It is 6 years since Isaiah Abrahams was attacked in his own house in the dead of the night by members of the intelligence team of the Tiger battalion directly under the control of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Isaiah was shot in the head in cold blood in his own compound. Isaiah’s sin was to speak the truth about President Kiir. In one of his last articles, ‘South Sudanese scepticism on security deal with Sudan is real’ published on 19th October 2012 by South Sudan Newsagency, Isaiah vociferously lamented the sorrowful leadership of President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar for failing to protect the territory of South Sudan from the encroachment of the Arabs in Sudan.
Isaiah wrote, “President is to blame squarely on our lands being occupied by the Arabs and now he has gone further to sign away Mile 14. His statement that he will not cede an inch of land to North comes too late, too little. We are not buying this belated chest thumping statement from a man we all know his frequent promises. We know him better.” Isaiah in voicing the concerns of the people paid with his life. In his criticism of President Kiir, Isaiah spoke as a true son of South Sudan. Though he was a Jieng, an SPLM/A die hard member and an officer of the SPLA with the rank of ‘Major’, he took his duties to South Sudan seriously. This principled stand made him to contradict his allegiance to the SPLM/A. He certainly was in a dilemma to chose between standing up for South Sudan or remain firmly loyal to SPLM/A. To his credit, he chose the former and dared to speak the truth to protect South Sudan. Did his patriotic stand constitute treason to cost his life? No! Isaiah as a human being and a citizen of South Sudan has right to express his views as in the international instruments South Sudan has signed to and also as coded in the interim constitution of South Sudan.
Now even if Isaiah was wrong, why was he not accorded/offered the right to defend himself in a proper court of law? The answer is simple, were Isaiah to be howled to court to answer for the contents of his articles, he would no doubt win in any fair court of law. This might put President Kiir and his regime in a bad place, possibly with haemorrhaging support of the people. So the easiest way was for Isaiah to be brutally silenced for the truth to be buried and also for his murder to act as a warning to other writers. Now, has the silencing of Isaiah worked? You the reader can guess for yourself. It is sad that the people of South Sudan did not make a deafening noise to call for proper investigation and accountability. At the time there was a talk of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation joining their counterparts in Juba to investigate the murder. Unfortunately nothing happened or materialised and the story died without the public realising it has been swept under the carpet.
The murder of Isaiah mirrors the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabia’s journalist and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman widely known as MBS. Khashoggi according to reports (Aljazeera) was lured by security agents of Saudi Arabia to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey where he was brutally murdered with his body dismembered. Unlike in the case of Isaiah, Khashoggi has the Turkish state on his side pursuing justice for him. Will Khashoggi get justice? This remains to be seen as the case has become a highly complex diplomatic game internationally in nature drawing in arguments about business dealings and regional politics. On the other hand, will Isaiah get justice? I would like to believe that he will because the South Sudanese are committed to bringing President Kiir, the Jieng Council of Elders and the entire SPLM/A leadership to the book. It may not happen now but it will certainly be in the future. Ultimately Isaiah’s case will have to be handled by any of the courts to be set up in South Sudan. All the horrific crimes against humanity committed by the SPLM/A leadership must be addressed if South Sudan is to see peace and prosperity. Since the murder of Isaiah, a total of 9 journalists have been murdered by the Juba regime. These are: Adam Juma of Raja Radio, Randa George of Raja Radio, Dalia Marko of Raja Radio, Boutros Martin of South Sudan TV, Musa Mohammad of South Sudan Radio Wau, Pew James Raeth of Radio Tamazuj, Peter Julius Moi of South Sudan Corporation weekly, and John Gatluak Manguest of the Radio Community Interview South Sudan.
The murder of these talented young professionals simply because they were doing their jobs – telling truth is not only a horrendous crime but it is also the destruction of valued human resources South Sudan desperately needs for its development. The targeting of journalists is the rejection of truth by the privileged dictators who are enjoying resources of their countries without providing any basic services to the people. That privileged is derived from the current reigning ideology of neoliberalism whose values do not cherish human rights and humanity. Neoliberal economic values strictly promote markets, profits and growth. Human life has a price which seems to be categorised by the standing of each individual in their society. People from lower strata of society may be expendable. So in South Sudan journalism has not yet developed to be a profession to be reckoned with. Without adequate support of the masses journalists will continue to pay with their lives. Therefore, they are expendable, Perhaps President Trump of USA was right when he described the world as a dangerous place in reference to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
How does the ‘west’ see this behaviour by Juba regime and other dictators? In principle, the ‘west’ condemns and announces it cares, but in reality they may not support the suffering people to free themselves from the tyranny of the dictators. What is important for the ‘west’ is pursuance of business in line with the reigning economic ideology. So long as they can make profit from these dictators they do not care what the dictators do to their people. Indeed, this is now a ‘dangerous world’. In terms of the abuses in South Sudan by the SPLM/A, it appears that the ugly dragon called racism plays a big role. Culturally racism has been inculcated into the minds of people in the west through false scientific teachings and derogatory story telling using the media to the extent that the English language itself subtly has become a purveyor in the continuity of racist discrimination against people of colour. Slavery in the last couple of centuries has helped to cement the belief that the “other” are inferior and unequal to White people. Eric Williams in his book, ‘Capitalism and slavery’ shines the light on how capitalism dehumanised people of colour to justify their commodification for the ‘west’ to make profit and grow their economies.
