tv Fault Lines Al Jazeera April 20, 2015 12:00am-1:01am EDT
four years ago, a new country was born. after decades of civil war with the north of sudan, it was meant to be a dream come true. but today, south sudan has disintegrated into chaos. the new president and vice president have gone to war with each other. it's a war with an ethnic dimension, its caused 2 million
people to leave their homes and tens of thousands have been killed as fighting continues across the country. we're heading to malakal, a town that's changed hands more than six times since fighting began in december 2013. despite millions in international aid - and government coffers once flush with oil money - almost no roads have been built in south sudan. most commercial airlines stopped flying when the war started - so we're traveling with soldiers on united nations flights. there's a lot of armed guards across this airport. it's a un base in malakal. there was an attack here a few months ago. several un workers were kidnapped. so now there's heavy security everywhere. even the un now seems to operate in fear of the government it helped build. we were told government forces pushed the opposition a few miles down river just days before we
arrived, but things were still tense. this was a town of a hundred and fifty-thousand people. it now feels like a ghost town. we've come to south sudan to find out how a country born of so much promise, has turned into a such a nightmare and also to ask were there warning signs that this could happen? >> this is of a child?
when the fighting first broke out between government forces and rebels, thousands of people ran here, to the malakal teaching hospital, thinking they'd be safe. but then the rebel forces, loyal to the former vice president riek machar - entered the gates. >> how many people were killed here? >> 56 people were killed inside the hospital? >> they killed patients in the beds? daniel ayokodit dedicated the last 33 years of his life to this hospital. he says the guilt of leaving that day still haunts him.
today, a year later, their town lies empty and this has become home. rachel mayik taught elementary school before the war. her husband was one of the patients at the malakal teaching hospital. >> they start killing people just randomly. and just on the side of the street, you see bodies of the people just thrown like that. nobody to bury, nobody even to take because everybody has ran for his own life. >>by the time she returned to his side, she found him shot in his hospital bed, surrounded by other dead patients. it's this image, she says, that keeps her awake at night. >> i still sometime, when they
come to my mind, i get disturbed. if these people came and they were looking for the soldiers, nobody could talk. but the ordinary people, the civilians, the elderly, even those who are crazy who were on the streets of malakal, all of them got killed. you feel, bad, really, and you feel - if something could just take you out of here. >> initial reports estimate at least 50,000 have been killed since fighting broke out in december of 2013, but rachel said the number is much higher. >> if in my own family alone i have more than 10, from the side of my husband, from my family, what of the other families? >> and people are still here because they are scared? >> yeah, because there is no peace yet and security in malakal. not yet. >> so you've got nearly 20,000
people here. because it's the only safe place. >> ya, ya. >> people were still arriving, sometimes fleeing violence in towns so remote they can only be reached by boat. nybol anok was brought in after rebel militias attacked her family just days ago. her head was cut by machetes and she was left for dead. her daughter nyobol told us there were more survivors from her village making their way down the nile - we went to see if we could find them. we're going to a village of awarjawok, just upstream from malakal. there's a group of people who have fled the fighting and just got here, so we're going to see
just living out in the open. they've got their bags of belongings, little bits of food. this is what parts of south sudan look like today. under every tree people huddled scared, tired - in shock from what they've just fled. two aid doctors arrived to assess the levels of malnutrition and tend to the living. but there's no formal tally of the dead. >> so, many people died? before she left her home, akol said she watched as her young son was killed. at least that, she said, was certain.
