Bloggers Condemn The Desecration Of The Martyrs Day With The Arrests of CSO And Youth Activists

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We, bloggers and activists at AFTABOSS Internet’ional, do hereby bring to the attention of the president and the government that the conduct of their security apparatuses of terrorizing the citizens is not acceptable.

We condemn their deliberate interference with the commemoration of the heroes’ day. In particular, the reckless act of arresting Peter Biar and a number of civil society activists in Juba in coincidence with the Martyrs Day, therefore, renders the president’s speech and apology to the families of the liberation heroes critically hypocritical.

“We fought tirelessly to liberate our people from the yoke of tyranny,” goes a line from President Kiir’s speech on the occasion of Martyrs Day (July 30, 2018), read together with the defence minister’s ironic apology to the families of the fallen heroes.

“On this occasion, I would like to salute the widows and the family of our martyrs and the wounded heroes, and to accept that we did them wrong, because we have not taken care of the families of our martyrs. We have not taken care of our wounded heroes, and this is a huge mistake. We apologize for this, because evil entered into our hearts,” Defence Minister, Kuol Manyang, regretted, and so did the president, but not without assigning the neglect to some scapegoats as usual.

“…to the families and all the relatives to the martyrs is that they should not lose hope. We are not taking good care of them, not because we have forgotten the loved ones that have died during the struggle, but because of the situation we are subjected to by our own comrades,” Kiir said (as reported by SSBC and Eye Radio.

Such statements come hours after the arrest of Peter Biar Ajak, a youth activist, and about 30 youth members from Aweil Community that were allegedly rounded up and tortured by the notorious National Security Service soldiers in Juba.

Peter Biar, founder of Red Army Foundation (RAF) and South Sudan Youth Leaders Forum (SSYLF), was dragged out of a plane headed for the celebration of Martyrs Day in Aweil, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, while dressed in his red Red Army T-shirt among his colleagues.

What is even more disappointing is how his Red Army colleagues carried on with the journey and celebration without mentioning the name of their founding chairman whom they left under incaceration. Whether they were acting under external threats or on internal conspiracy, this does not show the spirit of comradeship and responsible citizenry. We equally condemn that suspicious act of the youth against the youth in our young country.

Biar is a son to Gen. AJak Deng Biar, an SPLA freedom fighter who left his home as Dr. John Garang’s village chief, and went to the bush to “tirelessly fight to liberate our people from the yoke of tyranny.” Peter is also son-in-law to Gen. James Hoth Mai, former SPLA Chief of General Staff, both of Biar’s fathers have been active in the army from 1983 to date.

In another development, the office of South Sudan Civil Society Alliance in Juba was raided and occupied by NSS soldiers under directives of some people from the Office of the President and SPLM. Speaking to the VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program on July 31, 2018, Keluel Agok Kuch, Secretary-General of the Alliance, who fled for his life on the very Martyrs Day, decried the tyranny meted out on the Civil Society members by the regime in Juba.

“There are members within the Office of the President and within the National Security that have been organizing, arranging and coordinating with Akuoch Ajang, who is SPLM director of state affairs, just to dismantle our office, occupy it and work for their own interests, pretending to be civil society,” said Keluel, while in hiding in Uganda. He told AFTABOSS that up to 5 members of his coalition were arrested and detained at the NSS men in plain clothes and released days later.

This blatant violation of the rights of citizens and disruption of the commemoration of their heroes’ day by the government that failed to organize a state-sponsored event on the pretext of lack of funding, is hereby condemned with the strongest terms it deserves.

In the same vein, the citizens were embarrassed when President Salva Kiir aborted the Independence Day celebration on July 9, 2018 and secretly went to consult with his friend, President Museveni of Uganda, on the tricks to keep himself longer in power.

Again, this is not the first time a peoples’ day has been abused by the government in Juba. Five years ago, on the Human Rights Day (December 10, 2013), the government security operatives arrested, tortured and detained for days one of our bloggers over a complaint he raised on his Facebook page about the performance of his area MP. We intervened and also condemned that act of desecrating national and international events by arresting, harassing and embarrassing the citizens in their celebration moods. (https://aftaboss.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/south-sudan-marks-human-rights-day-by-arresting-a-facebooker/).

In conclusion, we, on behalf of the voiceless of South Sudan, ask Mr. President to reign on his lieutenants, who are not only interfering with the lives of the South Sudanese people but also spoiling his legacy and the general image of the youngest nation in the world. We also strongly demand the unconditional release of Peter Biar Ajak or taken through an express legal procedures while giving him access to his family, lawyer and doctor. Equally, that NSS draconian law must be repealed by act of the parliament as soon as possible so the South Sudan Police Services, whose roles have been grabbed, can take back their constitutional mandate of maintaining law in the country.

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For comment or further inquiries, please, writer to aftabossteam@gmail.com

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