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South Sudan: Kidnapping and violent assault of human rights defender and anti-corruption activist, Mr Deng Athuai Mawiir
On 7 July 2012, anti-corruption activist, Mr Deng Athuai Mawiir, was abandoned near a forest road by unidentified kidnappers after subjecting him to a three-day ordeal that included beatings, food deprivation and harsh interrogation sessions.
Deng Athuai Mawiir is a prominent human rights defender in South Sudan known particularly for his anti-corruption stance.
Deng Athuai Mawiir serves as chairperson for South Sudan’s Civil Society Alliance (SSHRAA), a young umbrella organisation, formed in July 2011, dedicated to speaking out on behalf of the people of South Sudan on issues of public concern and to building a vibrant and credible civil society. He is one of several anti-corruption activists who have been investigating into the loss of USD 4 billion allegedly stolen by corrupt government officials since 2005 in South Sudan. He was among the activists who organised a march to Parliament on 11 June 2012 in order to demand that the identities of 75 officials suspected of involvement in that scandal be made public.
On the evening of 4 July, Deng Athuai Mawiir was kidnapped by five unidentified men just outside the Nile Beach Hotel in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, where he had been meeting with the board of his organisation. One of the men offered him a ride as he was trying to reach a nearby market to purchase medication for a sick nephew. Once in the car, the men blindfolded him, using a black nylon paper bag to cover his head, and then firmly tied his hands behind his back before driving him to an unknown location. Once in captivity, the human rights defender was deprived of food and held in a dark room where his kidnappers repeatedly subjected him to harsh interrogation sessions, including beatings, in which they pressed him to tell them who had mandated him to work on corruption issues and to speak on behalf of the people of South Sudan. They also asked him to reveal the sources of funding for his organisation and threatened to “finish” him should he fail to tell them the truth.
A few days later, the kidnappers indicated that they wanted to take Deng Athuai Mawiir to a different location where he would undergo further interrogation. While being marched through a forest, the defender heard the noise of approaching military vehicles. At that moment, the kidnappers ordered him to lie down, but when he refused, they got scared and ran away. From there, he was able to walk to a nearby police station where arrangements were made to take him to hospital.
Front Line Defenders believes that Deng Athuai Mawiir has been targeted as a result of his activities in the defence of human rights, particularly his involvement in the fight against corruption in South Sudan. Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Deng Athuai Mawiir, as well as that of all those working to expose human rights violations and corruption in South Sudan.