October 3, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – SPLM-IO condemned statements by the South Sudan Presidential spokesman that his government has political prisoners and stressed they will not compromise over the release of James Dak, the spokesperson of the Movement’ leader.
On Monday Ateny Wek Ateny denied the existence of political prisoners in South Sudan. He told Radio Tamazuj that “all political detainees had been released. We have prisoners of war and not political detainees”.
Also on Wednesday, Juba released twenty political prisoners but James Gatdet Dak, the imprisoned-spokesperson SPLM-IO’s leader was not among them.
Manawa Peter Gatkuoth SPLM-IO Deputy Chairperson of the National Committee for Information and Public Relations told Sudan Tribune they learnt that Dak was told that he is not included in the presidential decree for the release of the political prisoners and detainees.
“This is a serious development and we hope that the government of South Sudan will reconsider its position and release him as soon as possible,” Manawa said.
He further said that Dak is “the ideal example for the political prisoner” according to the standards enshrined in international law before to stress that claiming he is not covered by the presidential pardon is a clear breach of the revitalized agreement.
“We appeal to the international community to intervene to secure his release because Dak’s imprisonment cannot be subjected to political bargaining,” he said.
In November 2016, Kenya arrested and deported James Dak to Juba where he remained in jail until his trial in February 2018. He was sentenced to death on charges of treason and incitement against the government.
Already his lawyer said the trial of the SPLM-IO official was a violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement of 21 December 2017.
Manawa also slammed Ateny’s statements denying the existence of political prisoners in South Sudan and described it as “irresponsible statements” that fueling political strife at this critical stage in the implementation of the peace agreement.
He added that the international community should condemn such statements since IGAD, the African Union, the United Nations and the Troika are aware of such arrests and abduction of SPLM-IO members inside the country and in Kenya before their deportation to South Sudan where they are detained.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reported that two vocal government critics, Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idri, were detained in Kenya in January 2017before the deliver them to the south Sudanese authorities
Also, there is the case of Peter Biar Ajak, a South Sudanese peace activist who was arrested last July.