Governor Elias Waya Nyipuoch said 12 bodies had been found, thought to belong to unarmed civilians, who were allegedly arrested and killed for being suspected supporters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLA-IO).
Addressing civil servants at Wau Municipality on Friday, May 27, Governor Nyipuoch said his government had documented cases of more than 100 civilians who were allegedly killed by government soldiers when violence erupted in Wau last September - just one month after President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar signed a peace deal.
Nyipuoch said two weeks ago, government and United Nations officials discovered the remains of 12 human beings southwest of Wau town.
“As I speak I have the video and photos of human skulls of six people. Ten were killed in one place, and also the UN officials think dogs scattered the bones. Some of them have ropes still tied on their skeletons,” Nyipuoch said.
He said he asked the Catholic Church in Wau to decently burry the remains.
Governor Nyipuoch also said there were several other unidentified victims killed and thrown into water wells within residential areas of Jezira Lokoloko, Hai Kamsim and Jebel Kher. “The Mayor of Wau has recovered some bodies from the wells,” he explained.
In a press release issued on May 24, 2016 Human Rights Watch said abuses against civilians began in late December 2015 and continued into April 2016, after large numbers of new soldiers from Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Warrap were deployed in and around Wau as part of the government’s counterinsurgency operations.
“Since December 2015, newly deployed, mostly Dinka, soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have attacked ethnic Fertit civilians in villages and neighbourhoods of the town of Wau,” Human Rights Watch said in it’s report.
During a research mission to Wau in April 2016, Human Rights Watch said, it found that the abuses had forced tens of thousands of people to flee, leaving villages and entire neighbourhoods empty.
“The record of the killings in Wau that I have here has reached more than 100, with dates and location. I have given it to the president including the burning of Falata residential area,” Nyipuoch said.
Nyipyuch questioned why anyone would kill unarmed civilians. He said he believed government soldiers deployed in those areas were probably angry because they were neither given food nor were they paid their salaries for several months. “Like now 1,200 soldiers who are in Momoi and Abushaka have no salary,” he said.
He called on South Sudan’s military and political leaders to work hard to reform the army and other security institutions. “If there is anything bad that the army has done their political and military leaders should be blamed because we failed to train them on what nationalism means,” he said.
Nyipuoch added that it’s the government’s fault if they don’t give soldiers food or pay them their salaries. “It is also our mistake because if we do not give food where do we expect them to eat?” he said.
SPLA Spokesman, Colonel Lul Ruai Koang denied that the SPLA had killed any unarmed civilians in Wau.
The SPLA has also denied the recent allegations of indiscriminate killings of civilians, rape, arbitrary arrests, looting and destruction of property that Human Rights Watch says it documented in the area.