For Immediate Public Release
August 13, 2011 (SSNA) — The South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A) would like to inform the people of South Sudan and international community that on August, 6, 2011, sixty five bodyguards of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet were given a choice to either remain with SSLA or follow Peter Gatdet, who rejoined the SPLA on August, 03, 2011. The SSLA’s leadership was compelled to democratically invite the immediate family members of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet in the army to exercise their freewill after the government of Unity State negatively propagated in the radio that his cousins and nephews in the SSLA were inhumanely treated.
The aim of the propaganda of Unity State government to concoct mistreatment of Peter Gatdet’s immediate relatives was to create clan and sectional disputes among the Bul-Nuer clan of Unity State. To prove to the people of South Sudan that SSLM/A is a Movement founded upon sound democratic principles, we decided to call the immediate family members of Peter Gatdet to exercise their freewill whether they would remain or follow him. Out of sixty five bodyguards, thirty five decided to follow him. On August, 7, 2011, the leadership of the SSLA allowed them to go to Mayom County which is under the control of the SPLA army.
It is important to note that Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet joined SSLM/A on March, 28, with his friend Col. Bol Gatkuoth Koal. He didn’t bring any single soldier from the SPLA army. But when he joined the Movement, his nephews and cousins who were part of SSLA prior to his defection were permitted to become his bodyguards in the frontline. When he re-defected to SPLA on August, 3, his entire family in the SSLA was emotionally disturbed and disappointed for bringing shame to his family’s refutation. However, his re-defection to the SPLA was exploited by the government of the Unity State that attempted to instigate clan and sectional disputes among the Nuer. Therefore, the SSLA took a rational decision to allow his immediate family members who wanted to join him to go to Mayom County in order to show to the people of Unity State that the allegations of mistreatment concocted by the government were not real.
Unfortunately, Maj. Gen. Gatduel Gatluak, head of SPLA Division Four in Unity State, ordered the arrest of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet’s bodyguards upon their arrival in Mayom County on August, 7, 2011. It came to our attention that they are being subjected to harsh and inhumane treatments which violated 1949 Geneva Convention. Their arrests revealed to the general public that Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet was deceived on August 3rd to rejoin the SPLA army. It is becoming clearer that he might end up deceased like Col. Gatluak Gai who was lured to signing a fake peace which made him vulnerable to assassination.
The international human rights bodies and Red Cross should investigate the SPLA’s violations of Geneva Convention, particularly Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict which states that persons taking no active part in hostilities, including military persons who have ceased to be active, should be treated humanely. The bodyguards of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet decided to follow him out of family reasons and their arrest is the violation of Geneva Convention Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict.
It is important for the SPLA army to put into action Geneva Convention since South Sudan became an independent state on July, 9, 2011. Our Movement is fully observing Geneva Convention that is why we treat humanely over five hundred SPLA war prisoners (POWs). Besides, we have five Congolese and Rwandese war prisoners captured together with SPLA forces in May this year. Therefore, we invite the Red Cross and human rights bodies to come and see foreigners captured along with SPLA army.
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