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Twenty two protesters set free

By James Atem Kuir

Twenty-two civil society activists and artists have been set free after eight hours of detention by the South National Police Service (SSNPS) after they were arrested for staging a peaceful protest following the dead of Artist Trisha C.

The group were peacefully protesting what they believe was poor-quality service and negligence by the Juba Teaching Hospital staff, licensing of unqualified drivers and ever-delaying police report known as Form-8, after a renowned pop Singer Trisha C died due tolack of blood in the hospital, after sustaining serious injuries in an accident at Mobil Roundabout on Monday.

Trisha Cas she is known by her fans, was rushed to the hospital after a water tanker lost control and rammed into a motorcycle on which she was riding, killing the rider instantly and left her with serious injuries in front of Al Sabah Children Hospital (few meters south of Mobil Roundabout).

However, according to the activists, 4 hours later at the hospital, she was yet to receive any help from the hospital because she didn’t have a Form-8 and the blood bank was closed by that time.

Notably among the activists and artists arrested and taken into custody on Tuesday were prominent activist Jame David Kolokthe executive director of Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) – a civil society organization based in Juba, Manasseh Mathiang, a musician and founding member of Anataban, and the outspoken youth activistWani Michaelthe executive director of Okay Africa Foundation, a youth-led national organization also based in Juba.

Also Comedian Feel free and other artists and mourners of late Trisha C were also taken into different detention centers in Juba and Buluk Police headquarters.

Speaking to Juba Monitor yesterday, Activist Jame David Kolok the ED of FODAG, said after hours of detentions and transfer from one police cell to another andbeating and interrogation of some members, the police officers finally let go of all the two ladies and twenty gentlemen without charges but on bails late Tuesday evening.

“We were takento another police station in Juba near the Juba prison. So once we were taken there, I don’t know what really happened but we ended being ordered back into vehicles and taken to previous police station near the immigration department where they wanted us to finally go to jail and probably to court in the morning,” he said.

“We didn’t know what happened, some of us were still bathing whensuddenly they called us and said: ‘come you are going home!’ and we asked what happened? Why are you releasing us? They couldn’t give the answer but they took us back to the other station and ordered us to call our relatives and bail us, so we were literally bailed out,” activist Kolok explained.

Mr. Koloksaid during their one session with the police at the custody, they met and discussed about rights to freedom of expression and assembly and made a case for their peaceful protests right to freedom of expression to the Police Inspector General, (IGP) Gen. MajakAkecMalok.

The said although they were nottortured, some members of their group had sustained injuries and bruises over their heads and bodies during their time in the hands of police.

It is not clear why the officers dispersed and arrested the activists and peaceful protestors but the national police deputy spokesperson Col. James Dak in a statement to SSBC Tuesday night,said the protestors did not take permission from the Central Equatoria state police commissioner.

He reiterated calls for respect for the rights of every citizens to peacefully protest and express themselves against pressing issues without any form of intimidation from any security agencies.

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