Riek Machar in tears as he admits to 1991 Bor massacres

South Sudan's Vice President Dr Riek Machar Teny admitted to ordering massacre.

South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar Teny broke down in tears and wept as he admitted to being responsible for the massacre of Dinka tribesmen in which an estimated 2000 civilians were gunned down in Bor. The dramatic admission by Dr Machar came as people gathered outside the home of the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLA), the late Dr John Garang last Sunday. His wife Dr Angelina Teny also broke down and wept and the huge gathering joined them as almost everybody burst out in tears and began loudly wailing as they remembered their loved ones whose lives were cut short on the orders of Dr Machar.

Riek Machar, who together with Dr David Matsanga negotiated the Uganda Peace Talks with the Lords Resistance Army’s Gen Kony, made the dramatic admission soon after arriving at the late SPLM leader’s home to attend the sixth anniversary of Dr Garang’s death in a helicopter accident while returning from a secret visit to the home of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Rwakitura, Western Uganda in August 2005.

On November 15, 1991 the event known as the “Bor Massacre” or South-western Dinka Massacre, commenced in South Sudan. Forces led by the breakaway faction of Riek Machar deliberately killed an estimated 2,000 civilians in Bor and wounded several thousand more over the course of two months. This was three months after Riek Machar and his comrades on August 28, 1991, declared a coup against Dr John Garang, called ‘Nasir Declaration.’ It is estimated that at least 100,000 people left the area following the attack. Famine followed the massacre, as Machar’s forces looted and burnt villages and as well as raiding cattle. An estimated 25,000 more people died as a result of hunger, according to Amnesty International. At the time, Dr Riek described the incident as “propaganda” and “myth” despite evidence of mass killing shown by bones and corpses in the aftermath of the massacre.

Two Dinka Bor MPs from the National Assembly last week waded into Dr Riek Machar’s Sunday apology to members of the Bor community for the gruesome killing of thousands of its citizens by the Nasir Faction’ forces in 1991, then commanded by Dr Riek Machar Teny. In the same year, the community also saw its property looted and livelihood put into disrepair by the faction. Dr Riek Machar, the new South Sudan’s Vice Presiden,t stunned those who attended, when he unexpectedly owned up to the heinous crimes of the Nasir Faction in 1991. The apology came nearly twenty years after the massacre.

Last Sunday, Dr Riek explained that the aim of his movement then, was to restore democracy and human rights in the mainstream SPLM, whose late leader was allegedly autocratic. However, the Nasir Movement went on to commit human rights abuses, culminating in the ‘Bor Massacre.’ His motives are believed to have been an attempt to hurt the Dinka, and to create a pluralistic less Dinka centric model for the SPLM. Thousands of civilians in the Bor area died when Dr Riek’s Nuer forces turned against them and killed them after his failure to topple Garang from the SPLM leadership. Some people had perished in the Bor areas as determined by the United Nations assessment of casualties in 1992.

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16 Responses to Riek Machar in tears as he admits to 1991 Bor massacres

  1. Dr.David matsanga says:

    Dear Editor
    In conflict resolution that is the final stage of healing the old wounds to allow the nation to move on . I personally know Dr Riek Machar very well and he is a honest, down to earth.man He is a real peace maker and lover, a dedicated man in his job. Very few people in Africa can come out to heal wounds like he has done. The Republic of South Sudan needs healing and forgiveness, added with high level reconciliation that will make it a viable state. There was too much killing and in such a situation, all sides need to openly come out and confesss in order to allow national reconciliation in the entire Sudan.

    In a war situation like the one we have had in Uganda, we need a national forgiveness where the past is laid to to rest and we embark on the way forward. Our Final Peace Agreement (FPA) which we hammered for Northern Uganda and which took us three years has discussed and did discuss the root causes of the war . There was nothing that was left under the table and if [LRA leader Joseph] Kony one day wakes up on the right side and wants to sign the FPA, he should only publicly tell the world and the document will be produced for signature. It was the help of Dr Riek and my self as the CHief Negotiator and other able Ugandans like Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda that Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan are today peaceful. Wei hammered out an agreement thatnremoved patron of the LRA from Eastern Equatorial to Western Equatorial to allow them Kampala – Juba to be operational . This was a significant operation and it was Dr. rIek Machar who steered us through it allowing thousands and thousands of LRA fighters to cross the Nile and allow the peace to grow in Northern Uganda.

