While there have been battles between rebels and government soldiers with tanks deployed in the streets, much of the so-called “warfare” has been the systematic slaughter of civilians in door to door in government actions that can only be called genocide. More specifically, government troops of President Salva Kiir are carrying out genocide against the Nuer nationality.
Large numbers of reports are coming out from survivors speaking of government troops rounding up civilians, giving impromptu language tests, and summarily executing people who speak the “wrong” language. Human Rights Watch reported on December 19th:
“Victims and witnesses told Human Rights Watch that government soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and police questioned residents about their ethnicity and deliberately shot ethnic Nuer.”
By December 24th the UN’s top South Sudan humanitarian official, Toby Lanzer, said of the death toll that there is "absolutely no doubt in my mind that we're into the thousands". According to some estimates, the number has surpassed 5,000 people dead. As of January 5th, an estimated 200,000 people had fled their homes. With a lack of needed clean drinking water, Dr. Christine Bimansha of Doctors Without Borders states that her aid organization fears an outbreak of transmissible disease.
Peter Gai Manyuon is one of many refugees from the government’s massacres. He is also a columnist for the South Sudan News Agency and the Juba Monitor Newspaper. He reports from Kenya that he escaped South Sudan after government troops loyal to President Kiir went house to house killing one thousand if not thousands of people of the Nuer tribe on the nights of December 16th, 17th, and 18th. He witnessed government troops killing three of his relatives. He was then arrested and spent a week in SPLA (i.e. government) custody. During this time, he says President Kiir's Millitary Intelligence (MI) debated whether or not to kill him in his presence. Troops then burned his passport and all of his academic degrees in his presence and took away his cameras. He was released on Wednesday, December 25th and fled to Kenya. Mr. Manyuon characterizes what is occurring to be genocide.
Among the numerous atrocities documented by Human Rights Watch was the murder of Nuer minister, Reverend Simon Nyang Lam. He was pulled out of his house by soldiers and murdered. The reverend thought he would be OK because he is a minister.
Women and children also are not safe. Human Rights Watch reports that Nuer women and children were massacred in the Gudele area of Juba on December 16th, but those who shot them were not identified. Whether these people were killed by plain clothes troops or civilians, there should be no question that the government’s door to door killings created the climate for those murders.
While the current struggle is mainly based on political differences within the ruling capitalist party, the SPLM, President Salva Kiir’s genocidal attacks on the Nuer people is threatening to sink the entire country into a blood bath of ethnic killing between the two most populous nationalities of South Sudan, the Nuer and Dinka people.
At least one atrocity has occurred in retribution against civilians of President Salva Kiir’s Dinka nationality in Akobo. On December 19th, in Akobo Jonglei, armed Nuer youth stormed a UN compound, killing 30 Dinka civilians. Two UN soldiers from India were also killed in that incident and another injured. According to the Indian ambassador to the UN, the Nuer youth stormed the compound after hearing of the massacres by government troops of Nuer people in Juba.
As of December 29th, an estimated 25,000 Nuer youth of the “White Army” were marching on the city of Bor to take it from the government. They get their name not from their politics, but from a tradition of rubbing white ash on their bodies. Since that report, Bor is now in rebel hands.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, two mass graves of Dinka have been found in Bentiea and one in Juba with total of 34 people dead. Not widely reported, however, is the fact that these were not civilians, they were SPLA military personnel.
Up until the December 29th reports of the Nuer youth attrocities, the rebels were all being reported as being loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar and being part of his political ambitions. Obama even refers to the current uprising as a coup attempt. Reality may be far more complicated. President Salva Kiir has created a lot of ill will over the past year as well as in the past three weeks. In July he fired former Vice President Riek Machar immediately after Machar announced he would be running for president in 2015. At that same time, Kiir fired his entire cabinet. Kiir then forced 100 army generals into retirement. Discontent with Kiir’s presidency is rampant even within his own party. This includes the discontent of Pagan Amum, an SPLM party leader who negotiated the agreement that brought formal independence for South Sudan from Sudan in 2011.
On December 26th, Vice President Riek Machar said he was ready to negotiate a solution to the conflict and presented a list of the people on his negotiating team. Top on his list of negotiators is Pagan Amum. The rest of the names on the negotiating team were SPLM party leaders who were rounded up by President Salva Kiir and were sitting in prison. Former Vice President Riek Machar was making clear that these political prisoners must be released for negotiations to commence. As of January 3rd, President Kiir released 8 of those 11 political prisoners, indicating the strength of the rebels. On January 5th negotiations commenced in Addis Ababa.
