Blood oil in South Sudan

Major articles on UN report on horrific human rights violations and oil companies’ complicity in them

Articles on the report issued by the UN‘s Commission on Human Rights on horrific human rights abuses in South Sudan – and on the allegedly complicity in them by Petronas of Malaysia, China National Petroleum, ONGC Videsh of India and other oil companies


February 22, 2019


New York Times

Oil Companies May Be Complicit in Atrocities in South Sudan, U.N. Panel Says



U.N. reports mass rape, killings, torture in South Sudan, seeks oil scrutiny


Democracy Now!

U.N. Warns of Oil Company Complicity in South Sudan Mass Atrocities


Wall Street Journal

Oil Companies in South Sudan Could Be Complicit in War Crimes, U.N. Says


National Public Radio

‘Every Kind Of Norm Is Broken’: U.N. Says Brutality In S. Sudan May Rise To War Crimes

Two important articles on the media crackdown

Courageous reporter Joseph Oduha of We Are Witness: two important articles on the media crackdown in South Sudan and Sudan

“Media and civil society operating at high risk in South Sudan”

Influential Norwegian NGO calls upon world to join to protect freedom of expression in South Sudan

By Joseph Oduha

February 19, 2019

“We are well aware that both media and civil society in general are operating at a high risk in South Sudan. At our meetings with representatives of the media in South Sudan, they told us about colleagues recently killed,” states Henriette Killi Westhrin, the renowned Norwegian politician. She is secretary general of Norwegian Peoples’ Aid, which is one of the country’s leading human and land rights protection organizations.

Westhrin called upon the world to unit to compel South Sudan’s government to reverse its efforts to curtail freedom of speech and the media. To that end, she proposed that any funding given to the war-torn country be coupled with measures to protect these rights.

“I think it is vitally important for the world’s society to take a clear stand in this regard, for it to say extremely loud and clear that the violations of freedoms of expression will not be accepted, that this society simply is not prepared to provide funding to such a government,” Westhrin concluded.


Sudan: quelling unrest by persecuting journalists

By Joseph Oduha

February 18, 2019

Seventy nine journalists have been arrested in Sudan over the last two months, states Reporters Without Borders (known by its acronym in French of “RSF”).

The journalists’ “crimes”:

(1) defying the regime of president Omar al-Bashir’s censorship and reporting on the unrests rocking Sudan since December 19, 2018’s increasing by the regime of the price of bread.

(2) reporting on the arrest of colleagues

(3) or simply being a journalist who might cover the arrests.

The standard pattern is to detain the journalists for several days or even weeks.

The arrests are reportedly being coupled with seizures of editions of newspapers by the Sudan’s brutal National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and by the issuing death threats and other forms of intimidation. These have caused a number of journalists to flee for their lives.

Seemingly good news

All journalists that were detained have by now been released from prison. Their releases came after al-Bashir met with newspaper editors on February 6th.

“The release of detained journalists is far from ending the crackdown on the media,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

”We call for an end to all forms of censorship, including an end to the repeated seizures of newspaper issues and the dropping of all judicial proceedings against media personnel. There will be no resolution of the crisis in Sudan if journalists are not free to cover what is happening,” Froger stressed.

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

South Sudan‘s courageous journalists:

we defy repression!!

February 11, 2019

In January, the government of South Sudan‘s media authority prohibited the country’s media from covering the unrest sweeping Sudan. Its people are rising against the corrupt, unjust and ineffective government of president Omar al-Bashir.

Specifically targeted was the Arab-language “Al-Wathan”. This Arabic-language newspaper had published articles that took critical looks at the al-Bashir regime. It was then subjected by the media authority to a “gag order” – as the international Committee to Protect Journalists described it – and ordered to apologize.

Led by Michael Christopher, its editor-in-chief, Al-Wathan refused.

The newspaper’s defiance is being widely supported by South Sudan’s leading journalists.

Among them: Atem Simon Mabior Ajaang. He has stated that the local media is not bound to adhere to the decree issued by the media authority.

Atem Simon Mabior Ajaang adds: “Covering the unrest is our duty. No one can be permitted to monopolize the truth. Those most affected by the decree are the Sudanese living in Juba.

