December 2013 is a month of painful memories and the darkest day in the history of South Sudan. On December 15, 2013, the government of South Sudan under the incompetent President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, targeted and massacred thousands of innocent civilians including children, women and elderly people in the national capital, Juba.
This killing of civilians and widespread rape and humiliation by the South Sudan national Army is the most gruesome and unprecedented human tragedy of our time.
The incident shows a dangerous path in which our society is increasingly fragmented along tribal line, eroding trust and fueling violence. The Dec 15th should be the day when all South Sudanese regardless of their ethnic background come together to commemorate the victims of this genocide and reflect on our diversity and the future of our county.
Why should we annually remember our deceased on December 15th?
Well, on December 15, 2013 at approximately 10:30pm, the first bullet was fired among the presidential guards in Juba to commerce the onslaught of the Naath (Nuer) population. On this day, the first blood was shed which ignited the new liberation era to end the current dictatorship and ethnocentric government, plagued by pervasive corruption and lack of vision for the country.
While we all agree on commemorating the death of the victims, I would like to clarify some confusion surrounding the date of the event. Last year, some of our brothers proposed December 16th to be the Memorial Day. As we approach our third commemoration, I must reiterate however that we need to agree and be consistent with the date of the commemoration to make it universal and permanent.
That is crucial for the current and the future generations who will only read this unfortunate event in books to have consistent and accurate information about the past. Unlike our ancestors, we are in a different era and we must learn the importance of recording historical events accurately.
We cannot intentionally neglect even a minute or second of the event that may contribute to the understanding of the situation and struggle for positive changes.
I believe that choosing December 16th instead of the actual date [Dec 15th] would mean disregarding the blood that was shed on the night of December 15th.
The people who were killed on December 15th, whether they were soldiers or civilians from the Nuer or other tribes are still our brothers who died as a result of the conspiracy that triggered the blood bath in our young nation.
We cannot minimize the importance of December 15th as the day of mourning and reflection on how we can build a peaceful nation that embraces diversity and meet the needs of all citizens.
One of the major weaknesses of the South Sudanese community is ignorance about their past. We need to begin writing down our history accordingly. Wise people study the past to navigate the future; therefore, we must document our history for the benefit of the next generations and for us to learn from our mistakes and success.
For example, we know very well that all South Sudanese equally fought for the liberation of our country; however, this is not reflected in our current history of struggle, leaving some people with false sense of who really liberated South Sudan and who should reap the benefits of our struggle.
I brought these concerns to our attention because I want people to see the importance of writing the history accurately – genuine history that tells the precise account of what has taken place from the witness’ perspectives.
I am suggesting to the South Sudanese community Worldwide to take December 15th to the national level where the event will be recognized as a national lost.
The author is Zechariah James Machar, former Chairman of Nuer Youth & Students Association in A.R of Egypt and currently the Secretary General of the SPLM/A Youth league chapter in Egypt