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>> we have shackles with spit bag... >> they're still having nightmares >> if you can't straighten out your kids... >> they're mine >> al jazeera america presents camp last resort on al jazeera america >> this is the true definition of tough love while south sudan's president salva kiir and his former deputy riek machar wage war, the story of the country's birth, and in many ways the roots of the crisis - could be said to have started here in the united states. it goes all the way back to the 1990s, when sudan was locked in a bloody civil war between north and south. >> we called ourselves "the council". >>it became clear that perhaps the country in the world that was suffering the most where the
united states could maybe make the biggest difference was sudan. >> for most of us, it was not just a professional issue, it was a personal issue. >> eric reeves is an english professor at smith college, not far from boston. john prendergast was at the state department, but is best known for traveling to war-torn parts of sudan with george clooney. ted dagne spent two decades at the congressional research service - mostly writing reports on sudan. >> and this is brian desilva. this is the emperor. >> that's you? >> that's me. and this is roger winter, whose nickname is the "spear carrier." >> the men bonded over their devotion to a new rebel army in the south fighting the islamist government of sudan. >> most of the time we met at otello's restaurant on connecticut ave. roger always ordered soupa de peche, and ted
always had the filet. we figured out what needed to be done. we figured out whose butt to kick. >> we felt that if we could build up champions in congress, that that would increase the odds of the united states becoming more deeply engaged and involved. >> i was asked to join the house foreign affairs committee, the subcommittee on africa - that gave me a lot of access and influence. >> we told those in congress who would listen to us what kind of resolutions they needed to be writing, what kind of legislation they needed to be passing. >> the council had one enemy and one hero. the enemy was khartoum, seat of the sudanese government. >> what did you want people to know about khartoum? >> i wanted people to know that this regime was evil. i've thought a lot about the meaning of the word "evil."
i wanted to get people to understand that if there is evil in this world, it resides in khartoum. >> they used their aircraft to bomb, to terrorize people. they used their army, basically, to destroy whatever is in their way. >> if khartoum was the enemy the council's hero was rebel leader john garang. garang had been graduate student in iowa, but he returned home in the 1980s to found the sudan people's liberation army, or spla - to fight the government of sudan. >> this is a calculated cold blooded genocide that is going on. and this government claims to be the government of the sudan - it isn't! it's a government of killers it should be condemned.
sanctions should be made against this government, it should be isolated. >> he was not only militarily brilliant. he was also politically astute he understood the international community. and he was charismatic, if that word has any meaning. >> you could see the passion in john garang, about equality, independence, democracy. >> those who are struggling to defend themselves must be assisted. >> the spla was fighting for regime change in khartoum. and with the help of the council, the spla found a friend in the united states. susan rice - then assistant secretary of state for african affairs - had started coming to the meetings at otellos too, and would play a key role. >> we knew that what was happening was ethnically targeted civilian destruction in order to destroy
the civilian base of support for the rebels. >> we were able to convince a number of key members of congress that this is a struggle that needs to be supported, and this is an atrocity that must be stopped. >> we were in touch every day strategizing, coordinating our efforts to ensure that the end game of a just peace was realized. >> there was a love affair between many of the leading us advocates and john garang - they adored him. >> and you think they were mistaken? >> john garang was extremely personally impressive and charming. now we all know - i'm sure you've interviewed impressive and charming dictators around the world. >> alex de waal has spent his career studying sudan. he said on the ground, many saw a different man. >> he was completely ruthless, he was utterly centralized, he was completely intolerant of dissent. in demonizing khartoum, one of
the sideeffects of that was to promote the spla as heros and as angels. they were neither of those things. the human rights record of the spla throughout the entire war has at no time been any better than the human rights record of the sudan government. >> whatever the truth about that record, there is no doubt that garang's rebel army grew stronger with the backing of its us friends. at the same time, another movement was also gaining power in washington. >> this is a passage in the bible from isaiah 18 that's talking about sudan. whoa to the land of whirring wings, along the rivers of cush ...which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats, over the water. go swift messengers to a people
tall and smooth skinned. >> evangelical christians were finding new influence, and south sudan became their rallying cry. >> these were innocent people trying to live their lives and bombs were falling on them. >> stories of northern muslims holding southern christians as slaves became a critical turning point for american support for the south sudanese. >> there are poor people in many parts of the world. there are wars in many parts of the world but it was the fact that people were enslaved, especially women and children that was so shocking to many people. it motivated me. >> well, we're going now to meet with a trader and slaves. we understand there are 320 slaves that have recently come back with one trader.
