Dear Members of the SPLA and all Compatriots,
March 28, 2012 (SSNA) — First and foremost we would like to take a moment of silence in memory of all our SPLA heroes who have fallen along the way in our march towards freedom and liberty. But more specifically we ask each of you to observe a moment of silence in memory of those who have just lost their livesago in an ultimate act of patriotism and full measure of devotion and in defence of our Motherland, South Sudan (please pause) during the recent military operations. Second, it is with big heart, sincere gratitude and above all, heartfelt congratulations to you all, our veteran soldiers of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), that we write this message of gratefulness and thank you for once again having taught the Jihadists in Khartoum that capriciousness for short term goals are short-lived.
The fall of Aliiny at 5:00PM, South Sudan local time on March 26 2012 is a shrewd act of courage, bravery, loyalty and allegiance not only to our great land of South Sudan. It is also an unequivocal tribute to the blood of those who have fallen since 1955, including our leader of all time: the SPLM leader and SPLA C-in-C, Dr. John Garang de Mabior d’ Atem. Furthermore, we also take this golden opportunity to congratulate the SPLA frontline commanders and all the army generals for a job well done.
But this unique and special moment is dedicated to you all, our ever-living heroes! We humbly congratulate each and every single one of you our SPLA soldiers, alive or departed, who took part in these successful military operations against the illegal occupation and invasion of our land and territorial integrity. We condemn in the strongest of terms the barbaric aerial bombardments project by Khartoum Airforce and the subsequent ill-advised attempts to invade our land and the territorial integrity of South Sudan. We thank you all from the abundance of our hearts.
Aliiny: Its Illegal Name and Where It Belongs:
The native name of the area, mistakenly referred to as “Heglig” (nomadic Arab name), is Tor Aliiny by the Ruweng Dinka. “Tor” is a Dinka word for “savannah area” with scattered trees whereas Aliiny is a name of a particular legendary individual who died of thirst in that area. Therefore, the official name of the area is Aliiny, not “Heglig” as the North would want the world to believe. It is a vast savannah land that connects our two sisterly counties of Biemnhom and Panrieng. Aliiny is also known as Panthou because the specific erstwhile village spot where the town is currently located had a landmarked of Thaautrees. It was renamed Heglig by Khartoum after the discovery of oil in 1978, but it is an undisputed region of South Sudan. Other areas that have been given arabised names after they were illegally occupied are Gong Yak (Karsana), Roorlou (Bamboo) and Kerlek (Kelek). Aliiny is part and parcel of Aliiny Payam of Kuok Section, in the north western part of Panrieng County.
The area has been illegally occupied by SAF since 2005. But with hope that Khartoum would abide by the territorial borderlines of 1956, the Government of South Sudan did not see the need to pressure Khartoum too much because it was thought that matter would be settled peacefully as agreed in Naivasha in 2005. The Naivasha Protocols stipulated that the boundaries between the North and the South would stand as they did stood in1956, when Great Britain left. Khartoum has instead adamantly refused to evacuate this land and continues to enjoy oil revenues generated from this land with such ungratefulness. But their clever ploy to claim our land has been based on their manipulation of the border lines since 1978, following the discovery of oil in the region. Since then, Khartoum has significantly moved its southern borderlines southwards and has, as a result, the audacity to claim much of our land.
Khartoum itself knew all along that the area belongs to the South. But when oil drilling commenced in 1999, they began to refer to Heglig as a “no-man’s land” before suddenly claiming that it is part of Southern Kordofan. The evidence that they referred to Aliiny as a ‘no man’s land’ can be found in the statements of the 2002 Sudan’s Ambassador to Kenya. After Raila Oding visited the oilfield in Panrieng and went back to Kenya, the issue of whether Kenya should buy “blood oil” received much media coverage in Kenya. In the process, the Sudanese Ambassador was prompted to remark to the Nation’s Reporter that “‘Heglig’ is a “No-Man’s Land.”
We repeat that, as a matter of fact, the area belongs to South Sudan and must be returned by all measures necessary. But at this point, we thank each and every one of you, our gallant fighters of the SPLA, for doing, with such valour, exactly what you have pledged to do: defend our land with your ultimate sacrifices. We cannot thank you enough. We know that long days are still ahead but we believe our spirits, the love of our land and the defence of our human dignity as well as our common dream to make a better future for our next generations will ultimately prevail and propel us to the final victory over the reign of terror and extremism in Khartoum.
The Historical Background of Panaruu settlement in Tor Aliiny (Panthou):
Tor Aliiny (Panthou) became the settlement of Ruweng Dinka around 14th Century. This came as a result of the Dinka migration to the West Bank of the Nile. With the fall of the Nubian Christian Kingdoms in the 13th century and the beginning of the Great Dinka Migrations Southwards, many Dinka groups arrived and began to occupy much of the present day South Sudan, after most of the Dinka groups including the Ruweng Dinka had moved westwards across the Nile to the lands south of the Nuba Mountains, although a sizeable number of Dinka remained in the eastern part of the Nile River.