    Dr. Riek Machar has done Africa pride and has come out to follow his actions . African methods of reconciliation need Frank people. The western style of arrests and retribution does not help in Africa. For over 3000 years our fore.fore fathers resolved their conflicts through restorative methods that allows unity and forgiveness by open admission of the crimes followed by reparations paid to the offended . This worked and tribes did not go to war for minor reasons until the White population arrived with other alternatives of jailing people.

    The ICC matter is not very good for Africa because it does not restore communities and increases the likelihood of a new conflict. Take for example the Kenyan case where the ICC has simply complicated matters and multiplied enmity in the regions of Post Election Violence where we shall see worse ethnic tensions in the next General elections of 2012 because the mechanism is retributive . No body in Kenya has come out and admitted the responsibility because Ocampo has injected in a cancer that is not African.

    I can write so much on restorative and retributive justice systems in Africa. But let me end by saying I respect Dr. Riek Machar and he has done a great thing to openly accept responsibility for a New Republic of South Sudan to have peace and tackle other challenges. Dr Riek Machar is a realist and he helped me to reconcile with President Museveni in Kampala on 8th Decmber 2008 after 24 years of sharp differences over the politics of Uganda. He looked straight across the table and asked President Museveni: “There is Matsanga on the table whom you have not talked to.” He then asked me to shake hands and bury the hatchet. Since I was a Chief Negotiator who had brought the peace that Northern Ugandans are enjoying now, I could not show enmity. I did reconcile with President Museveni and embraced dialogue from that day. That is the only route I will use in helping resolve Uganda’s problems and ask many other people to follow Dr Machar’s example and create a new Africa . Long live Dr. Machar.

    • Gong says:

      Dr. David Matsanga,

      Your comment put me to tears. I’m a survivor of that heinous crime committed by Riek Machar in 1991. As an educated Dr. how could you possibly praise a man so heinous and cruel like Riek Machar who mercilessly murdered the very people he’s now leading as VP?. Apology does not mend broken hearts nor does it shape the character and cruelty of a man! Machar is no different from Hitler. Justice for Bor people is what we need so dearly.

      • Thomas says:

        You are not a survivor nor even from Bor, because from your mouth if you we’re there you should be dead, some big mouth like yours are to be cut off of our south. Riek did not ask the locals to kill its a cattle raids which still killing many in the vast communities in south till now, those die after the independent are more than what you havoc in the 90s. God only nows . If the number is right then the Alive are not Dinka bor.

        • Mike from darwin (Nigerian Igbo) says:

          Thomas..
          It is very painful that Reik Marcha could be so wicked. This is nothing but a re-incarnation of Nazism..Well, Salva Kiir is never a political wizard I thought he is.First thing would have been to arrest this son-xx-x-xxxxx and imprison him. Now he is on the run. Maybe Khartourn will get him back to virus South Sudan..

  2. namwanga says:

    Dear Editor
    With due respect, ‘warring’ in Afrika is not a recent phenomena stumbled upon by scholars with panacea for stopping it. So is the argument for and about ‘peacing’.
    A short detour of ‘war-starting’ and ‘peace-ending’ has its foundation in the 1884 Berlin partition of Afrika. To this end, Afrika war and peace criers i.e. those who shout loudest about these twin phenomena have either intentionally or conveniently ignored how this episode informs the ‘war-making’ and ‘peace-starting’ paradigm in Afrika. It informs the context with which the theories of restorative and retributive justice are applied.
    Dr Riek Machar is a victim twice over i.e. presiding over the massacres of Afrika persons and regretting the act at the same time. Afrika is littered with the Dr Machar’s. Throw in Joseph Kony of LRA and the Juba peace process, you will find a litany of repeat patterns in Afrika – Why? Because there is no peace that has ended wars and those wallowing in peace making and war stopping are using Berlin templates for stop-start wars i.e. peace was not organised in.
    The so-called Juba Peace or its foundation foundered before even the process begun i.e. it died at birth and the best that has been done to it is to give it a decent burial. No amount of gloss or yet to be manufactured words to describe it, will change it. The reasons may be staring at us but as the saying goes we have eyes but cannot see i.e. will not go as far as saying we are blind; ears but do not hear, tongue but cannot feel the taste. The issue is that the all humans need security and all human have a fallback position when the chips are down, so Kony cannot be an exception to this rule. President Mandela when faced with this question of war and peace said that the reasons and consequently the fight back tools are provided by the situation causing the fallout. Not facing this squarely i.e. a square peg on a square hole, is to postpone to the next round of falling out. Kony or no Kony, the fallout in the habitat Uganda produced Kony and not the other way round. There would have been ‘a Kony’ of sorts and there will be ‘a Kony’ of sorts CPA or no CPA. The CPA being eluded here does not merit the paper it’s written on because it focussed on Kony, Kony and Kony without putting on the table the issue that invented or created this Kony person. Eventually, I suspect that at some point, Kony became a meal ticked to some significant and important people as well as respectable institutions and governments that poured in money, expertise, expats, etc., etc. With due respect, I grant that Dr Nyekorach Matsanga was present in postponing the next vicious round of physical engagements that will make Kony’s round of engagements appear like a picnic.
    As for Dr Machar, it’s a pity that that he is contrite about his presence when loss of lives occurred. I suppose the position should be that he did what he had to do with the information he had or was made available to him; and could not have been that insightful i.e. the insightly tool, that the maker, in his wisdom did not include in the survival tool kit. To this end Dr Riek and Dr Nyekorach are fellow travellers; its the latter’s tearful contrite is yet to come.
    Namwanga

