JUBA, JUNE 26, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – A South Sudan activist who is being pursued by the country’s National Security Service (NSS) is facing deportation from Turkey after fleeing Kenyan capital Nairobi where NSS agents were hunting for him.
Bichiok Gakah is one of South Sudanese activists in Kenya who established the Red Card Movement (RCM), a protest organizer that aimed at popular uprising against the government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit in early 2019.
Speaking to Sudans Post from Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday, Bichiok said he fled Kenya after receiving ‘more threats than usual’ from NSS operatives and their Kenyan counterparts, but said he now faces deportation because his tourist visa expired.
“I came here in January from Kenya because I was facing more threats than usual, as you remember, several members of our team who established the Red Card Movement have either disappeared or confirmed to have been extradited by South Sudanese agents with help of Kenyan authorities,” he said.
“As you remember my detention and torture in 2016, I cannot wait in Kenya and watch as I am being prepared for deportation from South Sudan authorities. I came here with the intention to seek asylum, but the Turkish authorities refused to grant that status to me,” he added.
When asked as to why the National Security Service is still looking for him four years after the founding of the Red Card Movement, he said that the government and its security operatives are not happy because he founded news outlet that the government as threat.
“As I was taking a low-profile status following the targeting of RCM members in Kenya by South Sudan security operatives, I established in 2020 the Ramciel Broadcasting to provide citizens with news and reliable information. The government eventually discovered that I am the founder,” he said.
“This angered the government because they don’t want any news publication that bring to light corruption and crimes against humanity and this is one of the reasons why they are still looking for me and if I am deported to South Sudan, I will definitely be tortured, jailed for life or killed,” he said.
“You know them very well,” he continued.
The UN mission in South Sudan has previously accused – in a report – the government of sending agents to Kenya and Uganda to intimidate and threaten activists who were critical of the government. It also said that the government had been using social media to track and harass activists.
In 2020, the US Department of State also accused the South Sudanese government of carrying out “extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, and other abuses against political opponents, civil society activists, journalists, and members of the security forces.”
The State Department report also said that the government had been using “threats, intimidation, and violence” to silence dissent.