The Decay of Kiir’s Police State

By Stephen Par Kuol

November 1, 2014 (SSNA) — Just like Nazi’s Germany, Zaire’s Mombuto Seseiko, Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and others in that inexhaustible list, Kiir’s Republic of South Sudan is a police state by all standards and the ultimate meaning of the jargon (police state).  Police state is defined as a state whose rulers maintain order and obedience by the threat of police or military force; one with a brutal, arbitrary government. As defined a fore and analyzed in the following pages, the typical hallmarks of the police state are: "repression of public liberties, elimination of political space, limiting freedom of speech, extensive and repressive police and intelligence service.  Police state is a survivalist by instinct. It does not take chance with its survival and in the face of resistance, it reacts with overwhelming violence as we witnessed in Juba Mass Murder of December 2013. The most dreaded enemies of the police state are the very people it has to rule with hard fist. Among so many, the most endangered  species in a police state are: leaders of  opposition political parties like Dr. Lam Akol and his colleagues who are currently lingering  under illegal travel ban in Juba , leaders of  civil society organizations like Mr. Deng Athuai who has miraculously escaped death several times in Juba for criticizing the excesses of  General Kiir’s regime and prominent political writers like late Isaiah Abraham who was murdered by  Kiir’s Police State for  criticizing the tyrannous and  kleptomaniac behavior of  the regime.

The contemporary history of the world bears out the monstrous truth that police states survive and thrive only through wars and collective sorrow. Hence, internal and external threats are created to foster false sense of unity through fear. That was why Kiir’s police state had to manufacture the ongoing war of shame to extend its life span.  This is often done by identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause .Tribal or local nationalism is then forged and the people are rallied into a unifying frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious groups. General Salva Kiir  Mayardit  failed all the tests of statesmanship but has perfected this art of divide and rule. As things stand now, Kiir has successfully sold it to the majority of his tribesmen and women that any opposition to his dictatorial rule amounts to collective malice against the entire ethnic Dinka Community and what they call Dinka Leadership. This sounds cheap but it magically works for the survival of his police state.

Police state must always ensure that it has tight grip over the mass media. Whether, print, audio or visual, it must be directly controlled by the police state through its security apparatus.  Censorship, especially in war time like this is very common. The recent cases of Radio Bakhita and Citizen News Paper are such examples of police state media censorship. Police states maintain themselves in power through propaganda disseminated via the police state media like SSTV, elimination of open criticism of the regime, and use of terror tactics.  Police state and fascist regime like this one of General Salva Kiir can be very creative to play with the emotions of its downtrodden subjects. It can sugarcoat tribal nationalism in symbolic patriotic motto and other paraphernalia such as:” One Nation, One People”.  What an offensive insult to the intelligence of the people of South Sudan! What is One about the nation in which a large segment of the society is collectively held guilty of rebellion and confined to  concentration camps within the national capital being protected from their  own government by foreign troops and international governmental organizations?. What is One about the nation in which the rulings ethnic group is dominating all the key government institutions from the Internal Security, to Immigration, Treasury, Army, Interior and Judiciary to advance tribal tyranny?. Is it a divine right of that regional and ethnic group or numerical superiority that grants them entitlement to head the national institutions of sovereignty? Concrete answers to those questions can be given only in the inner cocoon of  Kiir’s  Tribal Police State!!!! You can read the rest between the lines.

Police state loathes rule of law and transparent constitutionalism for the simple reason that if ope-rationalized for what they are, they can exposes its moral decay. The case in point was the recent trial of those SPLM political leaders wrongfully accused of treason where the case publicly collapsed in court to the embarrassment of the tyrant regime. Police state flourishes where the judiciary is subordinated to the executive president granting him free hand to get away with unconstitutional arrests like that case of Cde Pagan Amum versus President Kiir. It nauseated me to hear Kiir publicly pronouncing Pagan Amum’s detention for, agitation and negative propaganda against his authority. The rest was allegation of corruption which he did not talk about until they politically fell out Cde Pagan was then put under home arrest with clear directives prohibiting him from making public statements and travel outside South Sudan. All these were arbitrarily implemented in blatant violation of his constitutional rights as provide for in Article 24 (1) and (2) of Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011.  Read together, the two provisions grant all the citizens of South Sudan both freedom of expression and the right to travel respectively. The lawyers defending him in court had to escape to exile for their own lives amidst intense physical intimidation and death threats by the so called National Security.

Fiscally, police state priorities military survival over other pressing national social problems. Hence, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the other priorities pertaining to social service delivery and capacity building are deliberately neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized to glorify the state power. Police states regularly flaunt their military might in the streets of their captive nations, reminding the people of their power. This was true in the Soviet Union, North Korea, Iraq, and Egypt, just to name a few. Recruitment of spies and foot informants takes precedent over teachers’ recruitment to improve the quality of education. Currently in Juba, approximately 2.5% of the adult population serves as informants for Kiir’s tyrannous regime.  Meanwhile majority of our people live in abject poverty without social safety net and public security, more than 50% of the national budget is spent on that mesh of hoodlums to spy on the citizens to ensure maximum protection of the police state. Presently, all public communications are wiretapped making privacy a virtual illusion throughout the country. This state of the art technology possessed only by the State of Israel cost South Sudan billions of petrol-dollars to protect the police state where children are learning under trees and  infrastructure of public universities including Juba University are left renovated for decades. Kiir and the oligarchy call this National Security. I call it National Insecurity if not scandalous extravagance for lack of word to define it.

