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Human rights groups call for justice over Wau killings

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May 24, 2013 (LONDON) - Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch launched a joint statement on Friday calling on South Sudan to properly investigate the deaths of eight protesters in Wau, one of the country’s largest towns, in December last year.

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Human Rights Watch Director for Africa Division Daniel Bekele (ST)

The protests on December 9 were triggered the by the decision to move the administrative centre of Wau county outside of the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital.

The peaceful marchers were shot at by armed men believed to be members of South Sudan’s security forces.

Six people died at the scene, while two more protesters died later in hospital. The previous evening two men died between when violence broke out between youth and security forces.

Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International said: “The security forces have a duty to protect lives and uphold the rule of law. It is therefore completely unacceptable for them to use live ammunition against peaceful protesters.”

While Human Rights Watch’s Africa Director, Daniel Bekele, pointed out that: “Eight peaceful protesters are dead in South Sudan at the hands of security forces and apparently no one has been charged or prosecuted five months later.”

“This sets a bad precedent for a new country and undermines freedom of expression and peaceful assembly across South Sudan”, he further said.

The global human rights groups have both visited Wau this year.

Western Bahr el Ghazal’s governor, Rizik Zachariah Hassan, told Human Rights Watch in May that police shot the protesters while defending a nearby bank against people he described as “rioters”.

However, eyewitnesses say that the protesters marched peacefully past the bank. This version of events has been corroborated by video footage obtained by Al Jazeera.

“They started shooting as soon as they saw us,” an 18-year-old man, shot in both legs during the protest, told Human Rights Watch.

“All the young men were at the front. I saw three of them fall dead to the ground.”

A doctor who saw the bodies after the protest told the human rights groups that the eight people killed were all shot in the head or in the chest. The identities of the forces responsible for the killings remain unclear.

"Authorities should ensure full, effective and impartial investigations leading to the prosecution of those responsible for these killings more than five months ago and for a number of other deaths during the civil unrest in Wau", Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said.

Peaceful assembly, as well as the freedoms of association and expression are protected by South Sudan’s transitional constitution.

The human rights groups urged South Sudan’s armed forces to "as far as possible, apply non-violent means" and only use firearms "as a last resort – when strictly necessary in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, and the intentional lethal use of firearms is only permissible when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life."

According to accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, "the security forces made no efforts to control or disperse the crowds with non-violent or less then lethal means before opening fire at the protesters. They gave no warnings of their intention to use firearms, and they made no attempts to prevent or minimize death or injury."

The joint report said that the incident has not yet being investigated adequately and the responsible for the killing remains unclear.

"Under international standards, every use of lethal force in law enforcement operations, including those that are allegedly accidental, must be subject to an independent and impartial investigation", concluded the two rights groups.

(ST)

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  • 25 May 2013 07:07, by Peacocktail

    The Amnesty International and Human right Watch should not be bias against New State. All Nonsense are being report on South Sudan to tarnished our image.What have you done in UK recent killings of Africans by UK Security Forces. Leave us alone and stop Western agenda on us. Our Security remain Government priority and should not be sabotaged, this reported is baseless.Maintain Security in Wau is o

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    • 25 May 2013 07:26, by wang

      That fake “puck” organization (Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) should shut up if they want to continue working in South Sudan otherwise we will force Kiir to kick them out in the country for goods

      repondre message

    • 25 May 2013 12:39, by Dinka Dominated SPLA/M

      Breaking news breaking news breaking news, there are romours that the NiF of sudan has killed Gordon Kong chuol yesterday with 7 others, what a wonderful news indeed, this is a worning to all food lovers nyagatee, of nuer savages community, thank you bashir. There is not food for freee on this world,
      I share syampathy with Bashir on this,

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    • 25 May 2013 18:16, by Tong dut

      TI WAS PLANED BY DINKAS PRESIDENT.

