Eye Radio has resumed operations after being shut down by government security agencies, for allegedly broadcasting comments from rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar, which the government deemed treasonable.
Eye Radio was closed after National Security Service (NSS) agents switched off the transmitter and locked its studios, then ordered all staff to leave the premises.
(Left) Journalists in South Sudan. Security agents have clamped down on media that is perceived to be critical of the government.
In a congratulatory message, Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) said the closure of Eye Radio had created a cloud of darkness and caused citizens not to receive information that is educative and informative, at a time when the country is going through the process of peace building.
“It is through this mouth piece (Eye Radio) that the voices of our citizens reach many parts of the country and...is a symbol that truly embraces the principle of plurality and diversity,” said a statement from AMDISS.
The closure of the radio station was condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, who was visiting the country at that time.
The closure of the radio station was seen by observers as a continuation of government interference with operations of the media in the country. It happened soon after Alfred Taban of Juba Monitor was detained for a week and the newspaper ordered closed, while in September, the Nation Mirror was ordered closed by NSS for allegedly engaging in activities that are incompatible with its registration status.
“The reopening of Eye Radio is a promotion of freedom of expression and of the press. It is also a clear sign of government acknowledging the importance of the media in South Sudan,” said AMDISS.
The media development association has called on the government to reopen Nation Mirror and other media houses that are still shut down, and to use dialogue to amicably resolve the issues that led to the closure of the newspaper.
Wol Atak from Nation Mirror congratulated the station for resuming broadcast since last Saturday, and appealed to the government to consider reopening the Mirror.
“We are encouraged in the Nation Mirror family to learn of the news of reopening the Eye Radio,” he said.