United States, February 18, 2014 (SSNA) — The South Sudanese communities in the United States join the many voices of South Sudanese, regional and international communities call to release the 4 detainees to support the peace process. This is truly a gesture and willingness to bring about peace and stability to the Republic of South Sudan. Such action will slow down the killings of innocent people who continue to be mercilessly killed across the country. Whether there was a coup or not, there are no evidences linking these gentlemen with it. The ways in which they were collected at their homes do not indicate that they were alleging a coup. South Sudanese people have not been provided with what they actually did to plan and execute the alleged coup. Therefore, at this point, we believe they have not planned a coup. They said so and even Dr. Riek has stated that his rebellion is a separate matter to be dealt with on a separate note.
Mr. President, you have made numerous progresses. We want to support you to continue to do the right things because it is what our country needs now. We applaud the action of your government in signing agreements on cessation of hostilities and the release of detainees on January 23rd, 2014. We also applaud your government for releasing the seven of the eleven political detainees in an effort to foster peace, and forge new political peace settlement. This was a political disagreement, and it must be resolved through political reconciliation among warring political leaders and not through guns. We want to also say that the case of the other 4 is no different from the released 7, unless there are other politics at play.
Therefore, we ask the government of South Sudan to release the remaining 4 political detainees to ensure their participation in the peace process and reconciliation. Mr. President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, we have always known you as a peace-loving leader who continuously extended amnesty to rebel group for purpose of keeping peace. We also want to add our sincere view that on December 6, the detained politicians, including the ones in detention now, were supporting reforms within the SPLM party, as seen in their press conference video.
They involved in a nonviolent press conference in which some attendees were government officials. Their participation in the planning of such event and the subsequent rally that was going to come is certainly their political rights in a democratic system. Therefore, enough is enough on their holding. South Sudanese will join hands and will rally from now on until they are released and sent to participate in the negotiation processes because their holding is purely politically motivated and that is not needed during these tough times in our country.
We also know that this political crisis did not only stem from the alleged coup attempt. It stemmed from entrenched, deeply rooted issues within the SPLM political party governance structures. For instance, the SPLM has not been transformed from structures of the liberation struggles to Democratic Party of the independent state. The internal crisis that were happening and the subsequent actions that were being taken set the stage for the conflict.
The regional and western countries have maintained that there was no coup because the government of South Sudan failed to provide sufficient evidences of the coup. It is even more puzzling how the political detainees were linked with the alleged coup or the current Machar’s rebellion. They did not have any army generals to have been coordinating a coup with. They did not have any body guards among the presidential guards that they might have been instructing to launch a coup.
They are wrongly accused for their associations with Dr. Riek when the truth is that they were from the same party with Dr. Riek longing for reforms. What we have seen are clearly different methods or approaches on how to go about those reforms. Dr. Riek and his group resorted to military option whereas the detainees have clearly and time and time again stated that they want reforms but through nonviolent ways.
Nevertheless, the government also fails to produce shred of evidences that indicated that the detainees were/are coup plotters. Oyai Deng Ajak, Pagan Amun Okiech, and Dr. Majak D’ Aghoot Atem are admiral and decorated former Lt Generals of the SPA. They have led SPLA during liberation struggles, captured many towns and helped secured our freedom from Khartoum.
The Acuaar and Buna operations that saved SPLA from losing in the 1990s were commanded by Oyai Deng and Dr. Majak. Pagan Amum’s contributions both in the frontline in the eastern front and as a political activist were instrumental. Ezekiel Gatkuoth served his country as a great representative to the USA. His works in the United States culminated to a great friendship between the American people and the people of South Sudan today. Since there are no evidences showing their active roles in planning and executing a coup, we believe that they would not destroy harm anybody of they are released.
The government, rebels and reformists must arrive at a solution that satisfies the need of citizens and preserves the viability of South Sudan. It is within the President’s own power to create a roadmap to peace and seeks help to investigate and bring military leaders who committed crimes in Juba city, Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile State to Justice as a part of the healing and reconciliation process.
The campaign to end this conflict could not be fiercer. We want to let all South Sudanese and the whole world knows that a Facebook page has been created and you can accessed it by clicking on the following link; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-the-Political-Detainees/1400749480184807?notif_t=page_invite_accepted.
We encourage people to join it. Let’s consolidate our campaign to bring back peace to our country.
Also, there is a Whitehouse petition page created and the link is also on the Face book page or you can click the following link in order to sign the petition (place the link here). Please, sign the petition at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/obamas-administration-asks-government-south-sudan-release-political-detainees/5LvyJLWy or get the link on the Facebook on the release the detainees’ page.
The more these detainees are illegally kept in detention, the more they will become a liability to Juba’s government. They must be released. The South Sudanese people and their government must support peace, truth and reconciliation. South Sudanese people have been patient enough. We have been giving our government time to reset itself and come back to its senses. However, it seems like what is left requires citizens’ actions. We will be holding rallies in Washington, D.C and New York if this call is not taken positively. We remain supportive of our government and President Kiir. However, we want the conflict ended so that the lives of many citizens are returned to normalcy. Is that hard to do?
The contributions of the 4 detainees will be extremely important in the peace negotiation and political settlement processes. As a leader, it is crucial to consider the best alternative in order to reach the best political settlement for our people. We are joining the regional and international communities on the call to release the 4 detainees immediately to build confidence and trust in the peace processes. Defiance from heeding to this call is a liability to the government of South Sudan because it causes it to lose more support domestically and internationally which it cannot afford to lose now. Continuing to keep these detainees undoubtedly centers President Kiir as the fundamental obstacle to peace in South Sudan.
This document was prepared by concerned South Sudanese Community members in the United States and come from following States:
District of Columbia