South Sudan’s authorities have recently strengthened their campaign of intimidation and attacks against their critics both at home and across the region, a prominent international rights watchdog said on Thursday.
Amnesty International, which made the allegation, also called on the government to respect basic human rights.
As an example of the “cross-border campaign of harassment, intimidation and attacks against critics” allegedly conducted by the South Sudanese government to “prevent a series of global protests on the country’s leadership,” rights watchdog referred to the pressure exerted on the non-violence protest Red Card Movement (RCM).
According to the rights group, after the RCM announced plans to hold protests in the capital of Juba on May 16, which finally did not happen, the interior minister and other senior officials made “thinly veiled” threats, including deadly ones, against these activists.
Yet, the protests did happen in other countries, with the demonstrators gathering near the South Sudanese embassies in Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as in the West.
“While protests organised outside South Sudan embassies in Australia, Washington DC, and Sudan took place unhindered, the intimidation and harassment of RCM members witnessed in South Sudan was replicated in Ethiopia and Kenya,” the group said.
In particular, cameramen covering the protests in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, were physically assaulted.
Yet, the “intimidation and harassment continued after the aborted 16 May protests,” with the July 9 peaceful protests on South Sudan’s Independence Day in front of the country’s embassy in Nairobi being dispersed by Kenyan police, the rights watchdog went on.
Several people were arrested, in spite of the fact that it was an authorised protest, according to the rights group.
Upon their release, they told Amnesty International that “they had been beaten by police officers”.
Some of dissenters staging protests abroad also said that were “followed by men in black suits”.
The watchdog therefore urged the South Sudanese authorities to respect “human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association”, and end cross-border “attacks on critics”.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the South Sudanese authorities have in recent months escalated their crackdown on peaceful dissent by conducting a cross-border campaign of harassment, intimidation, and attacks against critics to prevent a series of global protests on the country’s leadership from taking place, reveals a new briefing by Amnesty International.