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Performer says South Sudanese police beat, robbed him

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An internationally acclaimed South Sudanese hip-hop artist and peace activist says he was beaten and robbed by police while visiting his homeland to promote peace.

Emmanuel Jal said he was attacked Saturday night in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.

He said police stopped him about 9:30 p.m. while he was on his way to a guest house and took his cellphone. Five officers then beat him until he lost consciousness, as more than a dozen other officers stood by, he said.

A spokesman for the South Sudan Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. South Sudanese Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin could not be reached on his mobile phone.

Mr. Jal, a former child soldier, is in Juba to promote International Peace Day and perform at the "We Want Peace" concert on Sept. 20 and 21.

Mr. Jal said the incident is "an ironic and sad situation that will not deter my path for freedom, equality and justice."

"I am swollen, but recovering," he added.

"Tribalism, police brutality, corruption and other problems of destabilization must be highlighted and stopped in order for the country to progress," Mr. Jal said.

Amnesty International USA Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said the human rights group was shocked by the alleged attack and called for an immediate investigation.

"Jal has been a dedicated advocate for peace and security in the region for years," Ms. Nossel said. "His early years as a child soldier had made him extraordinarily credible as an advocate to prevent the use of children as soldiers worldwide to support the establishment of a global arms trade treaty and to defend human rights."

South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011, after more than two decades of civil war left more than 2 million people dead.

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