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Sudan Tribune journalist arrested in Juba



November 4, 2011 (KHARTOUM) - On Wednesday 2 November, Ngor Aguot Garang, a journalist at Sudan Tribune, was taken into custody by South Sudan’s security services following the publication of an opinion piece criticising South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir in The Destiny, a newspaper which Ngor edits in Juba.

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Sudan Tribune journalist Ngor Garang who was arrested by South Sudan’s security services on Wednesday 2 November. (ST)

In the article, published in The Destiny’s first edition on 26 October, its author Gengdit Ayok, who is also the newspaper’s deputy editor in chief, said that that Kiir should not have allowed his daughter to marry someone from outside South Sudan, claiming it was unpatriotic.

Ayok’s comment piece, entitled ‘Nyan Bany,’ literally meaning ’daughter of the president,’ questions why president Salva Kiir married his daughter to an Ethiopian man, whom he constantly referred to as a "foreigner."

"We condemn in the strongest terms the arbitrary arrest of Ngor Aguot who has showed during the past several years a very high sense of professionalism in his large coverage of political and economic developments in South Sudan," Mohamed Nagi Sudan Tribune’s editor in chief said in a press release on Friday.

Friday’s statement called for ’Ngor’s immediate release’ asking ’civil society, press freedom groups, the international community and other concerned actors to demand the South Sudanese authorities [...] release Ngor immediately and to uphold the freedom of the press.’

Sudan Tribune described Ngor’s detention as ’illegal’ and said that ’he has not been charged with, nor has he committed any crime.’ Ngor is being held in Juba at a prison near Jebel Market, Sudan Tribune understands.

Sources at The Destiny told Sudan Tribune on Friday that they had received a letter, addressed to its editor in chief, on Thursday 3 November from a senior security official accusing the newspaper of failing to follow professional ethics and publishing illicit news, which was defamatory in nature. The letter did not mention the actual article which led to Ngor’s the arrest but it is widely thought to be due to Gengdit Ayok’s opinion piece.

The Destiny newspaper has since been suspended by South Sudan’s information ministry despite an apology from the newspaper. Ayok, is also understood to have been suspended from his position. The Juba-based newspaper, which only launched on 24 October is the English version of Al-Misier an Arabic daily. Both are believed to be published by Naivasha Production Company limited.

On Thursday NewSudanVision.com reported that Ngor’s arrest happened after he was summoned for a meeting on Tuesday with national security after the article was published in to the The Destiny’s only edition.

As well as Ngor, the editor-in-chief of Al-Misier, Atem Simon, and the president of the board of directors, Dhieu Mathok, also attended the meeting NewSudanVision.com reported.

Abraham Malek, a senior editor with Al-Misier said that the Arabic paper was still publishing, despite the closure of The Destiny. “Until now, we don’t know where our colleague is, and what his situation is going to be,” NewSudanVision.com reported Abraham as saying.

Press freedoms are uncertain in South Sudan as there is no direct legislation enshrining freedom of expression in the media. A recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that ’local journalists fear the former rebels turned government officials still harbor a war mentality that is unaccustomed to criticism, and that they are not prepared to extend the freedoms they fought hard to attain.’

South Sudan became independent in July as part of a peace deal that ended decades of civil war with north Sudan.

"We are still recovering from a war culture," Oliver Modi, chairman of the Union of Journalists of Southern Sudan, told CPJ in September.

"There is just too much ignorance toward the press. We are not used to systems, structures—even the media," he said. According to figures from the journalism union this is the ninth attack against the freedom of the press this year.




Sudan Tribune calls for South Sudan to release journalist

Below is the article, published in The Destiny Newspaper on Wednesday, October 25, that is believed to have triggered Ngor’s arrest.

Nyan Bany

By Dengdit Ayok

Juba, the temporal capital city of our new born nation on Saturday, October 22, 2011 witnessed a disappointing social episode that was found disgusting and denounced by many patriotic South Sudanese across the country.
Our revered and acclaimed President, Sir Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is one of the symbols of our long historic struggle and who is also a symbol of our sovereignty, dignity, integrity and source of our national pride, handed over his beloved-beautiful elder daughter (Adut) to a foreigner in a wedding ceremony held in the Catholic Cathedral at Rajaf.

The wedding raised our eyebrows because we didn’t expect Nyan Beny (daughter of the President) to be married by a foreigner when many national suit her profile for marriage; this without saying that it matters not how long she may stay in her father’s house. A wedding as we all know is a social function that people go to cheerfully with women ululating. However, the wedding of Nyan Beny that took place last Saturday was attended by a small crowd of people with clouds of sadness gathered in their hearts as it was clear from their faces; because they were upset by the decision taken by the President to give his daughter in wedding to a stranger.

The wedding that could have been attended by thousands of South Sudanese with elation and delight, to display their traditional dances and turn it into a national wedding like the British royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, was reduced to a very low morale standard function with the attendance of just a few government officials and a minute crowd.

This wedding has not only shocked and angered members of Kiir’s family, but divided it and turned its peace into quarrels and squabbles, it has also shocked the whole nation; because Kiir is a patriotic leader that fought two wars for the wellbeing of his people, a thing which made him valued and highly respected by South Sudanese. But now that he has given his daughter in wedding to an alien, he has to some extent reduced himself in the eyes of his people.

I am writing about about Adut`s wedding because my heart is in pain like the hearts of many zealous South Sudanese who have opposed it, and I am happy that I have a public platform to air out my wrath and the wrath of many fellow countrymen and women. By giving his daughter to a foreigner, our President has stained his patriotism and turned his leadership questionable in our eyes.

This wedding is a demonstration that foreigners have not only monopolized our market, economy and robbed our integrity after penetrating it, but it is also a demonstration that they have taken over our national pride. What else is left if an alien could penetrate all the hedges and invade the house of our President, eloped and impregnated his daughter? Where were the security presidential personnel when that strange guy entered the house of the President?

This wedding of the First Girl which is supposed to be blessed by all South Sudanese including this author is rejected and the religious leaders who blessed the couple in the house of God regardless of their knowledge that she had conceived, have committed a great sin against God for making unholy matrimony holy!