Does burning of the national flag deserve such strict orders from the president?

LOUISVILLE, KY – Though the burning of national flag is wrong and condemnable, it does not deserve the kind of stringent orders for the arrest of the culprits such as the ones we heard from our President, Salva Kiir, namely: “These people must be hunted and brought to book because what they have done cannot be compromised. They are not against Rizik [Zachariah Hassan] as governor; they are not against me as the president. They are against this country. Burning national flag, which is our symbol, is unacceptable.” Kiir told a large crowd at Wau stadium on Monday, according to Sudan Tribune.

Burning of the nation’s flag, though deplorable, is not a threat to national security. It simply shows how our people are disgruntled with the government. It is an expression of their fury and does not merit such unforgiving order from our highest authority.

Everywhere in the world in our modern days when people are annoyed with their national government, they misrepresent their anger by burning their flags as expression of rage. No one should be detained and investigated for burning of symbolic material. What really deserves such order from our highest authority is the pitiable state of our national security in the country. The hunting down of  heartless and murderous fundamentalists especially in Jonglei state is what I need to hear from Mayardit. Also the cold-blooded and murderous criminals who are responsible for the death of our much-loved hero Diing Chan Awuol must be apprehended and brought to book, so are those responsible for the death of twenty five people in Wau.  

It’s shameful and pathetic to see the helpless state of security in South Sudan. In November this year, there was unreported massacre in the village of Alian, Jalle Payam, Bor County where seven people were massacred and 8000 heads of cattle were stolen. Military officers that were in the area at the times stayed on the fence without intervening to save the lives of innocent civilians who were murdered by gangs of Murle who carry out these crimes with impunity. The strange thing regarding Alian massacre was the fact that they were just disarmed by the same forces who watched them dying defenselessly during the robbery.

By the way this is the same Payam were forty five people including children were thrown into fire alive to their death last year, and the human rights defenders in South Sudan did not utter a single word of condemnation. But when the opposite happens to Murle, the human rights groups are all over the media complaining about things like ethnic cleansing, or genocide is about to occur. This is double standard and that is why I termed the current human right operation in South Sudan as human wrong. If they are true representatives of human right that I know, then they should speak out against any injustices across the board.

The state of insecurity in Juba, Wau, and Kuajock and everywhere in Southern Sudan ought to attract more attention from our leaders and president in particular, otherwise it would amount to impunity and ignorance or complicity.  All these happenings in the country should inform citizens on how we should cast our vote come the next election. Destiny is in your own hands, you the grassroots and only you have the powers to change things.

In my opinion, while our president is right to condemn the smoldering of our national flag in the strongest term possible, he shouldn’t order an investigation or arrest for those who are responsible for the burning of our national symbol. I am afraid that the President’s words may be misinterpreted by the security forces and those responsible could be subjected to detention and torturing. Inhumane treatment of these people could be inevitable if MR. President does not reverse his order.

Only those who are responsible for the death of twenty five people in Wau should be investigated and arrested, not those who put our national flag on fire. Our national flag is symbol that could be burned today and made tomorrow, but human life cannot. Our nation’s flag is embedded in our souls, hearts and minds and there is nothing to worry about.

Kwai Akech Kwai resides in Louisville, KY, USA. He can be reached via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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