  3. Dr. David Matsanga says:

    Dear Editor
    Namwanga remains confused on whether peace is in Uganda and Northern Uganda or not.
    1, There is now permanent peace in Northern Uganda better than the London streets.
    2. That peace was got by the Juba peace Agreement and negotiations that I personally took part in, not my Ghost but myself , Dr. Riek Machar, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Martin Ojul , Okello Oryem and many others who endured the sideshows of busy bodies like Namwanga to go and look for Kony in the bush and we have peace, peace peace, peace peace , peace, in Northern Ugandan. Nanwanga! You will not change anything with your writings because Ugandans in that region wanted peace and I answered their demands by silencing guns after 23 years.
    3. If you are a student of Ugandan history, which I believe Namwanga you are from the quotes, you ust then understand that it is not Matsanga or Dr. Riek Machar who started the war. The war was started by the reasons and root causes that we hammered out in Juba. Namwanga is not bigger than all Ugandans like Bishop Odama, Mao, Owiny Dollo, Olanya, Dr. Obita and many others who took part in the process.

    4. Editor! I am in the process of publishing the FPA so that the world can read and know what was discussed and hammered out in Juba. This will help the Namwangas of this world who are less or unfortunate in speaking about something they dont know. Without that FPA, LRA fighters would not have left Eastern Equtorial to Western Eqautorial. This was the begining of the New Republic of South Sudan and Dr. Riek deserves credit for being a mediator and us negotiators (Dr. Rugunda and myself) on opposite sides.

    5. I will always respect Riek and his work in Africa and no amount of intellectual discourse will deter me from thanking him for the peace in Northern Uganda. It is only those who appear like Ghosts in this world who dont know that Kony is gone and is somewhere in CAR [Central African Republic]. Dr Riek Machar and myself are not international policemen to look for Kony if he doesn’t wants to sign the Agreement to save his soul and the children he has produced in the world. Let him pick up a phone and call Dr Machar and the document will be taken to where he is. This will save him and others because that FPA safeguards the interests of both parties, that is, the government of Uganda (GOA) and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).

    Dr. Riek has done well for Sudan and some of us ,Namwanga have no regrets to make for having got peace for my people of Northern Uganda who needed it most.
    Go back to Uganda and see Northern Uganda booming now and with the NRM harvesting votes because of hard work.

    Thanks Dr. Riek and God BLESS YOU

  4. Dr. Mach says:

    Dear Editor
    I’m not very certain Dr. Matsanga will read this comment, since this article is a year old, I hope he read it anyways.
    He claimed to be a “Conflict Resolution Expert” this is controversial to what he is doing here, his respond to this article are so bias that they are igniting anger in other people. Sometime I wonder how people like him get a doctorate? Personally earning this title was not easy. People like Matsanga ( I don’t feel comfortable adding Dr.), are the reason why Africa will always be backward. They are very influential that the foolish majority ride along with them. If David Masanga does not condemn the Bor massacres of 1991 then I have a reason to believe that he will not condemn the Darfur genocide and the Rwanda genocide, just to mention few. I would like to advice Mr. David that the first step in resolving a conflict is acknowledging the present of the conflict, which mean you have to take a stance and condemn the conflict. How can you be so ignorance about the Bor massacre and just shower Dr. Riek with praises and what a great man he is? stop wishing to be an Expert in Conflict Resolution because you can honorably be an expert if you stand firm and censure people like Dr. Riek Machar for human right violations and abuse. Boot licking is for people with low self esteem not people who claim to have had so much education that they call themselves Doctor of philosophy. I hope I will meet you soon in Juba possibly at Vice President office, we can have some debate on some current conflict and why you think war is a way forward in Africa, since you can not condemn act of Dr. Riek that he himself admit that it was a stupid choice and if he had to reverse his decision, he won’t have done it. This does not mean that we should praise him if he admit his uncouth behaviors and apologized.
    Dr. Mach