we'll go to meet with him. >> eibner and others made dozens of trips to sudan to negotiate with alleged slave traders. the campaign was wildly successful but also controversial. >> that's 6 million. >> while there were certainly an element of reality in what they were doing many in the south including spla commanders, quickly exploited this as a money spinner. so they rather gullible foreign missionaries would come in with large amounts of money and these commanders would simply round up local kids and coach them to say, you are former slaves aren't you? >>but the campaign sparked outrage among americans and paved the way for more direct us involvement. by the late 1990s, washington had imposed comprehensive sanctions on sudan and vacated their embassy in khartoum. >> instead of the real complexities of sudan in which good and bad and not to be found in simply on one side or the
- with un soldiers minding the boundaries. it's hard to see this as a long-term solution even gathering firewood carries huge risks for women, who say they are afraid of the soldiers outside the gates. >> the destruction you saw in malakal and bentiu and bor, you know. worse is the disruption of the social fabric. the nuers can't speak to the dinkas. the nuers can't speak to the shilluks. >> this war has been explained by many outsiders as an ethnic conflict between different and opposing communities. but for many of those we met that's not what's happening.
>> the first place, the two wars were wars of liberation, you can say people were fighting for their rights. they were fighting against repression and oppression. this one is a war over power. and it has no justification whatsoever. >> you know seeing the bodies is actually a thing that you cannot forget, seeing dead bodies. so those images, they just always remain in your eyes. >> daniel deng is an aid worker. an ethnic dinka, he told us that he found it hard to believe the fighting began because of deep rooted tribal animosity. but it has now spiraled into something that will take a long time to heal. >> so these are things, maybe, only the government knows. so but for us civilians, sometime, i think it's difficult
for us to understand the reason why they are doing that. there is nobody who is not angry. everybody is angry. >> when the conflict broke out it immediately took on an ethnic dimension. and it did so not because these ethnic groups hated each other or they're intrinsically opposed to each other, but because the way in which the money had been shared out in the constituencies had been built by the members of the elite was ethnic. the dispute within the splm was over who would be at the top. there is no political agenda beyond power. >> for more "faultlines" check out on demand or visit aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> next sunday. >> we're pioneers. >> the head of america's space agency charles bolden. >> we take science fiction and turn it into science fact. >> addressing nasa's critics. >> we are the best nation in the world when it comes to exploration. >> and mankind's next giant leap.
the dream of south sudan ended abruptly on a december evening in the capital city of juba, less than three years after it was born. there are two sides to the story. >> so where are we going sir? >> we are going to the site where the shooting started. >>some accuse major general mariel chanoung yol, the head of the presidential guard, for disarming a group of soldiers who belonged to the minority nuer community. >> this is where the problem
started. >> how did it begin, what happened? >> it was on sunday, 15th. we were relaxing, everybody in his place, nobody was in active duty. at night, at about 10, 17 minutes, we heard shooting from within the barracks here. he told us the soldiers broke into the storehouse. they came while people were sleeping, they opened the stores, they armed themselves and that place it was a store of arms and ammunitions. they also came, they stood here, the major without gun, so he shot him here, and he run, he fall here. he fall here. this is what trigger the shooting. it was they who shoot these people, and it was they who started shooting, and the rest begin to respond on their action. the major general believes it
was an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to riek machar, the former vice president, who is also nuer. he blames these rebel soldiers for starting the entire war. he betrayed the whole country. because we just separated from the north. what was in our mind is development. ok. to catch up with the rest of the world. but he denied us that chance. meanwhile machar says the story of a coup is a set-up. he blames president kiir for crushing dissent and consolidating power. but what is known for certain: the fighting quickly moved out of the barracks. by the next evening, in an apparent backlash against the rebel soldiers, the streets of the capital lay littered with hundreds of massacred bodies of nuer citizens. >> human rights watch, other reports have said, you know, members of your battalion, members of other battalions here, were responsible for a lot of killings after december 15.
