Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: Are South Sudanese acquainted with their rights and freedom

By Tut Kuany Kok

South Sudanese gathering at Dr. John Garang de’Mabior Mausoleum (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

February 20th 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – “Those of us who submitted or surrendered our ideas and dreams and identities to the ‘leaders’ must take back our rights, our identities, and our responsibilities.” Said Maya Angelou.

In a democratic and civilized state citizens are always familiar with their rights bestowed on them by the constitution if not by natural laws and those who are aware of this rights entailed both the literate and illiterate, this rights make the citizens to enjoy the right to criticize the politics of the government, it’s through the exercise of this right that the government is made responsible and accountable through whatever despicable steps it has to take, and this have a significant impact in the quality of governance of a country followed by “Freedom of expression” which able the citizens to participate in the government of the inclusivity. But on the contrary to the freedom of speech and expression, there are some aspects which are prohibited by law for instance, the libel, slander, fib, obscenity and others forms of hate articulation which are not in line with the demands of the democracy.

Moreover, it’s only through this, that the devolution gives power of self-governance to the people and grants them opportunity for greater participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in decision making. It also recognizes the right of communities to manage their own affairs and further their development individually without the interference of any power. But our case as the people of South Sudan is different, for both illiterate and the literate do not know their right and freedom, for our lives is attached firmer to praising our kinsmen of which it threatened us with the extinction of the natural rights and freedom we had, again we never got to understand that the most fundamental right that all citizens must have in a democratic state is the right to express oneself and one’s opinions which feeds into the responsibility of civic virtue and basic tenets of citizenship and we never yet understand that, when there’s “voice and speech” being air out without curtailment everyone benefits in a democracy and a good leadership.

In reference, therefore, to the above brief description , It’s not a chagrin moment to me seeing today’s victims taking on Social Media paying homage to a man who slaughtered their relations in their numbers simply because they were from those tribes where the opponents hail from. Also the way i see impoverished South Sudanese congratulating and applauding Salva Kiir for he reverse the country to its previous constitutional States sound weird and flabbergasted me , it’s true that the oppressor has a right to killed and maimed us because we don’t know as the citizens our freedom and right to opposed his hegemonic leadership but all we wickedly do is to call him many good names forgetting the fact that he is the very person destroying our future and the future of our country via his personal interest just to enrich himself and his traditional elites

Where’s our consciousness-raising and sedition and where’s our fundamental right which can make us as human being to think beyond tribal confinement or which can make us to stand against despotic leadership? Why are we behaving like we’re slaves in that land?

However, it’s beyond reasonable doubt that our puzzle and perplexity reach to the points where we cannot think critically on national matters that go hand in hand with correcting the despot in lieu of eulogizing him even from the point of burying the entire country.

For your information and further elaboration as to why 32 states were created through the incitement of the traditional elites.

In the first place, Dr. Riek Machar created 21 states according to former British colonial districts and with this initiative, neither land was grabbed nor annexed by the other tribe, it was just as fair as it was from the British and  later during the August, 17th, 2015 defunct and peace agreement [ARCISS], Dr. Riek were asked by the IGAD, TRIOKA and AU to dropped  the 21 states initiative for the sake of peace, despite having insisted that the 21 states would be the only States for South Sudanese. Therefore, within the negotiating process, the government came in and deeply opposed Machar’s 21 states in the favor of 10 states, saying that “the country is in the midst of financial catastrophe to financed more states”, Machar for he has a heart of bring about peace and unity  he then immediately terminated his idea in front of the International Community.

In spite of the termination of Machar’s 21 states, the government through Presidential decree on 3rd, 10, 2015 surprised the entire country by announcing the creation of 28 states later increased to 32 in 2016 after General Taban Deng Gai decamped into 1st Vice Presidency few months after J1 fierce fight.

However, what I’m trying to put straight is the facts that, 32 states were created to just appease the political opportunists and elites, because when they were created none of the citizen were consulted let alone being involved in a decision making since the involvement of the citizens in decision-making-process is one of the laws in the constitution and in a democratic Country. On the other hand 32 states were created by Salva Kiir to take war and destruction to villagers through its 32 governors, hence, the literal instance was Governor Bol Ruach Rom and the late Johnson Gony Belieu of the so-called Mai-wut and Bieh state who subsequently took the fatal war to their home counties which lead to loss of many lives in the process.

However, in a peaceful and democratic country with strong constitution, a citizen has a full right to be consulted when the government wanted to launch any initiative for its people, but the question is, are we consulted when the creation of 32 states unexpectedly came in? If not, then why are we dancing to the tune of division and destruction brought upon us by Salva Kiir and his close elites? I strongly believed that, it’s through this misunderstanding of our rights and freedom that culminated us into complete isolation, which then make the leaders to do whatever they want to do as so long as it pleases them, and in this case, that is why we foolishly appreciates Salva Kiir when he reduced the number of states, without us knowing that it is our duty and responsibilities to push him into reducing them instead of the leadership of the SPLM-A [In Opposition] to fight for them to be reverted or reduced

And for further elaboration on human rights and our right in particular, the freedom of choice and expression was recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] and it was also recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] While article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression and choice.” But the question is, do we know our right to oppose the bad leaders instead of dancing and singing for them? And who is going to fight for what is rightfully belong to us if we are yet to understand our responsibility bestowed on us by the country we hard-won. Therefore, let us remember that, human rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement and they are fundamental normative rule which to guard us through our life time.

Last but not least, the reduction of the states from controversial 32 to 10 constitutional states would have been our responsibility if we’re truly acquainted with our right and freedom, and I don’t see it as something that could bring Salva Kiir honored and respects, for we know very well that he has dishonored too many agreement which could have saved lives but because his will in power is to divide and rule us, that is the reason as to why we are in the middle of extinction and ethnic perplexity. However, if it was not the pressure and persistence calling from the IGAD and the Leadership of the SPLM-A (In Opposition), Salva Kiir would’ve not reduced the number of states and this is what we should understand.

In so doing, let’s give credit to the rightful organization which is the SPLM-IO under the peace icon H.E Dr Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon who fought valiantly and persistently with courage and zeal to see South Sudan returning to its 2011’s constitutional 10 states. And in conclusion, I’m calling upon the leadership of the SPLM-IO to continue the push for Security Arrangements, especially the screening, training, cantoning and deploying of the unified forces and most importantly the Juba demilitarization. Also, the leadership should push for the disappearance of unilateral Administrative areas namely Abyei, Ruweng and Pibor

Finally let us know our right and freedom as the people who shared common heritage rather than being divided along ethnic line which plunged us into misunderstanding our duties, responsibilities and participation in a decision making.

The author is a concerned South Sudan citizen, he can be reached via: tutkuany7@gmail.com

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