    • Jack says:

      Mach, I got to say thank you mate for having a mind of philosopher. It’s a simply judgement that David didn’t understand the pit Dr. Riek had created in the South. Am a survivor of Dr. Riek vicious and Hilter’s-like killing. I believe like any other peace loving people in this world that justice for “Bor massacre” will be realised and offenders will be brought to book. It’s a norm that our current leaders in Africa try to acknowledge their dark pasts to influence votes come elections. Yes, they will always be leaders but that means this is not an immunity to usher perpetrators out of their blood-drifting fingers.

  5. Awek says:

    Riek Machar can start by being honest, over a million Dinka Bor people lost their life during the 1991 massacres.

  6. Nyanditjuny says:

    Dear Dr. Riek.
    Even if you shed the tears of blood. It will very hard to forgive you. However. This envirnonment which lack basic socio-economic and political reforms which constantly favour Salva Kiir and shamelessly corrupt his ways to acquire what he want and then show off his acquisition as a sign of good performance and achievement, will pave your way of forgiveness. South Sudan is not for Bar el Gazal alone as they are currently found in every office in Juba. We should eradicate it by endosing you to that position and keep a keen eyes on you, whether you will work with Nuer as Kiirdit did to Bar el Gazal. I’m one of the survivors but i have half-way forgiven you.
    Do your best and we’ll support you.

  7. Mun Deng says:

    Dear Readers,
    It was actually a very big move by Dr Machar. But can some one who is not a head of state apology a lone with out the knowledge of his head? Many communities were disappointed by the act of SPLM/A during our struggle. If Dr Riek apologied to Bor community, can apology now to Gaatjaak community that were finished by Dr Garang and Nyuon Bany? For me it’s a good move toward reconciliation but I doubt it because only the President should have apologied on-behave of the past movement or Government.

  8. ManyDep says:

    The comments are good, but the truth remain, we are very sorry to Riek to apologies without tell us the clear reason of the killing of Bor people, SPLM/A is not for Bor, he is now enjoying the government he was against it

  9. Jetson says:

    Can anyone comment now that Dr. Riek is in exile? Many wrongs are being committed by both sides, so unfortunate!

  10. John says:

    The apology Riek offered to Bor community was not a genuine one but a ploy to win political support of Garang’s family,he tricked them into believing he was sorry just to obtain their support in his scheme against the govt.only the gullible will take him at his word

  11. Agnes says:

    Politicians in general are heartless and don’t care about anyone but their ambitions. After all these years of denial, Riak Machar finally takes responsibility for the Bor Massacre. My question is, should he be praised for finally confessing after all these years of lies or punished?. Yes as we commend him for owning up, I believe their is need for justice. Those innocent lives lost need to rest in peace. Riak must be held accountable. That is my stand on the issue

    However, I also want to revisit the cause of Riak’s reaction that culminated to the massacre. The dirty politics of tribalism within the SPLM where if the chairman disagrees politically with a fellow comrade, his entire tribe becomes the enemy of the movement. This mentality led to Riak and the Nuer VS John Garang and the Dinka Bor. This is the same politics that Salva Kirr used to justify the December Coup. Before the Bor Massacre many communities were also massacred under the command of John Garang. What makes the Bor Massacre more important when Didinga and Toposa etc children were boiled in pots (massacred) under the command of John Garang? While we blame Riak for the Bor Massacre, we also need to blame the late John Garang. The Bor Massacre was as a result of the chairman not tolerating political dialogue and constructive criticism within the movement. John Garang was not any different from Salva Kirr.

  12. Ben says:

    He now wants to became president of South Sudan? Has the ICC heard of the apology yet? The angel of death is with him because he now leading innocent young men from his Country to fight on the Ugandan army which is more advanced than his rebel group. But the demons on Museveni’s head have asured Dr Riak that soon he will follow’s John Garaga’s path. Just watch this Space.

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