Children mobilized to protest in favour of 32 States
By: Manyuon Mayen Manyuon
Government supporters in Jonglei State have been accused of mobilizing children to protest against the dissolution of 32 States.
On Monday, pro 32 states protesters believed to have been backed by the state authorities in Jonglei took to the streets demanding that 32 states be maintained.
The civil society and some concerned citizens said they were very alarmed over the use of children during the demonstration.
Majok Daniel Aluong, a concerned citizen who witnessed the protest in Bor said that the States authorities were using Children to achieve their interests, a clear violation of children’s rights.
“These protesters went on the streets demonstrating about 32 states. I saw them with my own eyes in town. These were groups comprising of children, Boda-Boda riders, the chiefs and other people in pickup vehicles,” he said.
Aluong affirmed that it was illogical for children to be just taken to the street to protest in favour of a particular number of States as it is something they do not understand.
“From a child protection perspective, it is not right. Children shouldn’t be used in a way that violates their rights. It is against the Geneva Convention on the rights of the child,” he said
Jonglei State Deputy Governor Diing Akol Diing denied the allegation saying it was the civil society organizations that mobilized the protesters, a claim denied by the civil society group in the State.
“That is not true. We cannot mobilize people. It is the civil society and interest group that mobilized them. They presented petition to us as the government,” he said.
David Garang Goch, the Chairperson of Jonglei State Civil Society Network said his group was not part of the pro 32 states protest.
“We were not involved in the Monday’s demonstration by civilians who were demanding for 32 States or more. So we didn’t take part in the demonstration,” he said.
Goch believes most of the demonstrators were influenced by the state authorities.
“It was not a good idea since the children do not know what they were doing. They were driven by some people who know what they are doing. The children were influenced to do so but it was not their will,” Goch stated.
However, Deputy Governor Akol insisted that the protesters were expressing their grievances and were not influence by the state authorities.
“It was their opinion and constitutional rights to conduct peaceful demonstration based on their will but not on government will. We have not mobilized them. That’s not true completely,” he added.
Diing stated that the State government was going to forward with the demand to the national government as soon as possible based on protesters’ expression.
“That was their demand. They wanted 32 States plus. It is their opinion; we will just forward it to the higher authorities for final decision making.”
Jonglei state is yet another state that has held demonstration in favour of the 32 states which were created by President Salva Kiir through a presidential decree in 2015.
There have been similar protests in Yei River State, Amadi State and Ruweng State.