The call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon angered many South Sudanese citizens and triggered massive protests in South Sudan’s capital Juba, Warrap-, Northern Bahr el Ghazal-, Jonglei- and Lakes States.
“No, no Ban-Ki Moon -- yes, yes Salva Kiir -- Heglig is our land.”
Chants by the youth of Rumbek
The Lakes State Youth Union (LASYU), the highest youth body in the state, organized the demonstration in Rumbek. The demonstrators urge the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to forward their petition to the UN Secretary-General.
According to the Chairperson of the Lakes State Youth Union, Manyiel Dut Kok, the petition asks Ban Ki-moon to be “fair” and “to approach the political situation in South Sudan and Sudan with carefulness”.
Kok further says that “the public of South Sudan is happy about the Sudan People's Liberation Army’s (SPLA) occupation of Heglig”. He assures that the Lakes State youth is ready to join the fight if required and that by no means “our SPLA forces should withdraw from Heglig. This is our land, occupied by the Sudan Government when oil was discovered in the area.”
Illustration by Khalid Albaih
Heglig is located north of Unity State and inhabited by Dinka Ruweng and Panaru. “Heglig was annexed to South Kordafan State when oil was discovered by Nimeri Regime,” the petition states. Jafar Nimeri ruled Sudan from 1969 to 1985.
The letter further condemns the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, and accuses him of being “biased and incapable to handle the mediation of the outstanding post independence issues”.
Sudan has failed to respect the international laws of sovereignty and integrity of South Sudan, attacking South Sudanese territories and killing innocent civilians in Unity State and Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, the demonstrators say.
The letter calls the international community to remember Abyei and the failure of the UN Security Council (UNSC) when South Sudan withdrew from the oil rich region as agreed, while Sudan held its ground and refused to move its forces out.
Heglig poem by Atok Dan Baguoot: Barrels of conflict
The youth appeal to the UNSC, the AU and the international community to demand the withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) from Abyei, leaving the region under UN and AU military forces.
The letter suggests that the UNSC should impose a no-fly zone and create buffer zones in the areas where violence is raging. The borders must as well be demarcated as soon as possible.
A lasting peace and stability along the contentious borders must be established, and this is the youth's primary goal with this petition, the letter explains.
The UNMISS acting state coordinator Gilbert Nantsa appreciated the non-violent stand of the youth and said that he will convey the petition letter so that it reaches the UN Secretary-General.
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