August 23, 2018
Republic of South Sudan
To: Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardid
President of the Republic of South Sudan
Dear Mr. President:
Re: Petition for Assurances on the Status of Panthou and Appeal for Compensation
Thanking you for Your Peace Efforts
We write to you in our capacity as ordinary people of Ruweng State to register our genuine and heartfelt gratitude for your determination to bring peace to our people in South Sudan. As members of a frontline community that has always remained steadfast with the cause of our collective struggle, we will continue to support all your endeavors towards the realization of peace in our country.
Rejection of Any Oil Agreement with the Sudan that Gives Panthou Away.
However, Your Excellency, we write to you at this critical moment to bring to your attention the disturbing issue that has come to in light the context of the latest IGAD sponsored peace process in Khartoum. In recent weeks, there have developed circumstances that tend to tie the realization of peace in South Sudan to an oil agreement between South Sudan and the Sudan. These worrisome circumstances have particular, and once again, brought the status of Panthou to the fore.
Your Excellency, while we have no qualm with South Sudan sharing oil resources with Khartoum, we are alarmed by the reports that our government has clandestinely agreed to compensate the government of the Sudan for the alleged destruction to oil facilities during the Panthou War in 2012. This is alarming because compensating Khartoum for such damages implies one and only one thing: that Panthou is a Sudanese territory, not a part South Sudan. That is because, according to the previous agreement between South Sudan and the Sudan, the ownership of oil facilities was based on whose territory certain facilities were located. That is, oil facilities found in the territory of South Sudan legally belonged to South Sudan and those located in the Sudan belonged to the Sudan. The fact that South Sudan has allegedly accepted to compensate the Sudan for damages incurred in Panthou suggests that oil facilities in Panthou belong to the Sudan. For these reasons, we, the citizens of Ruweng State in general and Aliiny community in particular, write to you with humility and due respect but with a bold spirit of rejecting in the strongest terms possible the idea that Khartoum is the owner of Panthou and should be compensated for damages arising from the 2012 conflict. In law and in fact, Panthou is historically part of South Sudan’s Ruweng State. Nothing has changed since the discovery of oil in the 1970s to suggest that it now belongs to Sudan.
Rejection of Sudan’s Demand for Compensation from South Sudan for Damages
As your loyal subjects and citizens of Ruweng State, we as well strongly reject any demand by Khartoum to seek compensation from South Sudan for damages of any kind, whether from Panthou War or elsewhere. The rationale for our position is this: Khartoum had for more than 50 years bombarded and destroyed social and economic structures in South Sudan with remarkable impunity and wanton disregard for economic losses to South Sudan and its people. Yet our government has not demanded any compensation for such destruction. It would be unconscionable for anyone to agree to this frivolous and vexatious claim on the part of the Sudan. We, thus, urge you as our President to vehemently reject this demand. More importantly, to agree to compensate Khartoum at this moment is to complicate, even prejudice the South Sudan’s future case for Panthou.
Rejection of the 2004 Khartoum Transfer of Panthou to Western Kordofan
We also respectfully remind you that we, the people of Ruweng State in general and Aliiny County specifically, have substantial evidence to prove our ownership of Panthou and are ready to challenge anyone who dares to claim any adverse ownership of our native territory. We understand that some international institutions have long been misled by false and misguided claims, and all kinds of falsified fabrications, that are produced in Khartoum for propaganda purposes. Yet, even our own neighbors in the Nuba Mountain have never claimed Panthou as part of South Kordofan. But falsely, Panthou was annexed to the Sudan’s northwestern state of Western Kordofan in 2004.
According to documentary evidence we have obtained from former Unity State, the conspiracy of annexing Panthou to the North was started by the Khartoum Government in 2004. Khartoum’s adverse claim was made clear during the Annual Report Presentation of Unity State Government to the National Council of Ministers meeting on May 30, 2004, in Khartoum by the then governor of Unity State, Joseph Monytuil. The Council of Ministers witnessed a serious debate respecting whether Panthou was part of Unity State or Western Kordofan. The documents indicate that ministers from the South strongly supported Gov. Joseph’s Report. The Ministers from the North, however, opposed the idea. Because of lack of consensus on the matter, the Sudan National Security took matters upon itself. Consequently, Nafie Ali Nafie ordered Governor Joseph to relinquish the administration of Panthou on the basis of a flimsy claim that of the change of the border of 1956 as amended in 1994.
