news. the top story. a former fbi director says donald trump pressured him to drop an enquiry into links with russia. james comey issued a statement ahead ofa james comey issued a statement ahead of a senate hearing saying the president demanded this loyalty and asked him to lay off investigating the former national security adviser michael flynn. a big search operation is continuing for a burmese plane with more than 120 people on board. most of the passengers were soldiers and their families. this most of the passengers were soldiers and theirfamilies. this is trending on our website. fossils found in morocco suggest humans evolved 100,000 years earlier than previously thought. it suggests humans evolved across all of africa rather than the east of the continent. more to come. i will be back in half an hour. now it is hardtalk. welcome to this special hardtalk
with me, zeinab badawi, recorded in front of an audience coming to you from the bbc radio theatre as part of our freedom season. the acclaimed south sudanese singer and political activist emmanuel jal was just a boy during the sudanese civil war when he was captured and forced to work as a child soldier in the 1980s. he escaped and went on to see his people gain independence in a referendum three years ago. but now, south sudan is once again in conflict as rival tribes descend into ethnic violence that has killed thousands since december and left nearly a million displaced and at risk of starvation. when will the people of south sudan enjoy peace and freedom at last and is emmanueljal himself free from the traumas of being a child soldier? audience, please welcome emmanueljal to hardtalk. i was born in violence so peace
was robbed from my childhood. in the beginning. you were not only robbed from peace, you were robbed of your mother, who died in the conflict. all my aunties died during the war, my mum too. also all my uncles as well, except for two. and that is what i saw what war did, it robs people's souls. you are interesting because your father is from the nuer tribe and your mother was a dinka. tell us the circumstances of the death of your mother. i know it was a very sad occasion, you were about six or seven. what actually happened,
there were several village raids so we were running from one place to another. because my mother was pregnant, i thought maybe she got shot. recently my grandmother told me she died of exhaustion, giving birth because she ran and that is how she died. and yourfatherjoined what was then the sudan people's liberation army, fighting for independence from sudan. you really didn't see him because he was just off fighting the whole time. he was off fighting and he was in charge of the whole area at the time when we left the town. he was the one who collected hundreds of kids that were sent to school. he gave me up because the villagers were going to war. that is how i was taken to ethiopia. so your father allowed you to be recruited as a child soldier
when you are only about seven or eight? so i do not know if he knew if we were going to be soldiers because it was made attractive that we were going to go to school and learn how fly planes and make guns. all the things that people go to school for. so you thought you were going to get an education. you followed thousands of other south sudanese children. you went in the border of south sudan and ethiopia then. what happened to you at this school that you thought you were going to get an education, what happened? a lot of things. first, when we took off, we were put on a boat and the boat capsized and 250 young people were put in a small boat. only 50 people survived. my dad did not allow me to stay so they collected hundreds of young people and we had to walk to ethiopia. arriving there, we actually went to school for a while. what was really
disturbing is seeing six, seven years old burying their own dead. we were not strong people, we were starving. diseases are attacking us. then we got trained. and you said the commander at the school said, from now on, the gun was going to be your mother and father. yes. that is what everyone is told, the gun is your father and your mother. even your dad, if he come along, you can put a bullet in their head. we are taught about the importance of because that. and you felt in a way, that you had a family again? it is like a big family because, the thing is, i did not know what the war was all about. i had my reasons why i wanted to be trained. my desire was to kill as many muslims and arabs as possible because that is what i thought the war was. i did not know what the war was about. in your book, you talk
about one raid on a village where there was an old woman and you just raised your stick and you said, i started hitting the old woman again and again until my arm ached. this was in a place in ethiopia, we had just finished training. what happened was we used to go to the rivers and steal their goats, their chickens. we were trained and then what happens, these people don't know where their animals disappeared to. we would raid their places where they make their maize and steal their mangoes and bananas. their way to fight back is they would put spears on the riverbanks and so what happens is when the kids come andjump in the river, just to swim and have
fun, they would stick down there. we used to think it was crocodiles but when somebody, one of the kids survived came out and they found the spears down there, it created anger and that is when we invaded their village and burned it down. and you told that old woman to lie down or you would cut off her head? then you started hitting her. when you look back at that period, how does that make you feel? the fact that you actually, not only fought but killed? but what happens, i was not alone. there were many of us. when you are in a group, anything can happen. you can scream. things like this, it is hard sometimes to remember digest. it is sometimes disturbing for me. but do you feel that you became dehumanised by these actions? you talk about how you just wanted to kill as many arabs and northern sudanese as you could and there was a man wearing the jalabiya,
the white kaftan, and you just raised your machete and smashed into him. and you said with one of your fellow child soldiers, you just were laughing. well, the guys were not wearing the jalabiya. this was on the battlefield. in a situation where the soldiers were still killing us. this was in juba. sometimes when you capture people like that, you feel... you want them to feel the pain. so you don't want to shoot them easily. you called what they wear traditionally, the jalabiya, a reference to the northern sudanese. it is not the dress. jalaba is the name of the arab. to explain to us, why do you not see them as human beings when you are on the battlefield, fighting? you see them as being just the enemy, the oppressor. because of experience.