When the Dinka crossed the Nile to the western banks they found a territory with such rich soil and abundant pastures. The land was fertile to grow Dhurra known to Dinka as Rap. The region west of the Nile which is currently known as Bhar El Ghazal was inhabited by Luo, Luel, and Yibel. The oral history of Dinka attested that the Dinka Chief, Juet, fought a people whom they believed to be Luo. After the Dinka expansion to the west, the most of the Luo groups moved southwards, some into the present day Republics of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This is how the Ruweng Dinka came to be the owners of much of the area north of River Bhar el Ghazal (Kiir) in the northern most part of Unity State, including Aliiny.
The Status of “Heglig” from Anglo-Egyptian Condominium to 1983:
Since the independence of Sudan in 1956, the areas of Panaruu Dinka which border Southern Kordofan were administered as part of Upper Nile Province although the present day Panrieng and Biemnom counties were initially part of Bhar el Ghazel before they were transferred to Kordofan in 1905 and back again to the South in 1928. The reason for transferring them back to the South is that, generally, the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium considered these areas as part of South Sudan. The policy of Closed District Ordinance adopted by Condominium administration was to cut off the South from the North through the promulgation of the Passports and Permit Ordinance in October 1922. The new policy of Closed District Ordinance in the South required the elimination of all the administrative officers who spoke Arabic in favour of local recruits from the missionary schools. Accordingly, Southern Sudan became a closed door region that outsiders from other parts of Sudan were not allowed to enter without permission.
The boundary between the North and the South that was inherited during the independence of Sudan was the same boundary the British employed during the policy of Closed District Ordinance. The only Dinka area that was administratively transferred to the North in 1905 but remained there after 1928 was Abyei. March SIR points out that the three different Dinka groups that were administered by Kordofan at different times are: the Jok, the Twic and the Ruweng. But after 1928, the Jok/Ngok Dinka was an anomaly which remained outside the boundaries of the southern provinces.
When the British decided to transfer Abyei to the North in 1905, the Condominium officials generally avoided dividing single Dinka clan between two or more provinces, and treated a clan territory as a whole. The Jok appeared to have remained in the North and no Condominium record was found documenting any significant or permanent alteration of a specific part of the Jok/Ngok territory.
NCP Erroneous Claims that Aliiny is part of South Kordofan/Abyei are Unfounded
The important point here is that, Aliiny has been a homeland of the Panaruu Dinka. The only time when its ownership became an issue was in the 1970s. When oil was discovered in the South in the 1978, a dispute arose between the Government of Sudan under former President Jaafar Nimeiri and the Autonomous Government of the South. At that time, officials in Khartoum had attempted to transfer the rich oil, agricultural and grazing lands of Upper Nile and Bhar El Ghazal to Northern provinces by redrawing the map.
In response to representations from both the Southern government and the Regional Assembly, Jaafar Nimeiri appointed a committee under the Chief Justice Khalifallah Rasheed to investigate and review the relevant legal corpus and advice. The committee also was composed of a number of prominent Southern Regional officials. The committee recommended the retention of boundaries fixed on 1st January 1956 as stipulated by the Addis Ababa Agreement. This Committee also recommended that all oilfields, including ‘Heglig’, were part of Southern Sudan. These recommendations had laid to rest the contention as to the status of Aliiny and Jaafar Nimeiri accepted the recommendations of the Committee. Former Sudanese Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan and President of the High Executive Committee, Abel Alier Kuai, in his candid book, “Too Many Agreements Dishonoured” has equally confirmed in that book that ‘Heglig’ was part of South Sudan.
This followed the argument of the North that Heglig was part of South Kordofan was vehemently rejected. The Committee had ultimately concluded that Aliiny was within Bentiu Area Council, a two-hour drive away from Bentiu town, about 45 minute-away from Panrieng Town and a five-hour drive away from Kadugali. Everybody in the locality knows that it is a part of Bentiu Area Council.
The claims by the North that Aliiny (Panthou) was part of its territory were once again resurrected after the collapse of Addis Ababa Agreement in 1983 despite the fact that prior to that, the North under Jaafar Nimeiri had conceded in 1974 that Aliiny was part of the South. The recent northern claim that incorporated these areas as part of Southern Kordofan, contrary to 1974 Presidential Decree, was effected through brute military force from 1983—86 when the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) cleared civilians from the oilfields. However, some of the civilians who inhabited the areas returned to the area in 1988 under the protection of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Kuok and Miorcigiu Sections of Panrieng County, the original inhabitants of the land were living there thus living in the areas in 1988, just before they were once again brutally uprooted from Aliiny by Khartoum with such violence and destruction which would, by the today’s standard, be considered as crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Yet because of the richness of the land, the same communities returned into the area in 1989 before al-Bashir swept to power in a coup.
