11 October 2015 – Religious Leaders and Elders in Yambio have issued a mutual combined press statement to call for peace and calm in the region.
Read below the full statement
Mutual Combined Press Statement of call for calm in Western Equatoria State and Republic of South Sudan
Yambio, October 7th 2015
We the Religious Leaders and Elders in Yambio have gathered here at St. Mary Cathedral Catholic Parish for a special meeting in the awake of Tensions in our State, we have prayed from the Holy Scriptures for enlightenment. We now send you greetings of and calling for Calm.
First and foremost, we send our sincere sympathy to the people of Mundri for the grave pain brought upon them. Our hearts go to all the affected innocent people on both sides of the crises.
We mourn the loss of life in this and other conflict in South Sudan and Western Equatoria State in particular, for all life is a gift from God. Each death, each wounded person, is a grievous testimony to the disorder and sin which are the roots of violence. Far too many have died; far too many have been injured; Far too many have been displaced, etc. A gulf is thinly beginning to develop daily among the one people of South Sudan.
As is our mandate, we have met today to highlight among others, the constructive ongoing work and promote positivity in Western Equatoria State. Our aim is to help reduce tensions and promote discussion, dialogue and inter-persons co-operation.
1- There is an enormous amount of good work already going on but we need to promote dialogue and do what we can to reduce tension. Whilst this has been a testing year (2015) for all, we are now sending out a united message appealing for calm and an end to violence or any form of unrest. We are proud of the many good news stories across Yambio county and WES with people helping their neighbours and working hard to support reconciliation. We need to shine a spotlight on that positivity and we are pleased to do what we can to promote it.
2- We are committed to working together. We encourage politicians and particularly our government to think imaginatively and generously in reaching out to others. What we are convinced of and also recognise is that churches and Mosques are at the coalface of inter community work and are working hard to continue peace building across our state of Western Equatoria and beyond.
3- Please we appeal to you all to have the Courage to Forge a Spiritual Humanism of Peace. Violence against persons or the violation of their basic rights are for us not only against [human]-made laws but also breaking God’s law.
4- To the general public, to you our beloved; men and women of different religions and representatives of elders of the different communities in Yambio, we have gathered in here at St. Mary Church to pray, to dialogue and to nurture a spiritual humanism of peace. We believe that without peace our beloved State or South Sudan becomes inhuman. We have heard the cry of many, suffering from war and violence. We have questioned and deepened our commitment to our respective religious traditions and we have found in them a message of peace.
5- It is in the name of peace that we address the people of Western Equatoria State, believers of our traditions, men and women of good will, and those who still believe that violence makes South Sudan a better place. To them we say: It is time to stop the use of violence! Human life is sacred. Violence humiliates human beings and diminishes the cause of those who make use of it. Western Equatoria and South Sudan is particularly tired of living in fear. Religions do not want violence and war. We proclaim this with conviction!
6- Peace is the name of God. God never wants the elimination of the other. God is moved with compassion for the victims of violence, terror and war. Humanity is not improved by violence or terror. Religions teach us that inner peace is essential. God gives it to those who believe. Our firm hope is that peace, the gift of God, spreads to all men and women, embracing all the peoples of the world, stopping the hand of the violent, and confounding the designs of terror. This is why we have had held several Inter-faith public prayers.
7- To NGOs and Civil Societies. The crisis that has occurred in Mundri and WES at large has caused a humanitarian crisis with thousands of people internally displaced; some killed leaving behind widows and orphans. Humanitarians needs abound in the areas of shelter, food, clean water, health, education and trauma is building up. We therefore appeal to all INGOs, local NGOs, civil societies and all stakeholders engaged in humanitarian work to respond to the humanitarian needs created by WES crisis as soon as possible to restore, rehabilitate and re-integrate lost sense of humanity due to war.
8- To the youths, elders and people of Mundri and Yambio. We call upon you to stay calm and refrain from provocative actions that may aggravate insecurity and be the first cultivators of peace, avoid rumour mongering and help build a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among the inhabitants of Mundri and Yambio. To every person that comes to you, let your first words be “peace be to you” because we are for peace.
9- Nevertheless, we now clearly see that there is a single destiny because Peace has finally been signed. Let us not dare to lose this great God-given opportunity, HISTORY will judge us correctly! It is time to work together courageously to forge a spiritual humanism capable of building peace among nations and individuals. The aim is not the triumph of one or the other, but the creation of a civilization where people live together. The art of dialogue is the patient way to build this civilization of coexistence.
10- To all people of WES, we urge you to say No to the spirit of Revenge please! Avoid inflammatory or irresponsible languages! We call on all believers, our faithful, Traditionalists, Muslims and Christians to pray for the people of South Sudan, for all who are victims of violence, and for all who work for peace, never take law into your hands.
11- NB: We also appeal to all and anybody who feels is wronged or is angry to approach us, our doors are open to listen to you our beloved people, so that we can mutually find solution together.
12- As Religious Leaders, we believe that one day and one time, justice will prevail and violence will give way to peace and co-existence. Let us commit ourselves to continue to work together with all who share this hope. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:38) this is our hope and prayer.
13- We are pleased to bring to your awareness that we Faith-Based and elders have had formed “Western Equatoria Peace Initiative Council (WEPIC)” with the mandate of carrying out peace outreach efforts, early warning activities, grievance resolutions, community recovery, coordination, foster linkages with International community Relationships in collaboration and support of the State Peace Council (SPC) of WES. We also have taskforce body whose membership is taken from our Muslim communities and churches to help us carry out well our peace-building activities.
May God grant to our world and our country to every man and every woman, the splendid gift of peace!
Signed on behalf of Western Equatoria Peace Initiative Council
- Rt. Reverend Peter Munde Bishop of Yambio ECSS.
- Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio
- Rt. Wilson Noah Bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Sudan
- Rev. Charles Barnabas Pastor in charge African In-land Church
- Rev. Pastor Charles Hipaingba Sudan Pentecostal Church South Sudan
- Meki Juma Muslim Community in Yambio
- Pastor Nathana Bathuel, Seventh Days Adventist Church Yambio
- Rev. Canon Yepetha Nethan, Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Church, South Sudan