June 12, 2011 (JUBA) – A senior South Sudanese journalist says his life has been threatened by some elements of the region’s security organs over his consistent criticism of the South Sudan government.
- Nhial Bol Aken, The Citizen’s editor in chief in Juba 12 December 2010 (ST)
Nhial Bol Aken, the Editor-in-Chief of the Juba-based The Citizen newspaper said he was arrested on Thursday night by the police and threatened to back down from his activity or risk dying before July 9 this year.
In the painful story he published in The Citizen newspaper on Saturday, Aken said he was arrested on his way from a dinner party organized by the British Consulate in Juba at a hotel called Da Vinci, south of Juba’s main town.
"While preparing to leave the dinner at 11:30pm, police car approached us while driving home, they said we violated curfew at the roundabout near the Catholic Church and that we should follow them to their detention center south of South Sudan TV station in Nyakuron," he explained.
The journalist said the police targeted him and left the diplomat who had been driving alone after they reached the detention center.
"When we reached there [police detention center], the officer in charge said I should lie down before the police, then I argued with him about the charges on the alleged crime I have committed because I was just sitting in the car of a diplomat. I was not driving so I asked them if they can just arrest the diplomat instead," Aken explained.
Aken said after presenting his argument to the police "the officer expressed his anger, threatened to shoot me with AK-47 if I continue to argue".
He said a police colonel in charge of the detention center appeared suddenly who then pressed for other charges and threatened Aken’s life over the journalist’s criticism of the government of South Sudan.
"Do you know why you are here,” the colonel asked according to Aken.
“I told him that I know nothing", Aken said.
"You are against our government and your writing has spoiled us," the colonel who charged him said.
When the journalist argued with the police officer to present his charges, he got angry and threatened to beat him.
"I asked him if he can justify his argument with written documents, he turned his back and ordered the force around him, “soldiers, beat him if he talks again. Who told him to write nonsense?" "
He further explained that the police colonel informed him that he had accumulative issues with the police and if he is not careful he “shall die before independence day next month.”
He said he was released after several hours in detention and was forced to sign on a blank paper, meant for his apology, while the diplomat was watching.
Aken recently wrote in his editorial page against the draft transitional constitution of South Sudan, saying it was undemocratic. South Sudan voted to become independent from north Sudan in January this year as part of peace deal that ended decades of conflict.
The journalist also disclosed that in the detention center, of about 12,000 meters square, he found hundreds of detainees who were mainly Kenyans and Ugandans.