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according to their representative. They took two hours to set up the explosives and detonated them in the early morning, damaging the pumping station.415 According to the government, a camel chase took place the next day. Government soldiers and police chased Beja members across the Red Sea mountains, tracking the rebels’ camels’ hoofprints eighty kilometers from the scene of the blast. A brief gunbattle broke out and the government announced it had killed one and wounded and captured another of the suspects.416 The Beja Congress, however, said that its sabotage team, on camels, managed to get away but the government came after them with soldiers in a truck with a machinegun (“doshka”) mounted in the back (known as a “technical” 417). The Beja Congress, still on camelback, twice ambushed the government vehicle. One of its camels was injured in the exchange of fire and had to be put to death. The Beja succeeded in blowing up the technical in the second ambush, killing eleven soldiers. At that point the Beja left their three remaining camels near the truck and proceeded on foot into hiding. The Beja denied that the government had caught, killed, or injured any of the sabotage team. They lost only their camels, the spokesperson said. 418 No further sabotage of the pipeline occurred from May 2000 through the writing of this report.
Government Relations with Southern Militias, 1999 Divisions in Paulino Matiep’s Bul Nuer Militia, October 1998-September 1999 415 Ali El Safi, Beja Congress spokesperson, Human Rights Watch interview, Kampala, Uganda, July 17, 2000.
416 “Camel-back Chase for Rebels Accused of Blowing Up Sudan Pipeline,” AFP, Khartoum, May 2, 2000; “Suspect in Sudan Pipeline Attack Arrested After Gun Battle,” AFP, Khartoum, May 6, 2000.
417 A “technical” is the name for a pickup truck with heavy machine guns or light antiaircraft artillery mounted in the bed of the truck, an improvised mobile weapon.
418 Ali El Safi, interview, July 17, 2000.
178Oil Fuels the War
At a strategic location near the oil areas, within Block 4 and near Block 1, the government army had an important base at Mayom, in Bul Nuer territory of Western Upper Nile/Unity State. South of Mayom, Paulino Matiep’s Bul Nuer government militia had its base in Mankien. In late 1998, divisions within Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s troops appeared, neither for the first nor the last time. His deputy commander, Philip Bapiny Machar, and about one thousand members of his government-sponsored militia, fled west into Bahr El Ghazal and joined the SPLM/A,419 the second major defection of southern government militias to the SPLM/A in 1998 (Cmdr. Kerubino Kwanyin Bol’s, in January, was the first).
Thousands of Bul Nuer civilians fled with their soldier relatives to Twic County, many living under trees and subsisting on wild foods and assistance from their kin. They did not bring their cattle because the animals could not cross the swamps.420 Suspicious that the remaining civilians would provide help to Philip Bapiny, “a son of the area,”421 Paulino Matiep responded by pushing more rural Nuer out of the villages around Mankien and Mayom, telling them to go into the garrison town of Mayom, supposedly as a safety measure.422 In early 1999, Nuer chiefs and other leaders (but apparently no Bul Nuer) tried several times to confer with Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep about bringing peace to the Nuer. According to one chief, they could not convince the government loyalist to meet with them.423 These chiefs were aligned with the Riek Machar forces.
419 See WFP, Sudan Bulletin No. 65, December 6-13, 1998, Nairobi, December 18, 1998.
420 The WFP learned in December 1998 that a large number of displaced Nuer moved from Unity state to the Twic Dinka in Bahr El Ghazal.WFP, Sudan Bulletin No. 66, Nairobi, December 20, 1998. The Twic County local authorities said 28,000 Nuer in Twic County were displaced from Western Upper Nile/Unity State. Ibid.
421 Bapiny and Paulino Matiep were both Bul Nuer, from the Gok section. Thomas Duoth, interview, July 22, 1999.
422 In January 1999, some 600 to 700 of Cmdr. Philip Bapiny’s troops backed by 150 SPLA troops attacked Mankien, but were expelled by Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s forces. After Cmdr. Peter Gatdet mutinied from Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep in September 1999, Cmdr. Philip Bapiny returned with his forces from Twic County to join fellow Bul Nuer Peter Gatdet. Thomas Duoth, interview, July 22, 1999.
