February 15, 2018
SPLM/A (IO) leaders in the US Condemn the mockery of Justice in the case of James Gatdet Dak, call on IGAD and the international community to immediately intervene
United States, February 16, 2018 (SSNA) — We the undersigned SPLM/A (IO) leaders in the United States of America, upon fixating our collective eyes on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia hopping for good and peaceful news, were shocked to learn of the sentencing of James Gatdet Dak, SPLM/A (IO) Chairman’s Spokesman. At a time when all South Sudanese were cautiously optimistic that the Juba regime will refrain from the usual gimmicks, deceits and intransigence and, instead, uses this opportunity faithfully to stop the bloodshed, they received one of the shocking news of their lives and in recent history. A court, with obvious guidance from the regime, sentenced Mr. Dak, who is covered by the recently signed Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, to death for what it called “treason.” The evidence of this so-called treason was Mr. Dak’s Facebook post reporting the presidential palace – J1, battle hours after it occurred in July of 2016. This “dogfight” was later followed by an all-out assault on the SPLM/A (IO) positions eventually dislodging the SPLM/A (IO) military and political leadership from Juba. This flagrant violation of the peace agreement ultimately led to its collapse.
Fast forward, the IGAD’s High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) was in advanced stages with the CoHA – granting political detainees like Mr. Dak, and other prisoners of war (POWs) amnesty, having already been signed, there was hope that all sides would do their utmost best to create a conducive atmosphere. As usual, this was not to be. While its delegations were at the negotiating table, the regime’s army, SSDF, was busy launching attacks on the SPLM/A (IO) positions in Nasir and greater equatoria while its court was manufacturing phony changes on Mr. Dak, who is covered by the recently signed CoHA. This blatant show of bad faith prompted all the opposition to boycott HLRF’s sitting for a day contending, “an attack on one is an attack on all of the oppositions.” While these acts of aggression constitute an unimaginable credibility gaps and mistrust, they pale in comparison with the damage the sentencing of Mr. Dak has caused to the HLRF. We would like to state with the utmost sincerely that the sentencing of Mr. James Gatdet Dak is a wrong move at the wrong time. If the region and the world ignore its significance on the peace process – just like they ignored the abduction and the continuous secret detention of Mr. Dong Luak and Iggrey Idris by the regime, they must think twice. This sentence does not only violate the CoHA but puts a permanent dent on the process moving forward and will make any prospect of reconciliation among our people impossible. In fact, if the death penalty were to be carried out – God forbids, we would like to inform the world that it will set the clock of reconciliation and healing back by no less than 100 years. To this end and regardless of whether this was a publicity stunt or an attention deflection strategy due to its delegation’s refusal to sign the Declaration of Principles (DOP) by the regime, the region and the world must act now so as to show the regime that things will be different this time around. Otherwise, it will be business as usual. And this business as usual has not taken us anywhere thus far. It will not anytime in the future.
Finally, we would like to register our sincere appreciation to IGAD, Troika and other friends of South Sudan for their efforts to bring lasting and needed peace to the suffering people of South Sudan. This imposed war on the people of South Sudan by a visionless leader, has for the last four plus years, taken many lives, destroyed community properties, livelihood, caused starvation, displacement, economic hardship, and placed the country on a fast track for a failed state status. We would like to reiterate that the best option for our people is an inclusive political settlement rather than military victory, though the government has placed all of its cards on the military solution that has proven elusive. The government’s military efforts have proven fruitless in the past and they will continue to fail. They serve no other purpose aside from prolonging the suffering our people.
We would also commend and applaud the stand taken by all the opposition parties at the negotiation table in Addis Ababa. The solidarity with the SPLM/A (IO) against government’s barbaric attacks are timely and will unite our people against war. It demonstrates the understanding that we all have common goal, which is bringing a much-needed peace and stability to our country. The so-called TGONU, which is now illegitimate by virtue of the collapse of the peace agreement, has continuously failed to live up to the aspirations and expectations of our people. The region and the world must put this government on notice. The time is now.
- Isaac Gang, PhD – SPLM/A (IO) Representative to the US
- Gatluak Puoch – SPLM/A (IO) Chapters Coordinator
- John Kuek, PhD – SPLM/A (IO) Humanitarian Country Coordinator
- Dobuol Ruon – SPLM/A (IO) Youth League Coordinator
- Nyagile Thot – SPLM/A (IO) Women League Coordinator
- Chuol Yiel – SPLM/A (IO) Nebraska Chairman
- Koang Keat – SPLM/A (IO) Minnesota Chairman
- Thon Thoan – SPLM/A (IO) Iowa Chairman
- Tor Gach – SPLM/A (IO) Alaska Chairman
- James Thurbil – SPLM/A (IO) Colorado Chairman
- Joseph Kueth – SPLM/A (IO) Arizona Chairman
- Buay Tut – SPLM/A (IO) California Chairman
- Gai William – SPLM/A (IO) Washington Chairman
- John Sebit – SPLM/A (IO) Maine Chairman
- Garjang Deng – SPLM/A (IO) Texas Chairman
- David Lir – SPLM/A (IO) Tennessee Chairman
- Khot Hoth – SPLM/A (IO) Utah Chairman
- Thomas Alier – SPLM/A (IO) Missouri Chairman
- Ruot Chuol – SPLM/A (IO) North Dakota Chairman
- Gatwech Banak – SPLM/A (IO) South Dakota Chairman