NBGS youth leaders held for holding ‘un-NSS-authorized’ meeting

The chairperson for Northern Bahr el Ghazal State Youth Union was reportedly beaten and arrested in Aweil on Tuesday for allegedly convening a meeting without an authorization from the state authorities.

Tito Awen and two officials – Gar Deng Gar and Alom Atak – were arrested during the annual youth union finance review meeting at a hotel in Aweil town.

During the arrest, they were ordered to close the meeting by the police without any explanation, according to the deputy youth spokesperson, Deng Atuop Deng.

He said Tito Awen Bol and Gar Deng Gar are being held at the state police headquarters, while Alom Atak is being kept at the Special Police Unit, a detention facility for female offenders.

Generally the Kiir administration restricts freedom of assembly, despite commitments made in the interim constitution. It stipulates that:

“The right to peaceful assembly is recognized and guaranteed; every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his or her interests.”

But in practice, organizers must seek NSS permission to hold public meetings.

“They said we didn’t inform national security. But we have informed all concerned authorities responsible for security issues,” Atuop told Akol Yam FM.

When contacted, William Anyuon Kuol, state government spokesperson, said he was not aware of the youth leaders’ detention.