Human Rights and Opposing Political Opinions in South Sudan

BY: Kuir ë Garang, Poet & Author, Ph.D. Candidate, Toronto, SEPT/10/2018, SSN;

There is no question that South Sudan will take time to get used to civil societies expressing strong positions in sociopolitical issues and of strong personalities, that are not political players, to be strongly opposed to some government fundamentals.

As I’ve always reiterated, no one expects the SPLM to build Ottawa in Juba in ten or twenty years. This is a commonsense given.

Most, if not all of us, expect South Sudan to produce development results incrementally.

However, it would be foolhardy to expect South Sudan not to put in place economic and political structures that make prosperity possible. Starting structures, rudimentary maybe, should’ve been in place since 2005.

Sadly, all we’ve are rotten systemic models copied wholesale from Khartoum.

These copied governance models, such as too much powers vested in the presidency and the national security censorship of the newspapers, have shredded South Sudanese social and political fabric; that’s, what’s left by the North-South war up to 2005.

Amnesty International has argued that “Since the start of South Sudan’s internal armed conflict in December 2013, hundreds of people, mostly men, have been detained under the authority of the National Security Service (NSS) and Military Intelligence Directorate in various detention facilities across the capital city, Juba.

Many of those who’ve been detained have been held under the category of “political detainees” on allegations that they’ve communicated with or supported the opposition.”

These are usually assumptions made to scare people away from opinions that go against government narratives.

In June 2017, the Associated Pressed (AP) reported that “15 South Sudanese journalists have been arrested, beaten, jailed, threatened or denied access to information in the past four months, according to the Union of Journalists in South Sudan.

At least 20 members of the foreign press have been banned from or kicked out of South Sudan in the past six months, the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa says.”

However, there has to be a point at which we can sigh and say that ‘things are bad now but they’ll improve in due course.’

Undoubtedly, there must indeed be a point at which things should take a positive turn. For many South Sudanese, this positive turn would only come with the end of the civil war and the advent of peace.

This state of mind, for all intent and purposes, is a bad.

Waiting for the war to stop completely for things to start taking a positive turn is to do a great disservice to the country and the civil population. The civil population is already suffering like it has been for the past sixty years.

In the mid-1990s, the SPLM under the leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, under intense pressure from international aid agencies, regional bodies and internal split in 1991, and the pressure to build civil structures and democratic governance, knew that it didn’t have to wait for the war to end to start institutionalizing its administrative infrastructures.

The Civil Administration for New Sudan (CANS) was one such response. Even if CANS was still subordinated to the military Modus Operandus of the SPLA like the SPLM was, its creation is a manifest testimony that war doesn’t have to end for the turning point to be created.

As Dr. Luka Biong argued in “Social capital and civil war:” The Dinka communities in Sudan’s civil war, wars don’t necessarily destroy communities’ social capitals. While some strong social fabrics are weakened during the civil war period, social capital isn’t completely eradicated because new social relations are built.

Biong writes that “recent thinking has begun to challenge the premise that civil wars undermine social capital, arguing instead that violence is less about social breakdown than about the creation of new forms of social relations.”

Since 2005, when the autonomous government was established in Juba, and more so after 2013 crisis that led to a vicious and costly armed conflict, there has been no respect for diverse opinions and human rights in South Sudan.

The Ruling SPLM has relied on the inexcusable and the now cliched “we are still a young nation” to get away with human rights abuses and incompetence.

While countries can be considered young in terms of capacities (human and technological), no country is too young to know moral imperatives such as respect for human rights and diverse political opinions.

While Juba prides in the fact that it’s a democratic state and that it doesn’t stifle political opinions, its practical actions say otherwise.

Intolerance to opposing political opinions, political intimidations, arbitrary arrests, political assassinations and media censorship have become the ‘new normal.’

They aren’t merely the subversion of the normative systemic functions but the system itself, to use Alex De Waal’s phrase.

The recent arrest of Peter Biar Ajak on July 28, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and a very vocal personality and analyst in favor of younger leadership for South Sudan (which he dubbed ‘Generational Exit), is a clear testimony that Juba isn’t willing to take a positive turn.

Bashir Ahmed Mohamed Babiker, another South Sudanese activist, like Ajak, was also arrested on August 4 by the South Sudanese National Security in Yambio and he’s being held without any charges as his health deteriorates.

Kerbino Agok Wol, a South Sudanese businessman and philanthropist, is also being held by SSNS in Juba since April 27 without charges being brought against him.

Governments have every right to take any citizen to court if they clearly demonstrate that such a citizen has violated the constitution or committed a crime of any form.

And this is the work of South Sudanese courts and the judicial system. Charges need to be brought and proven in front of a competent judge before someone is arrested.

Sadly, the ghost of the SPLA militarized mentality is still ruling Juba. SPLM is a quasi-political party that is actually a military entity draped in a political attire.