On Christmas day, ten days into the genocide, President Salva Kiir officially tried to distance himself from the killings, saying to an audience in a cathedral in Juba:
“Anybody that goes to the residential areas to kill people or to loot the property of others and hoping that he’s doing it to support me must know that that person is not supporting me. Instead, you are destroying me.”
Yet, without mentioning the actions of the troops under his command, or actions to discipline them, this appears more like an attempt to blame civilians for the violence than an earnest attempt to end the violence. Still, the New York Times eats up this official line, running a December 26th article called “South Sudan’s President Condemns Ethnic Killings” without mentioning the attacks on civilians being carried out by President Salva Kiir’s own troops.
The U.S. backs President Salva Kiir’s SPLM government and has poured millions of dollars into it, including into the military that is currently carrying out the genocide. The South Sudan government is an extremely corrupt capitalist government that admits that officials have stolen $4 billion dollars from its coffers in its brief couple years of existance. The looting of government coffers exists in the midst of a population suffering extreme poverty, including hunger and lack of improved water access.
On the question of the rebels, a battle has broken out where at worst the rebels are just part of a power struggle between corrupt SPLM personalities that may escalate the violence without providing any real solutions to the country’s problems. At best, however, those rebels may contain elements of outrage fighting to get rid of the government’s corruption, brutality, and genocide. A thinking person concerned about the welfare of the people of South Sudan should have strong hesitations before taking any side, but with certainty should not take the side of the genocidal government. Yet, President Obama has taken a clear position on the side of the government against the rebels. In a White House statement reported in Aljazeera on December 22nd, the Obama administration declared his full support for the genocidal Presidency of Kiir, stating, "Any effort to seize power through the use of military force will result in the end of longstanding support from the United States and the international community."
South Sudan has only been formally independent from Sudan since 2011. Since independence, the United States has poured millions of dollars into the country, including into its genocidal security forces. This U.S. military aid is actually illegal according to the U.S. Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CPSA) due to the fact that the South Sudan government uses child soldiers. This year, President Obama violated that law, issuing waivers to the governments of Yemen, Chad, and South Sudan for their use of child soldiers so that all three countries could receive U.S. military aid.
The government of Yemen is currently waging a war on its people. This war is both against a popular pro-democracy movement and against a popular movement for independence in South Yemen. U.S. military aid in Yemen has helped pay for government massacres of civilians. The U.S. backed Dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh was notorious for crushing democracy and southern independence movements through force. In 2012 a massive pro-democracy movement drove him from power. Despite the departure of Saleh, the current capitalist government is Saleh’s legacy. While an agreement for elections was brokered by the UN on December 24th, 2013, that agreement is opposed by the popular Socialist Party of South Yemen due to its unfair treatment of that party. The U.S. supported the Saleh government in its fight against democracy, human rights, and socialism for decades, so naturally they would get a free pass for having child soldiers as well.
Likewise, the capitalist government of Chad is accused by Amnesty International in their 2013 report of “arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, forced disappearance or even extrajudicial execution” of “opposition parliamentarians, journalists, university activists and human rights defenders.” Amnesty International goes on to further explain:
“Human rights violations are committed with almost total impunity by members of the Chadian military, the Presidential Guard, and the Agence Nationale de Securité, who make arrests arbitrarily, without charge or trial, and there have been enforced disappearances. The situation is again dangerous in the refugee camps of eastern Chad which house both those who have fled violence in neighboring Darfur, and those internally displaced by conflict within Chad itself. Civilians and humanitarian workers have been killed and abducted; women and girls are victims of rape and other violence; and children can still be recruited as soldiers or abducted for ransom.”
These abuses in 2013 were a continuation of what the U.S. backed Chadian government has been doing for a long time. That government makes sure that resources do not go to the people as the population suffers a 51.5 year life expectancy, male literacy of 45.6% and female literacy is 25.4%. Of importance to the imperialists, in 2003, a $4 billion pipeline moving oil from its sources in Chad to oceanic port was opened up. In Chad, resources go to the capitalists, not the people, so naturally Obama would violate U.S. law to send the oppressors in Chad more military aid despite U.S. law making it illegal.
In addition, an exception is made for South Sudan with its child soldiers. Naturally, South Sudan has oil, mining reserves, and two thirds of the world’s gum-Arabic supply, a very valuable ingredient used in ice-cream and soft drinks. The U.S. imperialists no doubt have hopes of bolstering a capitalist government in South Sudan that will be friendly to American exploitation.
