Jan 28th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– South Sudan’s main armed opposition, the SPLM/A(IO), has released and handed over at least fifteen(15) Prisoners of War(POWs) from one of its strongholds in Phou State.
According to SPLA-IO deputy military spokesman, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, the POWs were handed over to ICRC today, January 28th, 2018 at about 10:00am by their 7th Infantry Division at Kolopach airstrip in New Fangak of Phou State.
“The SPLA IO 7th Division infantry combined with SPLA IO GQHS mobile force handed over 15 prisoners of war (POWS) to ICRC today 28/1/2018, at about 10:00am in Kolopach airstrip, New Fangak, Phow State.” Col. Lam Paul Gabriel states.
According to Col. Lam Paul, 11 Prisoners of War have refused to return to Juba.
“11 POWs refused to go to Juba due to fear of persecution from the regime. The SPLA IO welcomes their decision and gave them the freedom to live among the displaced people in the State.” Lam said.
Lam said this would be the third time the rebels have shown good gesture to other warring factions and compliance to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, however, the rebels regret that Juba has not return the favor.
“This is the third time the SPLA IO is showing compliance with the COH agreement signed on 21/01/2017 while other partners have not yet complied.” Lam reiterates.
“The Leadership of the SPLM/A IO appreciates the field commanders and the State leadership for keeping these POWs safe and helping them get reunited with their families wherever they maybe.” SPLA Deputy Spokesman continued.
Despite the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, Juba continues to hold over 600 prisoner of wars in their detention centers.
Other high profile rebel officials such as Dr. Machar’s Press Secretary, James Gatdet Dak, remains in Prison in the capital, Juba.
Other high profile officials such as Justice Dong Luak and Aggrey Idriss, who were adopted in Nairobi, Kenya, more than one year ago are yet to be traced.
Juba has been accused of paying a well known Kenyan gang group known as Mugiki in Kenya to kidnap rebel officials and so far many rebel officials have evacuated Nairobi due to fear of their safety.
SPLM/A(IO) has faced difficulties since its overall leader, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the former Vice President, was forced to exile in South Africa in 2016.
So far no country or organization has accepted responsibility for Machar’s detention in South Africa; however, the SPLM/A(IO) believes that IGAD and TROIKA are playing a role in their chairman’s illegal detention.
“The SPLA IO calls upon IGAD and TROIKA to also comply with this article in the CoH by releasing Dr. Riek Machar who has been since detained in South Africa as a result of this conflict. This will prove commitment and seriousness from the side of the IGAD and TROIKA in trying to bring lasting peace in South Sudan. The resistance continues.” The SPLM/A deputy military spokesman said.