A government crack-down on opposition activists in South Sudan has lately taken course following a planned peaceful protest against the ruling party scheduled for August 30th. Security has remained on high alert and arrest of activists are being made by security agencies.
A Military Intelligence wing of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces today arrested a civil society activist Justoson Victor Yoasa and Bishop Jackson Yemba Antipas in South Sudan’s Yei River County of Central Equatoria State.
First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar of South Sudan earlier this month echoed his voice by coming up to issue a strong warning to people who have intention of participating in the ongoing mobilization for protests against the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit will destabilize the country. This warning came days after the group presented their request to the Ministry of Interior. He also says only the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement will be a better solution to concerns raised by civil society organizations.
One of the senior leaders of the PCCA group who was a former governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, Kuel Aguer Kuel, has since been taken into custody by the National Security Service (NSS) in the capital Juba for issuing a public call for nationwide protests in a declaration announced this month.
Later this week, the Ministry of interior confirmed their rejection of a request made by the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA). In Mid-August, PCCA officials wrote a letter to the ministry of interior which indicated that PCCA intends to conduct anti-government protests on August 30. In their request, the coalition asked the ministry of interior to provide protection for the citizens during the protest.
The arrested individuals include a one Activist Victor, the Executive Director for Yamora, a national NGO was arrested on Wednesday evening while Bishop Yemba of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Sudan was arrested on Thursday morning.
Information from families members connected to Victor reveal that he was picked by security agents on his way home after leaving the bishop’s residence where he attended the evening devotional prayers and the Bishop was also picked on Thursday morning by the same security agents operatives.
The two have been accused by security personnel of being supporters of the People’s Coalition for Civil Action, a group be for civil action against the government of President Salva Kiir and that they were meeting to organize peaceful demonstrations on the 30th, August 2021.
For now, the activist is being kept at a military intelligence detention center in Yei town. Jame David Kolok, the chairperson for the South Sudan Civil Society Forum urges authorities in Yei River County to ensure those arrested are released without delay.
According to human right laws, a fair trial and hearing is a fundamental right of every South Sudanese citizen and these suspects should be given their freedom to speech or association and made to know reasons for their arrests.
The arrested suspects have been detained longer than the period to be arraigned in court. We continue to speak out for their release and it is important that if there is any reason, they should be taken to court and released,” David urged. There is a worrying trend where the civic space has been suffocated by the ruling party and specially those security officials in Yei River County.
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