[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] The alarm bells have been sounded and the world needs to wake up and do something for South Sudan.
For some time now, different individuals and organizations have said that the situation in South Sudan is a time-bomb waiting to explode, if it is not nipped in the bud. This is in reference to hate speech and ethnic hatred.
(Above) US Ambasssador to UN Samantha Power. The US has proposed sanctions for individuals and arms embargo for South Sudan.
The latest to add her voice to these voices of concern was none other than the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, who is reported to have said that all the ingredients for genocide exist in South Sudan. She urged the international community to take responsibility and protect civilians and “prevent and imminent genocide”. The US is now proposing imposing of sanctions on targeted individuals and arms embargo on the country.
Earlier, Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide expressed fear that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done to stop it. He said this after his recent visit to the country.
John Prendergast, Founding Director at Enough Project has come out strongly in support of the arms embargo proposal, saying the country faces a real threat of genocide. He says that all the elements necessary for genocide to happen are present in the country.
None other than the UNMISS chief in the country has echoed the same sentiments. Ellen Margrethe Loj has told the Security Council this week that the situation in the country remains volatile, adding that the conflict, which is laced with ethnic undertones, has the potential to become a full-scale civil conflict.
These voices and many others that have spoken about the situation in the country cannot be wished away.
Russia and China, which have veto power in the UN Security Council, are said to be against the proposals for an arms embargo, saying that threats of sanctions will not help address the crisis in the country.
Whereas China and Russia may have valid reasons for opposing sanctions, they need to come up with counter proposals that will help to find a solution to the crisis that is facing the country. Opposing the US proposal just for the sake of it will not help get South Sudan out of its current predicament.
In Rwanda, the media was used to fuel ethnic hate
The Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, and his Cabinet Affairs colleague Martin Elia Lomuro, are reported to have opposed the proposed sanctions, saying they will prolong the suffering of the people. They have given no supporting evidence for their position, a position which is not very convincing, given that the people are already suffering in the country, with millions of them displaced in and out of the country.
In the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the media, specifically radio, was used to fuel ethnic hate. In the post-election violence that happened in Kenya in 2007/2008, the media was also accused of playing a role to spread falsehood. Today in South Sudan, social media is one of the tools that many people are using to incite ethnic hatred.
When we have a situation in the country where people are being incited against each other because of their ethnicity, this is not something than anyone who cares about the country can wish away. The world community cannot just sit by and watch South Sudan sliding to anarchy.
Russia and China, more than just opposing the proposal by the US, should come up with concrete measures that will help restore peace in South Sudan and give dignity to the millions who are now living in squalor within and outside the country.
That is why we support the position taken by the US and other players who say that impunity should be punished. So far, the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) has not done much to bring perpetrators of violence to book, despite recommendations of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan.
If impunity is not dealt with now, the world community should prepare to carry the blame for another genocide happening in South Sudan.