By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 17, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s Nuer community in Uganda say they were blocked from holding a program to commemorate the second anniversary of mass slaughter committed in Juba against ethnic Nuers in mid-December 2013.
- Nuer traditional cultural dancers on Sunday at Bentiu Indepedent stadium in Unity state. 10 November 2013 (ST)
The commemoration program was initially scheduled to be held on 15 December, but officials from the South Sudanese embassy in Kampala, collaborating with the chairman of some pro-government Nuers reportedly cancelled the commemoration program.
In an email correspondence to Sudan Tribune, the leadership of the Nuer community claimed Ugandan police ordered the community to cancel the commemoration meeting and allegedly even threatened to arrest the entire community members.
“The Uganda police (Captain) came to shine Hotel and closed the gate and tell people that they received a call from military attaché in south Sudan embassy by the name Gai Chatim Puoch who told them that the date of 15 December has been changed to 16 December which is in their claim, was the day which the failed coup of Dr. Riek Machar was controlled”, the Nuer community said.
Following the incident, the chairman of the Nuer community in Uganda, Stephen Gai Kak Gai, formed a group of nine members to meet Gai Chatim puoch, the military attaché at South Sudanese embassy in Kampala to address the issue.
The community, however, claimed embassy officials refused to cooperate and a meeting to amicably settle the case for the community to proceed with the commemoration failed.
“Chatim failed to understand the claim and said that he would remain loyal to the government and would not entertain the objectives of SPLM/SPLA-IO”, said Kak.
According to the Nuer leadership in Kampala, Chatim, at a meeting held at Fang Fang Hotel admitted he could not help Nuer Community to go on with the commemoration.
Chatim claimed the planned 15 December commemoration contradicts the objectives of the government that termed the event as a failed coup and the memorial event would rather be held on December16.
The group strongly condemned the interruption during the mourning of over 20,000 Nuer civilians who were killed in Juba during the early days of the conflict, which triggered after president Kiir accused his former deputy of staging a coup, an allegation he denies.
Members of the South Sudan’s Nuer community across the world marked the 15 December event.