>> i completely disagree with those who say that it is the presidential guard who do that. because that day, everybody was carrying a gun. >> so who do you think did those killings? >> well, of course, everybody who have a gun. there are forces from different unit, not the army, because there are other people also who are not army, who are carrying guns. >> just armed civilians? >> armed civilians and also organized forces. the political rift between the leadership immediately exploited ethnic divisions. president salva kiir is from the dinka community and former vice president riek machar, is a nuer. betim madol says dinka forces loyal to the president went door to door, asking questions in their native language to test people's ethnicity. >> what they do, they just talk to you, using the dinka
language. you don't respond they just take a pistol, tuff. i feel like i'm already dead, a living dead. i'm alive but anytime i'm seeing that i can die. reprisal killings spread north to the town of bor. ethnic nuer, angered by news of targeted attacks in juba, went on their own rampage. and then it didn't stop. the army had split in two and gone to war with itself. both sides carried out massacres, town by town. the images that emerged from the city of bor, then bentiu, then malakal shocked the world.
for the advocates in washington - who'd fought so hard to win southerners freedom from sudan - this was not the way it was supposed to go. back in 2005, international efforts finally paid off, and the civil war between the north and south of sudan came to a close. rebel leader john garang was made the vice president of sudan and in the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement there was a clear path forward for an independent south sudan. the spla had scored a major victory. then, six months after the historic document was signed tragedy struck. >> it was in the middle of the night when the phone call came from one of the commanders. he said your friend's helicopter is missing.
>> it was john garang. >> they lost a true hero. he represented the man who had brought peace to all of sudan. we were devastated, we were all devastated. southern sudan was devastated. >> what came to mind, and the question that i asked, did he achieve what he set out to do? and the answer was yes. the rest is history. >> while the comprehensive peace agreement and a powerful spla were garang's legacy, many say they wouldn't have happened without us backing. and in both, lay the seeds of a disaster. part of the cpa deal was that south sudan would benefit from oil profits. billions of dollars were now flowing into the south >> during the 6 years after the cpa was signed, south sudan became one
of the most corrupt places in the world. that money could have been used for massive rehabilitation and development. huge amounts of it were pocketed or simply stolen by south sudanese elites. blatantly, without a word being said internationally. the spla generals were not only among the best paid in africa, their salaries doubled after the cpa was signed. with oil money leading the way the movement for full independence grew among the southern leaders. they worked to secure the loyalties of generals and their proxy militias, who might otherwise side with sudan. >> the strategy of salva kiir was "we'll pay you more. so they paid them more in cash houses, cars, bodyguards, etc. the spla was not really and army, it was just an enormous machine for soaking up cash and turning it into military units
which were stationed all around the country loyal to their immediate superiors. >> schools could have been built, medical centers could have been built, roads could been built. >> but none of this happened? >> none of it happened. because the money was embezzled, the money was the corruption ate away everything. >>in these critical years leading up to the vote for full independence, the international friends for south sudan maintained their support. >> they used to say all the bad things about khartoum, but they never mentioned anything that is wrong about the south. and this gave the splm the feeling that they can run away with everything. >> the leadership of south sudan got accustomed to being indulged, to being treated with kid gloves and even to getting away with murder.
