Col. Joseph Lagu’s letter To President Kaunda of Zambia

Your Excellency,

We Southern Sudanese, living under extreme repression in our homeland or as refugees in friendly African countries appeal to Your Excellency to become aware of our plight and raise your benevolent voice in our behalf.

We turn to Your Excellency as a true friend of the oppressed to speak out for us in the international councils. Will not Your Excellency, who has spoken for peoples under colonial yoke throughout Africa, place before the world our story – a story of shame and misery, a story of people who have suffered half a million deaths because their skin and their culture is different from their northern compatriots?

Our Gethsemane, cruel though it has been, was made infinitely more painful by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which have undertaken to assist and direct our Sudanese and Egyptian tormentors in the genocide being conducted at our expense. Even as we write to you, Soviet tanks with Russian drivers are rumbling through our villages, killing and maiming our defenceless people and our livestock with their cannon and machineguns, burning our homes, churches, mosques and schools with their flamethrowers and crushing our garden plots under their bogie.

Your Excellency, we know the Russians are in Southern Sudan helping the government and their Egyptian allies. We have seen them moving about in the streets of Juba where they are based, flying the MI-8 helicopters and firing at us the rockets and guns of these helicopters. We have heard them communicating with each other… All we ask of life is to be allowed to live it. We do not seek foreign arms, money or men.

Your Excellency, who is a peaceful man, may question why we do not surrender our arms and co-operate with the Sudanese government. We have attempted to do so many times. William Deng, an illustrious scholar and statesman chose the path of co-operation. He was shot dead by the Sudanese Army shortly after his election in Tonj Central Constituency. His name is but one of scores of the most talented southerners whose choice of co-operation resulted in their murder or incarceration.

The Sudanese government and its army frequently announce so-called “amnesties” under which 500,000 Southern Sudanese refugees in neighboring states are invited to return to the Sudan. Those who have responded to these amnesties have been massacred. The Sudanese government and its Egyptian and Soviet masters have tried to conceal the true nature of their genocidal war in the Southern Sudan by saying that the Southern problem is one of religion. Muslims, Christians of all denominations and pagans are working together against a single problem: the genocide of the Africans in the Sudan. Among the foremost guerilla generals in the Southern Sudan are the Moslems, Abdel Rahman Suli and Paul Ali Gbatala.

If but one African leader or statesman raised his voice for us, surely others would follow. Do not forsake us, Your Excellency. Bring our case before the OAU and the world. In the name of God and humanism, treat us like man, for we are man.

Colonel Joseph Lagu

NB: The letter is undated but was written late 1960s.

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