So, when will the turning point begin?

The answer is now and e-very-day. As the peace agreement being finalized in Khartoum gives us hope for a peaceful South Sudan, it doesn’t follow that respect for human rights and diverse political opinions will come with it.

With no doubt, as it has been recently noted by some analysts, like Brian Adeba of the Washington-based Enough Project, South Sudanese agreements are usually pacts among powerful elites that don’t put the needs of the average civilian into account.

So, it’s common knowledge that the advent of the peace agreement wouldn’t guarantee respect for human rights and diverse political opinions.

It’s therefore time Juba not only speaks about the respect for human rights, but actually acts on it. Diverse opinions should be allowed as long as they’re conveyed in a respectful manner.

No country can develop — unless it’s a dictatorship — as a nation of a single opinion. Progress needs different and diverse ideas. END

Kuir ë Garang is a South Sudanese author and poet. He’s also a PhD student at York University in Toronto, Canada. For contact, visit www.kuirthiy.com

4 Comments

  1. info@southsudannation says:

    Kuir,
    Great opinions you’ve put forth but in reality, dictatorship, as you aptly stated, is the curse in the new nation. Confining ourselves in Africa only, the resolution to the termination of such regimes is by complete removal of these dictators.
    President killer Kiir clearly epitomizes this political aberration and the only solution is the elimination and overthrow of his abysmal regime.
    All nationalities (tribes) must come together and terminate this shameful political aberration in our nation. All South Sudanese peoples equally contributed and suffered in the long struggle for ‘independence and freedom’ since 1955.
    Kiir and his cronies must go out the same way of Mobutu’s, Siad Barre’s, Mengistu, Nimeri, Bokassa, Ghadafi, Obote, Idi Amin etc…etc.
    Then, and only then, peace, progress and unity of the nation will be realized.
    Editor

  2. Dear:Dr.Peter Wankomo (Editor In Chief South Sudan Nation)

    I am so happy for you for your good work and your contribution in public arena in the forum South Sudan Nation(SSN) Discussion Board.Keep up on posting on writing on written articles,and comments so far as much as possible as can be able!

    The websites, for the South Sudanese in Diaspora,have set South Sudanese mindset free from being rigid to open mind.It has brought awareness to people especially in the SPLM/SPLA Leadership in the South Sudan the Late Dr.John Garang De Mabior,himself in the war,in the movement,in the bush because first,and foremost,it never been easy for people able to see him and able to talk with him at all because first,foremost,him,he was putting himself as omniscient person only being on Sudan Modern Politics Politically simply because on political affairs in general only that the “Spouse” The Mother Of The Nation South Sudan” The First Lady Comrade Commander Ms.Rebecca Nyadeng John Garang De Mabior because she was easy,open,and social towards all upon on people along with fair mind altogether in part in whole in particular in general.I have studied her well and have observed her well enough and have simply because of her personality problem and with self style because she was modest because she was far from arrogant and hypocrite at all! I could tell

    For his successor,His Excellency,President Salva Kirr Mayardit,sorry I really for sure do not know anything much about on him at all.But,I have seen him in the mass medial whereever he had issued press statements.He is passive because he is listening on people at things whenever they are always for all the time on talking careful with gestures,motions and body language at all because I was observing on him because first and foremost, he have got “Human Genius and Talents” altogether.I could tell!

    Before,he was on low on slow down at the beginning of his rule of his administration,.Now,he have got experiences because first and foremost,he is not anymore on low on slow down altogether because first and foremost,he is becoming aware onto awareness that because he is getting better because first,and foremost, he is improving much more than ever.

    Thank you.I a member in this forum South Sudan Nation (SSN)Disucussion Board,I need to do something in this forthcoming year 2019.I need to initiate a move.I want the members to contribute money for Editor In Chief all over world wherever they are . The Editor in Chief should use for buying supplies,paying repair work for breaking and materials for operation machine.Things on Editor In Chief,they cost payment.They are not supposed to be done simply because for free at all in this modern Era. Back to you to the member on audience on the floor in the forum South Sudan Nation(SSN) Discussion Board.God bless you! God bless Abiko Akuranyang! God Bless the people our people South Sudanese in the country(SUDAN NEW!)

    Sincere: Calm down Anger

    Abiko Akuranyang!

    Kansas City,Missouri,U.S.A.

  3. Dr. Yien Mathews says:

    Dear All,
    I laugh when i see a mad PHD student barking and making noise outside of South Sudan. For a change to happen you must to be inside South Sudan.Internets warriors will continuous fighting over the media but may not win.Please you cowards stop inciting people but concentrate on your study.
    REGARDS

  4. mading says:

    Thank you brother Dr. Yien Mathews. These heartless internet warriors are the ones who made peace hard to come to our country when they keep writing these rubbishes while enjoying themselves far a way from the war. They don’t know what our people go through everyday as a result of war.

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