Juba — A member of the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA) who was kidnapped "at gunpoint" on 22 October was found abandoned at Juba graveyard on 26 October, relatives and human right activists told Sudan Tribune on Sunday, days after the group protested against the repeated disappearance of its members.
Deng Athuai Mawiir Rehan, chairperson of the Alliance (SSCSA) on Sunday expressed "disappointment" over what he described as "unbearable treatment", and called on the government to launch "immediate investigation into harassment and targeted kidnapping of human and civil right defenders".
"This is no longer an incident. Our government should not ignore it. It is becoming unbearable practice and obviously these people are targeting members of the alliance which is unacceptable. The intention is very clear. They just want to muzzle the alliance which will not work. Our government must investigate and take actions", Athuai told reporters on Sunday.
He said Ring Bulabuk, a defence lawyer with the alliance was kidnapped on 22 October in Juba by unknown armed personnel in civilian clothes. Relatives and friends say the men elements of South Sudan's security services.
Bulabek was later found abandoned at Juba graveyard in "a terrible shape", Athuai said, after being kept in an "undisclosed location" with no access to legal assistance and medical care until when he was found on Friday 26 October.
Athuai said although his colleague was in good health after days of "tribulation" he still looks terrified and traumatized to share what exactly had happened and how he was handled and why.
"There are people who do not understand what roles we play in the society. They see members of the alliance as threat. They do not see civil society as mirror through which people sees themselves", he said.
Athuai said the alliance is still contemplating on what measures to take and explained that Bulabuk was taken after receiving threats to stop working on a legal suit against an army general about land grabbing in the Malakia area of Juba.
"He received threats and intimidation. Some people were calling and directing him to pull out from the case. It was after receiving these calls that he was picked heartlessly", he explained.
The South Sudan Civil Society Alliance says it deeply regrets that such practices continue to take place in South Sudan, which separated from Sudan last year, in part as a reaction to the poor way Southerners were treated by the Islamist regime in Khartoum.
Despite, serious human rights issues, Athuai said that he believed South Sudan's leaders were striving to promote the supremacy of rule law, good governance, as well as improving transparency and accountability .
This is the second such attack on civil society activists in the last four months. Athuai himself was kidnapped and tortured in July by unknown men. He was released after President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued a statement instructing the security forces to find out where he was held and what had happened to the activist.
Athuai's arrest and now his colleague's highlight the challenges facing South Sudan, which became the world's youngest nation when it seceded from neigbouring Sudan in July 2011 after two decades of civil war.
Athuai said his colleague told him that the group had threatened to kill him the civil society group keep on talking "nonsense", describing them as "traitors" who must be dealt with accordingly. He said the assailants asked his colleague "where were you when we were in the bush fighting your masters?".
In Athuai's own ordeal he was kidnapped from the street near his residence, had a a bag pulled over his head and was taken to an unknown location where he was beaten, tied to a chair and questioned without food or water. Bulabuk was also beaten and interrogated about who was directing his actions.
"With whom will you cooperate if you do not take what we tell you? There is nowhere you can hide here", Athuai quoted his colleague as saying the men told him.
"They tied him up and kicked him many times before he was thrown at Juba graveyard leaving him unconscious", he explained
The activist said that his colleague was not able to escape from where he was held because he was kept in a dark cell without any light.
"He does not know who kidnapped him. He was kept in the dark in an isolated place outside the town. What happened to him was exactly what happened to me. He was picked while walking back to his residence", Athuai said.
No statement has been made public from the security services clarifying the reasons for or denying the arrest, despite attempts by Sudan Tribune to reach the relevant authorities. A senior government official at the ministry of justice who did not want to be identified claimed that South Sudan's security apparatus were acting contrary to the national transitional constitution.
"I actually do not know on what basis are security arresting members of the alliance. The role of the security according to [the] transitional constitution is clear. Their work is to gather the information, analyze it and then forward their findings to the relevant authorities. This is what is in the constitution. They have no right to arrest people unless they want to be another government", he explained.
Widespread allegations of corruption have dogged the South Sudanese government since independence with international partners demanding that more action is taken. Earlier this year President Kiir wrote to 75 senior officials demanding that they return $4 billion in stolen oil revenue. In the letter, Kiir said that the ruling SPLM had forgotten what they had fought for during the civil war.
South Sudan is due to resume oil exports in the coming months after a cooperation agreement with Sudan, signed last month. However, the deal has not been universally welcomed and in public meetings heated debates have taken place of the deal, rising food prices and the state of the young nation's economy.