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A Tribute to Ambassador Page

By: Biel Boutros Biel

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has a cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us (Albert Schweitzer)

August 20, 2014 (SSNA) -- On 18 August 2014, I happened to read a version of news story published by the Sudan Tribune online: (http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52090), that a top United States ambassador was due to ‘leave’ South Sudan. My heart threw a beat and it was rightly so, it is Ambassador Susan Page (Amb. Page), to be leaving! As I read through the news material, my mind recalled the courageous articles and statements on South Sudan, ocassionally authored and issued by Amb. Page. I wondered aloud within, thinking the gaps, the learned Ambassador would leave behind! However, my thoughts lamely reconciled, that perhaps, the new Ambassador ‘Charles Twining’ reported to replace her, would be giant enough to share his ‘candle’ without fear or favour.

Whom should we thank?

Sometimes, as human history would have it, there are individuals who do much priceless work for others but remain uncelebrated. However, if there are few international figures that the poor and the oppressed South Sudanese should give thanks to; Amb. Page, is among those who rock it! Her love for the ‘republic of vulnerable’ and most especially the Africans, from Rwanda unto us, it would be inglorious not to thank her. Amb. Page stood with us, South Sudanese, not only at the times she was posted to Juba as the United States Ambassador to South Sudan, but also since then and through the times of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) between South Sudan and North Sudan. At that time, she was a legal advisor to Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).Using her legal knowledge, Amb. Page was one of the brains behind the drafting of the CPA protocols. In her own words she said;

I think about how privileged I am to have witnessed the signing of the document that ended the longestrunning Civil War in Africa (http://thepolitic.org/an-interview-with-susan-d-page-u-s-ambassador-tosouth-sudan/)

For sure, the CPA gave us the right to vote for our final freedom as South Sudanese people. For some, it might be ambitious to say, that I believe the ‘Oyee’ we say on every 9th Day of July, Susan Page has a ‘page’ in it.

How far has this iron lady put South Sudan into her heart?

It can never be contested that since 6 December 2011, when she arrived in Juba, to take up her position, Amb. Page has never looked back. She stood with us; at times, she even says things that South Sudanese government might not be happy to hear. It is on record for most of us, working in human rights defence that, Amb. Page pushed much on South Sudanese government to conduct thorough investigations on who killed our colleague Isaiah Abraham. She also has oftentimes stood tall and bold when the freedom of speech and expression is abused by the agents of our government. In May 2013, while commenting on press freedom Amb. Page stated that; 

the state has the constitutional mandate to protect journalists.

I think, this was a gentle reminder on how our ‘holy lords’ in the government should have known that the protection of a free speech, is not a privilege to be accorded to the citizens at the mercy of the state but rather a right that people’s government should not abuse and instead, protects it.

Amb. Page never stopped there, seeing our country as a close political ally to her own, she was bold enough to clearly convey the concerns of the U.S. government over our messy media situation and she remarked that; the US government is very concerned about the deteriorating levels of press freedom in the country. The continued push back, intimidations and harrassment of journalists is a violation of their rights and freedoms

Rightly to say so, Amb. Page, has come to South Sudan not to monitor the abuses of human rights and rule of law per se and to report the same to Obama’s administration so that a guilotine is put on our ‘Hitlers.’ No, she believes that her presence is meant to continue moving together along the thorny road with the poor and oppressed South Sudanese in their quest for true liberty. This explains why in many ocassions, she has always made statements that raise eyebrows and leave some conscience guilty among those who entirely claim the ownership of the liberation struggles with the same song ‘holier than thou’.

Amb. Page, understands us and sincerely believes that we are not hopelessly hopeless, but a people with dignity, who are only devastated by the effects of protracted wars. In 2012, to be sure, that the ‘iron lady’ means business for us, while in interviews with the media she said; 

-----------they really had to start from scratch. We are not talking about just ordering some new furniture they didn’t have pens, papers, and stationery, let alone computers, electricity, and running water, vehicles, roads. It certainly is nation-building, but to try to encourage South Sudanese along their path to build a nation and using their resources to try to help the citizen population.

Those words said by a diplomat, show how deep she is in our shoes. Amb. Page, in the current South Sudan’s civil war, she remains hopeful and a source of our encouragement. Like United Nations former head in South Sudan, Hilder F. Johnson, Amb. Page, even at the point of uncertainity, she feels our hurt, pains and sufferings and wants us to have hope still as she said; 

Do not to lose sight of your dream of building a united and prosperous country, even in the wake of the violence that has wracked South Sudan (http://www.voanews.com/content/south-sudan-us-ambassadorsusan-page-message-unrest-diplomacy/1841001.html) 

To my mind, Amb. Page wants a peaceful South Sudan and since December 2013 when evils through our ‘votes’ befell South Sudan, yet it has been her wish that peace should return. She sometimes states things that neither please the Juba government nor the rebels but she believes South Sudanese have burning issues which could only be resolved through peaceful dialogue and she said: 

We reiterate, there can not be a solution militarily to this conflict that is first and foremost political and where demands of people need to be heard. U.S. government will continue to press for a national dialogue for South Sudan to promote democracy and the interests of all South Sudanese people.

Much as some of the things pushed by Amb. Page, didn’t succeed until the time of her leaving, issues such as apprehending and bringing to justice the suspects on the assassination Isaiah Abraham and making sense to the advocacy of the media freedom, however, it could be argued that, it has been because, the learned Ambassador’s words, have always landed unheard in the ears of ‘politically active generals.’  

Amb. Page understands South Sudanese and to many, she is a fearless lady who believes in freedom for all. Her courageous stance and hopeful statements on South Sudanese issues, to some powerful gurus, they seem ‘foreign interferences in domestic affairs’ whereas, to the oppressed and dying South Sudanese, she speaks the very issues for which our colleague Isaiah Abraham wanted South Sudan to be freed from and the same that led to the 15 December 2013 bloody start.

John F. Kennedy once remarked; we must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives

Precisely to assert, I would say, this is the time to thank Amb. Page, for truly, she believes in the fundamental freedom discourses for which men like South Sudanese leader Dr. John Garang and American civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, died for. That is why, the ‘iron lady’ has been saying things which a certain Minister of Information would say; ‘she has exceeded her mandate.’

One for home:

Ambassador Susan Page; kindly convey to President Obama that, the current shape of affairs we are in from Nimule to Renk, from Raja to Gambeila, if not completely peacefully dismantled, then South Sudan will not have a stable future any time soon. Tell Mr. President that the wounds are too big to be healed by a mere coalition government as the negotiations in Addis Ababa would suppose. Neither the Ocampo’s language nor the Chinese guns would offer solutions. Tell him, the ongoing war is not about Dinka versus Nuer but more deeply rooted, in the evils against which men like Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, spent their youthful lives fighting successive Sudanese governments. Tell him that, in order to have a peaceful, reconciled and united South Sudan once again, South Sudan needs a complete u-turn in its structure and state composition. The economic gap between the poorest of the poor and comrades who have become too rich too soon, isn’t anything to trace aside. Tell him that the common South Sudanese are looking for a governance system that won’t glorify individuals but one that will adore supremacy of the Constitution, a system that won’t care who becomes the President but that, which ensures;- that the president acts in accordance with the just laws, the one which ensures that the poor are fed from the oil money and revenues for which their sons, husbands, relatives, wives etc, died. A system which ensures that the votes are not stolen, that one which ensures that the parliament is dominated by the people’s representatives, that tthe judiciary is not for the in-laws, that the army is not for the tribal warlords. Kindly pass to him, that deep grievances, injustices, oppression, dictatorship, name them, have taken over South Sudan, that these evils are the ones controlling the country and the only solution is to have peace negotiations that asks; questions still not asked. That addresses not only why there is civil war but that goes deeper to explore how this war should have been prevented.

Thank you Ambassador Susan Page for sacrificing your worth for Africa and particularly, for standing with South Sudanese people at the times we most needed you. Truly, from CPA hitherto, you have been one of us and we only hope that you will always remain standing with the oppressed people though you might soon find yourself in the politics of the ‘Kerrys’ of this world.

For Ambassador Charles Twining, over to you sir!

The author, Biel Boutros Biel, is an Executive Director of the South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA). He fled to exile since December 2013 and is currently pursuing his Master’s of Laws Degree (LLM) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He can be reached on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Freedom of Expression in South Sudan: Does it exists?

By Abu Deng

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” (US President Ronald Reagan, from "The Speech" - October 27, 1964)

Dear Mr. President:

August 18, 2014 (SSNA) -- I have followed recent events where the actions of the security forces of South Sudan have done things which are contradictory to the stated public stance of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS), particularly given the recent comments by your Spokesman, Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny, a journalist himself.

Last Thursday Mr. Ateny gave an interview to Bakhita Radio, stating anyone is allowed to express themselves, and there is no intimidation in the country, according to media reports (Sudan Tribune, see article http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51954).

So one finds it quite ironic that the radio station where your journalist-spokesman, Mr. Ateny was interviewed last Thursday was stormed then closed down on Saturday, 16 August at around 9 a.m. and four of its journalists arrested. See,http://www.bakhitaradio.org/?q=node%2F6275

Even more ironic is the fact that the Presidential spokesman has been using Bakhita Radio as a platform to decimate the views of the Presidency, like when he spoke on 2 July regarding Equatorian's governors assassination rumors; or 23 June on getting Equatorians to not discuss federalism, see http://catholicradionetwork.org/?q=node/14718 - the spokesman has been mentioned or interviewed by Bakhita Radio more than 10 times since January, yet their reporters are mistreated, arrested.

Does the leadership not see how bad this is for the nation - preaching openness and freedom of expression, then slamming down the hammer on a station that is trying to provide a balanced perspective for listeners. Unfortunately this is one area of international norms no one can argue with that needs serious work in the country, which still does not have a formal media law - which has been expected or rather promised since 2007. Should not RSS citizens hears both sides of a story? Most of the world would think so, but this recent action feels like the old Africa, that of Macias Nguema and Siad Barre.

Members of the Troika are noticing, and reporting these sad actions of the national security service and other forces, the UK government country report (31 March 2014) on South Sudan had this to say:

"Restrictions on freedom of expression have continued throughout the conflict. Harassment, intimidation and detention of journalists and human rights defenders have increased in frequency. The Union of Journalists of South Sudan reports that numerous such incidents took place in the first two months of the year. Journalists report increasing constraints on their independence, including seizure of publications and restrictions on coverage of opposition leaders. In March, Information Minister Michael Makeui stated that journalists who interviewed opposition figures risked possible arrest or expulsion from the country. Self-censorship by journalists and media houses is now understood to be widespread."

Mr. President: Why, how, can you allow the case of Journalist Abraham Agoth to occur, why must he hide for his life in Northern Bahr El Ghazal? See CPJ article,http://bit.ly/1sNwP3s - Is this one of your decreed governors hunting Mr. Agoth - please tell him to stop or "un-decree" him since your have that constitutional right if he does not behave as a responsible public official immersed in democratic standards.

Mr. Agoth has to hide because RSS security forces have spoken clearly through their past actions against Isaiah Abraham, Jok Madut Jok, Deng Athuai and others. Our brave son has been trying to act in a modern competent and professional way with his news coverage in a hostile environment, proven by the news agency who use his journalistic services like Gurtong and Voice of America.

Mr. President, the principle of freedom of expression must be a pillar of South Sudan, otherwise, how can we sit at the Global table asking for aid, development and investment funds...invites. The South's friends are concerned. The Freedom House 2014 report on political rights and civil liberties has us at 6, equal with Afganistan, but not yet as bad as as Eritrea and Sudan.

Proper nation-building requires an open-minded environment for a progressive and prosperous nation. News reporting is a vital piece of that building process, and the Catholic Radio Network's Bakhita Radio is a professional organisation that provides objective news coverage. Its reporters like others around the world follow a creed. Let me quote two sentences from that Journalist Creed of 1914:

I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

Most Journalists live by this code or creed, some have even died by it. So please respect these pen and paper warriors  - and ensure all of the RSS apparatus does too.

Mr. President you were treated with great respect in my country during the recent African Leaders Summit, were you not, even though I know many US government officials, NGOs and private individuals disagree with what you have done and said.

Yet, America invited you and rolled out the red carpet treatment for you. Our leaders even took photos with you: Obamas, Menendez, Royce. Haven't you wondered about that how could you be treated with such respect there when many people there believe that you are part of the problem in South Sudan?

Mr. President it is because of the hallmarks of democracy, characteristics of which we Americans hold dearly, such as: freedom of expression, of opinion. We believe in allowing dissenting voices in society, in a governmental system - for it makes it better, more accountable, as our founding fathers debated and concluded over 200 years earlier. For it is believed in the end, a Leader will take a step toward compromise though he or she may disagrees with their opponent's views.

In such a society a worker does not have to agree with a superior all the time, sometimes the worker may have a better idea or approach that can advance that organisation. This is the essence of democracy! Richness of opinion is a good thing.

A final note, it was believed by many Mr. President that when you hired government critic Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny, a better relationship between the government and media would occur, but alas it has not, even the British Foreign office has taken notice of this failure in its April 2014 South Sudan - Country of concern report:

"Outspoken commentator Ateny Wek Ateny was appointed as presidential spokesperson in November, prompting speculation that this represented a new openness in the government’s relationship with the media. However, this was not borne out in the government’s subsequent treatment of the media."

It seems whose like Mr. Ateny who used to speak out are silenced by the system, and those who report on the system are hunted and silenced or disappear. Well, correct the path Mr. President, before it's too late - the whole world wants to be proud of South Sudan, to help it grow and prosper. Protect our journalists!

