11 December 2012

South Sudan: SPLM-DC - Public Statement On the Atrocities in Wau

Al Jazeera has received new pictures of what appears to be South Sudanese soldiers firing on a crowd of unarmed demonstrators in the northwest of ... ( Resource: Protesters Shot at by South Sudanese Army )

press release

The SPLM-DC has been following with extreme sadness and absolute disbelief the events unfolding in Wau town as from the 7th instant.

The Government of Western Bahr El Ghazal ordered the army to shoot at civilian demonstrators who had earlier rejected a decision taken by the State authorities to transfer the capital of Wau County to Bagari. Using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators was unjustified and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.

In the first place, peaceful demonstrations are an important aspect of democracy. Therefore, the citizens were exercising their democratic right to express their opinion on an issue that concerns them. They should not have been obstructed in doing so, let alone being shot at.

Second, the Governor should have used dialogue to persuade the citizens of the County if the transfer of the capital had good reasons behind it. All will recall that the Government of South Sudan tried in 2006 to get the capital of Central Equatoria State transferred to Yei. After an exchange of memos between GOSS and the government of Central Equatoria, GOSS was persuaded and could not proceed with the idea. If the higher level of government could conduct itself in such a civilized manner why shouldn't the Governor borrow a leaf from that.

Third, except where a national capital is specifically built for the purpose, all national capitals in federal governments host also the State and County capitals where they are located. The same applies for State capitals; they do not displace County capitals. As a matter of fact, the State capital is a guest of the County where it is located. So, from where does the Governor of Western Bahr El Ghazal come up with his idea of displacing the host?

Fourth, we call for an urgent impartial investigation into the incidents that took place in Wau town from the 7th to the 10th to determine and publish: why unarmed civilians were shot at causing the death of 9 people and wounding many others? Why was the army, and not the Police, used in quelling the demonstrations? Who are those responsible for ordering the shooting of civilians exercising their democratic right of peaceful protest?

We call upon our people to stay calm until the truth about these atrocities is unearthed, so that the law takes its course. All involved in the killings must be brought to book, and the families of the deceased as well as the wounded must be adequately compensated.

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