one time i saw my mother beaten in front of me and got humiliated and then my uncle tried to stop and then he was beaten as well. that time as a kid, ijumped to bite one of the soldier's foot. and then, he pressed my neck and then i blacked out. and so then, remembering that and seeing my mum humiliated in front of me and ourfood got taken by force and one of the soldiers saying, it is god's will. that these people are going to be slaves and they have started a rebel movement, they will never win. these were seeds that were planted in my head. that these were terrible people. i did not have a word to put in now, but now i could say i was bitter and had a hatred
for that time. so that is what went on in your head when you were killing the enemy? all these thoughts would come cascading back? you use these thoughts to justify situations. you use them to make yourself brave. for example, when you are scared, you remember how your village was burning and your mum was screaming. and you also remember how my auntie was raped as a kid. you use that anger to hold you to stand so that you do not get afraid. did you feel better? did the pain subside once you felt you had carried out these vengeance attacks, for what had happened to your family? only for five minutes and then after that, the ghosts follow you for a long time. human life is not easy. maybe those who are used to it. if it is your first time, it is different when you have got somebody in cold blood. you are then one of the estimates,
today there are still something like 250,000 to 300,000 child soldiers, somewhere in the world. you are now in your mid—30s. do you still feel haunted by what happened to you when you were a child soldier? at the moment, i was very bitter so i managed to forgive myself and also forgive those who have harmed me and opened my mind. i came to the world and realised what was killing us was not muslims and arabs, it was a bigger than what i thought. i realised it is economical. and mostly activated by political situations. in that process, i had to let go. that is when my healing began. you managed to escape and you were 11 when you managed to fall into the hands of emma mccune who was a young british woman, married to riek machar, from the same tribe
as you, the nuer, the vice president who has gone on the run in this recent conflict. being with emma mccune, she tragically died in a car accident in nairobi soon after, how far was that as part of the healing process? emma rescued over 150 child soldiers. i happen to be one of those. she smuggled me into kenya and put me in school. i did not know if she even knew that i was related to riek. that was her passion, helping a child. my thoughts, even when i was getting rescued, my reaction was different. i did not want to leave my gun, i wanted to come back to war. i am going to this white woman's country, i thought i will learn how to steal a plane and then come back to war. i became a different soldier. so, now we come to
what is going on now. you say that you are related to riek machar, but you're not related, you are from the same part of south sudan as he is. so three years ago, south sudan votes for independence, it gets it and now look at it. in the midst of another conflict. 10,000 killed since december, maybe more. do you think everybody knows what is going on now in your country? not everybody knows because it depends on who is putting the message out. the government has their own propaganda, speaking out. the people in the oppositions have their way of putting out but as i can put a perspective on what actually happened was a political situation. 0ne party, party members asking the president to democratise our party. we have to make it accountable.
we have to make things transparent and transform our country to be democratic. that is how the battle began. as you say, president salva kiir won the election and we are talking about president salva kiir from the dinka tribe and riek machar broke away from the government and is now fighting his former allies. you have very clearly blamed salva kiirfor this. you said on your facebook in december last year, president salva kiir wants to pocket our freedom. i am not going to keep quiet. the president is responsible for those who died. yes, i actually said that. because what is peace? peace is when there is food on the table for children. when they have school, shelter, medical. it is when conflicts are managed in a mature manner and violence is prevented. the situation that happened, the political situation, it should not come and kill people.
it should have been sorted in a political way. now what is happening is that the people in jail are the founding fathers. you are talking about those who are put in jail early last year because salva kirr thought they were plotting against him. it is not tribal. it is used to cover up and get support. this is not a tribal war. it is a battle between one party not wanting to be democratic. the president wanting to stay in power. you say it is not tribal, but many say it is. a governor in the north—east part of south sudan says that we see this as a tribal fight. if you look at it, you have the whole government, all the resources used to fight one tribe, bringing the ugandans
and the congolese. but it is political. who are the people in jail? the reason why they are fighting is because when the incident happened they killed civilians. the family members from the villages were angry at the government. but you are very much pointing the finger of blame at salva kirr. the un assistant secretary general for human rights has said injanuary that we have received reports of mass killings, sexual violence, recruiting of child soldiers from both sides. the reason i point at the president, because when you are at the head you enjoy everything. riek machar was the vice president. he was running for his life. none of them picked up arms until they were forced. civilians should not be targeted. two of my brothers got killed. some of my family members, i do not know where they are. they are civilians. what happens now could have been solved easily. you are influential.
