CONFLICTS South Sudan testimonies: “If they catch you, they will kill you”
For five terrible years civil war has been raging in South Sudan. With staggering brutality, government soldiers and allied militia have deliberately targeted civilians – raping them, burning them alive, hanging them in trees and running over them in armoured vehicles. In the most recent offensive which began in Leer and Mayendit counties, in mid-April at least 120 girls were raped and gang-raped. 232 civilians were killed and more than 31,000 people were displaced.
“When the attack started, early in the morning while we were sleeping, my husband and I ran to the swamp together. Later in the morning, after the fighting was over, the soldiers came into the swamp looking for people, and sprayed the area where we were hiding with bullets. My husband was hit; he cried out in pain. He was still alive, though, and the soldiers caught him, and then they shot him again and killed him.”
In 2015, government and opposition forces signed a peace agreement and committed to set up a special ‘Hybrid Court’. But three years on, the government has not signed the Memorandum of Understanding to establish the court – or taken any steps to end the horrific violence. We must put pressure on the South Sudanese government to bring perpetrators to justice.
When Amnesty International visited Unity State in 2016 four individuals suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity were identified. Amnesty International called on South Sudan’s military chief-of-staff to investigate them. There was no response. Recent UN reports have suggested that some of these individuals may also have been involved in the atrocities committed this year.
It’s impossible to ignore the cruel reality – if the South Sudanese authorities had acted on the warnings back in 2016, this latest wave of violence against civilians might have been avoided.
Amnesty says it will continue to document abuses, and identify those responsible for war crimes. The most prominent human rights organization in the world has called for help to continue this critical work, through individual donations.
Source: Amnesty International