Monday, September 19, 2016

SOUTH SUDAN - Looting the Wealth

"South Sudan leaders used chaos of war to loot billions, investigation reveals" PBS NewsHour 9/12/2016


SUMMARY:  Founded in 2011, South Sudan is the world's newest country; but for much of its statehood, it has been engulfed in civil war.  The violence has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than two million people.  A report released on Monday by rights group The Sentry accuses South Sudanese political leaders of making a fortune off the conflict.  The NewsHour's P.J.  Tobia reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  South Sudan is the world's newest country, gaining independence from Sudan in 2011.

But, two years later, civil war broke out in the small East African nation.  Though a peace agreement was signed in 2015, sporadic fighting continues.  Millions have been displaced, while rival leaders fight for power and the country's oil and mineral wealth.

A two-year-long investigation into those leaders and their allies revealed billions have been looted from the country.

NewsHour producer P.J.  Tobia has our story

And a warning:  Some viewers may find some of the imagery disturbing.

P.J.  TOBIA, NewsHour producer:  Small, poor and dangerous, the U.N. has called South Sudan one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.

Fighters loyal to the president, Salva Kiir, have been battling those backing former Vice President Riek Machar for most of the last four years.  Caught in the crossfire are Sudan's impoverished civilians.  More than two million South Sudanese have been displaced by the fighting.  Tens of thousands have been killed.

The U.N. found that, in just six months last year, 1,300 women were raped by fighters in one South Sudanese state alone.  A report released today by The Sentry, a rights group in Washington, accuses the leaders who've orchestrated this brutality of making billions off the conflict.  Actor George Clooney wrote the foreword to the report.  “Hotel Rwanda” star Don Cheadle also works with The Sentry.  Both were at the National Press Club this morning to talk about the investigation.

GEORGE CLOONEY, Co-Founder, “The Sentry”:  This is pretty explosive stuff.  We're talking about the president and the ousted vice president, along with all of their generals, that we're able to prove without any question that not only are they committing these crimes which they have already been accused of, but that they're profiting off of it.

P.J.  TOBIA:  The report outlines how South Sudan's political leaders, generals and their families have used the chaos of war to generate vast sums of wealth.  They have built mansions across the world, from Uganda and Kenya to Australia.

That young woman flashing the peace sign from the sunroof of a BMW?  She's the daughter of a former general, a former general whose state salary was never more than 45,000 U.S. dollars.

This man is the stepson of another South Sudanese general.  He calls himself the young tycoon.  His Facebook photos show a life of privilege unimaginable to most South Sudanese.  Here, he narrates a tour of a presidential suite at a luxury hotel in Las Vegas.

JOHN PRENDERGAST, Enough Project:  So, it's like a mafia in some ways.  A mafia has taken over the state.

P.J.  TOBIA:  John Prendergast is the director of the Enough Project, a rights group that oversees The Sentry group.

JOHN PRENDERGAST:  The mafia we see in the movies, that is shooting a few people.  In South Sudan, tens of thousands of people have died in this war, with horrific atrocities, mass rape, child soldier recruitment, all the worst of the worst of the human rights abuses that we hear about globally.  And this is how they stay in power.

No comments: