Local advocates to protest S. Sudan president’s visit to D.C.

Published 11:10 am Friday, July 25, 2014

Local Sudanese will join hundreds of people around the country in a plan to protest South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s upcoming visit to a White House summit next month.

“We want to go out to do a demonstration to Washington, D.C., so that we can tell the world that that man is a killer,” said Gatluach Duop Dieth.

Dieth, a Sudanese human rights advocate and an Austin resident, is accepting donations to organize three bus loads of Sudanese residents from Minnesota to travel to D.C. a few days before the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Aug. 4-6.

Email newsletter signup

Dieth was one of several Sudanese leaders to sign and send a memo to the White House last week denouncing Kiir and the South Sudanese government’s role in the nation’s current civil war. Leaders also asked the Obama administration to call for Kiir’s removal from office and help assist displaced South Sudanese to find shelter at potential U.N refugee camps in neighboring countries, away from the current civil war.

Tensions in South Sudan have built over the past few years as Kiir has dismissed and replaced numerous government officials. In December of 2013, Kiir accused former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a coup after a shooting took place in the military barracks of the Presidential Guard.

Machar, who left office in July 2013, denied the accusations.

Since then, government troops and rebels have skirmished throughout the country. Hundreds of people were reported dead within the first few days of fighting in Juba, the nation’s capital, as well as the surrounding region. Though some believe the conflict stems from tribal violence between the Dinka and Nuer people — Kiir is Dinka while Machar is Nuer — many advocates and experts have dismissed the theory.

“There are many good Nuer, many good Dinka,” Dieth said. “Many of the Nuer tribe are leaving the country, not because of the Dinka, but because of that man.”

Dieth returned to South Sudan once it became a country in 2011 to help but came back after the fighting started. He and about 25 to 30 Sudanese protested Kiir’s government on July 8 but Sudanese organizers around the country decided to protest during the upcoming summit to decry Kiir as South Sudan’s leader.

To that end, Dieth and other advocates from the South Sudan International Advocacy for Human Rights hope to raise about $30,000 to pay for several bus rentals, tickets and drivers to transport residents from Minnesota to D.C. next month. Residents can contact Dieth at 507-396-2064, on his cell at 507-481-8758 or by email at gatluakdd@juno.com.

“If good people will come together, the world will know what’s going on,” Dieth said.