What Freedom Means to Me

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by Deng Jongkuch

Many people did not believe they would live to see the day of independence for South Sudan. It was a joyful day for those who were born before the first civil war and equally to younger generations born in the refugee and displaced people camps. Independence was a hope that many South Sudanese wished to see, but it came at a cost of more than 2 million people’s lives since the beginning of the second civil war.

The people of the Republic of South Sudan will be celebrating the third anniversary of their independence from the Republic of Sudan on July 9, 2014. The people of South Sudan have experienced prolonged civil wars since 1955 before Sudan was independent from British colonial powers in 1956. The first civil war started in 1955 and ended with the 1972 peace agreement. This agreement was abrogated by the Khartoum regime and forced Islam on the People of Southern Sudan. This led to the 1983 civil war that lasted for 22 years. The international community and regional leaders helped negotiated a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that allowed the South to decide through referendum if they wanted to remain part of Sudan or have a separate country. On July 9th, 2011, the people of South Sudan voted to have a country of their own. The Republic of South Sudan was born after more than 45 years of bitter struggle against the Arab and Islamic dominated Sudan.

More than 4 million Southern Sudanese were displaced from their homes during conflict. Millions seek refuge in neighboring countries and some resettled in the USA, Canada, and Australia. Many South Sudanese who sought safety in refugee camps would not believe that one day they would have a nation of their own. These people experienced so many humiliations in the hands of the host countries. They did not have a freedom to choose what to eat, wear, drink, or sleep. The host countries denied them freedom of movement and confined them in refugee camps for so long. Millions of people were separated from their families for many years and now they are united again.

There is nothing more important than having freedom in your own land. South Sudan independence from Sudan has brought freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom to farm and grow food. These are basic human freedoms that are celebrated today by South Sudanese.

The government of South Sudan has been disabled by many issues to deliver basic services to the people of South Sudan. The current conflict shocked many South Sudanese because nobody was aware that South Sudanese would be fighting themselves after long civil wars. Despite the current conflict, all South Sudanese are celebrating because they know nobody will take away the Republic of South Sudan.