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A senior journalist says his life threatened by South Sudan’s security organs

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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.

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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.

(ST)

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  • 12 June 2011 07:47, by George Bol

    Please, you should know that Democracy is not about talking trash. Ethic must be there and you might get to trouble for your misbehave. Thanks

    repondre message

    • 12 June 2011 08:50, by rebelson

      To those who threaten Journalists:

      Killing of Journalists will result in death of big top officials. Revenge will be the game.

      Someone will always write trash when someone is doing nothing or thinking trash.

      Salva has nothing in his head. The only thing he has in his head is his hat

      He is making simple mistakes everyday, he is suppose to give up power to an able man. Look at how the constitution has been poorly written and how the Arabs have cornered the SPLA with all kinds of threats. The constitution with these powers of president and without term limit is going to be a recipe for war.

      rebelson, Son of a rebel

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      • 13 June 2011 22:47, by Shadrack Nuer Machut

        Journalists must know that there is boundary. They should not take an advantage of moving everywhere they are not wanted. Please don’t blame anybody if you get problems. When you trouble troubles, troubles will trouble you.

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    • 12 June 2011 09:16, by choldit

      For God’s goodness! can we be realistic about some of the things we talk about around here.

      By defiination, Nhial is a hero in journalism, infact one of the people who fought NCP and other North Sudanese seccessive regims that oppressed Sudanese. What on the earth that can just kill him in day light in his own motherland just becoz he critized Govt?

      If Nhial is out of his Journalist code of conduct, then he should be call in court of law not to be harasted in that manner by the people whose task is to protect him and other South sudanese civilians of his like.

      The police Col did an unresponsible work on that day. He should know that police is not for Salva and his crews alone but for South Sudan as well.

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    • 12 June 2011 09:57, by Supporter of Naath Cause

      SPLA milita is just a bunch of syndicates whose main objective is to safeguard the freedom of cliiques in the SPLM syndicate to loot our resources with total impunity.

      SPLA is also a tool used by the SPLM syndicate to oppress and terrorise its opponents or rivals from other political groups .

      Thus, the milita doesn’t qualified to be transformed into official military of RoSS given that it lacks impartiality hence it is a milita wing of SPLM syndicate. If we want fairness in our country then we must make sure to reject SPLA transformation into our national army given the reasons mentioned above, otherwise we will turn to Somalia.

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    • 12 June 2011 20:23, by dakin

      Nhial Bol,

      You are a good citizen but be careful this government of Kiir is for bad and hopeless thugs.
      If someone knows that he had been democratically elected by his people then where is the need for tyranny?

      repondre message

    • 12 June 2011 21:51, by Murle Intellectual

      What a shame. Instead of condemning the police tyranny in Juba which is spoiling our reputation as Southern Sudanese, some of you are shamelessly praising savagery and brutality of the state against its own people of South Sudan. Do you call that ethics when journalists are threatened with death and being unlawfully detained. How many of our people are in Kenya and Uganda, if they are treated in the same manner in retaliation as a result of such practices, is that good? Treat those foreigners right or else

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    • 13 June 2011 01:19, by Dhalaluaak

      George,Dakin and Murle intellectual,
      I am in an agreement with you Guys.Being a journalist does not means you are a free person at your own pace to just write at random but you must consider how to hold on to your ego with conscience to think wisely before you send out your editorial notes[magazines].We love Journalists to tell us[we the citizens] more about our government’s roles and up bringing of our country.Our journalists need to be fair to avoid risking their lives.

      One thing which is disturbing me is that,the police didn’t mentioned any single charge against him.They just rush to harassed and arrested him forcefully without to mention one charge as an example such that he can understand his mistake.What do the code of laws says in our gorventment as a role of police?Are police working according to the set guidelines or are they just working on their own discretion?

      Dear citizens,We the citizens of South Sudan fought for our freedom for 191 years of our struggled since 1820s.Why?Isn’t it because we were mistreated and neglected for our right and freedom?We don’t want to be treated Russian,Chinese,Iranian and North Korean citizens just to name a few.These countries mistreated their citizens daily.

      In Russia,201 journalists lost their lives from their tyrant government act of human right abuse.Please let not this happen to us here in the South Sudan since we had seperated ourselves from the North who have been committing all these acts over the years.