423 Ler chief, interview, July 26, 1999.
179Human Rights Watch
Government Foments Division of SSDF Into Smaller Nuer Militias Although it would neither rely on southerners as firm allies nor allow them to grow too powerful, after the Khartoum Peace Agreement the government also stepped up its direct ties with various Nuer commanders, winning several away from Riek Machar’s SSDF by separately arming and funding them.
This sapped the strength of the SSDF; apparently the government feared a strong SSDF might challenge the government for control of the oilfields.
When the UDSF/SSDF delegation members who had attended the Wunlit conference returned to Khartoum, their names were noted and their movements monitored daily by Sudan’s security forces. The delegates began to fear that they would be targeted if the situation were to change. The government also blocked release of funds to the Southern States Coordinating Council, cutting off its officials and others who had been observers at Wunlit.424 Riek Machar’s southern rivals in Khartoum, some of whom joined the ruling National Congress Party (formerly the NIF) rather than Riek Machar’s UDSF, called for his replacement as head of the SSCC. They said he should not hold government office because he was not in the government’s National Congress party.425 When Riek Machar backed the Wunlit meeting, those same enemies, led by Lawrence Lual Lual,426 accused him of collusion with Garang.427 Riek Machar and the UDSF resisted these demands and Riek Machar retained his position.
In addition to its close relationship with Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep, the government separately funded the following Nuer militia leaders in Upper Nile: Cmdr. Gordon Kong Chuol (operating from Nasir, one 424 SSDF officer, interview, August 3, 1999.
425 The 1999 Constitution lifted the ban on political parties for the first time since it was imposed by the coup government on June 30, 1989.
426 Cmdr. Lawrence Lual Lual, the Dinka leader of the SPLM/A-Bahr El Ghazal group (after Commander Kerubino defected to the SPLM/A in January 1998), announced in October 1998 that he had left the UDSF because Riek Machar had removed all Lual’s nominees from government posts. He claimed he had 1,500 forces, of whom 400 were cooperating with Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep.
Alfred Taban, “Pro-government Ally Splits from Sudan Coalition,” Reuters, Khartoum, October 11, 1998.
427 A regional newsletter commented that Dr. Riek Machar had the backing of President Bashir and his southern opponents had the backing of Dr. Turabi. “Problems for Machar,” The Indian Ocean Newsletter (Paris), March 27, 1999.
180Oil Fuels the War
of the three commanders who with Riek Machar had led the 1991 split from the SPLM/A); Cmdr.
Gabriel Tanginya (Old Fangak, then Poum, Upper Nile); Cmdr. Simon Gatwich Dual (Motot-Akobo);
and Cmdr. Garkoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang (Nasir).428 The SSDF claimed that Tanginya had about 2,000forces, the others less. According to the SSDF chief of staff: “We gave [Tanginya] the command, but if he is in Khartoum, he meets only with the government, not us.”429 Riek Machar protested, to no avail, that this direct government support to his commanders constituted a violation of the Khartoum Peace Agreement. Gov. Taban Deng claimed that this was part of the government’s divide and rule strategy, which targeted illiterate commanders.430 Dispute over Block 5A Oilfields between Government and SSDF, Early 1999 By early 1999, Riek Machar’s tenuous pact with Khartoum was breaking down, 431 and the government had grown increasingly wary of its peace partner. The real crux of the disagreement concerned control of the oilfields in Block 5A. By early 1999, Talisman’s expertise and cash had made a tremendous difference and the pipeline project appeared to be on track. Upon completion of the pipeline from GNPOC’s wells to the Red Sea, it would only be a matter of a short link-up of some seventy-five to one hundred 428 Elijah Hon Top, interview, July 26, 1999. Garkoth Gatkuoth announced in January 1999 that he formed the SSDF-2 and left Riek Machar because “Machar has no respect for law and justice.” He claimed Riek Machar had attempted to assassinate him after he sent a letter saying he would fight independently. Cmdr. Garkoth Gatkuoth alleged that half of the SSDF in Juba had joined his faction; observers estimated that there were some 3,000 SSDF forces in Juba. Alfred Taban, “Sudan Militia Splits from Progovernment Coalition,” Reuters, Khartoum, January 21, 1999.
