Gabriel Tang’s indefinite detention and the social grievances: A note to the presidency

By: Bol Tut Khan Rom

September 11, 2013 (SSNA) — In a brief statement about Gabriel Tang: Gabriel is a Christian name; Tang is a nickname. His given name is Gatwech. He is from Thiang Nuer clan of Jonglei’s Fangak County; a Nuer by tribe.

Gabriel Tang was the only Other Armed Groups (OAGs)’s General who positively responded to Presidential (Order) Amnesty declared on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. Concurrently, also to South-South Dialogue Conference which convened in Juba on 13th-17th October 2010.

He (Tang) arrived in Juba for the conference on Saturday, October 14, 2010. The aim of that conference as we all knew was to bond both political and military leaders’ voices ahead to our nationally and internationally monitored Referendum in January 2011.

At the end of the conference that was, on Wednesday, October 18, 2010, the Resolution of the conference was announced on national-owned SSTV, followed by a musical interludes & track "Let’s Celebrate" from our Great Artist, Mr. Emmanuel Mark Kembe.

This musical track was being replaying on all Media outlets occasionally for several days including SSTV (Radios & FMs), as the nation was on the other hand welcoming the resolution and directly celebrating an obvious predicted result of the Referendum.

As agreed in the conference, Tang went back to Khartoum—-acted accordingly by mobilizing all his subordinates and returned to South Sudan. Where, the SPLM /A leadership took them to an assembly area at Kaldak for integrations; this by itself could attentively demonstrated that the Government’s leadership and Gabriel Tang were all stood committed to Amnesty or Conference’s Resolution.

Surprisingly Gabriel Gatwech Chan was arrested/imprisoned after he had to joined the Government’s Files (SPLA/M) successfully in an accordance with (as per) South-South Dialogue Conference’s resolution which was announced on 18 October 2010. Then, he and his two deputies namely Mabor Dhol and Gatwech  Joak , put in prison where they are now for two and half years with their case delayed indefinitely.

However, in this note we are neither going to talk about the military nor political circumstances which might culminated to his—-Gatwech Chan’s unexpected and an indefinite imprisonment; since the reasons weren’t made known yet. Rather I would like to air out the social grievances levied on the immediate community, the Thiang Nuer in General and Chan’s family in particular by such an unspecified incarceration.

These social grievances include general hesitation of the whole family; children have dropped out of schools for economic reason and partly for an entire family’s ruined-like future (uncertainty) because of unanticipated absence of the Family’s head for years, especially the children.

For the same reason, these situations moreover have been imposing on Jikany Nuer clan, Lou Nuer clan, and Naath Community in general; this is what I can attest right here and I would want, therefore, to appreciate some comfortable——encouraging (supports) statements we always receive from concerned mutual friends on the matter.

Communication gap between the national Government and the community (Thiang Nuer) is what making matter worse—–as the community is not seen at all levels of the Governments(Cabinet)——there is no any representative who can take/bring massages from the community to the Government or correspondingly. 

Nevertheless, I cannot squarely believe that our Community (the Thiang Nuer) is being/should be targeted for any reason(s), and we would never attempt to overstep or transgress the law of this country even if the reverse (of this belief) is true. Because, there were Thiang Nuer Sons who had played an appreciable role during the war that led to 9 July independence in 2011, hence the writer (community) cannot plan to contravene the sovereignty’s law whatsoever.

Those Thiang Nuer prominent Sons who fought diligently and died in the struggle then turned national icons include Cdr. William Nyuon Bany, Cde. Peter Riir Puok, Cde. Marum Dut Kat to mention but the few, thus, I know why they sacrificed their lives, the objectives they fought for and importance of rule of law.

Therefore, we were not in a position to say that Gatwech (Gatchan) should not has had imprisoned if he did something wrong—but what we/I know legitimately/rationally was that he encountered imprisonment while on right track implementing SS-Dialogue Conference’s Resolution. That is to say, he was (Gatwech) arrested/imprisoned after having had completed integrations process on his side.

For this justification, I can in accordance to aforementioned Presidential Amnesty and South-South Dialogue Conference’s resolution as well as the Constitution (law) of this country call upon the Presidency, the only higher office in the country to clearly define/refer Gatwech’s an equivocal case to a court of law(for trail). Wherein, Gatwech shall either be (for once) publicly by the court of law sentenced to life imprisonment or released!   

As enshrined in Transitional Constitution, Article 12; that "No person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation, or restriction of his/her liberty except for specified reasons and in accordance with procedures prescribed by law".

Contrary, Gabriel Tang has been subjected to detention for years, but the reasons led to such indefinite imprisonment are not yet specified and no legal procedures had ever been taken; in vindication of law.

Notwithstanding, in TC Article 19(1) says," An accused, arrested and detained person is presumed to be innocent until his/her quilt is proved according to the law". This reads together with sub-article (6) that "Every accused person shall be entitled to be tried in his/her presence (or through his/her lawyer) in any trial (court of law) without undue delay".

In addition, sub-article (7) says, "Any accused and arrested person has the right to defend himself or herself in person or through a lawyer of his her own choice".

Therefore, I’m hereby sincerely requesting the Republic of South Sudan’s Presidency (Government) to consider:

1.  A concerned family’s general hesitations brought about this surprising status.

2. Specifying the reasons of Gabriel Tang’s indefinite imprisonment as stipulated in Article 12 of the current South Sudan’s Transition Constitution;

3. Releasing him if there are no specified reasons; and/or

4. Taking him to a court of law (if there are reasons to be made public) as stated in Article 19 sub-article (1) (6) & (7) mentioned above respectively.

This note—- or request is in conformity with South Sudan current Transitional Constitution, Article 122 sub-article (5) section (b) that says, "Justice shall not be delayed".

Conclusively, I would like to thank in advance all the readers—–well-wishers who would be able to stretch their helping—Justice—hands in one way or another including the Presidency by putting prudently under consideration at least the above (4) numbers; such that grievances of the stated Community or Family come to an end.

Bol Tut K. Rom is an Executive member of Thiang Nuer Youth Association (TNYA). He can be reached at [email protected]

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