WE DEMAND ‘SAFE SPACES FOR YOUTH’ NOW!
By Jon Pen
#FreePeterBiar Now! #FindDengMathiangDeng Now!
Brother Dut, this story of Deng Mathiang Deng Ayach, another missing brother, has made my heart jump! It actually jumped back to the origin of my and other fellow citizens’ ordeals, which let to my ongoing exile…
In October 2012, Ngong Deng Jok, one of my cousins, went the same way at Equity Bank the same time (about 3pm). He was rumoured to have been collected by some men in a car. He disappeared, three days of our frantic search later, his mutilated body was found dumped at Jebbel area. He was a student of Juba University. His father broke down and passed on from the illness that we did not expect to kill him as early as then.
Another example of NSS-related disappearances (correction: ‘by the unknown gunmen’) from the bank is that of Wiyual Manytap, Jonglei Civil Society Group’s Coordinator in Juba. On November 22, 2012, he left us in a meeting at Millennium Restaurant, Buluk, at about 2pm and dashed to KCB next door. He did not return! One of the NSS officers from his area was reported to have cited him in their cell, informed his relatives, only to be found even un-there the following day. Then that officer immediately withdrew his statement, that it was his lookalike. His body has not been found to date!
A week later, we wanted to publicly launch the search for him but our efforts were marred by the murder of Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan. I diverted the gathering into a funeral vigil on 12/12/2012 at Kush Resort. We recited (they say: ‘incited’) poetry together with some of his essays with an intent of putting them into a book (a project to be reawakened shortly). We talked tough about his killing against those ‘Unknown Gunmen’, whose ‘father’ had a name in our speeches. There and then, about 3 ‘dark men’ gatecrashed from nowhere and ‘attended by proximity’ our event that ran from 6pm to 11pm! That evening, Mountains Bank staffer was being shot down in Juba centre.
A few days down the line, Kerubino Kollen Zullo, my JCSG Acting Chairman and I found each other on the run. Our whole group was actually on the run. Zacharia Manyok Biar (now Bishop of Wankulei), who was our Guest Speaker in the Isaiah’s night vigil, was threatened and put on his heels for his life. He escaped to Uganda and spent a year in hiding in the eastern part of that country.
It is becoming even almost impossible to cut the story short. Anyhow, let me try to, but not that I do not have a list of other 5 whose disappearances or mysterious deaths I know of, Kerubino and I were the next on the hit list.
After a month of hide-and-seek game around in the city hotels, somebody planted a scare bomb on our bed at the same hotel and threw us scampering in desperation for safety. The ‘scare bomb’ comprised a warning note and a spent AK47 bullet in a rotten skull, a very haphazard skill of warning someone. This, we thought, was a human jaw, which the NSS Deputy Director and his Director of Protection Unit later described as dog’s jawbones. The note wrapped round it reads: “STOP IT OR GET THIS ISAIAH ABRAHAM’S NEW YEAR’S GIFT!”
Unfortunately, before we ‘stopped it’, we went ‘stupid’ (my fellow media socialites now know the origin of my #StopItStupid slogan). I put out a note at the dawn of January 17, 2013, that the general press briefing that we were to conduct at Nyakuron to detail out what was bedevilling us had to still continue to include our latest threats!
In swift reaction to our reported siege, early birds from the media started converging at Kush Resort by 7am. Pap, 2 NSS ‘tecture’ (sic) pickups pulled up in the hotel. The SSTV guys had their cameras locked up at the reception. The hotel MD was scared into trying to kill the story there and then just to save the name of her hotel, or just because she was threatened to do so.
Regrettably, some of the journalists, including my friends, went and distorted the story outside as a concocted scene. Karma being such a bitch, as said, some of them fell victims and went through the same cycle a year or two later!
Back to the main narration, the whole crime scene (beddings and baggage) and ourselves became part of the exhibits, collected into the pickups (including the MD) and driven to the ‘Azure House’ (Blue House) like criminals for a day-long ‘investigation’. But were we the crime suspects, anyway? No, we were told the ‘victims’! As if to dodge the anxious press waiting for the Chairman and Secretary-General of JCSG (visit for more about us: http://www.thejongleijongleur.wordpress.com) at Nyakuron Cultural Centre, the ‘good goons’ of NSS drove us by detour through Kator by 10am of January 17, 2013.
“Here are the journalists that wrote those bad speeches from Isaiah Abraham’s funeral in the home of Gen. Bior-asword as posted in The Juba Post! They were attacked in a hotel last night by unknown gunmen (my second time to hear of that term after Isaiah’s death).” Some Capt. Justin presented us to the NSS deputy director (one Col. John Manut), who forwarded us to Col. Wang Chany, who further recommended that we be transferred to some ‘Iaiah Abraham’s Investigation Committee’ that was to be sitting at the Ministry of Justice. But that being Friday, we were to report ourselves there come Monday. But suddenly, the specimens disappeared from the door. “Maybe thrown away by the cleaners”, they wondered to no avail.
