Another group of 21 teachers were picked from the Lakes State Legislative Assembly in Rumbek on Wednesday morning and detained at the SSPDF’s Panda Military Barracks in South Sudan, a teacher who survived the arrest said.
The group of teachers had gone to the state government offices to follow up on a petition they had penned to the state education minister, Nelson Makoi Makur, concerning their salary increments and arrears.
A teacher who survived being picked up and whose name we have withheld for fear of reprisal told Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday afternoon that they had gone to find out about their salaries and find out why their other colleagues had been detained.
“What happened today at 9:30 am is that we mobilized ourselves as teachers to go and claim our salary increment and arrears of January and February and to find out why our teacher colleagues were detained three days ago,” he explained. “We were on the way to the parliament and when we reached the gate, two SSPDF vehicles came and they locked the gate they arrested 21 of the teachers.”
“I was the only teacher who survived arrest because I went to the other side of the road and they ignored me,” he added.
The teacher said that they will not give up on their rights despite the threats, intimidation, and arrests by the state government.
“We will not surrender our right to the Lakes State government because of the intimidation, arrest, and torture of teachers by SSPDF,” he added. “We will continue to demand our rights for full payment of our salary arrears until we receive them.”
According to the teacher, among the 21 teachers detained on Wednesday was Makur Nyot who spoke to the media on Monday when their colleagues were detained.
“He (Nyot) was driven away alone to an unknown location in a separate military vehicle and he will not be safe from torture by the SSPDF,” he said.
The Lakes State coordinator for the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Daniel Laat Kon, confirmed the detention of the 21 teachers at the gates of the Lakes State parliament on Wednesday.
“There were 6 teachers detained at the ministry of education gate plus 12 teachers arrested and now 21 teachers were picked at the gate of parliament today (Wednesday). This brings the total number of teachers in detention to 39,” he said.
Laat urged the state governor to release the teachers and pay their salary arrears with the approved 100 percent increment.
Machok Bol, a legislator in the Lakes State parliament, said the 21 teachers were arrested at the gate of parliament while everybody present was watching.
“It is true. The 21 teachers were coming to make a follow up of their petition on the salary arrears and they were arrested by the security forces this (Wednesday) morning at the gate of Lakes State parliament,” he said. “These teachers were taken beyond police custody and to the Panda Military Barracks for detention.”
He said the speaker of the state parliament and her deputy assured the house that they will follow up with the executive on the matter and the house will be brief next week.
“My message to the executive is that those teachers are not criminals to be detained in the military barracks. They have to be taken to the police for investigations and taken to court if the matter is not resolved,” Bol said.