The so called national security in any police state like this Republic of South Sudan is a network of cronies and good home boys. Who can fool us that it was by credence and merits alone that the current Director of Internal Security and all his top duties’ come from the President’s home region and state? Perhaps, the name of the game is that the physical and mental security of the throne can be entrusted only to the good sons of the tribe.

Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher of law and government contends that “when the rulers have great wealth and numerous friends, this sort of family despotism approaches a monarchy; individuals rule and not the law’. This is the true nature of the beast and it squarely depicts the current state of our police state. National security in any fascist police state is always governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use the state power to protect their friends and the extended tribal family from accountability.  It is called Kleptocracy in the scientific language of law and government. Thus, it is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be miss-appropriated or even outright stolen by the community based government. That was why and how Warrap’s Koryiom had to end up in the national treasury.  National security in any police state is accorded open budget and it is accountable to none other than the head of the police state (the President). The irony of all ironies is that national security of a police state does not have a punch to provide real public security as its wrath is exclusively aimed against the so called enemies of the state. No wonder Kiir’s Police State has miserably failed to provide adequate public security for the common citizen in the country side. While the regime’s security apparatus live large and excel in harassing civil society organizations, opposition parties, intellectuals and the media houses in the capital, the security situation in the states has been steadily deteriorating since2006.    

One common characteristic of a police state is overt disdain for the human rights .Because of fear of internal enemies and the need for security; the people in police state are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." Thus, the people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. This must be ensured through legislation like the National Security Bill being debated now in South Sudan National Assembly.  Should this be assented into law today, in no time, we’ll have spies kicking in doors and using force with neither warrant from court nor police alongside. Obviously, Kiir’s police state is trying to exploit the current security environment to introduce ghost houses and more red terror of Stalinist style. The moral decay of Kiir’s Police State has come handy in the text of that bill where the basic bills of rights enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 are deliberately contravened in the name of the public of security. Thanks to the following organizations that have stood firm in solidarity with the people of South Sudan during this dark hour of the day in their history of struggle for justice and liberty: Amnesty International, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), The Enough Project, Human Rights Watch, South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA), Redress Trust and the academics  of SUDD Institute who have intellectually and courageously used their pens to expose the controversial contents of that police state bill.

Conventionally, National Constitution is the supreme law of the land and source of all legislations. Hence, it can not be contravened to promulgate any law without first amending the pertinent provision in the book. Article 3(1) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 stipulates that with profound technical clarity. This bill also  contravenes article 159  (e) of the Transitional Constitution of south Sudan, 2011 which stipulates that the National Security is a professional institution whose mandate shall focus only on gathering of information, analysis and advice to the relevant authorities. In article 52 of the same bill, the national security agents are not only granted excessive powers but also immunity from prosecution in any court of law in case of possible miss-conduct or abuse of those powers. Article 12 of this bill goes as far as granting the national security constitutional powers of South Sudan Police Service such as seizure of properties and detention without warrant of arrest from the court of law. I was not surprised but shocked to see that this bill was passed in parliament. This has grossly exposed the current assembly as a rubber stamp of Kiir’s Police State. I can not help pitying the same assembly which was arbitrarily used to pass the current Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011, a political document maliciously tailored as an outfit of General Salva Kiir. My own observation as a student of criminal justice and law enforcement is that Kiir and the goons of his police state do not need laws to rule South Sudan. They just need guns, whips and jail houses to do their business. Otherwise, laws acquire their legal force and moral credibility at enforcement. It follows that they lose their legal values once they are used as tools to achieve narrow political ends. In Modern Jurisprudence, you can not use politics to manage the law. It is the reverse! For example under Article 101 of Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011, Salva Kiir has been selective and abusive even with the powers granted to him by the constitution. In his own words, The President made it a point that he can accuse, detain, try and convict any body in the country whenever, wherever and however he wishes. This means that his executive authority overrides judicial rulings. This has made South Sudan nothing but a big and open prison of political servitude.

Only in South Sudan can the Chief Executive (the President) publicly threaten his political opponents with politically motivated prosecution!  One wonders whether this little president understands the difference between persecution and prosecution!! If not, then South Sudan under Kiir’s Police State is cooked to agonize for long before it can truly heave thigh of relief. Experiences else where have taught that police states kick hard at the end of their lives and that is what we are now witnessing with Kiir’s regime introducing oppressive legislation to legitimize state terror.  The good news though is that across world history and geography, police states do not withstand the test of the time. Their own indulgences always defeat them and the people prevail at the end of the day. Take a deep look into Kiir’s Police State to see that police state  is often self-absorbed in its own boundless appetite for more power without agenda for nation building. In another word, it is a state for itself, not for the nation. As goes the title of this piece, Kiir’s Police State has reached the climax of moral decay. In the word of late Dr. John Garang referring to what he called NIF regime in Khartoum,” Kiir’s Police State is too deformed to reform”. That is why some of us maintain that it must be ousted either peacefully or violently to liberate our beloved nation from its oppressive and divisive yoke. It must be structurally overhauled to establish a people-centered state with solid program to stop the on-going fatal gore and heal the wounds and bruises it has inflicted on the collective psyche of our nascent nation. Nothing more, nothing less!!

The struggle continues!!!!!

The author is a former diplomat, political activist and former Minister of Education in Jonglei State. He can be reached by electronic mail at: [email protected] or [email protected].

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