Mugwo Residents Urge For End To Human Rights Abuses

“We heard that a peace agreement was signed last year but on the ground, it’s a different thing. We don’t have freedom to move to our farming lands, women are still being raped! If we are in peace, these bad things must come to an end!”

Mugwo Residents Urge For End To Human Rights Abuses
Mugwo County residents inside Logamere Church [Photo by Daniel Friday Martin | Gurtong]

 By: Daniel Friday Martin

YEI (20.May.2019) Gurtong– Residents in South Sudan’s Mugwo County are appealing to the government and opposition forces in the area to stop harassing, looting and committing other forms of human rights violations against civilians, so they can start their livelihood and support the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.
 
Recently, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), with support from United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), conducted a community peace dialogue aimed at building confidence, trust and peaceful co-existence between the military and the civil population in the locality.
 
Rose Akujo, a local area resident in Mugwo County, said: “We heard that a peace agreement was signed last year but on the ground, it’s a different thing. We don’t have freedom to move to our farming lands, women are still being raped! If we are in peace, these bad things must come to an end!”
Akujo said most of the human rights abuses were committed by some individual soldiers belonging to either the Government military or the SPLA-IO forces.
 
She said they welcomed and thanked President Kiir and his opponent Riak Marchar for signing the peace agreement. “For us on the ground we don’t have problems. We are very happy because organizations like CEPO and UNMISS have been telling us to reconcile and start a new chapter for peace and we are ready; we have started reconciling.”
 
Meanwhile Samuel Kenyi, another Mugwo resident, said thousands of civilians trapped in the villages of Mugwo County are still afraid to settle in the former villages because of bad actions committed on civilians by men in military uniform.
 
“Our kind request to the commissioner who is for the government and also the commissioner for the SPLA-IO is to ensure that they conduct joint security meetings for them to know which army is committing crimes against the civilians. We are for peace and if we want to see peace, the killings, restrictions and looting of civilian properties by the forces must come to an end”
 
Samuel said communities on the ground are ready to promote forgiveness and reconciliation once parties to the conflict are serious to implement the peace agreement and ensure that good things are happening.
 
For his part, Mugwo County Commissioner, Emmanuel Taban, said the local government is working hard to restore total peace and stability and ensure protection of the civil population.
 
“We are very sorry that over the past months, bad things have been happening to our civilians but as a government we are working hard to see that the civilians are given their full rights. I am also calling on the civilians to record and report any form of violation being committed against them”
 
The commissioner said “the peace agreement has been done and all the parties to the conflict have been instructed not to violate the agreement by causing any fight, restrict civilians movement or commit crimes against the civilians”, he added.
 
Isaac Luba Samuel, the SPLA-IO Commissioner for Yei, River County apologized to the civilians and expressed readiness to end human abuses against the civil population.
 
“We are now partners for peace with the government and we are committed to implement this peace agreement and I want to tell you the residents of Mugwo that we will work together with my counterpart commissioner from the government side so all these bad things will come to an end and we will ensure that civilians move freely and protected from harm by either side.”
 
For his part, James Mugwo, Head of UNMISS in Yei River State, is requesting authorities from both sides, the government and the opposition, to allow unhindered access for UNMISS patrol team in the area.
 
“We would like to inform you that we will be conducting our usual patrols to remote Payams of these areas so as to create confidence in the civil population to start farming and build trust among themselves so that at the end we see a peaceful community,” he ended.
 
In a statement to Gurtong, CEPO appealed to both sides to the conflict to ensure total compliance with the provisions in chapter two of the revitalized peace agreement.
 
“Chapter two of the revitalized peace agreement allows free movement and protection of the civil population and also protection of vulnerable members of the community, more especially women and girls. Also the same chapter of the agreement calls for free access to farm lands and vacation of social amenities occupied by either side of the parties to allow easier-settlement of the civil population”, the statement partly reads.
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22/05/2019, 9:00 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
What more reasonable demand can be better than this from citizens who have seen so much bloodshed and abuse of their rights in country they fought for so long to be free!
22/05/2019, 9:00 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
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