National, News

Police detains artists for alleged defamatory song

By Hou Akot Hou


At least three local artists in Aweil South County, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, have been detained by police for allegedly composing a song critical of the local leadership.

Musicians; Lawrence Lual Lual, Akol Mangok Akol, and Ateny Akol Akol were arrested on Tuesday and are currently held in police custody at Malek-alel, the county headquarters.

Marko Garang Deng Akok, the county’s police director, confirmed the arrests of the three suspects to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via phone.

They are accused of releasing a song sung in Dinka dialect titled “Yengo Kueny raan Reec Baai, which loosely translates to “Why appointing someone who is corrupt and contributing to the underdevelopment of the county.”

According to Akok, the artists admitted releasing the song but denied intending to defame any individual.

“These young men say they have released a song but are not intending to defame the government or anyone in the government of the county,” he said

But the county police director maintained that the song violated local laws saying the artists were apprehended on Tuesday, and a lawsuit had been filed against them.

“They are not realistic to themselves and as police, we are implementing the rules and they will answer the case in the court” the Akok added.

Aweil South County is being led by Commissioner Luka Thel Thel of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), a party to the transitional unity government.

One area youth who chose anonymity due to fear of reprisal said the artists were speculated in the area for having done a song against the opposition politician who heads the county leadership.

“This is obvious but they have to be taken to court and justify themselves” he stated. “But the government should allow people to express themselves and not being threatened here and there till people die in silence,” he said.

While South Sudan’s transitional constitution as amended guarantees freedom of speech, tensions exist between this right and national security concerns.

Some members of the public especially civil society always argue that such arrests stifle public discourse and suppress criticism of authorities.

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