The so-called President’s Kiir “amnesty” deserves scrutiny!

Quote: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan

December 1, 2011 (SSNA) — There are times when certain things or policy issues deserve to be placed under public scrutiny for critical analysis in order for one to draw out conclusions that are fair and deserving. I am writing this piece in response to an article written by one of the writers in the name of Ustaz Luke Kuoth Dak, urging President Kiir to review his “amnesties” issued out to the Southern rebels a couple of months before and on the independence day. I will ask for forgiveness at the outset because I will present the two sides of the coin and will therefore argue objectively from a neutral point of view——as opposed to being subjective for whatever reasons; and which may offend some people, including the aforementioned author whose good name is coined herein above.

I would also like to critique the way the author has written his article in light with the topic in question, though there is no guarantee that I will not be critical of his ‘usual views’ as a Journalist. I hold a believe dear to my good heart that journalists or writers alike, should be objective and non-partisan if they are to remain relevant to their demanding job or to the ethics of this great profession called “journalism”!   Anything far less than this expectation is immoral, unethical; unprofessional – and not the least, it compromises the very principle on which journalism was founded. The message underpinned here should be explicitly and crystal clear, just as clean water in a clean bottle!!

What was Ustaz Luk Dak up to on his article?

Honestly speaking, Ustaz Luk Dak was heading nowhere other than the wall – to which he would definitely smash himself against it for obvious reasons. His article was indiscernible; intellectually shallow, and thus fell short of all sorts of expectations from South Sudanese intellectual community, since it kind of urged the President to fire squad and commit mob justice to those who took up arms against the government of the day for one reason or another. Much as I couldn’t get the gist of his writing or article but it seemed to imply just the above caricature of reality! The whole idea or intention is for him to appease the President so that he looks more patriotic and more nationalist than anyone else on earth or South Sudanese for that matter. It’s also strongly believed that the drive for elevation of social or political status was and is a key factor to this recent article and the others that he authored.

By writing these sugar-coated articles, which aren’t genuine anyway, in as far as human psychology and analogy is concerned, he hopes to get recognition and appear as the only political goddess to H.E. Kiir Mayardit. By urging the President to review his blanket amnesty, the little naïve author was trying to tell Benydit to be ante–peace efforts or initiatives badly needed in the nascent state of South Sudan in the wake of the massive rebellions from all corners. The so-called Presidential pardon, also known as “amnesty” should not have escaped due attention and critical analysis at least from the sound and independent minded. Apparently, and unfortunately though, the little author pinpointed above is not in my book of this category mentioned!

While President Kiir is hugely blamed for not being honest and sincere in his political amnesty, some rebels also are too demanding, unrealistically. A case in point is the recent attempted peace truce between the rebel leader George Athor and the government, which took place behind the scene in Nairobi, Kenya and which did not bear any meaningful fruits. It was reported by the media that the talks failed because Athor demanded 3ministries, going for fresh elections and importantly, compensation for the damages caused to his people. How on earth can a peace-loving person put these unrealistic demands on the negotiating table as preconditions for a final peace settlement? The only somewhat realistic demand is that of compensation, which the government could afford to do to a certain extent.

Why do I say President Kiir was and is not honest and sincere in his amnesty? It’s because he used it as a trap for some of those archenemies to fall into so that they are caught without any slight drop of sweat or a shrug of a shoulder. It’s widely believed across the political spectrum that the issued amnesty is not as genuine as people thought since it’s meant to square up and settle old scores of the past centuries. Hence, the reason why some rebels have turned it down and not responded positively to this political amnesty programme offered by the President as a gesture for his willingness towards a peaceful settlement to the deep-seated problems. It has not been the case with some rebels as mentioned above. There seems to be a kind of selective genuine amnesty offered to some and the contrary to some other rebels.

Gabriel Tanginye, Thomas Mabor Dhol and Gatwech Joak, who responded positively to the presidential pardon, have ended up in jail – they are now languishing in the cell for reasons that could only be attributed to the past events. David Yaw Yaw who rebelled after the last year’s general elections was granted a safe return back home and his forces re-integrated into the SPLA without any problem. Peter Gatdet Yaka, who was duped into signing a partial, insincere agreement with the government and had accepted to come to Juba after only 3 months of his armed rebellion——-I fear he could be under house arrest but he doesn’t know it – and by the time he realized it, it will have been too little too late!

So the point is that there was never a genuine amnesty issued out sincerely and honestly to the rebels but a blanket and apolitical one. I have a feeling that my good president just wanted to appear to the West and the wider international arena as a peace-loving person and as someone who wants all the dissenting voices aboard for active participation in nation building process. So the argument that the president had issued an amnesty to the rebels is lame and lacking validity – thus doesn’t hold any water at all. If he is to be told to “revisit the amnesties” then he is to be told to issue a genuine, sincere and honest amnesty programme that has no hidden agenda in it and that which does not also carry any grudge with it. Luk Dak Kuth has got it all wrong.

But who is actually Luk Kuth Dak?

All we know about this guy is that he is a journalist; a former anchorman at Juba radio formerly, a South Sudanese –American. He is quite controversial in his writings! In most of his articles of the past, when Sudan was still one Country before being partitioned into two, he used to label some South Sudanese, who served in the NCP circle as stooges and others in the same camp as good guys. I remember vividly when Ustaz Luk could label as traitors those in the likes of Dr. Riek Gai Kok, Dak Duop Bichiok and those other Nuer who once served in the NCP circle as stooges and traitors. Others such as Abel Alier, Uncle Bona Malual and so many others aren’t Jallaba’s stooges or traitors, in Luk’s own view and opinion. One wonders what makes the difference between the first category and the second one, respectively! The reader is here left to make a conclusion based on the facts provided herein above.

To sum up, my critique is that Ustaz Luk Dak should have said that “President Mayardit: issue a genuine, sincere and honest amnesty” as opposed to this one: “President Mayardit: revisit your amnesties”, which doesn’t make any sense at all. I think it’s quite clear that Luk Dak has lost all his journalistic ethics in search for recognition and self-elevation as its evident in his writings! He no longer fit in the world of objective writing and truth telling; he should now go and join politics, if, he can do well out there in the field!! A good journalist or writer is the one who writes or tells what is fair and objective as opposed to the contrary, which compromises the ethics in this field. As much as some rebels could be blamed for causing havoc in some parts of the South, the government under my President Kiir Mayardit could also be blamed for not being honest and sincere in his amnesties. The blame could be apportioned that way. How the real problem could be resolved peacefully and amicably while leaving behind the blame-game, reminds a mystery! As it can be visibly seen in the quote above, its true, ‘the one who passively or active accepts evil is as much involved in it as the one who helps to perpetuate it’ the one who sees or accepts evil without protesting against it is actually cooperating with the evil’!

Ustaz Luk Dak, see where you fit in the quote. Podium over to you; your take?

The author is reachable at [email protected]

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