17 December 2012

South Sudan Human Rights Commission Calls for Resignation of Security Ministers Over Murder of Political Commentator

Juba — The South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) on Sunday called for the resignation of security ministers due to the killing of innocent civilians across the country, and in the capital, Juba, in particular; and to allow investigations into the death of Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol to take place fairly.

Chairperson of the SSHCR, Lawrence Korbandy, made the comments at the prayer service organised by Awuol's relatives and friends, and attended by top-level government officials and foreign diplomats held at the house of undersecretary in the ministry of defence, Bior Ajang Dut, in Juba on 16 December.

Awuol was a leading political commentator. He was shot outside his home in Gudele on 5 December.

Korbandy called on the security ministers to "step down" if the government intends to conduct independent and credible investigation into Awuol's killing.

He claimed that "if the government has a hand in this, then it will be difficult to establish the fact because those who may have participated will not cooperate with investigators."

According to Korbandy investigations into constitutional post-holders will be hampered by their immunities and that for an "independent and credible result" resignations must take place.

Korbandy is one of the first senior government officials to echo calls by members of civil society organisations and civil right activists, urging the government to produce the culprits and bring them to justice.

"The tragedy is being felt not only by the immediate family members with relatives and friends of late Isaiah, but indeed by the country at large. We have lost a great thinker and a leader. He was a nationalist and freedom fighter," said Korbandy.

He claimed that South Sudan's "rampant killings" are adding to a perception that the people of the young nation are not able to govern themselves.

A member of the National Legislative Assembly representing Awuol's area, Anna Lino Wuor, urgued journalists and opinion writers to carry on writing.

"We are in complete pain. [...]The killers are cowards and must be traced. The government must produce them so that they are brought to book," said Lino.

The national security minister, Oyai Deng Ajak, said all security organs and other associated institutions have received "clear instructions" from the President to conduct "full and thorough" investigations to establish the facts and will they resign if the investigations find them responsible.

"I will not accept to work for an institution which kills people. I actually refused to attend training for security and combat intelligence in Bonga in 1983 when I was among the first groups to for training. It was actually our current president Salva Mayardit who was selecting us. The reason for which I refused was that I did not want to take part in the killing of our people in the same way Nimeri was doing it. But commander Salva Kiir at the time said 'no'. He explained that the security and combat intelligence training you are going to attend is not to kill our people but to allow you acquire knowledge on how to get the information about the activities of the enemy to the front line. This was why I accepted," Oyai explained.

The US ambassador to South Sudan, Susan Page, said she was "struck" by the level of disappointment amongst senior government officials over the killing. Page pledged the US's commitment to exert efforts and expertise to establish the facts.

"You need to work together as team to assist in the investigation. The American government will support the process and I am glad that president Salva Kiir has accepted the involvement of Federal Bureau of instigation," Page told the mourners.

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