It follows that the Northern attempt to change the boundaries between the South and the North they stood in 1956 was intentionally to incorporate oil fields of the Unity State (part of the former Upper Nile Province) to Kordofan region. This policy was elevated to the extreme by the National Islamic Front (NIF) beginning from 1990 through the scorch-earth policy of depopulating the region and with the manifest intent to settle Arab tribes of Miserya Nomads. During this time, the Kuok and Miorcigiu communities were chased Southward by northern military machines for good. However, the 1974 Presidential Decree of Jaafar Nimeiri laid to rest the status of Heglig when the Committee under the then Chief Justice of Sudan concluded that the areas being claimed now by the NCP are part and parcel of Southern Sudan as known in 1956.The current maps only shows what Khartoum wants the world to see, contrary to the 1956 borders.
Importance of Aliiny/Heglig and areas:
Much of the oil being produced in North Sudan actually comes from Aliiny. But besides oil, Aliiny is a rich arable land and can be used for large scale crop production among other purposes. If put to good used, it can significantly contribute to great economic development of our nation. We must not only defend it but also encourage development of the area to generate much needed development for the local population and the nation as a whole.
The Need to Incorporate the Locals in the Upcoming North-South Border Demarcation:
The 1956 borderline between South Sudan and Sudan lies on Lake Kerlek. We hope that the NCP will accept to settle matters as per the 1956. If not, then the liberation process should continue till we reach the borderlines. We agree with our President who has emphasized that, “we can compromise on other issues such as oil and other things, but will not compromise on border issue by leaving out an inch of our land.” That is the position that we members of South Sudanese community in Diaspora in general but Panaruu community in particular support. We also hope that during the border demarcation, local experts from Panrieng County will be included on the National Team. We also recommend that that SPLA should establish permanent bases in the border areas with strong logistics to ensure adequate protection of civilians and to secure peace so that we can move on with the development agenda of our newly born nation.
Immediate Assistance needed from National Parliament in Juba:
We all know that the ongoing military operations in Panrieng County, Unity State and other border areas will persist for quite a while unless the border demarcation issue is permanently settled. The consequences are that aerial bombardments and ground operations by SAF will have long term consequences on the ground, and will significantly affect especially the civilian populations. It also means that civilians will certainly have no incentives to engage in permanent economic activities and other long term economic plans. We appeal to our National Parliament in Juba to earmark and advance financial assistance towards the victims and to help renovate and equip Panrieng Hospital so as to not only address the dire needs of medical care in the County but also for immediate medical treatment attention for our troops and heroes who are wounded in their encounter with the SAF.
We expect our National Parliament Speaker, Hon. James Wani Igga on behalf of the National Government to introduce and spearhead such an issue as a matter of pressing urgency. If special assistance is approved by our National Parliament, a special ad hoc committee may need to be set up for the purpose of overseeing the implementation of the needed services in the area. This may also address the logistical challenges faced by our gallant troops in the areas, including the need for addressing shortages as regards to medications and medical personnel and clean drinking water.
Panaruu Community, like all patriotic South Sudanese, in Canada fully support the ongoing operation to secure and end the illegal occupation of Aliiny/Heglig by SAF since 2005. We also want to remind the international community that Aliiny/Heglig is not part of South Kordofan State in Sudan as those in Khartoum would want the whole world to believe.
Equally important, Lake Jau Payam is not a disputed area as it has been propagandized in the media by those liars in Khartoum and some quarters who are ignorant about these areas. These two areas are part and parcel of Panrieng County in Unity State. Those in Khartoum are claiming these areas and want to occupy them for oil purpose, not because they are part of North Sudan. These areas have been part of the modern day South Sudan’s territory since the 13th Century when Greater Ruweng settled the region and long before oil discoveryin 1978. We also urge the National Government in Juba to approve special budget for humanitarian crises such as health issue and water shortages as a result of the ongoing military confrontations in the region. There is no question that our men and women in uniform at this hour, need to be well equipped: mentally, psychologically, logistically and physically.
With that said, we would like to emphasize that the Republic of South Sudan would not be fully independent and free if all its border areas, which are illegally occupied by SAF are not fully liberated. Finally, President Kiir and SPLA leadership have enormous support from South Sudanese of all walks of life. Struggle continues. Victory is certain!!!
Representatives of Panrieng Community in Canada:
1. Santino Miagak Dau, Chairman, contact, firstname.lastname@example.org, (403) 968-5490
2. Peter Kur Mijak Tor Diran, Deputy Chair
3. Monyluak Mijak Arop, Secretary General
4. Yiik Monychol Deng, information and culture Secretary
5. Wuor Kuol Theithei, Finance and Administration Secretary