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Displaced Bari community members as seen at Jebel Nyoka of Juba town on New Year Eve.

South Sudan gov’t accused of human rights violations during disarmament

The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) has been accused of committing human rights violations in Gondokoro payam of Central Equatoria state during the recent search operation for guns.

 The Bari community in a stinging statement on Monday, said that several people were assaulted by the soldiers during the festive season as the army searched for guns house-to-house.

“The menace of conducting civilian disarmament program in Juba County has deplorably manifested human rights violations against the Bari people of Lodu, Mangalla and Gondokoro Payam respectively,” said Stephen Pitia Lako, the chairman of Bari community.

Lako alleged that the SSPDF unfairly brutalized the Bari community during the search operation, adding that the army was lenient while conducting search and disarmament operation in Greater Bahr El Ghazal region and other places.

 “It is now evident that the government is executing the disarmament program selectively. In some states, it is voluntary disarmament for instance in greater Bahr El Ghazel, Lakes state, Warrap state while in others such as Central Equatoria state it is forced disarmament conducted by SSPDF,” he said.

“We are aware that the disarmament order is for general and complete disarmament, the abolition of all kinds of weapons in the hands of civilians, thus, the methods used whether voluntary or compulsory should apply equally to all South Sudanese communities,” Lako added.

He urged President Salva Kiir Mayardit to intervene to resolve the Bari community’s grievances, adding that if their grievances are not addressed they will boycott the upcoming December 2024 national elections.

On December 24, 2023, SSPDF entered Kondokoro Island to carry out search operation and disarmament but later on complaints emerged of harassment, unlawful arrest and torture of civilians in Gondokoro.

The Bari community condemned the atrocities committed against civilians by the SSPDF and also called on the government to identify and bring to book SSPDF officers implicated.

It also called for the relocation of the national capital, Juba to Ramciel arguing that the Bari community has been singled out for persecution for hosting the country’s capital.

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