The following press release comes from a colleague in Juba, South Sudan. It serves as an example of what indigenous people in South Sudan are doing in order to reorganize and redefine themselves as an autonomous nation:
Concerned Citizens Say: Wear White for Peace on CPA Day
JUBA 5th January 2012
South Sudan welcomed its first full year of freedom amid reports of ethnic violence across the Country, with the highest peak in Jonglei state. In the face of these horrible events, little was heard from ordinary South Sudanese on the subject. As a response to this, a new group, ‘Concerned Citizens X South Sudan’, was formed this week. Concerned Citizens represents all people of SouthSudan who wish to see an end to ethnic violence in our country.
The name of the group is meaningful. We are concerned by the current violent and unstable situation in South Sudan. The concept of ‘Citizen X’ expresses our view that we are all people of the same nation and do not wish to be primarily identified by our tribes. The character ‘X’ symbolises our condemnation of violence, war, hate speech and tribalism. It is also accessible, as it is easily recognisable by all people, whether or not they can read and write. We have incorporated the name of South Sudan because this is our land and we are proud to be part of it.
Concerned Citizens X South Sudan was formed to give a chance for all concerned South Sudanese citizens to participate in stopping violence, inside and between our communities, and to personally help in alleviating the suffering of those of our compatriots who are directly affected. It is not enough for us to say that our government or the international community must clean up these problems; we are all obligated, as citizens, to take responsibility for the problems in our communities.
Concerned Citizens wishes to emphasise that the timing of its formation does not imply support or condemnation of either party to any current conflict; we acknowledge that this violence is a result of grievences that have been unaddressed and unresolved. Although the current news coverage relates to Jonglei, it is clear that such violence is a direct threat to all South Sudanese, whatever their state of origin. The type of inter-communal violence referred to here has touched every payam in our nation. We aim to speak out on all subsequent inter-community violence on behalf of the aggrieved.
The new group is calling for all peace-loving South Sudanese, and our supporters, to demonstrate their commitment to peace during this season of celebration in two simple ways:
- by wearing white clothing or white armbands on CPA Day/Referendum Day, the 9th January 2012. In so doing, we hope to make the point that peace-lovers in our new nation far outnumber those who are engaged in planning or perpetrating violence among us. The aim is to make it possible for all peace-loving South Sudanese to make their voices heard in a silent, non-confrontational, cost-free and yet visible manner. The wearing of white may seem trivial. However, this action has been carefully chosen for good reasons. The colour white is identified internationally as the colour of peace. Most people, however poor, have at least one item of white clothing, or even a piece of white cloth, which they can tie around their arm as a sign of solidarity. Therefore, everybody who agrees with the message of peace is able to participate, regardless of their income.
- by donating dry, canned and non-perishable foodstuffs, clothing, cooking materials, blankets and tents, in order to assist those innocent civilians, whatever their tribe or origin, who are suffering as a result of displacement. In this way, we hope to make the point that South Sudanese are capable of taking care of our own. Distribution modalities are currenty being sought in partnership with bodies which have existing logistical networks.
The current events in Jonglei state have attracted widespread and overwhelmingly negative attention from local and international media, leading to the use of terms such as ‘genocide’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘failed state’ in relation to South Sudan. Concerned Citizens feels that such terms are unhelpful, whether used by South Sudanese or by international observers. As evidenced by last year’s near-99% vote for secession, South Sudanese are overwhelmingly committed to building a viable, independent and free nation. Simply by displaying white clothing on the 9th January 2012, South Sudanese will be able to begin combatting the view, so often voiced by those who wish us ill, that we are in some way destined to destroy our precious new nation through civil war and internal conflict. We want to show the world a new identity, as people who can take an active role in shaping our own destiny
Concerned Citizens X South Sudan is newly formed, and is in the process of registering as an indigenous, non-profit, nongovernmental organization. Concerned Citizens X South Sudan is not affiliated to any political party, governmental or non-governmental structure. We welcome the particiption of all peace-loving South Sudanese and the support of sympathetic non South Sudanese. At this stage we have no mechanism to account for cash dontions; however, in-kind assistance in our early weeks would be most appreciated.
Concerned Citizens can be contacted in the following ways:
via facebook: concernedcitizensxsouthsudan
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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