An appeal to the President of South Sudan: free the detained opposition politicians to ease the situation!

South Sudan – Warning: civil war and ethnic violence

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns about an impending civil war and a significant increase of ethnic violence in South Sudan. "We are sending an urgent appeal to President Salva Kiir to ease the situation by releasing the ten leading opposition politicians who were arrested on Sunday," said the STP's Africa-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Wednesday. The detainees are accused of being involved in an alleged coup d'etat last weekend, but there are serious doubts concerning the substance.

"We are deeply concerned about the increase of armed clashes between the population group of the Dinka and the ethnic group of the Nuer since Sunday." As it is the Nuer people who are allegedly responsible for the coup, the members of this population group fear retaliatory attacks by the Dinka, who are close to the People's Liberation Movement SPLM, which is in power. More than 18,000 Nuer have already sought refuge at United Nations facilities.

There was also a new outbreak of violence in Pibor County (Jonglei state). There, 85,000 people are on the run since the serious clashes among the population groups of the Murle, the Lou Nuer and the Dinka Bor between December 2012 and July 2013. Another 18,000 refugees tried to find shelter in the neighboring countries. Instead of trying to ensure the protection of the civilian population, Dinka soldiers are supposed to have been involved in ethnic cleansing against the Murle. "Another wave of violence against the Murle is to be expected if the situation in South Sudan continues to destabilize."

"There is a constant threat of new armed conflicts breaking out – after decades of genocide and exploitation in the ethnic conflicts of South Sudan. The South Sudanese government often stokes the violence instead of trying to mediate between the conflict parties who are warring or fighting over scarce resources," criticized Delius.

"The recent wave of arrests also shows how baldy the human rights situation in Sudan has deteriorated in 2013. Human rights activists, lawyers, opposition politicians and journalists are being threatened and intimidated by the authorities. As journalists and opposition activists become victims of arbitrary arrests and as detainees are being tortured, there is not much hope that a democratic constitutional state will finally arise from the founding of the state in July 2011."