In front of the building, another drama ensued. The hotel owner denounced us as troublesome to her business and safety, dumped us, her guests, at the gate and drove off, but not without being promised two ‘tectures’ (copied from their tongues) to be hovering in turns around her gate from that very night onwards! What happened there after is a story for another day.
But what cannot wait for that day is that we did not attend the IAIC sessions at the Justice Ministry. To add salt to our psychological wounds, some nasty friend of ours described us to be carrying our lives in a ‘ka era’ (black polythene bag). We were seen as contagious as Ebola vectors! Close friends and relatives shunned us. This our cross, which we thought was on behalf of our Jonglei communities, become our own undoing. By the way, this is not the story behind our suffering for which John Aborcup (now asylum seeker in Congo under another circumstance) and I are the only surviving members of the 7-man executive committee of the Jonglei Civil Society Group’s peace caravan. Of course, the women on our caravan could not fit this game.
So, from the Blue House’s gate at 7pm, the duo (me and Karbino) melted into our best friend, the night! We resorted to sleeping on contracts with each hotel on sign-on bills cleared, or even not, by our Good Samaritans.
A week later, we attempted to leave the country but Kerubino (spelled ‘Karbino’, a Murle-born young nationalist named after Karbino Kuanyin Bol) disappeared on the second boda boda ride behind me while headed for the airport. NB: I still wonder what happened to the poor rider, whether he was a collateral or a co-conspirator. Two hours later, at about 9.30am, on January 31, 2013, I boarded the KQ flight, but with only his ticket and a bag in my hands and his empty seat by mine. I fled my country. Some days later, Karbino was reported to have been tied on the tree and beaten to death by David Yau Yau in the bush.
That, while we were now what I call ‘The Yahoo-Yahoo Rabbles’ in my poetry books, happened in full glare of the authorities to be. We suffered a great deal of personality damage from our very own friends who turned fiends together with our negative relatives. Ask me not how the Yau Yau rebels would kidnap their victims from Juba International Airport. I said before that I would cut the story short.
A year later, Lam Chuol Thichuong, the friend who helped smuggle us (now me alone) out of the country, was killed with his brother by his own ‘friends’ during the Juba Massacre of December 2013.
No, this story is bigger than this. It has over 10 characters. No, over 100 actually. Sorry, I mean, over a thousand of South Sudanes citizens in the bloodstained hands of their own brothers and sisters of the Blue House (National Security Service and other brutal arms of the Regime).
During the Jallaba days, before we got “liberated from the yoke of tyranny” as the president put it in his Martyrs Day speech, that house had a different colour. Was it white or red?
Dear Moderator, and members, before I apologise for hijacking this newspiece on the search for our missing fellow citizen, alias ‘Django de Kelajiq’ (Deng Mathiang Deng), let me not conclude it without reminding you that the 72-percent of this world’s baby nation needs safe spaces. Peter Biar Ajak-agutdau is not in a safe space as I write here. This could be his 18th day in 2018 in the NSS ‘safe house’! I really miss him dearly! He should be commenting here now, even with his controversy as usual. I miss his ‘generational exit’ flavours of our daily debate. We are now bored without such, aren’t we?
Similarly, this report of another brother missing is another mockery of the commemoration of our freedom day, the International Youth Day, whose theme is ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’. At the moment, our South Sudan is not one of such desirous spaces on earth. Remember, Peter was maliciously extracted from among his unappreciative (or some could be connivers) ‘Jej Ahmr’ peers, the sons and daughters of the liberators, who were liberators, themselves, aboard a caravan plane headed for Northern Bahr al Ghazal to go and commemorate the Martyrs Day there.
Today, Dr. Biar is such our martyr for safe spaces in South Sudan, just as Deng Mathiang is, and just as some innocent lady, Lith Magong Ngong, is in the NSS cell, being incacerated for a Facebook criticism on the IGP by her exiled husband! She is in Juba but not in a space so safe right now!
We need safe spaces even online here. And if this comment of mine, like others have been done, is lifted for that matter, it is, after all, being meant for public consumption. FYI, we are searching for the missing Deng Mathiang and others.
Now, my apologies to this august Whatsapp group for ‘spamming’ on what would be quick brief comments on such hard heartbreaking news.
Sometimes one is not so sure whether one would live to tell one’s testimony separately on one’s own free day. So we choose to smuggle them in between our daily conversations, as such, to whom it must concern.