Stop spreading hate speech, governor urges social media users

Justice, Peace & Reconciliation
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Governor David Lokonga Moses 2The Governor of Yei River State David Lokonga Moses has urged South Sudan social media users to stop spreading hate speech.
In his address at Christ the King Catholic Church, Governor Lokonga warned that hate language will only divide the communities of South Sudan.

(Left) Governor of Yei River State, David Lokonga Moses. He urged social media users to refrain from divisive hate speech.

Governor Lokonga said social media users should stop exaggerating situations and inciting violence in the conflict-ravaged nation. Above all, he said, South Sudanese should start cultivating a new chapter of love, reconciliation, and forgiveness for one another.
“These hate words are not good. Remove them. What we want is peace,” he urged social media users using hate language.
Governor Lokonga cautioned leaders and those aspiring to be leaders against use of hate speech, saying “you will never get leadership if you divide the people”.
“Let the love start from your heart and house. If you read the constitution, it cannot allow that you divide the people,” he said.
Catholic Bishop of Yei, Erkolano Lodu Tombe called on South Sudanese to stop fighting each other and to coexist in peace.
“Is it not beautiful for us to be in the church like this?” he asked the congregation at Christ the King Cathedral. “Replace hatred with love for one another. Love does nothing wrong to a person.”
Governor Lokonga reiterated that his “door remains open” for dialogue with armed opposition groups so as to amicably resolve any of their grievances.
“Let us stop violence. Let us stop killings, which disrupt our elders, children and women,” he appealed to the combatants.
Meanwhile, an initiative to counter hate speech has been launched in Juba. ‘DefyHateNow’ is a community peacebuilding, training and conflict reconciliation project aimed at strengthening the voices and support the actions of emergent, primarily youth oriented civil society organizations in the country.
Initiated by the Berlin-based Agency for Open Culture and Critical Transformation, in collaboration with Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO),’DefyHateNow’ aims to raise awareness of and develop means to counter social media-based hate speech, conflict rhetoric and online incitement to violence.
The project held a one-day training last week to create awareness about and reporting on issues surrounding hate speech on social media and its impact on the conflict in the country. The training assessed the ongoing civil crisis by addressing the roles played by social media users in either exacerbating or helping to mitigate hate speech, particularly since the eruption of conflict on December 15, 2013 and since July 2016.

(Additional reporting by Moses Wasamu)

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