Spokespeople for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville on Iraq (1), Ravina Shamdasani on South Sudan (2)
Statements attributable to the Spokespeople for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville on Iraq (1), Ravina Shamdasani on South Sudan (2).
(2) South Sudan
The High Commissioner is gravely concerned about the alarming rise in hate speech and incitement to violence against certain ethnic groups in South Sudan in recent weeks. Letters with graphic warnings of violence against Equatorians have been left outside the offices of several humanitarian organisations in Aweil West in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, in the north-western part of the country. Ethnic Dinka youth groups have issued warnings to Equatorians that they will be “eliminated”.
The threats emerged in reaction to the killing of an unconfirmed number of Dinka civilians travelling to Juba by bus on 8 October. In another incident, on 10 October, armed men allegedly attacked three buses carrying civilians from Juba to Kampala on the Juba-Nimule road. Civilians were reportedly taken to the bush and robbed of their possessions, and at least one bus was set on fire by the attackers. Calls to avenge these attacks circulated widely on social media and led to fears amongst the Equatorian population of revenge killings across the country.
We welcome the press statement issued by the Acting Governor of Aweil State, in which he called on all citizens to “join the government in condemnation of these alleged threats directed towards our Equatorian brothers and sisters.” We urge political and community leaders to take all possible measures to prevent an escalation of violence along ethnic lines. The High Commissioner warns that the delicate situation in South Sudan makes the hateful rhetoric between Dinkas and Equatorians highly dangerous, and this could result in mass atrocities if not reined in. Attacks against civilians must be promptly and thoroughly investigated and perpetrators held individually responsible for their crimes, not least to avoid a cycle of revenge attacks between entire communities.