DemocracyALERT: Arrests of Civil Society Activists and Journalists in Crackdown on Peaceful Protests in South Sudan

Country: South Sudan
September 7, 2021
Alerts | News

The World Movement for Democracy is alarmed by the escalation of arrests and harassments of civil society organization members, activists, and journalists in South Sudan. The South Sudanese government has increased their crackdown on freedoms following the call for peaceful demonstrations against the government on August 30, 2021, by the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA), a broad-based coalition of activists, academics, lawyers and former government officials. The PCCA has called for the current government of South Sudan to step down.

Last week, the Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) office was raided, with multiple employees arrested. Jame David Kolok, the executive director and also chairperson of South Sudan Civil Society Forum, also noted that multiple employees have approached him for protection, as they have begun to fear for their lives. Employees who have been questioned by the National Security Service (NSS) signal continued interest in FODAG and Kolok.

The government pre-emptively began arresting activists and journalists, especially those suspected of having links to the PCCA. The government closed the leading think tank in the country, the Sudd Institute at the beginning of August, and remains actively searching for its employees. A community radio station, Jonglei 95.9 FM, was also shut down by the NSS ahead of the scheduled demonstrations on August 30, 2021 because the NSS anticipated the radio station to broadcast the protests. Other journalists are in hiding, on the run, or live in fear, due to threats received from the state.

The raids, arrests, and shutdowns continue as the government continues to accuse these individuals and organizations of being linked to the PCCA. Major General Daniel Justine told the AFP that a larger military presence existed to encourage individuals to stay home and not participate in the protests that were deemed “illegal.” The crackdown of civil society activists and journalists violates their rights to freedoms of association, of peaceful protests, and of expression, all enshrined in the country’s constitution. Amnesty International also reported that there was a shutdown of the internet leading up to protests, which the government blamed on “technical problems.”

The World Movement for Democracy echoes the statement from the diplomatic community and a statement from Amnesty international, urging the South Sudanese government to respect the rights of its people to assemble and association and their rights of expression.

The World Movement expresses its solidarity with all those promoting democracy in South Sudan, joins other international voices in condemning the arrests of peaceful protesters and civil society activists, and calls for an immediate stop to all further harassment by the government.