News / Africa

    South Sudan Journalist Released, Bakhita Radio Still Silent

    Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
    x
    Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
    Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
    Philip AleuNabeel Biajo

    The news editor of Juba-based Bakhita Radio was released Tuesday, four days after he was detained by national security agents who also ordered the radio station to stop broadcasting.

    David Nicholas Ocen was released after the Union of Journalists in South Sudan mediated on his behalf and the director of Bakhita Radio, Albino Tokwaro, sent a letter of apology to the government for a report about renewed fighting in Unity state, Tokwaro said.

    The government said the report on the clashes near Bentiu, which aired on Saturday, blamed its troops for starting the fighting. The story included a quote from acting SPLA spokesman Joseph Marier Samuel, who said rebel forces started the fighting in Unity state by attacking government positions, and rebel spokesman Peter Riek Gew who said quite the opposite -- that government troops attacked positions held by his side.

    Ocen and his colleagues were detained on Saturday, shortly after the story aired. Because he was the lead author of the story, Ocen was held in custody until Tuesday, while his colleagues were released after a few hours.

    The government does not want us to continue with some political programs.

    Tokwaro said that although Ocen was free, the radio station was still off the air. When it resumes its broadcasts, things are likely to be different, he said, because the security services have asked the Catholic church, which runs Bakhita Radio, "to go and discuss with them the modalities of the programs that will be presented."

    "The government does not want us to continue with some political programs,” Tokwaro said.

    Harassment of media

    The East Africa representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Tom Rhodes, has said at least 10 journalists have been threatened or detained since South Sudan plunged into conflict in December.

    “Security forces in various different offices act with total impunity when it comes to the press. They harass and detain journalists at will,” Rhodes said.

    He said that truthful reporting has become a casualty of South Sudan’s conflict, at a time that people desperately need to know the facts.

    “We are seeing such a high level of censorship that I worry the South Sudanese public are not getting an accurate picture of what’s going on,” he said.

    U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States is "monitoring the situation closely" and "urged the government of South Sudan to fully adhere to its constitutional guarantees and international obligations."

    Government: Journalists free to report on conflict

    South Sudan presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny insisted that journalists are free to report on the conflict in the country, as long as they respect certain limits.

    “You cannot just say anything, anytime. You have to calculate the consequences of the words you want to give to the public. Just because you’re a journalist, it’s not a ticket to say anything, anytime,” he said.

    On Monday, Ateny said the report aired by Bakhita Radio had left the army vulnerable and was, therefore, a violation of national security. That kind of reporting, he said, will not be tolerated by the government.

    A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.
    x
    A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.
    A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.

    Veteran South Sudanese journalist Jacob Akol said the government should not "pretend there is freedom of the press in South Sudan while at the same time letting the security loose on the press."

    "While the media is told they are free to report anything within the law, media houses are closed and journalists are arrested, detained or intimidated by the security (services), without reference to any law," Akol told South Sudan in Focus in an email.

    "This is a very unhealthy and confusing position for the media" and was creating a climate of fear, Akol said.

    The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said in a live chat on Twitter that the United Nations was "concerned" about the shutdown of Bakhita Radio and the "apparent hardening of the media climate in South Sudan."

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora