Tuesday 26th December, 2017, Nairobi, Kenya.
The Senior Youth of South Sudan (SEYOSS) is a vibrant group of Peace Activists, Opinion leaders, Young Professionals and Students drawn from various corners of the republic of South Sudan. We are none partisan and none aligned organization. Our work is guided by the yellow star on our national flag to preach peace, Unity and reconciliation in the divided country of South Sudan.
We all aspire for South Sudan with unity of purpose, justice and equality. We resolved to reject division and erase tribalism that have been implanted by wanton leaders and restore nationalism and democracy in South Sudan.
Prof. Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) still right when he said ‘‘it is clear to me that a writer, youth and citizen who tries to avoid the contemporary social and political issues of his country will end up being completely irrelevant like that absurd man in the proverb who leaves his house burning to pursue a rat fleeing from the flame’’. We are the custodians of South Sudan’s present and future. We know South Sudan belongs to all of us.
This clarion call for action can generate peace that would rescue our impoverished populace from certain death.
The deaths and sufferings of South Sudanese is no longer news but a common knowledge. South Sudan is on the verge of imminent collapse due to the all-out civil war that broke out on 15th December, 2013. The South Sudanese leaders on both sides of the political divides are responsible for breeding unnecessary and unprecedented civilian suffering through their acts of commission or omission.
At times, the Youth and the common citizenry are blamed for perfecting undesirable silence and complacency in the face of gross human right violations for fear of reprisal which we’re now trying to shake off forthwith.
As year 2017 comes to an end, South Sudanese living conditions have continued to mount from bad to worse and have now reached irreparable state. Life was better off when we were under Arab monolithic regime in Khartoum. The destruction of lives caused by this civil war was never witnessed before when we were fighting for secession from Sudan. Barely six years of independent, south Sudan have now become unequal, unstable and disintegrated country.
The War lords and unknown gunmen have taken over the country in broad day light. And they are killing innocent civilians in cold blood and committing other crimes such as rape with impunity. The rule of law has been defeated totally giving room for impunity to reign.
The 2011 South Sudan transitional constitution has been mutilated wittingly turning the all country into a ‘‘slaughter-house.’’ Evidently, the once jubilant community of south Sudan has now turned hapless with many dreams shattering and waning. The once promising nation of South Sudan has now become laughing stock in the region. The results of this civil war are on our faces; million people are languishing in abject poverty. There are no schools and health centers in most parts of the country. South Sudan is synonymous with disease and illiteracy.
The political space has shrunken. There is no freedom of expression or media in South Sudan. We have one state-run television station, SSBC. Most print and online newspapers had been shut down until further notice. Hence, vast majority in South Sudan have no access to information. Journalists are dying and disappearing every now and then and we condemn that with contempt it deserves. A mum nation is nation at war with itself. However, we choose to dialogue at our own peril. We resolved to be our people’s informants, and we shall continue pointing on the rots and condemn gross human rights abuses notwithstanding any attempts to gag us.
We assemble here at the right time and at the right place. Historically, the search for peace and freedom for South Sudanese started here in Kenya. Therefore, we should be allowed to continue searching and calling for the same without hindrance, harassment, intimidation and interference. We should not be cowed or compromised in our quest for free, fairer and democratic South Sudan. Never again shall any South Sudanese in Kenya disappear like chaff in the air like Dong Luak and Idris Aggrey who disappeared in Nairobi in January 2017. Africa Union youth charter 2006 is crystal clear on Youth in Diaspora. Article 21 (e) (f) decreed that states parties shall Promote and protect the rights of young people living in the diaspora; and that they shall encourage young people in the diaspora to engage themselves in development activities in their country of origin. And hence, we are no exception.
