July 31, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir said on national television on Monday that the lack of respect shown to those died or were injured in the struggle for the nation’s independence, and their families, was “unpatriotic behaviour”.
- South Sudan Martyrs’ Day, July 30, 2012 (AFP)
He accused government officials of an “unacceptable” level of apathy towards those commemorated by South Sudan’s Martyrs’ Day, which was celebrated on Sunday.
Kiir insisted that those who “decided to sacrifice their lives in order to bring peace and freedom” through decades of civil war with Khartoum, which paved the way for South Sudan’s independence in 2011, should be treated accordingly.
Before a career in politics, Kiir was part of the military command of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which fought Khartoum’s forces and went on to establish the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which now rules from Juba under his leadership.
He said that his government will continue to support the Disabled, Widows and Orphans Commission and called for collective responsibility either as a government or as individuals, to behave conscientiously when interacting family members of the war victims.
Suzanne Jambo, a National Secretary for External Relations in the SPLM echoed Kiir’s call for respect and love for families of the fallen and disabled. She called upon government officials to “treat them well by providing them their needs, be it financial or emotional support.” She also called upon the nation’s citizens and Diaspora to be “kind to our Martyrs”.
Describing witnessing the lack of respect first hand Jambo said she “felt so ashamed and disappointed to the extent my heart broke and my tears ran down my cheeks in outrage and anger with a heavy heart.” She also called for the provision of scholarships for martyrs’ fmailies.
“Let’s help build a nation based on pride and acknowledgement to the selfless sacrifices of our Heroes and Heroines,” said Jambo.