South Sudanese editor arrested after calling on Kiir & Machar to step down
JUBA (17 Jul.)
South Sudanese security personnel on Saturday arrested Alfred Taban, the editor in chief of an independent English newspaper, the Juba Monitor, family members and journalists said.
Ann Nimiriano Nunu Siya, the associate editor at the paper, said in an interview on Saturday that she received a call from security personnel who said they were looking for her and Alfred but found him in the church attending prayer services.
The security personnel kept calling for him while praying until he finished his prayers and he came out to learn about it, according to Nimiriano. They then decided to go to the headquarters of the National Security Service where she was let go and Alfred was immediately put in the detention without giving him the opportunity to explain himself, and without regard to his health.
“They took him straight to detention. They told the soldiers in my presence to arrest him.”
She added, “They arrested him at 4pm. They said the opinion article Alfred wrote in his column yesterday (Friday) was an incitement and ordered the closure of the paper with immediate effect.”
She attributed their irritation to Alfred’s call for the resignation of President Salva Kiir and the first vice president, Riek Machar, saying both of them have failed and can never work together.
The column by Alfred Taban was headed, “Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar should be removed.”
He stated in the article, “President Salva Kiir and his first deputy Dr. Riek Machar have completely failed,” adding that they were either unable or unwilling to control their forces “who killed scores of people in Juba, including soldiers and civilians and looted the properties of many people of Juba.”
“These troops have also raped women, extorted money from passengers and drivers and burnt down houses of innocent civilians. The two leaders declared a ceasefire only after hundreds of people had already been killed,” wrote the chief editor.
Alfred Taban went on to say that Salva Kiir had been warned that the shooting of several SPLA-IO soldiers in Juba in separate unexplained attacks “would lead to a disastrous response but little was done to bring the killings to an end. None of the murderers was also apprehended.” He further blamed Kiir for failing to settle the issue of cantonment sites prior to the violence last week.
This is not the first time that Alfred Taban has faced arrest and his newspaper the Juba Monitor shut. Since 2013, more than five newspapers have been extrajudicially closed by the National Security Service in South Sudan’s capital Juba.