Feb 17th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– Despite cold weather, a significant number of South Sudanese Canadians marched to the street in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, demanding that their colleague, James Gatdet Dak, a journalist and a former spokesman of South Sudan’s former Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, must be acquitted of politically motivated death penalty and allowed to return to exile.
Amid busy work-life and freaking cold weather, South Sudanese Canadians left their works and marched to City Hall to get their voice heard by the city council which represents the government of Canada.
According to Gatluak Bichoik, a lead activist and a South Sudanese youth leader, who was one of the organizers of the event, their protest was joined by other human rights activists and representatives of Amnesty International.
“The location was at the Calgary City Hall. We were joined by Human Activists and Amnesty Canada also delegated their representative to join us. Were expecting a great turnout but due to the severity of the cold, only hundreds turnout.” Gatluak said.
Shouting “Salva Kiir Must Go and Down Down Salva Kiir” in a video extended to Nyamilepedia, the South Sudanese Canadians call on the embattled South Sudanese president to step down to allow South Sudanese to find peace.
“Our message was simple. As you may hear from this video. We were calling upon Kiir to step down and allow South Sudanese to find peace. Those were some of our slogans.” Gatluak said.
The South Sudanese Canadians, among which majority of them were resettled here as refugees mostly from East African Countries like Kenya, condemns the Kenyan government for submitting a person with active refugees’ status to a country where his life would be in danger.
They believe that Gatdet’s sentencing was politically motivated and has nothing to do with a crime he has committed.
“We were calling for the release of JAMES Gatdet. Questioned the ruling of the fairness of the judiciary.” The right activist continued.
“We are calling upon the government of Kenya for the continued violation of human rights, the violations of Geneva Conventions (Refugee Protection Right) considering that James had a refugee status when he was deported to Juba againt his own will.” Gatluak added.
Other prominent South Sudanese activists and human rights actors like Justice Samuel Dong Luak and Agrey Idris were kidnapped in Nairobi, Kenya.
Their whereabouts remain unknown and no government has so far claim responsibility for their kidnapping.
“We were also asking for the whereabouts of Dong Luak, Agrey Idri and the governor of Kaipoeta.” Gatluak continued.
James Gatdet was kidnapped by Kenyan authority on November 2nd 2016 in the Kenya capital, Nairobi, where he was residing as a refugee waiting for refugee resettlement case with his family.
While in prison in Juba, South Sudan, his family was successfully resettled to Sweden as their live was in danger in Kenya.
Gatdet’s family received these bad news earlier this week in Sweden that their father has been sentenced to death by hanging by Salva Kiir’s leadership – a penalty that has angered many South Sudanese around the world.
Despite that some Kenyan politicians in Uhuru’s government have taken side and are involved in these kidnapping of South Sudanese oppositions’ leaders and family members, Kenya still participates in South Sudan peace process alongside Uganda which was directly involved in combat along Salva Kiir’s forces in South Sudan.
Gatdet’s sentencing came as a violation of a recently signed Cessation of Hostilities Agreement which demands for unconditional release of prisoners of war and political detainees.
According to observers, Gatdet who is a Nuer tribesman and a former spokesman of Dr. Riek Machar, the main armed opposition leader, is collateral damage to obstruct attempts to revitalize the collapsed peace agreement in the neighboring Ethiopia.
The peace process has now stalled, however, there is no hope that Kiir’s regime may reverse their decision of death penalty on James Gatdet.
A few weeks before Gatdet’s sentencing the opposition released government prisoners of war and handed them over through ICRC, a non-governmental organization which facilitates their safe arrival in Juba, as a good gesture but Salva Kiir’s government never returned those good gestures – leaving the armed oppositions in flames!