Panthou is a land of Kuok Chiefdom of Aliiny County, Ruweng State. The area has been inhabited by different sections of Kuok namely, Adongloj, Kuood, and Paweeny, since time immemorial. These communities were forcefully evicted and displaced, following the discovery of oil in the 1970s, by various Islamic fundamentalist regimes in Khartoum, along with their allied militias that unleashed scorched-earth policy campaigns from 1980s to the 2000s. The aim was to willfully depopulate the entire areas adjacent to oilfields in Ruweng State with the view to enabling oil companies to explore and extract oil. While the people of Ruweng State have submitted numerous petitions to your esteemed office and the entire world in respect of the status of Panthou, nobody seems to have listened or is paying attention to our concerns.
Yet even the 2009 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Abyei in The Hague was sensitive to the status of Panthou, having chosen not to place Panthou in the North. Instead, the Court simply said that Panthou lies to the east of Abyei. The caricature on the part of Khartoum to indirectly use the current peace agreement to claim or reclaim Panthou is utterly disturbing to the people of Ruweng State in general and Aliiny County in particular.
Panthou is not the only area bearing the footprint of the Khartoum Government. When people of Ruweng State were displaced from their land between 1980 and 2003, all the names of the areas lying in the corridors of oilfields were changed from Dinka to Arabic names. For instance, Panthou was changed to Heglig, Gok de Yak to Bamboo, Athony to El Toor, Doulango to Toma South, Panakuaj to El Nar, while Miaper, Yaar, and Nyiel were collectively called Munga. As well, Mijak de Yith was changed to Kilo 23, Wun Koi (Roor e Lou) to Kharassana, Lake Jau to El Abiad, Kolelek to Keilak, Alel to Abu Likera, Ajalau/Darbim (Unity Oilfields region) to Wahida, Ajaj to Lalob, and Ngol to Ragaba El Zarga. Other places belonging to both Aliiny and Tuooj County of Ruweng State have also been changed as part of the Arabization process and alienation of our people from their lands. We, therefore, respectfully submit that our government should not compensate Khartoum. The latter has done more damage to South Sudan and her people, damage that the Sudan Government would not be able to compensate if put on scale or quantified.
Appeal for Compensation for Environmental Damages and Degradation
From the recent minutes on the alleged proposed agreement between the Sudan and South Sudan on oil production, it seems clear that both Khartoum and Juba have agreed on a unique compensatory framework for damages resulting from oil spills and pollution on the basis of absolute liability. That is, without the need by those from whom compensation is to be sought (governments and oil companies) to prove lack of intent to cause such damages. In this regard, we respectfully submit that if there was such a system with the view to providing such compensation for losses incurred by the victims of oil pollution, then the people of Ruweng State have the right to be compensated because they are the rightful owners of this land.
Panthou residents have long endured many losses since the discovery of oil in Ruweng State and beyond. Our people have raised the issue of oil pollution many times, but environmental damage was not addressed in the earlier versions of the peace agreement. Ironically, it appears that the focus is more on actual economic losses incurred during the 2012 war between Khartoum and Juba instead of paying more attention to the losses caused by oil pollution. We are of the view that the Khartoum peace agreement should provide an effective framework for compensation in relation to damages caused by oil spills and pollution. This also means that we the people of Ruweng in general and the people Panthou in particular, have endured much more in terms of destruction to environment, humans, animals as well as our economic structures. In fact, both Juba and Khartoum clearly know the ecological and biological effects of spills and pollution.
In addition to the heinous destruction to our native land and economic resources by war, which was fought on our own soil, it is unconscionable that oil companies operating in Ruweng States do not follow safe extraction procedures. Indeed, Juba, Khartoum, and oil companies are well aware that most of our people who live adjacent to oilfields have insufficient knowledge of the extent to which their health is adversely affected by toxic wastes from oil and chemicals used in oil production. Yet, it is evident that oil spills and pollution have permanently damaged much of our environment in a manner that threatens the lives of many generations to come.
To be sure, there have been very serious spikes of ill health in Ruweng State in recent years, both in humans and animals. These range from birth defects to strange diseases to general poor health. This state of affairs will continue to reign due to high levels of contaminated residual oil affecting the ability of humans, animals and plant species to breed successfully.