Black life does not matter whether a single life or tenth of thousands of lives. So South Sudanese should not expect much that they will be supported by the international community. The songs of we (west) care about the people of South Sudan does not add up. The way forward is D.I.Y, do it for yourself and rely on yourselves. Raise your own funds, and do your own thing to proof your sovereignty. This is precisely what Isaiah was talking about when he said “What is this argument that if the President signs it the document, it can not be challenged (?). Who is this god in South Sudan that when he does something it can not be reversed? Whether Kiir or Garang signed it, people are more supreme. They can redo what has been botched for the good of all.” Here Isaiah is telling the people that they can do whatever they want that is in their interest to restore their dignity. It is a matter of determination, conviction and organisation.
Paradoxically, in this 6th anniversary of Isaiah’s silencing, the same President Kiir, Dr Riek Machar and the compromised SSOA have connived with IGAD and the international community to distribute the resources of South Sudan among themselves under an ersatz agreement known as Khartoum Peace Agreement of 12th September 2018. For those who do not understand the impact of this sell out agreement, please read the full article of Isaiah. The agreement is about the negligent management of the abused people of South Sudan (wilfully murdered, raped and displaced) and its resources.
The KPA has all the ingredients that led to the collapse of Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) of August 2015 which blew up in July 2016. So it is highly likely that this fake peace would take the country back to square one in the nearest future without any change to the people – the suffering just continues and the looting of resources of South Sudan goes on unabated. Think about it, the displacement of people in areas with natural resources is not by accident. It is deliberately designed to enable the exploiters of the people’s natural resources to continue looting without any obstacles or alarms being raised. What does this mean? One thing is clear: the South Sudanese through President Kiir, Dr Riek Machar, compromised SSOA and IGAD are being killed and destroyed for their resources to be stolen. In a sense, The Sentry to a certain extent states the truth when it argues that the problem of South Sudan is grounded in Kleptocracy. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Please see, ‘Kenyan court halts South Sudan’s ‘gold rush’ by Brian Wasuna of Daily Nation. (https://mobile.nation.co.ke/news/Kenya-South-Sudan-gold-rush/1950946-4868608-125mmwl/index.html)
Isaiah sought to enlighten the masses 6 years ago and he paid with his life. His sacrifice was not for nothing. What he said then is still the reality of today with the fake KPA. South Sudan land is being stolen, South Sudan mineral resources are being carted out to Khartoum and Uganda to maintain the ethnic regime in Juba. South Sudanese people are being massively displaced, murdered, raped and sent into refuge without anybody caring. Please see, ‘How European and Chinese arms diverted to South fuelled its civil war’ by Robbie Gramer. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/29/how-eu-and-chinese-arms-diverted-to-south-sudan-fueled-its-civil-war-small-arms-warfare-east-africa-conflict-china-weapons-exports-humanitarian-crisis-juba-peace-deal-salva-kiir/)
Welcome to the world of neoliberal economics. President Kiir and Dr Machar can freely sell and abuse the people with impunity because they hijacked state power in Juba. Thus they can buy IGAD and the international community to do what they want in terms of promoting their ethnic ideologies. These failed leaders murdered Isaiah. In death Isaiah continues to fight the failed leaders of South Sudan and this is what he is telling you the people now which is relevant to the current situation: “My people have suffered under president Kiir and his heartless clique (IO, FDs and compromised SSOA), I have no kind words again against these people. The demonstration we made as people of South Sudan on Monday, not as Northern Bahr El Ghazal people, will go down in history as the beginning of things to come. Mr President is not apologetic and this is worrying. The people of this country deserve a leader that respects their views. We have never had problems with him since he accidentally ascended to power in 2005, because the situation dictated that people exercise patience. For the past eight years we have learned bitterly that Mr Kiir is the problem and should be removed. He has failed us in many fronts, and on this matter of land he must not be forgiven.” Who can dispute this truism? Isaiah Abraham rest in peace and God bless
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
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