      What are the works and roles of the police?Their roles are many with guidelines to follow.They have to protect you and your property,hold as a suspect if there is/are any provable cause but cannot convict you as guilty or not because that’s the role played by the court/judges.
      The police cannot be the judge and enforce law at the same time.Our police need to fair and just,not to torture us if we are not wrestling with them.

      The arrest of kenyan and Ugandan citizens depend on how they do their business out there.

      repondre message

    • 13 June 2011 13:52, by Lok T Simon

      Dear southerners,
      You have been praised by all world community who witness your kindness during referendum process. Being democratic country, meant everyone within the country has got rights to express his/her opinions and thoughts in right manners and understandable ways, not anyhow. Journalists are not supose to write an article which brings chaositic beteen the government and citizens within the country and Government should not arrested Journalist just because they talked about government. Journalists are representatives and they are the eyes of everyone such as: government itself, citizens and all world, so they can’t be arrested anyhow without strongest evidence or serious offends.
      So, my advice is that be polited because Southern Sudan is the newest nation on earth and all world communities are keenly to observe your attitudes, specially government activities and citizens engagements.

      Thanks

      Lok T Simon.

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  • 12 June 2011 08:01, by AdierCien

    In The Name Of The Trinity God Amen

    Nhial Bol Aken

    Being in Rome doesn’t mean you’re not Tourist no matter the trips. In actual sense police is an organisation formed to deal with law breakers that’s why the arrest even president if he was caught red handed. So Mr Nhial mind about your business and for sure that Job is very risky though there is freedom for media expression therefore, you need to take some cautions to enable you guarantee your life successfully. Crying can’t help you but be careful.
    Lord Jesus Forgive our sin and serve us from the hell!

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    • 12 June 2011 19:55, by dinkador1

      YES,
      All crime in south sudan is done by SPLA or by the police even we Dinkas or nuer, what do you want?

      repondre message

  • 12 June 2011 08:14, by maumau

    Sorry to learn about this brother Bol Aken
    It will take decades for our authorities to acknowledge their mistakes. The critism of the draft constitution does not only come from Aken, the Editor-in-Chief of the Citizen newspaper but all South Sudanese who want democracy to reign in our country. Majority of South Sudanese in Sudan and diaspora criticised some points of the constitution especially those which give power to the president to remove and appoint elected legislatives and governors. These leaders are elected by their people and can also be removed and replaced the same people. Diasporas have asked for this amendment but their quest was put under the carpet. I wish pray that God protects the life of brother Aken and other journalists as they execute their duties.

    To some extend, the work of a journalist is to reflect on on comments made by politicians, leaders, business people, NGOs, students and the civil population, they are allowed to criticised the government. They can only report and reflect on what has been said by somebody unless they are working as political commentators or oppositions within the journalist industry. Journalists in South Sudan need to know their role very well and how they should publish articles. MAUMAU

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    • 12 June 2011 08:21, by maumau

      Sorry to learn about this brother Bol Aken
      It will take decades for our authorities to acknowledge their mistakes. The critism of the draft constitution does not only come from Aken, the Editor-in-Chief of the Citizen newspaper but all South Sudanese who want democracy to reign in our country. Majority of South Sudanese in Sudan and diaspora criticised some points of the constitution especially those which give powers to the president to remove and appoint elected legislatives and governors. These leaders are elected by their people and can also be removed and replaced the same people. Diasporas have asked for this amendment but their quest was put under the carpet. I wish to pray that God protects the life of brother Aken and other journalists as they execute their duties.

      To some extend, the work of a journalist is to reflect on comments made by politicians, leaders, business people, NGOs, students and the civil population, they are allowed to criticised the government. They can only report and reflect on what has been said by somebody unless they are working as political commentators or oppositions within the journalist industry. Journalists in South Sudan need to know their role very well and how they should publish articles. MAUMAU

      repondre message

      • 12 June 2011 08:24, by maumau

        Sorry to learn about this brother Bol Aken
        It will take decades for our authorities to acknowledge their mistakes. The critism of the draft constitution does not only come from Aken, the Editor-in-Chief of the Citizen newspaper but all South Sudanese who want democracy to reign in our country. Majority of South Sudanese in Sudan and diaspora criticised some points of the constitution especially those which give powers to the president to remove and appoint elected legislatives and governors. These leaders are elected by their people and can also be removed and replaced the same people. Diasporas have asked for this amendment but their quest was put under the carpet. I wish to pray that God protects the life of brother Aken and other journalists as they execute their duties.

