The Equatoria students Union in Uganda strong condemns the recent wave of atrocities committed by the South Sudan people’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) in Gondokoro Payam in central Equatoria state South Sudan. Reports of harassment, torture, brutal beatings of civilians, rape of women, arbitrary arrests of youth, and extortion from elders and chiefs under the guise of disarming civilians during festive season of the Christmas celebrations are deeply disturbing.
These actions not only violate Article 18 of the Transitional constitution that states that “No person shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the basic human rights of the affected population but also undermine the principles of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R- ARCSS) of peace and security that the people of South Sudan deserve. It is crucial to address the root causes of conflict and find alternative, non-violent methods for disarmament that do not discriminate based on community, tribe, or region.
For the past few years, the region of Equatoria has face heinous acts of land grabbing and killings from both SSPDF soldiers and the cattle herders who possessed firearms by invading counties like Magwi, Mangala, Kajo Keji, Lanya Yei etc. in the Equatoria region poses a significant challenge to the peace and security of the region. Equatoria students Union in Uganda urges the South Sudanese government to adopt comprehensive and inclusive disarmament strategies that consider the unique circumstances of each community without discrimination based on region, tribe or clan.
To achieve lasting peace and security in South Sudan, we as the concerned citizens of South Sudan propose the following mechanisms:
Community Engagement: Involve local youth, community leaders and elders to seek their input and cooperation in the disarmament process mitigates any resistance, it ensures a more inclusive and effective approach.
Dialogue and Mediation: Promote open dialogue between communities and relevant authorities, mediated by neutral parties, to address underlying issues and build trust.
Capacity Building: Invest in programs that enhance the capacity of security forces to manage conflicts peacefully, emphasizing conflict resolution and community policing.
Public Awareness: Conduct extensive awareness campaigns through the national televisions, radios and all media platforms to educate the public about the importance of disarmament, emphasizing the collective responsibility for peace and security.
In conclusions, as Equatoria Students Union in Uganda we call upon the government, the civil society and international community to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the reported atrocities in Gondokoro. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we as South Sudanese citizens can live peacefully without fear of being harassed by our own soldiers whose constitutional mandate is supposed to be defending our territories and protecting the citizens and that disarmament processes should contribute to lasting peace rather than perpetuating violence. We are committed to promoting peace, justice, and human rights in South Sudan as Martin Luther Jr once said Injustice elsewhere is injustice everywhere.
Cc. Office of the President, Republic of South Sudan Cc. Ministry of Defense, RSS
Cc. Governors of Greater Equatoria
Cc. Office of the Speaker, CES
Cc. Ministry of Youth and Sports
12TH January, 2023.