US and Ugandan Troops Out of South Sudan
Besides threatening rebels with a lack of the same support he gives to the current government if they seize power, Obama’s response to genocide by the U.S. backed government of South Sudan has included sending in the Marines. The story given is that the role of these Marines is simply to save American lives. The US backed SPLA/ M government has been twittering that they have lots of situations that need U.S. Marines. On the ground, U.S. Marines have drawn fire, with one incident on December 22nd forcing the U.S. Marines to retreat with 4 Marines injured, one seriously.
The pretext of “rescuing Americans” has been used in the past as cover for U.S. military intervention in foreign countries. For instance, this was the pretext for the criminal U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983. Americans in Grenada were never under any threat. Yet, the U.S. invasion of Grenada was able to destroy the progress that had been made during Grenada’s anti-imperialist revolution by occupying the country and imposing an extremely repressive U.S. backed capitalist government. And as Haitian history shows, in certain situations, even small numbers of well equipped U.S. Marines can do large amounts damage. This was the case when U.S. Marines carried out a coup in 2004 by kidnapping the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As the U.S. backs the genocidal regime in South Sudan, we should not accept on face value what the U.S. claims its soldiers are doing.
Additional Ugandan troops have been sent into South Sudan as well, also under the pretext of providing safe passage for their national citizens. Yet, Ugandan military spokesmen admitted their role is to secure the capital for the President Kiir’s government.
Further more, Ugandan Dictator Museveni states of rebel leader Machar, "We gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn't we shall have to go for him, all of us". Obviously, Ugandan troops are not acting as “peacekeepers”. They are there to shore up the power of the genocidal government. On the other hand, Dictator Museveni’s threats came and went, without the defeats for rebels he threatened.
Uganda’s intervention in South Sudan should be of concern to people interested in human rights. Museveni has maintained his capitalist dictatorship in Uganda since 1986 through rigged elections, jailings, torture, and extrajudicial executions of anyone who tells the truth or protests in any way. The United States presently has 100 military advisors in Uganda and sent $41 million in military aid in 2012 to prop up that repressive capitalist government. In the 1990s the Museveni dictatorship sent troops into the Congo to participate in an all sided blood bath over competing capitalist interests that left 5.4 million people dead. Museveni also presently has 5000 troops in Somalia that that, like in South Sudan, are there to prop up a U.S. backed capitalist dictatorship.
The chief sponsors of the Museveni dictatorship in Uganda are the United States and Britain. Museveni does not act independently of his imperialist sponsors and no complaints have been issued from Washington for his sending of combatants into South Sudan. US Troops Out of Uganda and South Sudan Now! Ugandan Troops Out of South Sudan and Somalia Now! End U.S. imperialist aid to the murderous governments Museveni and Kiir!
In addition to US and Ugandan troops, Obama requested, and received approval for 5,500 more UN troops, and 400 more UN police officers for South Sudan. This brings a new total of UN troops to 12,500 and 1,300 UN police officers. The UN has long been sending troops to countries with bad governments as so-called “peacekeepers”. Yet, their role has not been to stop the type of government violence that is taking place in South Sudan today. Instead, their role is often to prevent resistance to it. This was the role, for example, of UN troops in Haiti that occupied the country after U.S. marines carried out a coup d’etate against the elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Far from keeping the peace, UN troops were there to defend the illegitimate coup government from working class resistance. To this day, workers are attempting to fight back against starvation wages paid by U.S. garment factories in Haiti. Jean-Bertrand Aristide became an enemy of the United States after he raised the minimum wage. In addition to right wing forces, UN troops have carried out their own atrocities against the Haitian people.
It was also under the UN occupation of the Congo in the 1960s that the democratically elected president, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered by foreign imperialists. Far from protecting the national sovereignty of the Congo, UN troops were an aid to Belgian and U.S. intervention. Patrice Lumumba was overthrown in a coup and murdered through CIA and Belgian operations. As a result of that coup, the U.S. backed dictatorship of Mobutu was put in power in the Congo for nearly 32 years. That dictatorship formed an alliance with U.S. corporations in robbing the people of the Congo blind of their rich natural resources. The Mobuto dictatorship also joined with the United States and racist South Africa in fighting against the national sovereignty of Angola. That intervention was, fortunately, defeated with the help of Cuban troops
The U.S. backed overthrow of Lumumba under UN occupation and U.S. backing of the Mobutu dictatorship set the stage for an all sided blood letting in the Congo that started in the 1980s and left 5.4 million people dead. In addition, that imperialist defeat of Patrice Lumumba weakened the African struggle against imperialist imposed dictators and against imperialist plundering of the continent. People should rightly question the current leadership of the different factions of the SPLM fighting for power. Yet, South Sudan has the potential to produce new Patrice Lumumbas or better, but the presence of UN, US, and Ugandan troops backing the Kiir government are a deadly threat to their lives.
