Freedom of Expression under Attack in South Sudan!
Open Letter to President of the Republic of South Sudan,
Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit!
In first place, accept my warm salutation Mr. President and your entire government from National and States level respectively. I hope you are doing well and optimistic about the recent document signed by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) Members in Arusha- Tanzania. It’s indeed hopeful for the people of South Sudan to have peace at this particular period of time and go for elections in the entire nation without fear of insecurity in some parts of the Country. I do appreciate your commitment with other SPLM members so much!
Without wasting a lot of time Mr. President! It is my pleasure and honor to salute you at this particular period of time in your respected office. It has been long time without sending you an open letter due to the fact that, I thought things might change in your government in one way or the other but due to what I have observed and contextualized in your leadership, I concluded that I should write to you this precious letter so that, you might listen to it or leave it. Am very much aware, you don’t have time to read documents that are of great important to the Nation.
Your Excellency, it has come to our attention we the professional Journalists from the Republic of South Sudan that we are problem to your government and indeed , what we always do is to inform, educate the citizens of the Country as per principle of Journalism is concern worldwide.
Absolutely, the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 as well acknowledged the freedom of press and access to information. It’s very big surprise to hear about Journalists detentions, arrests always by your security in Juba. What have changed again from the document that came in to force through your signature in 2011? Did you sign the Constitution when you were sleeping or your attention was taken by something else?
Since South Sudan as the Country got recognition internationally, regionally as the Independence nation in 2011 9th July, most of the Journalists and activists are in exiles due to insecurity threats imposed to them by your security personnel’s in Juba. Very disgraceful!
Your Excellency, it’s not a shame for South Sudan as the Country to have Journalists or activists that always advocate for human rights, rule of law and democratization processes in the Country but according to what is in your leadership, you have gone contrary to your mandate as the President. I know Internationally, President is a symbol for peace, unity and head of the State that work always based on laws and principles. Hence I don’t know whether you follow the right way of taking South Sudanese to democratization processes? Are you really a symbol for peace and unity in South Sudan? Are you a dictator or what is really happening within you? Yes or no?
Your comradeship, since South Sudan got Independence on the 9th of July 2011, there has been a number of cases of Journalists, activists being tortured, harassed and other got killed like Isaiah Abraham who was killed intentionally by your security personnel’s in Juba in 2012 December at his residence.
However, killing and torturing is not the only solution to your current problems as the President rather, “the more you torture, kill and threaten Journalists in the Country, the more your problems will increase in your leadership” comrade. It’s just a simple advice to you and your respective cabinets that are part and parcel of corruption cases, tribalism, nepotism and massacre of civilians based on tribal basis.
In fact, if I may question your respective office, what has Journalists done to you Mr. President? What is your problem really in South Sudan? How can you be in leadership without friends my President? Why don’t you talk to your security to treat Journalists, activists well in South Sudan? Very disgraceful scenario that, you always instructed your security personnel’s to hunts for Journalists and activists who always said the reality about your government. When will you get transform upstairs Mr. President?
Coming to reality, in 2012 your security threatens South Sudanese Journalist Ngor Arol of publishing a history regarding your daughter who claimed to have been impregnated by the Ethiopian gentleman and indeed was not absolute due to facts and realities that were investigated by top Journalists in the Country. Therefore, it’s not right time for me to expose but if you wish I could release my details for world consumption but I should reserve it for other days unless otherwise, if there is need or if you want me to justify clearly.
On other hand, Mr. Dengdit Ayok, in his opinion, wrote this about your First Daughter wedding to an Ethiopian man:
“This wedding is a demonstration that foreigners have not only monopolized our market, economy and robbed our integrity after penetrating it, but it is also a demonstration that they have taken over our national pride. What else is left if an alien could penetrate all the hedges and invade the house of our President, eloped and impregnated his daughter? Where were the security presidential personnel when that strange guy entered the house of the President?” according to Mr. Dengdit Ayok.
In 2014 July, Mr. Dengdit Ayok who is the Columnist for Almasier Newspaper (Arabic newspaper) was almost to be killed by your security in EGPTY-Cairo, and you never set a team to investigate the issue that almost killed South Sudanese Journalist.
