Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 29 November 2017

Who are Juba’s “Unknown Gunmen”?

By Tor Madira Machier

Two weeks ago, the director of information for South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), Peter Nyale Gatkuoth, was shot dead in his residence in the capital Juba by the “Unknown Gunmen” following weeks of killings that saw the same “Unknown Gunmen” targeting close political and military associates of the SPLA former Chief of General Staff Gen. Paul Malong Awan.

On Friday, the 24th of November, 2017, Bol Deng Miyen, a press secretary associated with the former Army Chief, Paul Malong Awan, was shot dead while on a return from a hotel in Juba where he went to meet military officers associated with the former Army Chief. The officers were previously detained following their forced return from Lakes State after leaving Juba with Malong who was heading for his hometown Aweil to protest his dismissal as the Army Chief and the officers were said to have been released following Malong’s release when Bol Deng set off to meet them. The government never identified who the killers were. Instead, President Salva Kiir, who has been in odds - since May - with the former army Chief General Paul Malong Awan until their reconciliation last week, was reported by the Sudan Tribune on Sunday to have “decried rampant and indiscriminate killings carried out by the unknown gunmen” in the country.

So, who are Juba’s “unknown gunmen”?

Since South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 to become an independent nation, the capital city of the world’s youngest country, Juba, have experienced a surge in crimes, committed mostly, but not limited to the “Unknown Gunmen”. In December 2012, South Sudanese political commentator and columnist Isaiah Diing Abraham was shot dead in his residence in Gudele West neighbourhood of the capital Juba. Barely less than two weeks later, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headed to the South Sudanese capital to help the South Sudanese government in investigating the death of Isaiah Abraham’s death. However, neither the FBI nor the South Sudan government released any of its findings to the public and the question “who killed Isaiah Abraham” remain answered.

In August 2015, Peter Julius Moi, a News Paper reporter was shot dead just days after the South Sudanese leader, Salva Kiir Mayardiit threatened to kill journalists while heading for Ethiopia for peace talks. Many mysterious killings by unidentified gunmen committed mostly in the national capital Juba were never investigated by the government.

To answer the question, ‘who are Juba’s UNKNOWN gunmen’? There is something important the public should be aware of: who are always the target of the “Unknown Gunmen”?

From Isaiah Diing Abraham Awuol to Bol Deng Miyen, the victims of the barbaric killings have always been government’s critics either criticizing the government for its policies or reporting facts the government is willing to keep secret by all means including but not limited to the use of force. Isaiah Abraham was a contributor to news websites one of which is Sudan Tribune typically writing opinion articles critical of the South Sudanese leadership and an article piece critical of the government he published prior to his death might have cost him his dear life. Bol Deng Miyen has been a close media associate of the former Army Chief of Staff who has, since his dismissal, become critical of the government. Bol has been posting most moments by the former Army Chief on the social media.

So, in my own personal point of view, and perhaps that of many, the “Unknown Gunmen” is the Juba government’s anonymous crime machine network used by the regime’s National Security to terrorize the public and suppress dissidents’ voices.

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese columnist living in Egypt, he can be reached at tormadira2013@gmail.com or via tormachier.blogspot.com