South Sudan: My journey to state of statelessness
Source: Sudan Tribune
By Luka Biong Deng Kuol*
When I was expelled from South Sudan in 2015 for organizing a public lecture at the University of Juba on the Presidential Decree to create 28 states, the government in Juba, in its response to the report of the UN Human Rights Commission, denied me as a citizen of South Sudan despite the glaring provision in the constitution of my full South Sudanese citizenship. My friend Dr Barnaba Marial, the former minister of foreign affairs, became a victim of the ploy orchestrated by some well known anti-peace ministers who continue to be political liabilities in the country.
When I was about to testify before the US Senate in 2016, Gordon Buay, a diplomat at the embassy of South Sudan threatened me in his facebook with this statement “Let me remind Dr Luka Biong that Pagan, Majak, Bakosoro, etc lost their passports because they betrayed the independence of South Sudan. I hope he (me) would not want to lose his passport and live like Edward Snowden”. After expressing my views about the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) and misrule by new Ja’aliyiin ruling Dinka elites in Juba, the government in Juba denied the renewal of my passport as confirmed by reliable sources in the Ministry of Interior.
Many people like me who did not join the opposition but have their dissenting views have been denied passports. Unlike some ministers and some members of JCE who have dual citizenship, I am only a citizen of South Sudan. Paradoxically this refusal to renew my passport came at the time when South Sudan is entering a new era of peace and reconciliation. Every citizen of South Sudan has a legal right to have a national passport unless denied in the court of law but not by individuals in the government who see the state as exclusively theirs. Despite such denial, one will continue to express his views about the affairs of our country.
* Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Rift Valley Institute and University of Juba