Panthou is Part of South Sudan’s Territorial Integrity
In addition to our appeal for compensation, which we deserve, both in law and in fact and by both governments in Juba and Khartoum, we implore you to stand up for us on Panthou at this opportune time. We respectfully remind you and our other leaders that you have got a unique opportunity in negotiating with Khartoum to put our case on the table. It is time that Your Excellency assure us that you are standing and will always stand with the people of Ruweng State who have always stood with the people of South Sudan both in times of peace, war and peril. It is time for our government to unequivocally assert that Panthou belongs to South Sudan. We hope that our government is not going to throw the people of Ruweng State under the bus just as it happened before, especially in 2005, by siding with our adversaries in Khartoum. Our government must boldly speak out, by making it clear that Panthou belongs to South Sudan and that it will always stand up for the interests of South Sudan against the monstrous regime in Khartoum.
Finally, we strongly believe that the Panthou issue should neither be tied to Abyei nor bargained away for peace from Khartoum. We stand firm with the rest of the South Sudanese people who are agitated by the idea that our government is mulling a move to buy peace with Panthou; an area that has cost countless lives. As well, we strongly believe that giving away this piece of land for peace will not guarantee peace in South Sudan or between Juba and Khartoum. Peace in South Sudan will never be bought from Khartoum and South Sudanese in South Sudan will make it. More importantly, ceding Panthou to Khartoum will amount to betray of our fallen heroes who gave up their lives both during the Panthou war and in the course of our long war of liberation.
Appeals for Ruweng Representations in Peace Talks and the Need for the Government to Consult with Ruweng
Against this backdrop, we respectfully submit to you and our government to pursue faithful consultations with the people of the Ruweng people on matters of border and oil discussions. We also ask that in future peace negotiations, the people of Ruweng State, especially the people of Aliiny County should be included in peace negotiations. We have not been represented on any government delegations since 2005 despite our ancestral land often tending to be the subject of acrimonious contentions with Khartoum. Furthermore, in the likely event of any future legal action in The Hague about Panthou, we recommend that our government in Juba appoint some delegates from Ruweng State (especially from Aliiny County) to face and challenge the Khartoum regime over the ownership of Panthou.
Recalling the 2002 Ruweng Civil Law Suit in the United States
Therefore, we the people of Ruweng State would like to remind you or bring to your attention that in 2002, our community filed a civil law suit in the United States Federal Court in New York against a Canadian oil company, Talisman Inc., which was operating in Panthou at the time, for negligence. Because of these efforts, Talisman Inc. was ultimately forced to shut down its operations in South Sudan. This clearly demonstrates to the entire world that Panthou belongs to South Sudan’s Aliiny County, Ruweng State.
- H.E Taban Deng Gai
- H.E. Dr. James Wani Igga
- Speaker NLA. Hon Anthony Lino Makana
- Minister of Petroleum, Hon Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth
- The South Sudanese Public
- Luka Maper Buga, Panaruu Chairman in USA
- Simon Tor Deng, Panaruu Chairman in Canada
- Bol Dau Bol, General Secretary of Panaruu Community in Australia
- John Lam Miayar, USA
- Monyluak Miakol Guin, Canada
- Palath Miaker Diar, Australia
- Sirik Lang Miajak, Australia
- Santino Kutpul Dau, Canada
- Santino Ayuel Longar, Canada
- Santino Aniek, USA
- Arop Cholthii Dau, USA
- Theji Da Aduot Deng, South Sudan
- Dhieu Thon Dau, USA
- Azona Nyok Mabil, South Sudan
- Gabriel Monytiok Dau, USA
- Isaac Mayok Kur, USA
- David Piok Wuor USA
- Mary Ayen Mijok, South Sudan
- Angelo Mijok Gadet, South Sudan
- Andrew Chol Akol, USA
- Benjamin Monykong Dau, Australia
- Diar Dong Akier, USA
- Miarial Miabek Amal, USA
- James Monyluak Mijok, Ruweng Community Secretary (Juba)
- Bith Miakuei Bilkuei, South Sudan
- Miakol Chol Titbach, South Sudan
- Wien Chol Nyok, South Sudan
- Mayom Mayiik Chol, South Sudan
- Chol Miyom Kiir, South Sudan
- Miyom Majur Kur, South Sudan
- Michael Miyom, South Sudan
- Dau Monykuoc Kon, USA
- Kuol Deng, South Sudan
- Gabriel Majok Deng, South Sudan
- Mijak Thon, South Sudan
- Miading Adel Deng, South Sudan
- Mialith Thon Ayuel, South Sudan
- Deng Thon Deng, South Sudan
- Kiir Kuol Dau, South Sudan
- Achuil Acigak, South Sudan
- Monytiok Mijak, South Sudan
- Mawut Mayiik Thon USA