. Africa News .

Independence won, freedom yet to come for South Sudan
by Staff Writers
Juba, South Sudan (AFP) March 03, 2013

It was the pouring rain on his parched lips that woke South Sudanese lawyer Ring Bulabek, left for dead in a cemetery after three days of bloody beatings by attackers who wanted him to drop a legal case.

"Maybe they thought I was dead, and so they threw me there," said the 23-year-old, who was grabbed by attackers off the streets of the capital, Juba, late last year, driven to an abandoned house and beaten.

In the world's newest country -- which won independence only in 2011 after decades of guerilla war against a hardline government in Sudan -- Bulabek says the gun is still mightier than the law.

For the fledgling nation, unlearning the harsh lessons taught by long years of Islamist and militarist rule of Sudan's government in Khartoum is a tough task.

After being ravaged by war, South Sudan is struggling to stem rising insecurity and transform a rag-tag ex-rebel army into an effective army and police force.

"The military ignore the rule of law but maybe -- step by step and after many years -- the rule of law will take over", Bulabek said, who left his job after the attack.

His kidnappers had ordered him to end his legal work supporting a widow whose house had been seized by a general, and threatened to kill him if he did not cooperate.

"I'm not going back to my job as I'm not secure... those that did this to me are still free," he said.

Bulabek's beating is not an isolated case.

"Some of the people... are repeating the mistakes of Khartoum," said Deng Athuai, chairman of South Sudan's Civil Rights Alliance, who was also kidnapped and beaten for days by men who asked who was paying him to "cause trouble".

Prior to the attack, Athuai had publically called for the naming of 75 government officials accused by President Salva Kiir of gross corruption and stealing $4 billion (3 billion euros) from the oil-rich but impoverished nation.

After days of beating, he was released -- hooded and gagged -- only after the kidnappers fled as they drove him out into the remote bush and came across an army patrol.

But the threats against the alliance continued.

News editors were summoned to the feared national security headquarters and ordered not to mention the stolen $4 billion.

"We knew the consequences of non-compliance", said one editor, adding that journalists were terrified after security forces began to make home visits.

"They come at night, pick you up and you can be beaten or perhaps end up dead," the editor said. "The army can be used by anyone who has money."

In December, journalist and political commentator Isaiah Abraham was dragged from his house at night and shot in the face after receiving threats from a caller who "didn't like his articles", said his brother William.

Another activist, John Penn de Ngong, found a bundle of bones with a bullet inside on his bed as a grim warning.

-- 'Equating dissent with treason' --

While officials brush off attacks as "rogue forces", academic and undersecretary of culture Jok Madut Jok warns that the security forces are "the source of insecurity across the nation".

"Uniformed men... have done more violence against civilians in the post-war era than any other sector of the population," Jok wrote in a January report.

Security forces who beat up Jok last year as they waited for President Kiir at an upcountry airport were not punished, while ministers say that even the children of the highest levels of government have been beaten and tortured.

"If the government that I work in is not able to apprehend my colleagues who work in the same government who injured me, when do we expect it to change?" asked Jok.

Security forces also killed at least 11 unarmed protesters and injured 60 more in the western town of Wau in December, where video footage showed the demonstrators waving only small branches known as "peace sticks" as the troops opened fire.

Five journalists in Wau were arrested after the release of the video, officially because they failed to cover the presidential Christmas speech.

Since then the authorities have arrested "scores of people deemed to be opposed to the policies of the state government", Amnesty International has warned.

Officials say that South Sudan is still struggling with the fallout from long years of civil war.

"It's not in our nature to be intolerant, it's a legacy of the war," said deputy information minister Atem Yaak Atem, who ran the rebels' bush radio station during the war, where he saw how Khartoum used information as a weapon.

"Expressing freedom the way it is done in the West is not easy," and it will take time for the rebel movement-turned-government to accept criticism, Atem added.

But others are more critical, including Mabior de Garang, the son of South Sudan's first president and former rebel commander John Garang, who died in 2005.

"These are people who equate dissent with treason... instead of using criticism to reform, they take it as lack of patriotism," said Mabior de Garang, who said he has received several beatings for "social activism".

After years of bloody civil war, it is perhaps not surprising that the reality of independence might fall short of expectations.

But despite the harsh shock that activists have faced, their dream of a better future remains alight.

"This is our country," said Bulabek. "If there is something that's not going well, we should try our best."


Related Links
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Amnesty International accuses I. Coast army of abuses
Abidjan (AFP) Feb 26, 2013
Ivory Coast's army has committed "widespread human rights violations" against supporters of ousted former president Laurent Gbagbo, Amnesty International said in a report published Tuesday. A restructuring of the Ivory Coast Republican Forces (FRCI), to incorporate former rebels, began after a violent post-electoral crisis which lasted from December 2010 to April 2011, claiming about 3,000 l ... read more

Fighting GM crop vandalism with a government-protected research site

Improving climate protection in agriculture

Study provides insights into plant evolution

Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness

Shark fin-hungry China drives 'chaotic' fishing in Indonesia

EU Council agrees to limit fish discards

Ship noise makes crabs get crabby

Maps depict potential worldwide coral bleaching by 2056

Scientist play down 'tipping point' theory

Australian climate on 'steroids' after hottest summer

Geoengineering by coalition

Global warming: Heat stress hits labour productivity

Ireland launches energy efficiency fund

Obama names, top energy, environment and budget officials

US Geothermal Industry Sees Continued Steady Growth in 2012

S.Africa to introduce carbon tax from 2015

NASA Begins Flight Research Campaign Using Alternate Jet Fuel

Estimates reduce amount of additional land available for biofuel production

'Fat worms' inch scientists toward better biofuel production

The impact of algae parasite on algae biofuel output

Living through a tornado does not shake optimism

Ongoing repairs keep Statue of Liberty closed

Japan riled by WHO's Fukushima cancer warning

Chernobyl plant building to be covered

Stanford scientists help shed light on key component of China's pollution problem

Environmental Issues Rank Low Among Most People's Concerns

China lawyer appeals 'state secret' pollution claim

Sewage lagoons remove most - but not all - pharmaceuticals

China "fully prepared" for currency war: banker

US firms' performance in China worsens: group

China breached trade rules over EU scanner duties: WTO

Four Chinese drivers jailed over Singapore strike

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement