Friday, October 16, 2020

Is it not time for the people to drive SPLM into the sea?

By Kuir ë Garang*


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"If the SPLA cannot deliver anything and we just shout ‘REVOLUTION! and the cattle of the people are not vaccinated; their children are not vaccinated; there is nothing to eat; there are no basic necessities of life; no clothes in the market; no needle, no razer blade…the barest minimum of things are not available…then the people will drive us into the sea. Even if there is no sea here, they will find a sea to drive us to."

~  Dr. John Garang de Mabior, 1990

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SPLM as a political party has failed in what it pledged to offer the people of South Sudan. This is not from me but from SPLM leaders themselves as they laid out their failures and leadership indifference on
December 6th, 2013.  This was reiterated by SPLM’s former secretary General, Pagan Amum, on SBS Dinka Radio on November 19th, 2014. That SPLM has failed is something on which we can all agree. The logical consequence of that admission would then be the formulation of the way forward. Unfortunately, any hopeful formulation of the way forward looks more utopian than real.

But as most, if not all of us know, the events that transpired after December 6th press conference would change political realities from state-building to war conditions.

So, what happened?

One of the main problems with the SPLM leadership is the inability to solve their problems. Yet, SPLM officials are good at pointing out what is wrong. And when they point out these problems, they always believe it is the SPLM members they oppose who are the problem. Problems are duly identified, meetings call, people disagree and then meetings end without any resolution. This vicious circle is then repeated, and problems accumulate.

While it is appreciable that they acknowledge internal problems and their effects on not only the SPLM but the country, they always fall short of coming up with strategies to solve these problems. And when they attempt to come up with strategies, they don’t implement them. This is the case with South Sudan Development Plan, 2011-2013, SPLM Strategic Framework for War-to-Peace, SPLM’s Peace through Development Agenda and many other post-independence studies and plans.

SPLM problems, which are by extension, South Sudan’s problems, are therefore a result of not having a plan or having a plan that is not implemented. But SPLM officials have never been oblivious to their internal problems and their own weaknesses.

As John Garang de Mabior said to graduating officers in 1990, ‘We have lots of challengers …and there is nobody else to do these things for us except ourselves. The laws which will govern this…the plans…there is nowhere else…these things are going to come from. They are not going to ooze out from my mind or anybody else. It is you, by grappling, by finding problems and trying to solve those problems and succeeding to solve those problems. Then you come out with procedures, with ways to do things. You come out with laws. You come out with regulations. There is no any other way we are going to get political structures, economic structures, administrative structures, except your own practical activities in the field, which then get translated into laws. Laws will not fall from the sky.”

And in his Independence Day speech, President Salva Kiir Mayardit had this to say:

“This Republic is at the tail end of economic development.  All the indices of human welfare put us at the bottom of all humanity.  All citizens of this nation must therefore fully dedicate their energies and resources to the construction of a vibrant economy.  The independence we celebrate today transfers the responsibility for our destiny to our hands.”

But two years after President Kiir’s speech, South Sudan descended into a bloody civil war. And even when several attempts have been made to bring peace to South Sudan, the attitude of the leaders toward one another had become more personal than political. Perhaps Alex de Waal is right to argue that ‘After Garang’s death [the] future [of South Sudan] was closed.’

It is my suggestion that SPLM leaders, in government and in opposition, realize that it is time to either take stock or leave. As the Swahili people say, ‘siku za mwizi ni arobaini’ (The thief’s days are forty). And SPLM fortieth day is fast approaching.

But John Garang warned SPLM 30 years ago and I think it is time the current SPLM leaders pay attention. Here is Garang’s voice from the grave:

“There is no meaning of revolution unless it makes our people happy. Unless the masses of our people, as a result, become prosperous: They go ahead, they advance, they get shelter, they get food, they get clean drinking water, they get education, they get health services…unless we provide these to our people, unless the revolution provides this to our people, then the people will prefer the government of NIF [National Islamic Front] that provides salt to the government of SPLM that does not provide salt. This is simple arithmetic. If the SPLA cannot deliver anything and we just shout ‘REVOLUTION! and the cattle of the people are not vaccinated; their children are not vaccinated; there is nothing to eat; there are no basic necessities of life; no clothes in the market; no needle, no razer blade…the barest minimum of things are not available…then the people will drive us into the sea. Even if there is no sea here, they will find a sea to drive us to.”

It is time for SPLM to change for better, leave, or be driven into the SEA. There will be time when the people will not care whether the South Sudanese army or the national security shoots at them. SPLM was a revolutionary movement; it is now a big fat obstacle to the wellbeing of the people. How long do we think the people will be afraid?

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*Kuir ë Garang is the editor of THE PHILOSOPHICAL REFUGEE. Follow him on twitter @kuirthiy. Like his page on www.facebook.com/kuirthiysword 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Child Soldiers' Recruitment and Trafficking Persist in South Sudan Despite Commitment To Action Plans

 By BANDAK LUL

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"The report indicates that in 2019, the government of South Sudan put in place a policy or pattern of employing or recruiting child soldiers, which government security and law enforcement officers continued to recruit and use child soldiers, at times by force, and did not hold any members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) or South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) criminally accountable for these unlawful acts."

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Photo courtesy of Author's Facebook account

In June 2020, the United States Department of State released the 20th edition of the Trafficking in Persons Report, which annually develops a ranking system that divides countries into 3 tiers based on governments’ efforts to fight human trafficking. In the Tier 3 category, countries not fully meeting or making significant efforts to meet the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000’s (TVPA) minimum standards risk restrictions and the loss of U.S. civilian aid worth tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, governments identified on the 2020 Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list are subjected to restrictions on certain security assistance and commercial licensing of military equipment, and assistance to governments in the areas International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defense Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations.

(U.S. State Department)

 

The United States has placed South Sudan on Tier 3 Watch List (again) and on the CSPA because it does not fully meet the minimum standards of the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The report indicates that in 2019, the government of South Sudan put in place a policy or pattern of employing or recruiting child soldiers, which government security and law enforcement officers continued to recruit and use child soldiers, at times by force, and did not hold any members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) or South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) criminally accountable for these unlawful acts. Furthermore, authorities did not report investigating or prosecuting any forced labor or sex trafficking crimes for the eighth consecutive year, since South Sudan gained its independence in 2011. Therefore, the U.S. Department of State ruled negligible efforts by the government of South Sudan to proactively identify and protect trafficking victims separate from smuggling clients, continuously arresting and imprisoning child sex trafficking victims, and continuing to indiscriminately arrest and imprisoning individuals for prostitution violations without screening for indicators of exploitation.

(U.S. State Department)

 

The report stated that the government of South Sudan and opposition-affiliated forces have recruited more than 19,000 child soldiers since the start of the conflict in 2013, and armed groups continued to recruit and use children during the 2020 reporting period. As of February 2020, there were between 7,000 and 19,000 minors in combat roles within South Sudan. The SSPDF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) failed to implement the recommitted action plans for child soldier demobilization and reintegration. The report further stated that children are recruited by government forces, including SSNPS to fight and perpetrate violence against other children and civilians; to serve as scouts, escorts, cooks, and cleaners; or to carry heavy loads while on the move.


© UNICEF/UN0202141/Rich

The U.S. Department of State has prioritized recommendations for South Sudan, urging cessation of all recruitment and use of children by government forces and associated militias, and immediately release all child soldiers under the command or influence of government forces and affiliated militias and, in partnership with international organizations, transfer them to appropriate civilian rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

South Sudan is among countries in the 2020 TIP Report that are not Party to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.


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Bandak Lul is a refugee advocate and human rights activist. He is a research project manager at Arizona State University Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research. He may be reached at blul1@asu.edu