429 Elijah Hon Top, interview, July 26, 1999.
430 “Paulino [Matiep] has been there in Unity State since 1987. On September 17, 1997, he defected from Riek [Machar]. Also in 1997 Gabriel Tanginya in Old Fangak defected. Gordon Kong defected in Nasir in 1999. The government of Sudan targets illiterate Nuer commanders. All the above are illiterate.” Taban Deng, interview, July 26, 1999.
431 See Human Rights Watch, Famine in Sudan, Appendix F, “Letter from Dr. Riek Machar to President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir (undated but after July 4, 1998)”, pp. 201-05.
kilometers to pump the oil from a planned-for third party user, Lundin on Block 5A, to the main pipeline in Block 1.432 In February 1999, Sudan’s minister of defense met Riek Machar in Western Upper Nile/Unity State. The minister reportedly insisted that the government’s own forces must guard the petroleum, including the Lundin operations in Block 5A. Riek Machar disagreed, according to a witness, asserting that the SSDF had guarded Lundin since 1997,433 which was true according to Paul Wilson of Rappaport, security consultant for Lundin during that period.434
One of the SSDF officers explained:
We were supposed to guard Heglig [Block 2], but we left it to the government of Sudan.
They occupied it before we could do anything. Riek [Machar] said it would be solved through discussion. They rejected his request to pull out of Heglig.
The same thing was happening now in Guk [Block 5A]. The SSDF said no. The former minister of defense said no, then he compromised, said he would take it up with Khartoum, and you who are in the majority [Riek Machar’s forces] take [Lundin].435 According to this version, the government at one point acceded to Riek Machar’s insistence that his forces would be the ones to guard the Block 5A concession.
Riek Machar at this time told the Sudanese government of the upcoming 1999 Nuer-Dinka reconciliation conference at Wunlit in Bahr El Ghazal, and of his support for it. The government’s initial 432 See Lundin Oil press release, “IPC Sudan Limited Spuds first Well in Sudan,” Stockholm, April 8, 1999.
433 SSDF officer, interview, August 3, 1999.
434 Paul Wilson, interview, May 16, 2001.
435 SSDF officer, interview, August 3, 1999. “You who are in the majority” refers to the SSDF and UDSF south of Bentiu..
reaction was that there should be no meeting without the government’s presence. As always, the government opposed any civil society gatherings that were not in its control, even one to be held in rebel territory.436 One SSDF delegate returning from Wunlit in March 1999 observed the military build-up in Western Upper Nile/Unity State. The government had flown in new forces to the army bases in Heglig, Rubkona, and Bentiu, and he observed seven trucks carrying about 1,000 mujahedeen on the road from Heglig heading to Rubkona.437 Government Calls for Military Volunteers to Defend Oilfields, 1999 Despite its encouragement of a proliferation of southern militias, the government increasingly relied, for protection of the oilfields, on the regular army, Islamist militias recruited in the cities and colleges, and non-southern militias incorporated into the army through the Popular Defence Force (PDF). These forces were increasingly brought to the oil concession areas of GNPOC and Lundin starting in 1999.
On March 11, 1999, after the Wunlit meeting, First Vice President Ali Osman Taha called upon all young men and women in eastern Sudan to join the mujahedeen of the recently formed “Manifest Victory” (Al Fatih al Mubin) Brigade. “With the start of the oil exportation,” he proclaimed, “we will score a decisive victory by liberating all positions and spreading peace and stability in all parts of Sudan.”438 On April 29, 1999, the second conference of the pro-government General Sudanese Union called on its branches nationwide to send mujahedeen to the battalion of “Petroleum Protectors.”439 436 Ibid.; Tito Biel, interview, August 19, 1999.
437 SSDF officer, interview, August 3, 1999.
438 “Sudan VP Vows to Take All Rebel-Held Areas by June 30,” AFP, Khartoum, March 11, 1999.
439 “Sudan: Youth Conference Decides to Send ‘Mujahidin’ to Defend Oil Installations,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, Khartoum, April 29, 1999.
183Human Rights Watch