you have a high international profile. when you put the message on facebook in december, it gets a negative response from this south sudanese man. he says that you send out mixed messages. please stay out of politics. another one said, you are very disappointing, you should be a man of all people and not taking sides. my side isjustice, equality and freedom for all. that is the side i take. when i take that and say the truth, people who feel that the way of getting their bread is threatened, they fight back. i only fight for justice and equality. riek machar‘s fight is different. i cannot say, i am on your side, he is a politician. what if he gets power
and starts doing it the same? i am against what salva kirr is doing, not him. i was beaten by police. you are talking about 2012. you are beaten by police because they knew that you were nuer. why do they have to target my family? what does my family have to do with this? 5 million people do not have food. 1 million people are displaced. thousands of people have died. they need assistance. we have refugees in the camps who do not have proper assistance. the head of the united nations mission in south africa has been sounding the alarm bells. he says that the clock is ticking. do you think that the international community should be doing more? an appeal has been put out for $1.3 billion in help for south sudan. only 25% has been achieved. the international community can do
a lot by pressuring both sides and making them accountable. we do not need to allow leaders to get away with murder. it should be referred to the icc. they should be held accountable. every person that has died does not have to die. i feel ashamed by being party to this. it is one party bringing the entire country to suffering. what about african solutions for african problems? as you mention, we have ugandan forces supporting salva kirr. the east african community group is brokering the peace talks. shouldn't it be better than going off to the icc?
uganda saw two brothers fighting and picked one brother. that is not the way forward. that is not an african solution. that is an economical solution. everybody is after their interests. the only thing i see that is better is the united nations peacekeeping force. it should be strengthened and allowed to move freely so that the civilians can be protected. what about america? very close to south sudan, helped it to independence, provides it with $300 million of aid every year. there are people like congressman chris smith of newjersey who is urging barack 0bama to pick up the phone to salva kirr and say, look, this has got to stop. could 0bama be doing more?
he could. when there is peace, a lot of people want to make money. people are making millions. civilians are dying. land is getting sold cheap. deals are being signed. it is really difficult. we need a higher conscious awakening. we need to give people the peace they are looking for. it is tragic. only 10 million people, and yet the country is still underdeveloped. only 30% of the population can read or write. people do not have jobs.
and suffering continues. i am very optimistic that things are going to change. south sudan is going to pick it up. at the moment, things are changing slowly. the war is not tribal. people in south sudan are saving each other. if you go now to any village, if there is no army, nobody would be touched. there is a lot of evidence of killing at communal levels on the basis of ethnicity. you have a charity that means "strength" in arabic, scholarships for children and trying to make sure that they have an education that you feel that you never had. why are you doing that? i was given a chance to go to school, education opens your mind and makes you understand things differently. when i was educated i was able
to equip myself and see the world in a different way. otherwise i would have been locked in my own world. because of education i am able to open my ears. my ears are open. i read and i get to learn. thank you for coming on hardtalk. most of us saw sunshine yesterday. today it will be hard to come by. it will be cloudy for most. the cloud is thick enough to bring rain for some of us. the relatively clear weather working out of the north sea replaced by the lump of cloud.
the low spinning around there sending south—westerlies across the uk. the cloud will be thick enough for us to get wet weather. the wettest of it is in wales in north—west england. low cloud and mist and fog. a mild start to the day. 13—14 degrees. something like that. cooler in the north of scotland. at least some morning sunshine. gusty to start the day across wales and south—west england. gusts come in at a0 miles an hour. the same in east anglia and east england. dry weather. the occasional spit of rain is possible. that working in across england. misty in the pennines. it will get across northern ireland first thing in the morning. edging across scotland. the north will stay dry with early morning sunshine. going on through the rest of the day, uncertainty about the northward spread of this rain. it could get further north
that we are showing, perhaps threatening northern scotland into the afternoon. returned to northern ireland later in the day. some showers in wales and south—west england and moving into the midlands. south—east england, trying to get bright late in the day. thursday night, showers pushing across the uk. the weather turning lighter. still coming in from the south—west to pick another mild start for friday. a better kind of day on friday. fewer showers. more in the way of sunshine. showers limited to scotland into the afternoon. with sunshine and lighter winds, it will feel warmer. 19 in belfast. not bad at all. 22 in london. pleasant in the light winds. a finer evening to follow. showers continuing to affect parts of scotland. the weekend. rain lurking behind. that is tying in with another area of low pressure bringing wet and fairly windy weather to start the weekend across many areas
of the uk. brace ourselves for a soggy start to the weekend. not all of it is bad news. the rain will clear through. it will be a drier day. highs of 23 in london. and that's your weather. i'm rico hizon in singapore, the headlines: james comey reveals that president trump asked for his loyalty a few months before firing him. the former fbi director gives evidence to congress later. iran says the attackers who killed 12 people tehran were iranians who'd joined so—called islamic state. i'm babita sharma in london. also in the programme: an anxious wait on the ground — the search for a burmese military plane with more than 120 people continues more tributes to the victims of the london bridge attack — eight people are now known to have died