The Impact of Sudan Civil Wars on the Anyuaks’ Society

By Obang Ojwok Jobi, ABD
Posted to the web on February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014 (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) — The Anyuak communities in both Ethiopia and Sudan (now South Sudan) are bordering to the most hostile communities in Africa. Since 1955 until 2005, Sudan, like most African countries, has experienced three consecutive civil wars. The first civil war (Anyanya/Anya-Nya) erupted in 1955 and ended in 1972. The peace agreement which was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972 did last long. The discontented former Anyanya I leaders took up arm again in 1975 and formed Anyanya II.

However, after seven years, the Anyanya I was hijacked and was converted to South Sudan Liberation Army/Moment (SPLA/M) in 1983. The liberation moment waged civil war against North Sudan government until comprehensive agreement was signed in Kenya in 2005. All these civil wars were furnished by the Anyauks and they were carried out in the Anyuaks’ lands.

Regrettably, the Anyuaks in both Ethiopia and South Sudan have not benefited from these two civil wars. Instead, they lost their livelihood, lives, lands, culture, and etc. Even though the author of this article did not witness the suffering of the Anyuaks in the hand of Anyanya I, it is rational to assert that the Anyuaks must have suffered in the hand of Anyanya I as well. During the 39 years of the civil wars, the Anyuaks’ land and natural resources had been used up. Their wives were gang raped, their children were kidnaped, killed, their foods were robbed, and their cattle were raid.

When South Sudan Liberation Army/Moment (SPLA/M) was waging civil war against the Northern government in the 1980s, the Anyuaks were very hospitable to the South Sudanese refugees who came to their land. The Anyuaks would share whatever they have with the refugees; the Anyuaks would give the freedom fighters benign passages to wherever they were going; and some of the refugees were even integrated into the Anyuaks’ communities.

On the other hand, the SPLA/M and South Sudanese refugees alike were very hostile to the Anyuak communities. Both SPLA/M and the refugees had hatred toward the Anyuaks. When Sudanese refugees were residing in Itang, one of the cities in Gambella, Ethiopia, the refugees would go outside the city and hideout to wait for women to gang raped them or waited for someone who had something of value to rob. During 39 years of Sudan civil war both SPLA/M and refugees had done vices things to the Anyuaks and the Anyuaks will never forget. The SPLA/M hostility even went further when they opened fire on the unarmed civilians in Pinyodo, one of the cities in Gambella, Ethiopia and killed a numbers of people.

When the SPLA/M was evicted in 1991, they dismantled all the houses or any building in Itang and other areas they were residing. The rationale behind the destruction of the properties was that they do not want the inhabitants to use the buildings or houses that were built for SPLA/M or refugees. This is just to mention few of the immoralities things the SPLA/M and South Sudanese refugees have done to the Anyuaks.

After 22 years of civil war, the SPLA/M and Khartoum government signed comprehensive peace agreement in Kenya in 2005 that led to South Sudan’s independent in 2011. In December 2013, South Sudan was engulfed with civil war again and the Southern Sudanese refugees are pouring into Gambella, Ethiopia.

These refugees are not mere refugees but they are from the Ethnic Nuers who were briefly trained in South Sudan border with Gambella and sent to South Sudan major cities to fight the incumbent President Salva Kirr’s government. When the Nuers were badly defeated, they came back to Gambella and seek refuge in the region. These refugees are also heavily armed. Gambella region is facing anarchism again because these refugees are the Nuers ethnic groups who claimed to have dual citizens. They claimed they are Ethiopians but at the same time they believe they are Southern Sudanese.

The Anyuaks border with some of the wildest people in the world, and the governments in both Ethiopia and South Sudan do not provide them with the needed protections. During Col. Mingestu Hallemaraim’s government, farmer association used to have militias and those militias somehow protected the Anyuaks’ lives. However, the current government not only disarmed the Anyuaks but it also criminalized gun ownership. Therefore, if the federal and regional governments do not take major steps to protect the Anyuaks’ land and lives, we will lose one of the best lands in Ethiopia to the aliens.

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