P.S. Oh, on the war, please take a giant step toward Peace. As Head of State, the burden of the nation's welfare is in your hand, and will be part of your legacy, be it good or bad. You alone - through decree or political will - can end this current war - if you like! Everyday you delay, dozens of Junubin children of future generations are dying.

Abu Deng is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in Public Policy and International Affairs, who lives in Oslo, Norway.

This war is not for Dr. Riek Machar; this war is a war against Nuer cleansing

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

August 17, 2014 (SSNA) -- My fellow country men and women of south Sudan, I know very well that our country has been automatically divided into small sections engulf by tribal hatred for one tribe to another. And I am very much aware that south Sudanese were not born to hate each other. It’s an artificial kind of hatred planted into our hearts by people who claimed to be our liberators. With time it will perish.

South Sudan is a country with all kind of gifts in it vast territories but always a cruel ruler with no vision and missions is always a blind ruler. President Salva Kiir Mayardit turned us down by declaring a war against civilians who voted for him, by giving orders to ununiformed recruits to carryout killing on tribal lines, by instructing his tribesmen to search for Nuer public figure and murdered them in cold blood inside their houses. This is insane.

My fellow country men and women, I strongly refute the lies fabricated to you by people of interest the betrayers/traitors that Nuer are fighting the government because of Dr. Riek Machar Teny. No! This is not true. That is not their primary concerned. Nuer who are engaging the government forces in all frontlines are sacrificing themselves because of Nuer who were massacred in Juba, Yei, Mapel, Wau, Malakal Renk and Bor by Salva Kiir Mayardit. Nuer  are fighting the government because their women were gangs rapes, their children who don’t know who Dr. Riek Machar is, were butchered by the tranny. This is unforgivable.

I ought you to calm down and relax. Come to your senses and talk to yourselves, ask yourselves about the genesis of this crisis without favoring your tribe or a person you support. You will eventually come to one conclusion and that will be” Nuer join rebellion because their lives become in danger in their own country”. They are being hunt down by people whom they didn’t do anything to them but because they simply belong to Nuer tribe. This is unforgettable.

This is the reason why I rebel; this also why our soldiers and politicians severally defected and joint the struggle, we are joining the rebellion because the government under Dinka’s influence wanted to wipe the Nuer out of south Sudan. And I am pretty sure more will rebel it’s just a matter of time.

However, I am sending a heartfelt message and warning to my fellows Nuer who are still saving under President Salva Kiir Government to realize the consequences of their greed and betrayal toward their community. This Nuer politicians who are working under President Salva Kiir previously send their families inside UN compounds and started to mobilized some vulnerable innocents who already taken refuge and given shelter in UNIMISS bases to come out and got killed just because you wanted to benefit. Their blood is on your neck! Inshallah

And for those politicians, who don’t want to join the struggle simply because they have personal problems with Dr. Riek Machar, I am advising you to give up that attitude and focus on your children’s future in the coming years. Your personal problems with Dr. Riek Machar are something different and the war against dictatorship who aims to cleanse our community is something also different. This conflict has got a lot to do with unity among ourselves so that we can manage to face the enemies. God is great maybe He will touch your hearts abundantly and make you shine your eyes to see the way your brothers and sisters got humiliated in a country their fathers sacrifices themselves for.

Moreover Dr. Riek Machar Teny the leader of the resistance movement SPLM/A in opposition should be always given praises and congratulations for also standing firmed and for His urgent formation of resistance forces that quickly gave a pause to tranny forces advancement. This is a permanent credit I gave him since.

I always said, “South Sudan problem is not Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and his comrades in the struggle, south Sudan problem is not White army who came to rescue their loves one neither the problem of south Sudan is the Equatorians who are crying for the implementation of Federalism in the young nation. The problems are; Rule of dictatorship, Corruption, Poor leadership, Tribalism, Carnage, Pogroms and Chronic love for leadership without vision and missions”

South Sudanese need to think about the future of south Sudan and their own future too. We need to be realistic in taking decision; we can’t go on with government which value money more than the lives of the citizens. I know we are wise enough to say a big NO! To Salva Kiir and I also know you can denounce Him as soon as possible. I hope with time you will agree with your brain and quickly reject his murderous regime once and for all.

Our beloved country south Sudan a land God has given us is full of everything we need but, poor leadership always lead us to be people without capability to develop their country. Poor leadership always weakens our ambitions to become who we wanted to become………

But I can assure you ladies and gentlemen if we give new leadership a chance, our country will immediately experiences prompt changes. Hence we can have a new least of life in the young nation, freedom of right to express your anger without fear shall prevail……..

Hopefully one fine day in the tile of the night peace will prevail…………………………….

The author is a student of political science living in Egypt; you can easily reach Him through his Email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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