Calling the government’s interference in the media a “disaster that will affect the future of the media and of freedom of expression in South Sudan,” Atem Simon Mabior Ajaang points out that such gag orders are part of a general move towards repression. This is especially pronounced on the regional level, where the crackdown has effectively muzzled the reporting on local problems.

Atem Simon Mabior Ajaang concludes by calling upon his colleagues “to appeal the decree. This is to be done via the Union of Journalists of South Sudan.”

Particularly targeted by the gag orders have been women journalists, who are especially susceptible to such threats, states a radio reporter. She spoke to a representative of on condition of preserving her anonymity.

“We women journalists are refraining from commenting on the media authority’s decree due to fear for our safety,” she states. The radio reporter adds “there will be no surrender. We will join our colleagues in writing on the unrest.”


Other comments from South Sudanese journalists:

“The fall of the al-Bashir regime will be a rebuke to the government of South Sudan’s position of not standing with the people of Sudan and with their passion for democracy and good government,” states Hatim al-Dirdiri, who reports for the Al-Jareeda newspaper.

“The media authority’s decree exceeds the powers granted to it by South Sudan’s Media Act of 2013. That was designed to foster a positive working environment for journalists. Instead, the authority has been using its powers to curtail freedom of the press, and to make journalists personally responsible for everything not pleasing the government,” notes Ibrahim Awol, another leading journalist.

Ibrahim Awol adds: “The media authority’s only job seems to be demanding payments from the media and from journalists.” He is referring to a 2017 decision by the authority. It required registration with it of all media and representatives in South Sudan. Neither that nor the paying of a stiff fee for it were foreseen by laws.

He concludes by saying: “We journalists in South Sudan firmly and entirely reject any kind of press censorship. It contravenes the principle of freedom of expression, which is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of South Sudan and by the laws governing the work of journalists in our country.”

Another focus of Ibrahim’s criticisms is the journalists’ union, which needs – in his opinion – to be reorganized.


Lars Andersen calls to protect journalists

Norwegian ambassador calls for effective protection of South Sudan journalists

by Joseph Oduha

February 4, 2019

“We are worried about developments in South Sudan. What we see happening there: that journalists are being persecuted, as is anybody else that criticizes the government. This does not bode well for the country’s civil society – or for its peace process,” states Lars Andersen, Norway’s ambassador to South Sudan.

Andersen continues: “South Sudan’s journalists and activities require effective protection from government-issued harassment, as this is the way to ensure freedom of the press and speech.”

Andersen’s remarks were made at a workshop held on February 4, 2019 in Juba. The workshop was organized by Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Its objective: to develop the capabilities of women leaders in South Sudan.

As Andersen pointed out: “A free exchange of opinion and a voicing of criticisms are elements required for the development of a society. If you stifle criticism and dissent, you won’t make the best decisions for your country. And you certainly won’t get a handle on corruption and other crimes,” Andersen noted.

“Freedom of speech and media are key values of humankind and key indicators of a country’s political health. This also applies to each organization. Each of them has to promote and protect these freedoms in its internal dealings,” Anderson concluded.

Andersen’s remarks were occasioned by further reports of the South Sudanese government’s crackdown’s causing journalists to leave their professions, or to resort to strict self-censorship.


South Sudanese journalists call for colleagues’ release

by Joseph Oduha

February 4, 2019

We journalists in South Sudan are dealing with a harsh crackdown. It is being perpetrated by our country’s media authorities. Its objective is to stop us from reporting on the unrest sweeping Sudan, our neighbor to the north.

The authorities’ fear: the unrest could spread to South Sudan.

Harsh though our crackdown is, it pales in comparison to what our colleagues in Sudan are experiencing.

Their dire fates have led the renowned Committee to Protect Journalists ( to call upon Sudanese authorities to release the journalists detained for the “crime” of covering the widespread protests against the Bashir regime.

“President Bashir’s attempt to deflect the public’s anger by smearing Sudan’s brave journalists is both futile and shameful,” says Sheriff Mansour, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“Rounding up more journalists won’t help authorities find a solution to the country’s ongoing unrest,” he added.

The arrested journalists:

Tariq Ali, Iman Osman, Musab Mohamed, Osama Hassan, Adam Mahdi and Amin Sanada.

These imprisonments have been accompanied by a revocation of the credentials of journalists working for international news outlets, and by a curtailing of access to the Internet and social media.