*An eye for an eye is the wrong response to attacks on humanitarians/ The Guardian 15.09.16*
Anonymous I survived the attack in which South Sudanese soldiers murdered and gang raped aid workers – but executing the perpetrators will not bring justice It has been two months since I was brutally attacked along with more than 30 other individuals by armed soldiers at the Terrain compound in Juba, South Sudan. The incident resulted in the death of a dedicated and inspiring friend, John Gatluak Manguet Nhial, repeated sexual and physical assaults, and the lingering pain from the physical and psychological injuries we sustained that day. The international community has made a loud and united call for this incident to be properly investigated and for the government of South Sudan to prosecute the perpetrators and ensure justice for survivors. In August, Ban Ki Moon called for the government to “prosecute those involved in these unspeakable acts of violence”. I have spent many years working on the other side of such reports, speaking to victims and perpetrators, and making similar calls. But as I find my role transformed, I can’t help but feel that this “justice” we ask for is as elusive as ever. If the ongoing presidential investigation into the attack is thorough and soldiers are indeed found guilty of the crimes committed against us, there is a high chance they may be sentenced to death. Recently, two soldiers in Wau found guilty of committing murder and other crimes were executed by firing squad. I can only speak about my own reaction to the events that followed the attack against us. I know very well that not everyone will agree with what I am about to say: but after two months of healing, I am wondering what “justice” even looks like. In the decade since the 2003 UN Baghdad bombing, aid worker casualties have tripled to more than 100 deaths per year. This question of justice is not only asked by the survivors of the Terrain attacks, it is a question asked by humanitarians affected by violent war crimes all over the world. Causing suffering in others does not alleviate my suffering Yes, I am angry. I am angry because I feel that the UN failed to do anything to protect us or to rescue us after the attack. I am angry at a nation that has a large armed force but no funds to pay them – soldiers that in many cases joined this army as children, trained and initiated into a life of destruction, fear and anger. I am angry at those soldiers who during the event clearly coerced younger troops, some who could not have been more than 16, to rape foreigners while they watched and cheered. The lives of those young soldiers have also been changed forever. Yes, I am angry. Yes, we need justice. But the death penalty does not give life to John Gatluak Manguet Nhial. Causing suffering in others does not alleviate my suffering. Instead, the death penalty only further erodes society’s respect for the sanctity of life. It builds scar tissue to coarsen our culture, diminish our humanity. As a humanitarian, I moved to South Sudan to support a population that has endured war for generations. As humanitarians, we lived in South Sudan to use whatever skills we had to try and save lives. The thought of people being killed on my behalf makes me feel sick. Are we as humanitarians left with the choice to either report crimes against us and participate in an unjust system, or simply not report these crimes at all? It is too soon to say whether this investigation will be taken seriously by the government, by its army and their military court, or to say whether any investigation will result in the execution of perpetrators. But this discussion needs to happen before that call is made, before the trigger is pulled. We need to work towards better implementation of international humanitarian law and accountability for those who violate it. But these efforts must work hand in hand with the need to continue work to strengthen judicial systems and encourage governments to stop the use of capital punishment immediately. How can we call for justice when we know the consequences of that justice offend our moral code? South Sudan has continued to use the death penalty despite well-documented weaknesses in the country’s legal system, which prevent it from ensuring the basic legal rights of people accused of crimes. How would we be sure the right people were being punished? This week I will speak to investigators from South Sudan’s government who will play a role in deciding the fate of these soldiers. I will tell them my story in unflinching detail so that the full consequences of these violent actions can be understood. And I will call for justice – a justice that encompasses the dignity and respect survivors deserve as well as the dignity and respect for human life that we, as humanitarians, should demand. We are reporting stories on this subject; you can contact us confidentially at globaldevp...@theguardian.com with “ Sexual violence against aid workers” in the subject line. -- To post to this group, send email to email@example.com To unsubscribe from this group, send email to southsudankob+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/d/forum/southsudankob View this message at https://groups.google.com/d/msg/southsudankob/topic-id/message-id For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout --- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "South Sudan Info - The Kob" group. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to southsudankob+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. 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