South Sudan: Hope Against Hope

Posted: September 20, 2018 by mayendengdit in Junub Sudan

Press Release by Free Citizens Red Flag League (RFL)

Wednesday, 19 September 2018 (PW) –  Free Citizens Red Flag League (RFL) would like to cautiously welcome the recently concluded IGAD-mediated agreement between the government of South Sudan and some armed and unarmed opposition leaders.

Given the fact that the current senseless and regrettable episodes of citizens slaughter by armed groups is exclusively a consequence of an elitist power struggle, it should essentially be a positive when some of these political elites decide to silence the guns and give peace a chance, no matter how remote it may look.

In spite of that, it is also important to recognize that the same individuals who claim to have led their communities in the exercise of self-defense may not and cannot have the power to suspend that inherent right just by taking government positions in Juba. It will take far much more than just going to Juba and getting their hands on Ministerial budgets, which may end up to be the case.

If the current attacks on civilian centers and villages continue, communities will continue resisting this regime in its current form or as it is revitalized to include the old but newly coopted ones.  Until the citizens constitute a new regime which respects rights and understands obligations, South Sudan might continue to revolve around the same cycle of political violence.

Because the main root cause of the civil war has not been addressed by the agreement many other individual leaders decided not to sign it. In fact, some international bodies including Troika have expressed skepticism about the agreement’s viability in its current form. They see it as lacking safety nets in terms of checks and balances on pervasive abuse of power against the people of South Sudan.

Persistent violations of citizens’ rights to life and safety, complete lack of fiscal accountability, and absence of rule of law have made South Sudan a country only in name. The hopes and sacrifices of many generations have been hijacked and destroyed. Instead of provision of social services, citizens in all corners and regions who exercise legitimate self-defense are accused of being rebellious and consequently pay a high cost in terms of “disciplinary” military incursions.

This combination of absolutism and chaos has turned the country into military garrisons, torture chambers, UN-protected concentration camps, and killing fields. The citizens who naturally own the state have either become slaves of fear and brutality in their own villages and towns or hostages of insulting poverty and hopelessness in refugee camps across the region.

States and local governments are nothing but military garrisons that are led by active duty military officers. It is difficult to see any change in a status quo where the army continues to heavy-handedly rule over civic affairs. No meaningful elections can be held in such intimidating environment when citizens are second class, refugees, IDPs, and constant victims.

It is difficult to see any light at the end of this dark tunnel when the same remorseless ‘lords of the killing fields’ are going to continue miss-leading South Sudanese into more division and destruction, even if they are calling it a “revitalized” government. There shall be no meaningful accountability for the heinous crimes committed in the country when the perpetrators dress in judges’ gowns instead of stand in the dock.

All that said, we can’t afford but to hope against all hope to see a new government that is capable of convincing long-held UN prisoners to come out of their camps and refugees to return to their villages; a government that is not bent on further victimizing the victims. Convincing can only be through consistent practical economic and security measures, not through the same empty talk and promises which have lost meaning.

We must hope against hope to see a government that is tolerant of simple opposing views; one that does not lock-up and assassinate opinion writers and commentators who highlight the plight of the citizens and expose the Juba regime’s incapacity and horrific excesses.

Free Citizens Red Flag League (FCRFL) is a South Sudanese peace, development and human rights advocacy platform. It can be reached at freecitizensrfl@gmail.com.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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