>> so we're now driving in to the un peacekeeping base in bentiu. this is where over 50,000 people have climbed over the walls, come through the gates, to seek refuge seek protection from the conflict in south sudan. so this used to be bush, now it's flat how many people are going to live on just this one block - a thousand? >> yeah, a thousand. >> no the bases weren't designed for this, but they are now able to accommodate the people who were there to a minimum standard. so there's enough water, there is enough food, there is enough shelter. about 50 percent of the people in the south sudan have been affected in a very severe way by the crisis here. so you're talking about 6 million people, cities
destroyed, markets which have collapsed, lives that have been shattered. >> so we're walking down a road here. i mean, the scale of what's happening here is terrible, it's a devastating setback for a county which had such great aspirations, the world's newest country. >> it was advance of gov't forces, so it was. so these are government forces heading to bentiu? >> yes, couple of thousand... >> each time the town changed hands, the fighting skirted the base. the un watched as rebels advanced, then retreated as government forces and allied militias retook the town. sergei matvienko works as a police officer on the un base in
bentiu. >> the fighting was something like 500 meters from here. >> you could see the fighting from here? yes, the explosion was something like 100 meters from here. >> just there? yes, and shelling from a tank it was from the main gate. >> the town changed hands four times in six months each victory brought a new wave of civilians to the base here. >> mostly as i told you, it was females and children, the crowd was just really huge... >> so many people, just crowding all around. they look really terrified. the new front line is just on the outskirts of bentiu. we were invited there by south sudanese government troops. peace talks broke down last
night so it's pretty tense here. we're riding with the spla to the front line. >> so the rebels are right there they are very close? >> yeah, yeah, very close. >> you look those trees those trees? this is our enemy. this is rebels. >> right there?! >> these trees, the nearest ones. >> so there's spla stationed all over here and they're saying that the opposition are just over there not very far just across the river behind the first line of trees. we're right on the front line. this is the closest we're going to get - the opposition is a kilometre and a half away. so they could attack at any moment? >> anytime! >> so these soldiers are going out, closer to opposition,
just on little patrols? >> approximately 1 battalion is there, also one battalion is there - this is the headquarters of the tactical area. >> and we're right on the edge of bentiu town? >> yeah. >> has this area been attacked recently? >> many times! >> when was the last time? >> the last time yesterday. >> yesterday?! >> yesterday, date 4, date 3 date 2, all these dates they are attacking us. >> we wanted to meet the opposition forces, but to do that we had to leave juba, and travel back over the border to south sudan via ethiopia. >> so it's just straight from here to the border? so we've come all the way to ethiopia from south sudan. we took a flight from juba to
addis, the capital, and now we're back in the border with south sudan, a town called gambela. a long journey to get back here because there's no direct way of coming from juba to the border. because the areas are controlled by the opposition and the government and it's quite unsafe to travel through there. and now we're trying to head to the actual border and get into south sudan, to a town called pagak. before the war, bol gatkouth was a member of parliament in juba. now he's a humanitarian liaison officer for the opposition. he's agreed to accompany us into rebel held territory.. ..but he's not crazy about the camera. before you go to the checkpoint, you should stop that. because we don't want to get to their nerves. >> is that a checkpoint? >> yeah, get down. >> we're going to put the camera down again.
>> so we're going to try to cross the border now, let's see if this works. we're cleared to leave ethiopia. we finally made it to south sudan. this is rebel territory, which means most essentials must be brought in through the black market. this fuel costs more than $35 a gallon. >> this is the town? >> this is a village. >> pagak is a village. >> it is a town, do you know what a town is? >> it's a village. >> it's a homecoming for bol who's been living in rwanda since the war forced him out of south sudan.
