From The Intercept:
Read part one of this series here.
Hakim was home alone with his two dogs, relaxing one night in March, when his cellphone rang. The man on the other end of the line asked a simple question: “Do you know that we can assassinate you at any time?”
In seconds, the line went dead.
Harassment is nothing new for Hakim. The 30-year-old has been questioned by national security operatives many times. But none of those experiences was quite like the assassination threat.
“This last one was really serious,” he says, with understatement.
Hakim lives in a dangerous land. Since plunging into civil war in 2013, South Sudan has seen up to 300,000 civilians killed and 2.4 million driven from their homes by a conflict marked by sexual slavery, rape, assault, torture, extrajudicial killings, abductions, destruction of homes and villages, and pillage.
A peace deal signed last summer has not halted the bloodshed nor did it completely quell violence between the two main parties to the war — the government of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and the opposition forces led by Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer and sacked vice president-turned-rebel leader-turned-vice president again in a recently formed unity government.
Even in the capital of Juba, anyone might be attacked, might fall victim to violence. But Hakim is in additional jeopardy. He works in a high-risk profession. Colleagues of his have recently been beaten, tortured, and dumped in graveyards. Others have fled the country. A group of them was massacred last year.
Hakim George Hakim is a journalist.
After a brief burst of press freedom around the time of South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the situation steadily declined — especially after the outbreak of the civil war. The low point came last year when President Kiir — a longtime U.S. ally who is hardly ever seen without a cowboy hat, like the ones given to him by Secretary of State John Kerry and former President George W. Bush — publicly threatened journalists. “Freedom of the press does not mean that you work against your country,” he told a group of reporters. “If anybody among them does not know that this country will kill people, we will demonstrate it, one day, on them.”
Three days later, on August 19, 2015, Peter Julius Moi, a journalist with New Nation and The Corporate, was gunned down near his home on the outskirts of Juba. Moi was not known as a muckraker, so some people have chalked up his killing to a personal dispute. Others say Moi was an easy target and a convenient way to send a message. What’s clear is that he was shot in the back, no money or personal effects were taken from him, and his murder remains unsolved.
His killing is just one particularly heinous…