South Sudan Commemorates Martyrs Day

Hundreds of South Sudanese convened yesterday at Dr John Garang Mausoleum to pay tribute to heroes and heroines who lost their lives during the liberation struggle, that is estimated to have killed 2.5 million people.

 South Sudan Commemorates Martyrs Day
Southerners gather around the late Dr. Garang’s statue as they pay homage [©Gurtong]

By Waakhe Simon Wudu
Juba, 31 July 2011 [Gurtong]-Hundreds of South Sudanese convened yesterday at Dr John Garang Mausoleum to pay tribute to heroes and heroines who lost their lives during the liberation struggle, that is estimated to have killed 2.5 million people.

The celebrations kicked off in Juba on the afternoon of 30th July as they went till dusk when the people light candles in the memory of the martyrs.

The day also marked the remembrance of Dr John Garang De Mabior, Leader of the South Sudan ruling party SPLM, who perished in a helicopter crash on the 30th July 2005.

Dr John Garang died in plane crash with some of his aides while returning home following his visit to the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. His sudden death shocked South Sudanese and the international community as to whether the peace accord, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA he signed with Khartoum on 9th January 2005 would be accomplished successfully.

His successor President Salva Kiir declared 30 July for every year to be a remembrance day for his death and the death of all South Sudanese during the more than two decades of the civil war. 

Diplomatic Corps in Juba including Hilder Johnson, Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and representatives of many Organizations convened to withness the day too.
Hon. Joseph Lagu, founding leader of the Anya Nya Movement that laid ground for the formation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement, SPLA/M was one of the key speakers during the event yesterday.

He warned South Sudan of dependence and urged that, South Sudan is capable of growing its own food that can be exported. “We must produce our own food stuff and am sure you are capable of doing so,” Lagu urged the mass yesterday.

Hon Lagu, who is also the Presidential Advisor on Special Affairs to President Salva Kiir, called for unity among South Sudanese. He said that, it was time to get rid of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and diseases.

The RSS Minister of Agriculture amid this month warned that food insecurity has hit the country and that 2 million metric tons is needed to address the looming situation.

Yesterday’s function was also an opportunity for widows to express pressing concerns facing them as they appealed for help.

Maria Gideon, a widow who spoke on behalf of South Sudanese war ravaged widows yesterday, urged for the government of the Republic of South Sudan, RSS to built for all widows housing units and allocate them plots.

She also urged the government combat discrimination, nepotism and tribalism which would render many people to be second class citizens. “Definitely we do not want to be second class citizens,” she stressed before senior government officials including President Kiir and his Comrades.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit called on all South Sudanese to participate actively in building the Republic of South Sudan as a tribute to the heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle.

 “The heroes did not die in vain. Though we cannot reward them materially, building this nation is a befitting tribute to them,” he said while adding that South Sudanese can only show that they are proud of their country by developing it.

President Kiir also appealed for dialogue in resolving differences. “If there are problems, let us sit down and an answer will be found”, he said. He also appealed for patience among the citizens emphasizing that development takes time to materialize. He explained that the government has only been in office for a few years but has achieved beyond expectation under challenging circumstances.

He also called on the South Sudanese to engage in agriculture and produce food for their families. He said that the new country cannot continue importing food. He also cautioned against the over-reliance on oil resources which, he said, can be depleted.

“From today we are getting into serious business; let us redouble our efforts if we are to be role models. Nothing comes easy; we have to double our efforts”, he said.

President Kiir also called on the armed forces to remain disciplined and respect human rights. He said the role of the army is to protect the sovereignty of the Republic and its boundaries. He cautioned members of the organized forces against misuse of arms. “The fact that you have a weapon in your hands does not give you the right to harm another human being”, he warned adding that those perpetrating such vices will be dealt with according to the law.

The celebration is a demonstration of the fact that even though the martyrs are dead their memory lingers on in the hearts of all South Sudanese who appreciate the sacrifice they made for their homeland.

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