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XII. HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED AREAS: Government Forces Summarily Execute Thirteen Southerners in Aweil

Kwac Makuei, a Dinka from Aweil, was in Anyanya, then was elected to the Regional Assembly from Aweil after the Addis Ababa agreement.166 He joined Anyanya II and then joined the SPLA, and was arrested in 1984 by Kerubino, then his superior in the SPLA. He escaped from a bush jail where he was held without trial in 1992, then joined Riek.167 After the Political Charter was signed Kwac went to Aweil and was important in mobilizing the intellectuals in Aweil. He was elected governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal in December 1997. He also commanded SSDF troops there, vigorously and successfully fighting off the SPLA/Kerubino attack on Aweil on January 28-29, 1998.168

Twelve of his bodyguards reportedly were summarily executed by government forces in Aweil a few months later, in June 1998. The press carried a story about an attack on the governor=s official residence, portraying it as an attack by Aunidentified gunmen.@169

Riek Machar, belatedly learning of the attack, first met with President Bashir and was promised an investigation. None was carried out, so he sent a protest letter to Bashir.170 In it, Riek said, AAs you are aware, the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal witnessed in the past few days the extremely dangerous and bloody events perpetrated by some armed elements of the government.@ He asked for an investigation and punishment of the guilty.171

A committee was formed to investigate the army area commander and his subordinate and those responsible for the execution. The committee went twice to the area (after three false starts) and never wrote a report.172

According to a spokesperson for the UDSF, the executions had their origin in a fight in the Aweil market between a Kwac bodyguard and a member of army intelligence. It was broken up and the bodyguard returned to Governor Kwac=s residence, while the military intelligence officer went back to the army barracks. The police commander in Aweil, who is Kwac=s son, reportedly advised Kwac=s bodyguards that they should not cause trouble and asked them to deposit their arms with him, which they did. Then they dispersed.

According to the same sources, soldiers in cars later came to the police headquarters to find out where the offending bodyguard was. The police commander said he was not there. The soldiers went to Governor Kwac=s house looking for the bodyguard. They arrested all those found inside (it is unclear if the offending bodyguard was among them): twelve bodyguards and one civilian, all adult male southerners, all unarmed. The soldiers took them to the military barracks in the cars, and there the thirteen unarmed men were reportedly lined up and executed by firing squad. The victims were all southerners, the executioners all northerners.

There was tension over the incident, word of which spread to Wau and Malakal, because of the racial aspects of the killing. The police in Aweil calmed the situation down.173

Riek said he was upset because he was not informed of the event as soon as it happened, and because the executed men had been among those who helped repulse the SPLA attack on Aweil, and Arecaptured the tank which the SPLA had captured from the government army.@174 Riek complained that the investigation committee failed to travel to Aweil Afor unknown reasons.@ He continued,