August 10, 2014 (BOR) – Members of South Sudan’s former child soldiers, known as the red army, on Sunday undertook general cleaning at Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology in Jonglei state to show solidarity for peace in the country.
- Members of the red army and their chairman, Daniel Deng, (pictured in wheel chair) during the cleaning exercise in Jonglei state capital Bor on 10 August 2014 (ST)
Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest region, was one of the three states badly-affected by the conflict that hit the country in mid-December last year, killing thousands and displacing nearly 1.5 million people.
Not even Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology was spared by the violence, as the institution witnessed its fair share of destructions and looting of properties during the chaos forcing its activities to temporarily be shifted to Juba.
Daniel Deng, the national chairman of red army foundation described as “historic” the exercise conducted by the association at the university.
“Red army means service to this nation. We are here to provide services to our people,” he said during the activity, which saw the former child soldiers open up lanes for students at the old university.
Jonglei’s deputy governor, Baba Medan, the speaker of the state assembly, Peter Deng Aguer and some ministers witnessed the one-day activity.
“This marks the reinstating and reopening of Dr. John Garang Memorial University of science and Technology,” said the speaker.
The deputy governor on the other hand said red army foundation indeed stands for development and urged its members to keep up the spirit.
“This shows that the red army is for development. We are not just talking, we are talking and implement what we are saying,” said Medan.
He further urged the university administration and students to return Jonglei capital, Bor.
In the early 1980s, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) reportedly recruited and began training boys as young as 12 to fight in its battle for independence from Sudan. The child soldiers were called the Red Army. Some of the children recruited, according to a 1994 Human Rights Watch report, fought alongside the SPLA.