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YEI - 27 Aug 2021

Security arrest activist and a religious leader in Yei

Photo: Civil society activist Justoson Victor Yoasa (R) and Bishop Jackson Yemba (L)
Photo: Civil society activist Justoson Victor Yoasa (R) and Bishop Jackson Yemba (L)

The Military Intelligence unit of the South Sudan People's Defence Forces has arrested civil society activist Justoson Victor Yoasa and Bishop Jackson Yemba Antipas in South Sudan’s Yei River County of Central Equatoria State.

Activist Victor, the Executive Director for Yamora, a national NGO was arrested on Wednesday evening while Bishop Yemba of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Sudan was arrested on Thursday morning.

The families of the two say Victor was picked by security agents on his way home after leaving the bishop's residence where he attended the evening devotional prayers. Bishop Yemba was picked on Thursday morning allegedly by the same security agents.

They revealed that the security personnel accused the two of being supporters of the People’s Coalition for Civil Action, a group calling for civil action against the government and that they were meeting to organize peaceful demonstrations on the 30th, August 2021.

Victor's relative speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, told Radio Tamazuj that the activist is being kept at a military intelligence detention center in Yei town. 

“We would like to see our brother released unconditionally or tried in court. We are scared because we are not allowed to see him and we don’t know what is happening to him. He was arrested on Wednesday at around 8 pm,” the source said.

The source further claimed that Guya Robert who is a brother to the bishop was also arrested after he visited him at the detention center. 

Jame David Kolok, the chairperson for the South Sudan Civil Society Forum urges authorities in Yei River County to ensure those arrested are released without delay.

“It is a fundamental right of every South Sudanese citizen that they should be given their freedom to speech or association and we learned of their arrest and they have been detained longer than the period to be arraigned in court. We continue to speak out for their release and it is important that if there is any reason, they should be taken to court and released," David urged.

David pointed out that there is a worrying trend where the civic space has been shrinking at an alarming rate in Yei River County and other parts of the country.  

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story stated that the two were arrested by NSS. However, they were arrested by the MI within the SSPDF.