Martyrs' families decry neglect, demand basic services
The family members of some of those who died during the liberation struggle of South Sudan said they feel neglected, calling on the government to provide basic services to the rural population.
South Sudan on Thursday commemorated Martyrs' Day.
The day is observed on July 30. It is a public holiday and a remembrance day that commemorates those who died during the liberation struggle of South Sudan and the death anniversary of John Garang de Mabior who is widely considered the most influential person in the history of the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan became independent in 2011 after a prolonged conflict. Although the new country was blessed with international goodwill, considerable foreign aid, and vast oil wealth, it nevertheless faced formidable development challenges, with 51% of the population living in poverty.
Poverty in South Sudan is primarily rural, characterized by a general lack of access to services, infrastructure, and economic opportunity.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, several family members of some of the martyrs said provision of quality education, health services, and clean drinking water will be a great move in remembrance of the fallen heroes and heroines.
Frazer Sebit, a resident of Yei whose father was killed during the liberation struggle in the late 1990s, called on the government to recognize the families of the martyrs.
“As South Sudanese, we want to see justice, freedom and peace. Many of us are suffering, and we want our leaders to think about the living conditions of the sons and daughters of the martyrs,” he said.
Mary Abuba, another resident of Yei whose husband was killed, asked the government to care for the children whose parents were killed during the liberation war.
“Let the government think about the widows and the orphans by providing free education for children whose parents died during the years of our liberation struggle. I am appealing to the leaders of South Sudan to address the challenges facing the country’s citizens,” she said.
Lt. Col. Michael Machar, a civil-military relations officer in Yei, thanked the liberators for the independence of South Sudan and called on the public to remain hopeful for a better South Sudan.
“Martyrs’ Day is important for us and we want to thank those who lost their lives for the independence of South Sudan. Let’s pray and work for peace and hope for the best ahead of us in this country,” he said.