Mr. President, your security killed Isaiah Abraham in 2012 in Juba at Gudele. Do you want more Journalists to be kill as well by your useless security and hooligans, or what is your problem about Journalists? What have Journalists done to you your Excellency? Are you the one who instructed your security to tortured, killed and harassed Journalists in Juba and other parts of the Country?
Furthermore, in October 2014, Daniel Majak Kuac, a reporter with the National Mirror newspaper in Juba, was getting ready to go out on assignment. Majak Kuac was working on a story about the demolition of makeshift structures in the South Sudanese capital.
His first step was to interview some officials. Next, he was going to interview people who were affected by the demolition. But before Majak Kuac could complete his work, he was arrested. The police confiscated his recorder and his camera and questioned him for three hours.
However, in 2013 17th December in Juba, South Sudanese Journalist Peter Gai Manyuon was tortured and his relatives got killed by your security without proper reason and he was as well arrested for a week by your Military Intelligent (MI) at Gida due to the fact that, he is practicing his Journalistic Profession. And nothing has been done by your government to question those who ransacked the house of the Journalist and killed his relatives in Juba innocently.
More so, Juba-based Radio Bakhita, which is run by the Juba archdiocese, was closed on 16 August 2014 by the National Security Service for broadcasting a report about clashes in Bentiu, in Unity State. It has since been allowed to resume broadcasting on condition that it refrains from talking about politics. And the reason that was mentioned by your security was that, the station broadcasted the news about Bentiu capturing by the insurgencies forces. I think you will not disagree or dispute about Media fraternity being under attack in South Sudan by your leadership.
And lastly not the least, one of the Journalists was beaten almost to death on 21st of January 2015 in South Sudan Capital Juba by your security that you have not trained well. And your governments haven’t investigated the issue behind the scene. What a disgrace to your leadership in South Sudan your Excellency? Have you not lost legitimacy?
What kind of government do you really have globally or on earth? In facts most of us Journalists from South Sudan have lost hope and trust in you your Excellency due to the fact that, you have lost your direction in leadership and moreover some of Journalists voted for you in 2010 elections in various constituencies across the Country. Do you agree that, Journalists and activists can expose you to the world and you become useless President?
In fact, a journalist working for the Nation Mirror Newspaper by the Name John Anyang was beaten almost to death by the National Security elements on his way to cover a story of demonstrating nurses on 20th of January 2015. All his reporting equipments got confiscated by your security and you haven’t questioned the culprits who are involved in criminal acts in your system.
What country are we living in at this particular period of time? What is happening with freedom of expression and the right of access to information in South Sudan? Do you want to be in South Sudan alone without Journalists and activists? A question, you should answer as a person!
Mr. President, Internationally a Country that does not allow freedom of the press and speech, is always regarded as a failed and fragile state. I think you have agreed with the reports from International Community that concluded that “South Sudan as the Country is a failed State” and they entails the reasons as amount to lack of freedom of press, lack of good governance, no respect for rule of law, corruption cases and tribalism that have been identified as the vision and mission of the government you lead. Do you agree with that my President?
In conclusion, Mr. President, if you really want to stay peacefully in the Republic of South Sudan, respect Media law , ethnics by allowing freedom of expression and speech to prevails in the entire Republic of South Sudan. If you continue targeting Journalists, activists then know that world will remove you from your sweet leadership by all means because, you might be called a “primitive President” that doesn’t allow Journalists to do their work freely. Do you want to be calls primitive President on Earth? Yes or no?
Because I like you due to the fact that, I voted for you in 2010 election do something to grantee the security of Journalists and activists in South Sudan.
Let 2015, be the year where South Sudanese will have peace in their minds and have freedom of expression wherever they are at this particular period of time!
South Sudan was ranked 124th in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index in 2013, falling by twelve places since 2012. Reporters without Borders cited the murder of Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol, who was shot dead by an unidentified man on December 12, 2012 as the reason for the country’s fall in ranking. Do you want your Country ranking to go up to zero level?
- President Barrack Obama (USA)
- UN Security Council
- Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
- Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- Amnesty International (AI)
- Union of Journalists in South Sudan (UJOSS)
By Peter Gai Manyuon
The author is an Independent Journalist and Columnist who has written extensively on the issues of Democratization and Human Rights in South Sudan. Follow him on www.independentjournalistpgm.wordpress.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.