        To some extend, the work of a journalist is to reflect on comments made by politicians, leaders, business people, NGOs, students and the civil population, they are NOT allowed to criticised the government. They can only report and reflect on what has been said by somebody unless they are working as political commentators or oppositions within the journalist industry. Journalists in South Sudan need to know their role very well and how they should publish articles. MAUMAU

        repondre message

  • 12 June 2011 09:41, by Adam

    Brothers! this is very consistent with SPLA/M behavior. There is nothing like freedom, human rights or freedom of press in the South. This brother should take these threats seriously. It is better for him to leave. He will be killed like a fly and no one will know who or why he did that.

    Down with Press freedom Oppressors.

    Down with SPLA Gangs

    Adam Milawaki, Nairobi

    repondre message

  • 12 June 2011 10:36, by Tiger black

    Journalist Nhail BOl, you should understand the work of the media, rather than complaint about your life being threat, the police forces has a duties to protects its citizens from those moving at night and published nonscense a propaganda against the Government. under your arrest there is something behind no smoke without fire mr NHial...........take care of life.we have no compromise with those guys plays in the south sudan ’s security. One option do not mix politic with journalism be pure journalist not a politician, otherwise thing will be out of control mr man.To those who beat a drama of killing senior official is not easy like steal money of the southern sudan, avoid that word. police were not in position to kill Nhail, but the want him to tell the problem he hsa committed with his driver, if they police were have different agenda the would even wide you up immediately with out taking you to the detention center please mr journalist do not lair to they public.

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  • 12 June 2011 12:32, by Nhomlawda

    South Sudan Police is mistaken to think that Nhial Bol Aken can cover up bad deeds in the government. SSP commanders should not threaten Nhial Bol but instead they should support him in exposing more problems in the government so that government officials should fear engaging in corruption.
    South Sudan Police and Journalist needs to be taken for a five days workshop to educate them on how they can complement their roles other than working as enemies of each other.
    South Sudan Police and Journalists need to undergo a workshop that underlined linkages in their work so that they can work as friends as opposed to being enemies.

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  • 12 June 2011 15:57, by Rising of the Sun

    When a South Sudanese wants to continue doing a very good work, others want to get rid of him.

    This man (Nhial Bol) has earned the respect of most South Sudanese for telling the truth without fear. It is just our jungle government that wants to victimise him instead of quietly considering his constructive criticism and act to put the necessary changes in place. I have read many articles Bol has written and I can categorically say that he genuinely wants the government to look at issues from the common man’s perspective and institute good reform for the benefit of South Sudan.

    I hope some of us writing on this forum are not just supporting the government without giving the necessary advice. One day you will find yourself the victim of this kind of jungle arrest for something which is not a crime in the first place. Those who live in South Sudan know better that police sometimes brutalise innocent people just to show their might.

    We are days away from our hard won independence and it unfair to see that we feel harassed in our own new country by a government we support.

    The citizen is South Sudan’s best independent paper. I will continue to support Nhial Bol in his endeavours.
    Remember that the governments in Khartoum suppressed our voices for too long but we emerged victorious in the end.
    Let no one try to suppress the voice of truth-the voice of the people.

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  • 12 June 2011 16:14, by Honorable King

    Mr. Nhial
    It is indeed a sad news to hear that such actions are being planned or taken against known figures like you. But Nhial there is something you need not to undermind. The Kiir government is for a few individuals who are there to loot resources and dream to stay in power for life. Because of this, they do not want anyone to expose the reality. I understand that it is your obligation as a citizen to express your feelings about the constitution and the government at large.

    I suggest that you continue with your job but be careful to run other businesses at night.
    I wish God awake them so that they listen to the citizens of the soon to be the ROSS.

    Hon.

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  • 12 June 2011 20:32, by kinagonago

    It seems there is no differences between GOS and GOSS in term of journalists harassment. Nhial Bol has been a journalist in the bad government of Sudan which hated South Sudanese but he overcome the darkness of those arabs. He has been arrested several times and didn’t gave up his job as a reporter.
    Now, our own government is threatening journalists for doing their jobs. What a government is that.
    For those who supported journalist arrested, tell me the differences between GOS and GOSS in term journalist harassment?
    Fuck that GOSS for independence lunch.

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