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  • 25 May 2013 07:17, by Nuer Empire

    SPLA under Tikyualkuoth and Rizik Zakaria in Wau created hostility towards the communities not only in Wau but the other parts of the the country.Mr governor stated it that the protestors were coming to loot the Bank,but the modern technologies video showed that they passed by the Bank and was a peaceful demonstration.
    The Nuer Empire

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  • 25 May 2013 07:39, by Nuer Empire

    SPLA under Tikyualkuoth and Rizik Zakaria in Wau created hostility towards the communities not only in Wau but the other parts of the the country.Mr governor stated it that the protestors were coming to loot the Bank,but the modern technologies video showed that they passed by the Bank and was a peaceful demonstration.
    The Nuer Empire

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    • 25 May 2013 08:16, by Dinka Dominated SPLA/M

      The dust on my shoes is worth more than your fucking life you Nuer savage nyagateen, who tell you that this country is for every nyagat to triminsh our image, wait and you sell you as father Riek puot Nyuon in the hell soon, coward Nuer who run away from David yau yau civilence, death to all coward who are good on talking but triable on action,

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      • 25 May 2013 09:19, by wang

        DD. Corruptions,
        1st street kids never worn shoes and I don’t think you have one with you now. 2nd you are just a blind idiot invisible dog claiming to have a position in government while you never had one. Third, if a Whiteman and Arabs failed to chases Nuer away from their land or slaves them as they did it to the rests of us and I don’t you have capability to destroy Nuer and sell them to whoe

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        • 25 May 2013 09:20, by wang

          to whoever.. 4th if you are fake or true Dinka, tell Kiir to step-down peacefully before 2015 election otherwise your next-fourth generations will born and grow up in refuges camp….Nuer have clean history and it should be compulsory taught in all South’s Universities… proud of being a Nuer not like a former Nuer slaves always crying like a lady…yeah---yeah---- Nuer beat me up, --- they killed ou

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          • 25 May 2013 09:21, by wang

            Nuer beat me up, --- they killed our people--- they took our land---- they slaves us in the past---till day----

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  • 25 May 2013 08:58, by truth to be told in SS

    Guys,
    Let pull back and think twice about the message we are sending out to the victims across south Sudan. Human rights watch is right on this one. Just imagine guys, what the one that got killed in Wau was your sister, mother, uncle etc, how would you react ? Respect for rule of law and human right is the core stone of democracy. The people who got killed in wau were not relative of Amnesty int’

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  • 25 May 2013 09:18, by Dau-network

    Why not named the suspects and how the Court progressing either they are guilty or inocent that give public a big doubt of system!!
    Look at at good system in western Equatoria when a wicked woman use her magic against community, they named her and persecuted her that is what we likes to happen to any culprit.

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  • 25 May 2013 11:58, by Mohammed Ali 2

    The demonstrations in BEG were meant to destabilize Kiir stronghold areas.This why Pagan denied sacking member of the state parliament.Recently they are mobilizing Nyandeng Malek,a known supporter of Machar,to rally people for his support.She was repremanded strongly by Paul Malong Awan.Members who called for the dissolution of NBEG state assembly & rejected to implement the directives of Kiir..co

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    • 25 May 2013 12:07, by Mohammed Ali 2

      CON: ..were directly steered by Pagan.His allies from Abeyei , using their good relationships with international orgnaisations are mobilizing Human Right groups to play a role in their battle against Kiir.The money of the multi-millionare widow is playing a significant role in the battle.Otherwise it is hard to understand how could member in a stste parliament could rebel against the President !!

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      • 25 May 2013 19:35, by Aweil the Role Model State 4peace

        I really came to believe this quote that South Sudan has become the International Scheme for the incompetent job seekers who called themselves Human Right Watch/Activist.
        Please go to Syria & Sudan where thousands of lives are lost everyday and night.
        If have you nothing to do, don’t do it here! You need to leave us alone, you doing nothing but sponsoring and planting hatred among peaceful Sou

        repondre message

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