It was also under the UN flag that troops were sent into Korea to defend the U.S. imposed capitalist dictatorship of Syngman Rhee in southern Korea in1950. Before the troops were sent in to defend that murderous government, atrocities were carried out like those in Cheju in 1948. Leftists and suspected leftists were rounded up and executed by the South Korean dictatorship with U.S. backing. All total, 60,000 people were murdered in Cheju. That was one fifth of Cheju Island's population. For the next 50 years it was illegal in South Korea to mention what went on in Cheju. Before UN troops were sent into Korea in 1950 to prop up Rhee's dictatorship, Rhee rounded up another 200,000 leftists and suspected leftists from across South Korea and executed them in a desperate attempt to save his unpopular capitalist dictatorship. Between 1950 and 1953, U.S. troops and others under the UN flag escalated that war against the Korean people carrying out numerous crimes, including drowning whole Korean towns in oceans of napalm, murdering 3 million people.
The UN Security Council is made up largely of the same countries that carved up, massacred, and enslaved the people of Africa under colonial rule. This includes the original European powers that did this under formal colonial rule. Many of those powers remain semi-colonial masters in Africa along side the United States which moved in after WW II as a major exploiter on the continent. To protect its capitalist investments, the United States has carried out many crimes including supporting apartheid in South Africa, supporting successive dictators in Egypt, and supporting the dictatorship Mobutu Sese Seko after helping place him in power in Congo.
The history of UN troops defending terrible governments from the working class and poor peasants of the world is atrocious. Yet, the corporate media consistently refers to UN troops as “peacekeepers”. This is the type of “doublespeak” found in George Orwell’s novel “1984”:
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
For many people suffering in South Sudan as well as émigrés outside the country worrying of friends and relatives, under the current situation of terror and mass murder, the instinct to hope for outside help is, while naïve, perfectly understandable. This, however, is an unrealistic hope. As the South Sudan government, a government aligned with US imperialism, butchers its people, the idea that US, UN, or Ugandan troops that are aligned with that government are anything but a deadly threat to the people of South Sudan should be rejected.
In opposition to the imperialist program of propping up the genocidal and kleptocratic Kiir government through war carried out by South Sudanese, Ugandan, UN, and US troops, Leninist-Trotskyists instead call for the overthrow of the Kiir government and for the establishment of armed workers and peasant self-defense militias to defend the lives and rights of all oppressed nationalities and religions across South Sudan.
Leninist-Trotskyists also fight for the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ democracy that seizes control of South Sudan’s oil and other rich natural resources to provide guaranteed housing, food, education, drinking water, and health care to the poor and struggling masses of South Sudan. While imperialist opposition to the rebellion that is currently taking place is a good sign of that rebellion’s revolutionary potential, absolutely no confidence should be placed in Riek Machar, a leader who was willing to sit as vice president in Kiir’s capitalist and pro-imperialist government. While the Machar leadership should be defended from imperialist attack, independent organization is essential.
To carry out any of the necessary tasks, including the most elementary self-defense of oppressed nationalities, will take military defeats of the South Sudanese government and of Ugandan troops as well as possibly UN and US troops. A reality is the fact that 63,000 of the South Sudanese people are currently on UN bases seeking refuge from Kiir’s murderous military. UN troops, however, are likely to become part of the problem. It is essential for peasants and workers to form armed self-defense militias instead of relying on UN troops. US and Ugandan Troops Out of South Sudan Now! For the Defeat of the South Sudanese Military! End U.S. Military Aid to the Genocidal Government of South Sudan!
The following is part one of an article covering the current situation in South Sudan, northern Sudan, Darfur, the history of colonialism in Sudan, the role of China, the history of the communist and rebel movements in Sudan, and the the unacceptable role of U.S. imperialism in the conflicts taking place. To catch the next one, subscribe free to Liberation News:
For related subjects from this author, see:
Nelson Mandela: Eulogies of Imperialist Hypocrites & a Revolution Betrayed by Capitalism
by Steven Argue
Egypt: No Support to the Military, No Support to the Muslim Brotherhood
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