Bakhita Radio Closed Down: Summoned by the Police

"He asked for the keys of the Radio and ordered to stop the broadcasting. He said they were closing the radio. Again, I asked why and was ordered to go to the police car that was waiting outside."

Bakhita Radio Closed Down: Summoned by the Police
Media in South Sudan[©Gurtong]

91 FM Bakhita Radio, Wednesday March 3, 2010
A man in civilian clothes, who presented no identification, came to my office in Bakhita Radio at about 10:10 this morning.  Three armed policemen were with him. Two remained outside and the third one came with him in the office.  I invited them to sit and he said there was no need.  He said the Security wanted to see the Director of Bakhita Radio. 
I asked him why and told him I had to inform the Administration of the Catholic Church.  He said it was a matter of some minutes that I should not fear.  I tried to call the Secretary General of the Archdiocese of Juba and was told not to use the phone.
He asked for the keys of the Radio and ordered to stop the broadcasting.  He said they were closing the radio. Again, I asked why and was ordered to go to the police car that was waiting outside.  They were getting a bit rough.
I tried to buy time as I wanted to inform someone in the Archdiocese about the issue but the man was growing impatient.
The on air studios were ordered to be switched off and all the offices were locked.  The main entrance to the studios was locked and the man took the keys of all the offices and entrance doors of the radio.
The staff was left out. As I did not succeed getting the Secretary General on the phone, I told the staff to contact him or anyone from the Administration of the Archdiocese. 
I was told to rush and I was escorted to the police car.  Mr. Albino Tokwaro, Director of Liberty FM was inside the police car.  I asked Mr. Tokwaro to help me phone the Secretary General as my phone was not going through and he said his phone was taken away.  One of the staff of Bakhita came along in the same police car.
While in the car, I managed to contact a Comboni Missionary and told him to inform the Secretary General.  I also sent an SMS to the Secretary General.
As the car was driving away, we met Fr. Onesimo Kenyi, Director of Media and Communications in the Archdiocese of Juba.  He asked what was happening and I told him I was summoned by the Police.  The police told him there was nothing wrong and that I was to be returned soon.  I asked him to inform the Secretary General.
We were taken to the Director of Security in Central Equatoria State Police Headquarters.  Major General Johnson Losuk put the keys of the two radio stations on his desk.  The man who took us said we were the directors of Liberty and Bakhita Radio.
Major General addressed the Director of Liberty FM directly.  Allegedly, Liberty FM broadcast the previous day a program with a political candidate which they termed unacceptable. Major General asked for the tape of the program.
Major General said all programs must be recorded and that political campaigns should stick to the presentation of the parties’ manifestos.  He said they should not be used to insult the Government, call names or fuel tensions. 
He warned Mr. Tokwaro that next time the station broadcasts a program of that type, the radio equipment would be confiscated and the station would be closed.
Major General then, took the key of Liberty FM and gave it to the man who took us. 
Major General then turned to me. He greeted and said that was all.  He gave the man the keys of Bakhita Radio as well.
We were taken back to Bakhita premises and the keys of the radio were returned to us.  We opened and as we were in, the man identified himself to Fr. Onesimo as Major Paul.  He said, Bakhita had been warned by the Director General and started lecturing us.     
Major Paul was growing irritated and Fr. Onesimo Kenyi tried to conciliate as he became very harsh. 
Major Paul ordered the police to take me away once more, take the keys and close Bakhita Radio.  Fr. Onesimo had to intervene and tried to calm him down. 
Major Paul was very upset.  He said he would keep a close ear on Bakhita and that we should stick only to our religious programs.  No politics at all, he said.  Major Paul threatened with closing the radio if Bakhita involves in politics.
Fr. Onesimo accompanied them out. 
The whole incident from his arrival to the office up to his departure lasted about an hour.
Sr Cecilia Sierra Salcido
Bakhita Radio

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04/03/2010, 2:31 PM
 - Posted by Wani Wani
Is the above so called "news" written by a trained journalist? The language is typically of untrained person. The writer should improve to attract readers' attention.
Phrases such as "Major General, Major General, Major General" or "Major, Major, Major" which appear throughout the report show that the editor did nothing but only approved and shows his unskilled editing.
The news is attractive but the language is not.

The Englis is worse than of an Arabic Secondary School Student. The management should send such for training but if "trained", should go for further training.

This is disappointing!
04/03/2010, 5:05 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
You are right that Gurtong's editor's did nothing but posted without changes the report by the signed senior staff of Radio Bakheita. With respect to your opinion on good English language and journalism, she has made her experiences very clear all the same.
04/03/2010, 7:16 PM
 - Posted by Lafon Onyang
Any way it is not surprising to see that there is a total violation of Media sector in South Sudan, by the so called military inteligent covered in police uniform. paul is a national security man in the uniform of police or non uniform who told him to interfear with the work of police inteligents. back to my friend who claimed he has got master degree in media sector and graduated from cambridge university faculty of langauge please this is not the right place be somebody who sees the reality but not just to make unnecessary correction. Dear let us make South Sudan a free country from such media restriction and consetrate on the devlopment of media sectors. Pliz Radio Bakhita and radio Liberty Managers take it simple for this will soon come to an end.
05/03/2010, 7:07 AM
 - Posted by Manyang Mador Koch
The above article is full of fabricated reports with lack of professional journalism style. Otherwise, I personally believes that, there must be a reasonable ground for Juba administration to cease anybody who has breached media code of conduct.
05/03/2010, 9:22 AM
 - Posted by Charles B.
Mr. Manyang, please tell us which part of the report is fabricated. And if you were present could you please post to us the correct version? It is not enough to dismiss the report as fabricated without substantiating your claim.

Could you also tell us what part of the "media code of conduct" was breached? The media laws for South Sudan are still lying in the SSLA, waiting to be passed. In the light of what is now happening to the media houses in the South at the very beginning of election campaigning, one can deduce that the delay to pass these laws was calculated, and deliberate, so that out-dated and repressive laws will be used to prevent election issues being discussed and weaknesses and strengths of candidates exposed. Should a candidate make false accusations, the courts are there to try him/her for libel.

Unfortunately some of these police officers are from the dictatorial periods and still have the mentatily of the dictatorial era of one party system, when press freedom was non-existent. They need to be re-trained to embrace democratic values. If you are still part of this old fabric, you better start changing to fit current changes in our society where we now have more than 10 political parties.

The language used may not be up to standard, but this does not mean that what is being conveyed is devoid of truth. Let us not have our attention deviated from the real issue here, that of freedom of the press, and the continuous application of archaic media laws.

Charles B.
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