Just days after premiering his new video “We Want Peace — Reloaded,” former child soldier, peace activist, and hip-hop artist Emmanuel Jal was reportedly beat by South Sudanese police in Juba after returning to his home country for an upcoming gala and concert to promote international peace.
Jal’s publicist told Rolling Stone the attack was apparently unprovoked. Five officers allegedly stopped the performer Saturday night around 9:30 p.m., took his cell phone, and beat him until he lost consciousness. Fifteen other police and national security officers are said to have watched the attack without intervening.
“This is an ironic and sad situation that will not deter my path for freedom, equality and justice,” Jal said in a statement. “I am swollen, but recovering ... I would like to express that abuse of power should not be tolerated on any level.”
Jal said on Twitter he still plans to perform on World Peace Day, Sept. 21, at the "We Want Peace" Business Gala and concert in Juba, South Sudan.
I want a positive outcome from this situation & for my country. I will get better & perform on peace day 21st Sept at Independence hall #WWP— Emmanuel JAL (@EmmanuelJAL) September 10, 2012
An investigation into the incident is underway, according to a release by Jal’s outfit.
Before the age of 10, Jal was recruited to fight as a child soldier with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Eventually running away from forced servitude with a small group of other child soldiers, a hefty dose of luck and ambition led him away from a life of conflict and down a path of activism and music.
For the past couple of years Jal has toured the globe to promote international peace and spread his message through music. A number of high-profile celebrities have joined in his efforts, including Das Racist, Alicia Keys, George Clooney, former president Jimmy Carter, Ringo Starr, D.M.C., and others.
Jal was in Atlanta early this year for a series of speaking engagements and performances. My former colleagues at the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and I had a chance to chat with with the 32-year-old about life as a child soldier, the sensationalism around the Kony 2012 video, and the challenges of spreading a message of peace through music.
His first release since "Warchild" in 2008, “See Me Mama Out” is expected out in the U.S. Sept. 25 on Gatwitch Records.
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