Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 31 July 2017

The irrationality of the South African detainment of Riek Machar

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By Duop Chak Wuol

The unlawful detention of South Sudanese rebel leader Dr Riek Machar by South Africa is beyond the common sense of rationality. The South African government’s decision to accept an outside influence to keep Dr Machar under house arrest is no different from apartheid policy of 1948 when the “all-white government” rewarded people who committed atrocities on its behalf and punished those who spoke out against its vicious tyranny. For most South Sudanese, the decision is a clear endorsement of a Gestapo-like campaign against the people of South Sudan.

The South African government should know that world rebellions are not created in South Sudan. Rather, they have been part of human existence, their origin began before civilization, and the idea that South Sudanese rebellion is an exception is merely a modern-day political conspiracy in sheep’s clothing. The ongoing civil war is a result of a well-planned coup orchestrated by Salva Kiir Mayardit and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The South African government has nothing to do with the war and should allow Dr Machar to leave its land; preventing him from leaving amounts to complicity in Kiir’s atrocities.

I agree with the fact that South Africa, like any other country, has the right to help in finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing armed conflict in South Sudan. But the South African government’s detainment of Dr Machar seems to be an indirect support for Kiir’s atrocious regime and is suspicious enough for any reasonable person to question its plausibility.

Did Dr Machar commit any crime under South African laws?

The answer is a resounding no. Dr Machar did nothing wrong against the South African government or its citizens, and South Africa should not allow itself to be part of Kiir’s atrocious club by proxy.

The South African government has clearly violated Dr Machar’s rights by illegally detaining him without any charges. Detaining someone who committed no crimes is in itself a violation of human rights. I believe that even The Constitutional Court of South Africa would find that the South African government has violated Dr Machar’s rights. A government cannot put a foreigner under house arrest and claim that nothing is wrong. The people of South Africa should file a petition demanding the immediate release of Dr Machar.

The people of South Sudan know very well that the plan to isolate Dr Machar from East Africa was not engineered by South Africa. It was instead orchestrated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni when the then-former SPLM/A-IO chief negotiator and now illegitimate First Vice President conspired with tyrant Kiir to kill Dr Machar in a bid to take over the leadership of the armed opposition. Museveni later used his friendship with Western leaders to win the backing of the former United States administration under Barack Obama. The U.S. then waged a secret diplomatic campaign in favour of isolating Dr Machar.

I believe that Dr Machar has unknowingly contributed to his own isolation. Common sense and historical evidence tell us that nearly all world rebellions were and are waged in the bushes. Logic also tells us that a rebel leader does not need to live in a foreign city to wage an armed rebellion. So, the idea that one needs to live in a modern capital to successfully run a rebellion is pure nonsense. Common sense would also tell us that a rebel leader can only live in a foreign land if the host country agrees to it.

Dr Machar must not rely on questionable friends who secretly accept bribes from Juba’s bloody regime in exchange for his exclusion from South Sudanese politics.

The South African government has no reason whatsoever to keep Dr Machar under house arrest. The sensible thing for South Africa to do is immediately allow the South Sudanese rebel leader to leave its soil because there is no reason under South African laws to keep him under house arrest. Not unless the South African government wants to be a part of known greedy foreign governments that are committed investors in Kiir’s atrocities.

One cannot force a goat to live at the mercy of a ruthless hyena.

Imagine a vicious teeth-wielding hyena with a reputation of killing a goat everyday demand that it be made the leader of all goats. Assume the hyena, for some mysterious reason, becomes the leader of goats and then summons all goats to its headquarters, orders them to build their houses, tells them that its words are final, and warns that any goat that violates its order will be sent to its grave by the force of its gigantic teeth. Now take a deep breath and reflect on the lives those goats would be subjected to under the rule of such a hyena.

The question then arises: what kind of a goat would want to live under the control of such a brutal hyena? The answer is none unless one had a supernatural power that would magically prevent the hyena from slaughtering the goats.

Kiir is no different from a vicious hyena that kills goats with impunity. His mighty teeth are his ethnic militias he empowers to kill people, rape innocent women and girls, abduct young men, and burn down homes of civilians who have nothing to do with the ongoing armed conflict. Other political figures in Juba live like stranded goats at the mercy of Kiir.

There are those who claim that other countries should not be blamed for South Sudan’s armed conflict. What is ironic about this misleading notion is that other nations are in fact part of the problem. Some of these countries are actively fighting alongside South Sudan against the armed opposition. For instance, Uganda is assisting Kiir’s regime militarily against the rebels, Egypt is supplying South Sudan with lethal weapons and ammunition, and the international community simply buries its head in the sand.

There are currently many armed conflicts around the world that the international community seems not to be interested in ending; South Sudan’s civil war appears to be one of the conflicts the community of nations shamelessly ignores. What I find ironic about this is that every time Syrians are killed by their government, the international community makes an uproar against the Syrian President. But whenever the same act is committed in South Sudan, the world displays a high level of hypocrisy.

Are South Sudanese lives different from those of Syrians? I strongly believe the answer to this question is no because a South Sudanese child has the same rights as a Syrian child. There is no doubt in my mind that the South Sudanese civil war has exposed global hypocrisy in a stunning way — and I am not quite sure if this level of hypocrisy is a Western, African, or Eastern one.

Kiir’s merciless regime rationalizes its existence through killing, and I don’t think the South African government wants to be part of it. The decision by South Africa to keep Dr Machar under house arrest is undoubtedly a complicit one. If Pretoria believes that it is not colluding with Juba in its campaign to prevent Dr Machar from participating in South Sudan’s politics, then it must allow Dr Machar to leave its land. Failing to do so will only cement the already alleged accusations that South Sudan has successfully bribed some South African officials to help keep Dr Machar under house arrest. The South African government has a choice to make: it must come clean by releasing Dr Machar or else be seen as complicit in Kiir’s atrocious regime. The people of South Sudan have heard enough about the viciousness of the apartheid’s one-sided policy of 1948 and are certainly not interested in seeing a similar policy in their own country. If South Africa wants to be part of Kiir’s Gestapo-like campaign against the South Sudanese, it should simply come out and not hide behind Kiir’s bloody fedora.

Duop Chak Wuol is the Editor-in-Chief of the South Sudan News Agency. He can be reached at duop282@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are his and should not be attributed to the South Sudan News Agency.



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