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.