By Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan
April 21, 2011 (SSNA) — The recent demolition carried out in some parts of Juba by the government of central Equatoria state (CES) is inhumane and it’s against human rights. For the past two weeks, since they started demolishing what they called “shanty houses” which rendered hundreds of people homeless and destroyed people’s livelihoods/properties, I waited to see if any other concerned citizen would break the silence and condemn this act perpetuated by the government to her own citizens, but apparently no one seemed to have taken it as a grave concern – the plight for those people affected by the recent demolition. I think this is reprehensible and which should be condemned in a strongest term possible!!
While there is nothing wrong with beautifying the town, if presumably, that is the intention of the government, but I think this demanded a meticulous plan by the concerned authorities to allocate a piece of land somewhere where they can put up and start building with whatever one could afford. Destroying or demolishing people’s houses and properties in the name of making the town clean and for whatever reason without offering an alternative to them is inhumane and not good. The government should have thought of it properly instead of taking this impetuous decision to displace people and not allocate a land for them. It’s indecent for any human being whether of Sudanese origin or not to be exposed to these extreme weather conditions as the rainy season has already begun.
When the central equatoria state government started demolishing the shanty houses around the old Custom area, I said that was a good move, notwithstanding the implications of doing so. This is because the old custom area was rumoured to be a second Sodom and Gomorra, if not the first! All sorts of bad things were said to have been happening there and it was good the government sought to put it to an end. Obviously, and as a matter of fact, that area belongs to the University of Juba but it was also said that the government wants to use it as a parking lot for people during the celebration of independence on July 9th. However, and surprisingly though, the demolition extended to other areas in Juba, which caused colossal damages on people’s lives; given the adverse effects it had on the locals, who have nowhere to go.
One wonders how this could be done by the government of central Equatoria without paying due respect to humanity and the question of where. I thought the people of central equatorial always claim to be decent and smart people unlike Jengee and other tribes in Southern Sudan. But what has happened now? Is there any kind decency and smartness in these undertakings? Absolutely not!! They cannot claim to be any better than other creatures/peoples on earth or let’s say in Southern Sudan because we have seen their actions running contrary to their words. The government is acting inhumanly and carelessly as though it’s not the very people they are now humiliating that gave them the power and mandate to save in the first place. Why would the government of CES forget that it’s the people who gave them the mandate to serve in these positions, which they are now using against the people?
There were wild rumours that the archbishop of Catholic Church, His grace Paulino Lokudu, was behind the demolition around Kator area, adjacent to the church premises. But these have been proved not to be true as the Archbishop denied knowledge or having any links to the demolition. He could not have allowed or told the government to destroy people’ homes and not offer them another place to build, for otherwise this would have been against the doctrine of the church which calls for respect of human rights as well as concern for humanity around the world. These people are now threatening to go onto the streets to demonstrate this evil or sinister act, if the government fails to address their concerns accordingly. This government of central equatorial only knows how to instigate and insinuate regional hatred when it comes to land matters as it was the making of the so called “land grabbing”.
Whether the demolition is justified or not is none of our concern. The major concern here is that the government of CES should have planned this properly and provided an alternative place for these people to settle in because it’s inhumane and against human rights to uproot someone from his/her home and not give him/her another place. They could as well request NGOs to provide shelter and other items to help meet their immediate needs if the government does not have the capacity to do this given the meagre resources. Let us embrace values such as respect for humanity and care or concern for others, especially those who may have fallen victims of circumstances like what our fellow citizens are currently going through. That is what it takes to be a country that values human dignity and fundamental rights!
I wish you all a wonderful holy week (Easter) as it approaches and do not forget to pray for all those affected by this demolition whether you know of one or not.
The author is a civil society activist living in Southern Sudan. He could be reached at email@example.com