South Sudanese living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, commemorates the massacres of civilians under the Salva Kiir leadership which began on Tuesday morning of December 15, 2013.
December 15th was the day when South Sudan’s crisis began. From its onset, the conflict was marked by brutal tribal hatred which trend down from the top leadership as president Salva Kiir constantly warned of “1991”.
The crisis which immediately turned violence is known for its ethnic cleansing of the Nuer tribe in which over 20, 000 Nuer civilians and a few from other minorities were murdered in a cold blood by presidential militia under president Salva Kiir’s leadership.
Subsequent killing of thousands of Nuer ethnic group during a house-to-house search mass curfew, in what would be the greatest tragedy in the history of south Sudan, led to violence protests from the White Army and many Nuer sons and daughters in the army across the greater Upper Nile region leading to mass destruction of lives and property.
In remembrance of this day, hundreds of South Sudanese, predominantly Nuer, matched to St. Matthew Angelican Church wearing black t-shirts signifying the dark day, white candles and religious books for worship.
There seemed to be no happiness; mood of sadness could be seen among the emotional old women seated helplessly crying, mourning their loved ones.
Some of these women lost people who were very dear to them, their only sources of hopes. While sons and daughters were killed, little grand childrens were victimized, rapped, burned alive or castrated by loyal troops. Perhaps, even pastor Marco, who led people in prayers was also consumed by the memories of this day. His voice trembled in sadness!
People, in particular the Temple church choirs broke down in tears as some of the well-known emotional Nuer songs were made to ease the tension.
Pastor Marco prayed for peace and with these big unusual “Amens”, slight hope was now descending into this Anglican Church full of people dedicated to remember their loved ones.
South Sudan’s “state policy” killed at least an estimate more than 28,000 people in its first week alone.
These people were systematically killed betwen December 16 and 20 using door to door searched that targeted only people with forehead marks and other suspects, deemed to be Nuer, that could not response in Dinka, the language of Salva Kiir’s tribe.
The Nuer Christian Mission organized the event and Opposition dignitaries like Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Amb. David Dang, Amb. Yien attended the prayer.
Amb. Lol recalled how he was jailed, the death of his friends, Lam Chuol Thichuong and several others Nuer who died in the hand of Salva Kiir’s private armies.
He blamed Salva Kiir and entirely declared, “Salva Kiir is responsible for the death of our people” and he must go to jail for that.
Several activity took place, singing, crying, speeches were delivered to comfort the Nuer nation.
South Sudan’s crisis on December 15th entered its second year and despite the August peace agreement, Juba is still not fully committed to see the peace coming to effect with a lot of pre-conditions for the Opposition’s Advance Team going to Juba.
Amb. David Dang hope in two to three days the team will finally set a foot in Juba.
Thousands under UN protection camps across the country, million or so displaced to the neighboring countries and more than half of the 11 millions population is facing server food shortage in the third oil-rich nation in Sub-Sahara African nations.
Many hope this peace will bring back the country together but until then the commemoration was deeply filled with a call to forgive those who wrong others, move on and build a better country.