James Gatdet Dak is unable to leave Juba 22 days after his release

James Gatdet Dak. Photo credit: Ali Ngethi

By Isaac K. Gang*

November 22, 2018 (SSNA) — I woke this morning ready to enjoy a Thanksgivings dinner with family and give thanks to God for his many blessings particularly blessing the South Sudanese people with peace during a difficult time. As I reflected, however, I couldn’t help but think about the number of colleagues still languishing in the government of South Sudan’s prison cells or disappeared there, who will not have this privilege of spending the holidays with their families and loved ones. These, among others, are Dong Samuel Luak, Aggrey Idri Ezibon, Peter Biar Ajak, and – ironically, James Gatdet Dak, who was released but unable to leave Juba under suspicious and unclear, though predictable circumstances.

In normal situation, the first order of business for any prisoner released from prison is to see his family and receive proper medical checkup. None of these has been afforded to Mr. Dak as he is currently confined in Juba. His wife and children in Sweden along with the extended family, colleagues and friends in the Diaspora and at home, have been anxiously awaiting a reunion, which remains elusive 22 days later and counting. Why, you ask? The simple answer is the government, or individuals within it, do not want him to leave. If they did, Mr. Dak would have left and see his children on day one and be with the rest of his extended family today. Also, when you inquire, they will tell you that he is awaiting a passport. It is worth noting that no passport on earth, and that earth includes South Sudan, which would take a month to make. There is more than meets the eyes.

Free movement of people and the release of ALL political detainees/abductees is part of the recently signed peace agreement and Mr. Dak should be afforded this basic right starting with the issuance of his passport without further delay or conditions. It is part of the peace implementation and confidence building. Those with influence should bring pressure to bear on the power that be in order to do or order the needful.

* Dr. Isaac K. Gang, PhD, is SPLM/A (IO) Representative to the United States of America. He can be reached at [email protected].

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