(JUBA) – A South Sudanese entity as dismissed claims that its work, which involves naming all victims of the conflict and armed violence in the country, targets individuals responsible for the civil war has seen ten of thousand killed and millions displaced.
Remembering The Ones We Lost is a public memorial that aims to name all victims of the conflict and armed violence in South Sudan.
The organization compiles the names of all people who have died in armed struggle since 1955 to-date and generalized armed violence.
With help of volunteers, the organisation’s website allows individuals and communities to provide the names of people killed in armed conflicts through filling of the testimonial form, email, SMS and twitter. Volunteers then verify the information, starting with the victim’s name, age, sex, location, and whether they are confirmed dead or missing – before it is listed on the website, which has over 6,000 names.
“This unified and public recognition of individual lives being lost
through violence is accomplished through the collective efforts of
individuals, communities and institutions to name victims,” says Daud Gideon, the Executive Director of Remembering The Ones We Lost.
“This initiative hopes to bring attention to the shared suffering,
give additional meaning to cries for peace and be a tool for
understanding and reconciliation amongst South Sudanese individuals and communities”, he added.
The group’s mission, its constitution states, is to document and
preserve the names of the ones we lost, and build memorials across the country to honour the ones we lost, and remind the people of South Sudan to never again use violence to settle political difference.
“Memorialization is a process through which society acknowledges
violent and painful pasts and transforms them into tools for
understanding both historical and contemporary injustices,” Joseph
Amanya, one of the co-founders of the organization, explained.
He adds, “Memorialization has both private and reflective objectives and public and educational ones. On one hand, the acknowledgment of painful legacies and past can be seen as a form of ‘symbolic reparations’ that helps survivors in processes of healing”.
The group has, in the recent past, organised public readings of
victims’ names in the capitals of South Sudan as well as Kenya and on various radio stations to grant dignity to the deceased and to promote reconciliation between communities in the world’s youngest nation.
In December 2014, for instance, vigils in which names were read out aloud were held in the South Sudanese capital, Juba and in Nairobi, Kenya. Similar memorialization activities, including reading of names on radios and publications in newspapers, are expected to continue.
South Sudan became an independent country in 2011 after decades of war, lengthy negotiations and a referendum to secede from Sudan. In December 2013 armed conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to Riek Machar. The civil war has killed tens of thousands of people, displacing millions.