many of these former politicians have taken up military positions within the opposition. >> behind the laughter, the reality of war is palpable. bol took us to meet major general chayot manyang, who had just returned from renk, where the two sides are fighting for control over the oil fields. while riek machar officially negotiates for the rebels, it is actually men like chayuth who increasingly hold power over regional militias. >> there's been a lot of killing in the past 10 - 12 months on both sides. who do you think bears ultimate responsibility, and do you think the people who have been carrying out the killings of innocent civilians on both sides should be held accountable? >> now wouldn't the other side say that people from the
opposition have also killed many many dinka? >> so dinka civilians have nothing to be afraid of? >> for general chayuth, there is no negotiation. he will accept nothing less than a new president. >> you will be in opposition to dr. riek machar, too. >> are a lot of people here, do they share your opinion? the army that built south sudan is now clearly fracturing even further. >> all across the country,
commanders like chayuth are seeking control of regional militias. back in juba, with peace talks a failure, the government is publicly launching their own offensives again. there's a plane arriving from renk now, in unity state. it's bringing 10 prisoners of war from the opposition. some of them might be wounded. the spla has organized a huge media circus around this they want people to see that they're winning the war. there's only a couple of them
that are in military fatigues, most of them are in civilian clothes, couple of them are in their pajamas. as the war drags on, it's here on the ground, that the prospect of peace for south sudan seems impossible. >> the war has cost tens of thousands of lives. it has generated deep rancor and bitterness amongst the population. it has left the country penniless. this country that was just a few years ago rich with enough resources to do pretty much anything it wanted, is now completely bankrupt. >> for more "faultlines" check out on demand or visit aljazeera.com/faultlines. >> weeknights on al jazeera america. >> join me as we bring you an in-depth look at the most important issues of the day. breaking it down. getting you the facts. it's the only place you'll find... the inside story. >> ray suarez hosts "inside story". weeknights, 11:30 eastern.
on the day south sudan celebrated its independence, eric reeves watched from his home in massachusetts. >> i'd received my personal invitation from salva kiir, my oncologist would not let me go uh and people made a point of calling me, knowing that i would have been there if i could knowing that in someway this moment belonged to me. it belonged to the people of south sudan above all, but i did feel that i had a presence there. >> why? >> i knew that there would never be peace without this day, without this joy. i felt like something i'd fought
long and hard for had come to fruition. >> the role of these five or six or seven people, sort of this group that you call the council. >> the midwives of south sudan >> you know it's very difficult to pinpoint and say, "you know i spent 25 years because i believe". what does that mean? >>in july of 2013, some members of the council wrote an open letter to the government of south sudan. it was their first public criticism of the south sudanese leadership. if you look at that letter, i think you'll see that we criticized the use of child soldiers, undisciplined soldiery, corruption. that was not a sparing letter. we said what we thought. >> but this was 2013?
what about before? >> remember that south sudan never existed as a government, as a country, that transforming a guerilla movement into a government is one of the most difficult things that can possibly be demanded of a people. that's what was demanded of the people of south sudan. >> they have been given a chance, and the responsibility is now largely theirs to make something of it as a state. >> ted, is there anything you wish you had done differently? >> it's very difficult to describe, but yet, very painful. it's like you are a commander in a war that you won, and yet, what you won is a destruction, what you won is a burned town.
who are you to rule? nobody. >> when the advocates for south sudan, both inside the government and outside the government, reflect on the role they've played over the last 20 years, they need to ask themselves some very, very searching questions about their own responsibilities for enabling the south sudanese political, military elite to construct such a profoundly corrupt and abusive system of government. >> as we were preparing to leave south sudan, betim's cousin peter died suddenly of respiratory failure. they'd lived together inside the un camp in juba, behind barbed wire in their own country.
>> he helped me more than my dad. he has been advising me so much. what pained me so much is i don't expect him to be buried here because this is not the place of our origin. >> in this divided country where tens of thousands have died without a proper burial, betim has little hope for the future. he fought as a child soldier under garang during the long civil war with the north. this is not the life that i was fighting for. i've never fought to be a second person or the second class in my own country. why i was fighting with arab was because they were taking me as a second class and again now when i liberate south sudan and ... should i accept to be a second person again? no.
but, look the way it is. i become so hopeless. i become so hopeless. >> tomorrow. >> a lot of these mining sites are restricted. >> a silent killer. >> got a lot of arsenic in it. >> you know your water's bad and you know you're sick. >> unheard victims. >> 90 percent of the people will get some type of illness from the water. >> where could it happen next? >> i mean, they took away my life. >> "faultlines". al jazeera america's hard-hitting... >> today they will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> emmy award-winning investigative series. water for coal. tomorrow, 10:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america.