Thousands commemorate Martyrs’ Day in Juba
JUBA (July 30, 2012) – Thousands of people turned out at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba Monday to partake in festivities commemorating the 7th anniversary of Martyrs’ Day.
South Sudanese musicians and traditional dance troupes performed for the crowd. Many stood in the blazing heat for nearly eight hours.
A parade by organized forces, civil society and groups of widows and orphans of martyrs’ of South Sudan’s liberation struggles, kicked off the event, which culminated at 7:00 pm with the lighting of candles.
SPLA forces and ..
Groups of widows from the Commission for War Disabled, Widows and Orphans parading at the event
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and a host of senior government officials, representatives of diplomatic missions based in South Sudan and the UN, amongst others, attended the ceremony.
Addressing the occasion, the ruling SPLM Secretary for Political Affairs Cde Antipas Nyok renewed the commitment of his party to build a peaceful, prosperous and just South Sudan despite existing challenges.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Defense said that it was unfortunate that the government in Khartoum was still having difficulty accepting the fact South Sudan was an independent sovereign republic.
He also appealed to the government of Central Equatoria to ensure the Martyrs’ Cemetery on the edge of the city was fitting as the resting place for individuals who gave up their own lives in order that others may live free.
For his part, Prof. Paul Lado Bureng, speaking on behalf of the Governor of the host state, Central Equatoria, donated three shops in Juba’s sprawling Konyokonyo market to support the families of martyrs.
Meanwhile, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) Chief of Staff Gen. James Hoth, reiterated the readiness, commitment and capability of the military to defend the people, resources and territory of South Sudan against any aggression.
Chairperson of the War Disabled, Widows and Orphans Commission Deng Dau paid tribute to the sacrifices of the martyrs, saying that without these South Sudan might have not yet gained its independence.
“The day signifies the dignity and self esteem of our people during the armed struggle,” he pointed out.
He explained that the national government had designed programs to support the families of martyrs and urged other levels of government to do the same.
The country’s landmarks, including streets and other prominent public facilities should be named after martyrs as a way of honoring their memory, Dau suggested.
A representative of South Sudan’s war widows appealed for support to help widows raise their children in a manner that would make their fathers proud.
On the other hand, a representative of war orphans hailed the support of the government to orphans and announced the formation of the South Sudan War Orphan’s Organization to cater for the educational needs of war orphans.
Uganda’s ambassador in South Sudan addressed the gathering on behalf of his colleagues representing a number of friendly neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
“I have come here to attest that the relations between your neighbors and yourselves are bound in blood,” he declared.
He also pledged the relentless support of their countries to South Sudan.
“We stand firmly with you,” the Ambassador stressed.
The celebration came a little more than a year after South Sudan was proclaimed a sovereign state following decades of conflict with successive regimes in Khartoum that left millions dead.
July 30th was the day the founder of the SPLA/SPLM and father of the nation Dr. John Garang died in a tragic helicopter crash.