28 July 2014

South Sudan: S. Sudan Security Arrest N. Bahr El Ghazal Youths Amid Claims of Torture

Photo: UN Photo/Isaac Billy
Photo journalists in S. Sudan

Juba — South Sudanese security personnel, in collusion with state officials, have allegedly arrested a number of youths in Northern Bahr el Ghazal states, amid reports they were being tortured for unknown reasons.

State lawmakers and relatives told Sudan Tribune that security agents arrested Stephen Wieu Guot, Majok Ngor Majok, Akol Dut Akol and Lino Thiep on 26 July who were still in detention.

A government agent confirmed holding the youth, but neither gave reasons for the arrest nor on whose orders they acted, preferring not to discuss the matter.

"I know you know they have been arrested and I wanted to confirm just that," a local security officer told Sudan Tribune Monday without giving additional comments.

Gout's wife and brother confirmed his arrest and decried the manner in which he was allegedly being treated while in detention.

"I have heard disturbing report of torture and I have been denied the visit. I am told they have badly treated him. People say he was terribly beaten when he was being taken. Six people ganged up and beat him until he was left unconscious before throwing him into cell," the brother said on Monday.

A legislator, who visited the youth, said he saw their legs tied in shackles with swollen faces, confirming that he also received reports they were beaten, but did not know the real cause.

"From my own sources, I am told Stephen Wieu was grabbed by the neck from the back with hand pressing it. Another officer was holding tight on his ears, twisting and pulling hard on them as if he wanted to pull them off his head. One officer was twisting his left hand, while another was busy knocking on his heel's tendon," the state legislator said.

"It was terrifying to hear and I look forward to meeting the governor over this issue, to see if he has any prior knowledge of the arrest and such practice, which is not only unacceptable but a clear violation of human rights and definitely it is an abuse of authority," added the lawmaker.

Many, however, blamed Garang Valentino Wol Kon, the head of the country's ruling party (SPLM) office in the state for the youth woes. Kon reportedly claimed those arrested were in contact with Gen. Dau Aturjong, the South Sudan army general who recently defected to opposition forces.

"The information I have been given is that Stephen Wieu and Garang Wol Kon exchanged words in the SPLM before he [Wieu] was arrested. People say and even the security personnel have confirmed Wieu and the other people were reported to them. They [security] were told by Garang Wol that he has evidence Wieu communicates with Dau Aturjong," a state official told Sudan Tribune in an exclusive interview.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned why Kon was equally not arrested as part of what he claimed was secret communication between defected army general and the youth.

"And of course, he [Kon] was one of the agents who supported General Dau during the 2010 elections because he wanted himself and his father to be appointed in the government of General Dau if he were declared the winner," the official said.

Abdullah Kuot, a former member of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state legislative assembly who joined rebellion, said he was not surprised by the behaviours of some youth allegedly engaged in gossiping and making false allegation about others in order to earn a living.

"The arrest of these youth has nothing to do with our rebellion. It is something to do with jealousy or someone trying to say he has friends within the security or simply paid them so that his rivals are arrested to show that he has the influence, but which is a clear abuse of power on the part of the security," Kuot said on Monday.

"They are also encouraging rebellion in another way, which they don't know," added the ex-lawmaker who now speaks for the group that recently joined rebellion.

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