HIGH-LEVEL REVITALIZATION FORUM
We welcome the peace revitalization forum wholeheartedly for it is timely and tenable. We have been longing for it with abated breath. We hope this revitalization forum will give birth to New Year gift of peace in South Sudan. We are cognizant that ‘‘Agreement on the Resolution of conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) had collapsed on 8th July 2016 when fresh war erupted at state-house, Juba. However, we believe this revitalization forum can yield fruits of peace and stability in South Sudan if warring factions engage in dialogue devoid of ulterior motives. We would like to seize this moment to call on leaders of warring factions to expedite the peace process. They should bear in mind that our people are tied of persistent conflict and refugee life. South Sudan is beautiful, rich, and spacious to accommodate all of us and our neighbors.
IGAD-plus ought to have investigated and brought to the fore the rogue stakeholders who violated the peace agreement (ARCISS) leading to its collapse in July 2016.
Going forward, IGAD-plus must enforce the revocation of the newly created states in South Sudan. Also, the clauses that provide two army groups under separate command need to be revisited and reviewed to avoid future hiccups on the implementation of the accord.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF RIEK MACHAR FROM HOUSE ARREST IN SOUTH AFRICA
In as much as we welcome the revitalization forum, we however call on the IGAD chairperson and Ethiopian Prime Minister H.E Hailemariam Desalegn and IGAD rapporteur H. E President Uhuru Kenyatta to see into it that former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar is released from illegal detention in South Africa. We condemn his detention without charges in South Africa. Dr. Riek Machar was key stakeholder of the Agreement (ARCISS). He must be set free and allow to participate directly in the revitalization forum comes February 2018 when peace talks resume. His captors have not come out clear to explain to our populace the reasons behind his arrest and we don’t know who they are. Those of us who are privy to the going-on in South Sudan would recall that Dr. Riek Machar did not leave Juba on his own volition. There was military action against him and his cohorts that is why he abandoned juba in the aftermath of the 8th July 2016 incident in Juba. Those who hold him behind bars are blatantly violating his rights and freedoms. Honestly, if we really intend to makes this revitalization forum a success than Dr.
Riek Machar must be present in person on the negotiation table. Unless or until this revitalization forum is inclusive of all stakeholders otherwise it is dead on arrival.
Moreover, we would like to thank nine opposition leaders in the peace talk who wrote petition letter dated 22nd December, 2017 calling on IGAD to release Dr. Riek Machar from house arrest. Their clarion call to have Dr. Riek Machar release is clear, objective thought. It is an acknowledgement that peace without him would not materialized. You can see even his competitors are demanding for his unconditional release for his detention was unjustifiable.
The call to release Dr. Rek is popular demand among the populace who yearn for the return of peace in South Sudan.
BOYCOTT PHASE TWO OF THE REVITALIZATION FORUM
We hereby called on the nine opposition leaders who signed the aforementioned petition to walk the talk in the sense that should IGAD and company failed to heed our calls on the same; they should all boycott phase two of the revitalization scheduled for February 2018. From there, we would then ask IGAD to excuse itself from mediating South Sudan peace talk.
Subsequently, we would request the United Nations and AU to preside over our dispute for IGAD shall then be deems to have failed in its assignment due to vested interest.
CONDEMNATION OF THE VIOLATION OF COH
Sadly, we have soon received reliable reports from Reuters, CGTN and sudantribune.com that the cessation of hostility (CoH) agreement signed on 21st December, 2017 has been violated before the ink could dry. The forces of President Salva Kiir and former vice President Dr. Riek Machar have now started trading blame of attacks. There were reports of fighting going on in Unity state, particularly in Kock county and Deim Jalab in western part of South Sudan. IGAD need to ask hard question whether those who purported to be leaders are not in control of their armies on the ground. The IGAD and its peace guarantors must issue stern warning to those who have perfected the art of violating the revered agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan with view to hold them directly accountable for their chaotic actions.
1. Dak Buoth
2. Yom Deng
3. Benjamin Ubur
4. Abraham Manyok
5. Nelson Gatmai
6. Mut Giel
7. David Anyieth Kuol
8. Garang Poljour
9. Nyalang Thiep