Home | News    Tuesday 15 December 2015

SPLM-IO dismisses HRW’s report on child soldier’s recruitment

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 14, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The rebel faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) on Monday dismissed allegations that the armed opposition group was conscripting child soldiers.

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Child soldiers salute their commander (AFP)

The armed opposition group was responding to a Human Rights Watch report that opposition forces led by former vice-president, Riek Machar were recruiting child soldiers to fight during a nearly two-year long conflict in the East African nation.

The deputy spokesman for the SPLA-IO, Dickson Gatluak, in a statement, said the accusations by the US-based right group were “unfounded” and should be disregarded.

He instead pointed fingers at Juba and accused government forces of allegedly using and forcibly conscripting children to compensate its thousands of soldiers who defected to the opposition group.

“Since December 15, 2013 when the war broke out in Juba, South Sudan government had lost 75% of its national army to rebellion in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile”, said Gatluak.

“This forced government to make force recruitment on children and bring in Ugandan army in order to narrow the gaps” he added.

The opposition official said SPLA-IO operational commander Gen. James Koang Chuol has previously given a clear order to all units under his command with in SPLA-IO not to recruit soldiers below the require ages of full physical fitness to military training camps or participate in combats.

The rights body said its latest report was based on interviews with 101 child soldiers who were either forcibly recruited or joined forces to protect themselves and their communities.

“Commanders have deliberately and brutally recruited and used children to fight, in total disregard for their safety and South Sudan’s law” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

The group urged South Sudan leaders to halt what it said was a "massive" recruitment and use of children in this conflict, which deepens the decades-old patterns of abuse.

Gatluak, however, admitted that the former deputy chief of operation, Peter Gatdet Yak who was sacked by Machar in July had been recruiting child soldiers while in command.

He said the SPLA-IO respects South Sudan’s Child Act and abides by all its provisions.

“The commanders named in the report like Brigadier. Micheal Makal Kuol and Gen Johnson Olony were preserving souls from damnation for those children who were either forcibly recruited by Juba or joined forces to protect themselves and their communities in Unity and Chollo land in Upper Nile states”, stressed Gatluak.

He called on the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) and Red Cross to conduct an immediate survey across divisions, brigades, battalions, company and platoon levels under SPLA-IO at all war fronts to identify, demobilize the number of children may have been involves in the conflict across the country and reunite them with their families.

The opposition group further invited the Human Rights Watch to visit the rebel’s military headquarters for further discussion with higher management of SPLA-IO command in order to make significant headway in ending the use of child soldiers in South Sudan.

Both warring factions had long been under persistent accusations of recruiting children disregard to their promises to halt use of child soldiers.

Last year, a report by UNICEF revealed that both warring factions recruited as many as 9000 children in to their ranks. Both sides denied allegations by a number of right bodies.

(ST)

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  • 15 December 2015 02:26, by Shadrack Nuer Machut

    The idealogy of Riak Machar’s followers will never bring them rest & respect in this c’try. Believing in 75% of S. Sudan Army is Nuer did contribute to shameful & failed coup attempt that ended as a rebellion. This’ their 2nd plan that enough soldiers be sent to Juba for a 3rd trial after 1991 & 2013 coup attempts.

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    • 15 December 2015 02:46, by Shadrack Nuer Machut

      It’s better to use peaceful answers when asked, by not dodging & wrongly fingerpoint at gov’t. HRW researched & exhibited results accordingly. People are tired of ur senseless war initiated by all failed leaders who looted resources, stole everything, murdered innocent civilians & pretended to be clean in the eyes of international communities & suffering popn.

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      • 15 December 2015 05:54, by Mi diit

        Ahahahaaa...Who appointed Dickson Gatluak Jock Nyuot as deputy spokesman in the SPLA-IO military?

        I thought his boss last time, Colonel Lony Thichiot, made it clear on this Sudan Tribune that the guy was simply a volunteer (assistant or messenger) in his office who had no authority to issue such statements on behalf of the movement.

        What happened to the new spokesman, Col. William Gatjiath Deng?

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        • 15 December 2015 05:59, by Mi diit

          Please read the statement here from the office of the military spokesman at that time when he disowned Dickson Gatluak Jock Nyuot as not appointed or authorized in the office. This is after he falsely accused the governor of Gambella region, which almost caused problem with the Movement.

          Here is the link: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article54947

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          • 15 December 2015 06:02, by Mi diit

            So I am wondering why is he defying the disciplinary measure against him? I am told he is somewhere in Addis Ababa with his computer and does not want to go to Pagak for discipline.

            If he was the deputy spokesman since Lony Ngundeng’s time, then why was Colonel William Gatjiath Deng appointed instead of him (Gatluak) acting as spokesman being the number two as he alleged?

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            • 15 December 2015 06:05, by Mi diit

              I heard he doesn’t respect the new spokesman William Gatjiath. Gatluak also gave himself a rank of Major which is not commissioned by the military leadership.

              He is lucky to have his statements published because the websites are hungry for news.

              But I like the guy he is courageous and active, but he should first wait for official appointment and authorization.

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              • 15 December 2015 06:09, by Mi diit

                Gatluak should also mind his language by not issuing press statements with bad language which is not for the movement. We are not a "rebellion" movement as he said in his statement. We are a "resistance" movement. Gatluak should know the difference.

                The guy is hungry for position and I recommend that his boss Col. William Gatjiath should recommend him for an official position in the office.

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                • 15 December 2015 06:11, by Mi diit

                  By giving him an official position, he will be better disciplined and moved to the headquarters of Pagak, otherwise he will continue to embarrass the military office with such irresponsible statements.

                  But as I said, I like his burning interest and being an active person. He deserves a position!

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                  • 15 December 2015 07:52, by Kalo

                    MiDiit,no smoke with out fire,tell me who authorized him to issued that state,for Riek Nuer group,i am not sure if they have any child soldier but Gen Uliny 90% of his soldier were children,witness by many International community in Wau Shuluk.

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