I have just come across this letter from South Sudan church leaders and I thought of sharing it. They underline that the present conflict should not be understood as an ethnic conflict. It seems to be a different point of view to the one being given by some of the international media at the moment.
South Sudan church leaders' letter
18 December 2013
We, the archbishop, moderators, overseer, and clergy from various denominations of the churches in South Sudan, and native members from the Dinka and Nuer communities:
Identify ourselves not as representatives of tribes or denominations but as leaders and representatives of one church and one body of Christ.
We are gathered, united and speaking in one voice that peace and reconciliation must prevail in our country.
We are saddened of the conflict which has happened in Juba and ongoing in other areas like Bor in Jonglei State. We are concerned about the consequences. It is unfortunate many lives have been lost, many more wounded while many others displaced in their own country. We condole with the families who have lost their loved ones and those separated from their families by the conflict in Juba, Bor and other areas.
We condemn the clash and acts of violence which have happened within the barracks of the Republic of South Sudan.
We condemn and correct the media statements and reports that refer to the violence as conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes.Whatever has happened should not be referred to as ethnic conflict and not between the Dinka and Nuer communities. These are political differences among the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Party, political leaders of the Republic of South Sudan.
Therefore, we appeal to the two communities of Dinka and Nuer not to accept that the conflict is between the two tribes.
We appeal to the army and security organs of our Government of South Sudan to take control of the situation and protect its citizens. Our citizens are running for refuge in UN compounds because they do not feel safe from their own security forces.
We are concerned about the reports of abuse, harassment and killing of individual citizens based on their ethnic affiliation. These are happening and witnessed for the last three days. Soldiers are asking civilians to identify themselves by tribes and we cannot accept to be identified by our tribes as we are all South Sudanese. We condemn such acts of abuse and hope that no more human lives should be lost.
We appeal to our Government to ensure safety of leaders under arrest and ensure speedy justice for any criminal act but most importantly reconciliation for political differences.
We appeal to our political leaders to refrain from hate speeches that may incite and escalate the violence. We urge to initiate dialogues and resolve issues amicably.
We appeal to the international community to respond fast and positively to the humanitarian crisis which has developed in the last
three days particularly in Juba and Bor.
We appeal to our President of the Republic of South Sudan, His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit to continue to calm and ensure safety
for our nation.
Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSS)
Rev. Tut Kony Nyang, Moderator of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church
Bishop Dr Isaiah Majok Dau, Overseer, Sudan Pentecostal Church
Rt Rev. David Akau Kuol, Bishop of Diocese of Awerial, ECSS
Bishop Michael Taban, Chairperson of South Sudan Council of Churches
Rev. Mark Akech Cien, Acting General Secretary of South Sudan Council of Churches
Rev. James Yout Chuol, ECSS, Diocese of Akobo
Rev. Daniel Deng Anhiany, ECSS, Diocese of Malakal
Rev. Samuel Galuak Marial, ECSS Diocese of Twich East
Rev. Peter Adum Deng, ECSS, Diocese of Twich East
Rev. William Mou Deng, ECSS, Diocese of Wau and Aweil
Rev. Philip Aduong Thiong, ECSS Diocese of Juba
Rev. John Chol Daau, ECSS Diocese of Bor
Rev. Yat Michael Ruot, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church
Rev. Gatkuoth Chuol Bul, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church