By Dr. Mawien Akot*
During the past 21 years of SPLM/A struggle, many young men and women took up arms to fight successive governments in Sudan for total liberation of the marginalized masses from the yoke of tyrannical regimes headed by minority Arab cliques in Khartoum. In the process of fighting the enemy, many soldiers from Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) lost their lives while hundreds of thousands of them became disabled due to wounds inflicted on them by brutal enemy forces. Tragically, a huge number of their families and friends starved to death either because there was no one to economically sustain them, or as a result of destruction of their crops and livestock by militias or regular army forces of the rouge regimes. In crude statistical terms, Southern Sudan-one of the marginalized areas of Sudan-was loosing more than 200 people a day for the past 21 years, a number far much greater than total fatalities of recent wars in Eastern Europe and Africa combined.
The cost of freedom for the marginalized was so high in all dimensions. Generations of innocent children and infants got wipeout by simple curable diseases and many more felt victims to showering bombs of Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) Antinov bombs. The very young who managed to walk the mile ended up in foreign lands as lost boys or girls, while their defenseless heartbroken parents and grand parents departed this world in no peace as most of them saw their young ones tortured, forced to flee the land, raped, or even shot dead at a close range. All these happened while gallant forces of SPLA (an army with limited resources) struggles day and night, offering all the sacrifices it could to protect people and the land. Our volunteer freedom fighters persevered all the unbearable hardships: burying their children, parents, and comrades; accepting their spouses who are raped by the enemy, and painfully observing their sons and daughters flee in mass exodus to foreign lands without losing hope. Our men and women in uniform’s main console was their patriotic optimism for a free land where all the marginalized people shall live in peace and harmony. Hungry, bare foot, naked, and fatigued, most SPLA soldiers hang onto their guns to ward off enemy offences. As expected, their solid determination, coupled with wise leadership which attracted political support from the International Community enabled the marginalized people of Sudan to see the light at the end of tunnel when late Dr John Garang de Mabior, Chairman and Commander in Chief of SPLA/M, and Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, the first Vice President of Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Nivasha, Kenya, on January 9, 2005.
After implementation of CPA, many hoped for quick normalization of lives for our courageous liberators and provision of support to their traumatized families and wounded comrades. With euphoric wind of peace, however, the SPLA forces became forgotten and much attention is now given to politicians or the would-be politicians and administrators of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS). As a result, sizable majority of SPLA soldiers are still sleeping under trees without proper shelter or food supply, while politicians who enjoyed luxurious life in Western World are being accommodated in five star hotels and their status is highly uplifted above that of freedom fighters at the expense of Southern Sudan’s budget.
This is notable especially when SPLM/A officials started to flock Khartoum few months after signing of CPA. According to reliable sources, GOS began to dispense a considerable amount of dollars from the oil share of South Sudan to the SPLM/A ministry of finance as stipulated in CPA. Unfortunately, this flow of cash was kept secret and SPLA freedom fighter never got a penny while those of Bona Malwal and Aldo Ajou received much of it (directly or indirectly). Now that GOSS is up and running and the national minister for Finance has clearly come out declaring that over 760 million dollars have already been channeled to GOSS, supporters of SPLA worldwide hope that our gallant forces will gain top priority as far as social and military rehabilitation is concerned. SPLA soldiers fought for over two decades “free of charge” and therefore rightfully deserve the first paycheck from the budget of our new administration.
No doubt, political representation is vital at this point in our history, but we must not forget that the only true grantor for CPA is SPLA. Al Bashir’s government is arming and modernizing SAF with the help of China and India at the time SPLA is getting weaker and weaker due to apparent neglect from our new leadership. President Salva Kiir Mayardit should not forget his comrades simply because he’s now a happy camper in the palace because his real power rests upon strength of the army he commands. SPLA deserves much support comrade Kiir; otherwise, the expected referendum in six years time will not be honoured by the NIF regime. We cannot count on IGAD states or United Nations (UN) because from a historical prospective the UN brokered a similar peace agreement in Western Sahara of Morocco in 1988 but due to weakness of Polisario (the freedom fighters of Western Sahara), the referendum agreed upon in that peace agreement never took place up to date. African peacekeeping forces whether from IGAD or African Union cannot be trusted too. Their failure in Darfur and Liberia rings all bells and whistles in every analytical mind in Africa and beyond; therefore, provision of full material and moral support to SPLA is a prerequisite for successful conclusion of our total liberation.
The author is an SPLM supporter in Diaspora and a staff member of Nuclear Medicine Department at Regina General Hospital in Canada. E-mail: [email protected]