By Bol Madut Ayii, Juba, South Sudan
March 4, 2017 (SSB) —- The Red Army (Krasnaya Armiya) was a common name for the Russian National Military Forces from 1918 to 1946, which was also known by the abbreviation RKKA (Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army). The name refers to the color red. In the workers’ movement red symbolized the bloodshed in the struggle against oppression.
The Red Army was founded immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution when the Bolshevik Party came to power. But the official day of its creation is considered February 23, 1918. This was when the Soviet Republic announced the first victory of the Red Army over the Germans on the very last days of Russia’ s World War I campaign.
Two weeks later the Bolsheviks signed a peaceful agreement with Germany, as it was difficult to fund the army, which was short of everything including guns, ammunition and human resources. Some historians argue that the victory never happened. However, February 23 is still today celebrated in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus as Defender of the Motherland Day.
The group has a unique history, but the idea and name came from the Russian history. Since the movement (SPLA) was once supported by the Communist blocs in its early days, the Jesh al Ahmer/Red Army came into being.
Some historical instances of the Red Army:
“The Council of People’s Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918.Their conception was that it should be “formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes”. All citizens of the Russian Republic over the age of 18 were eligible. Its specific role was the defense “of the achievements of the October Revolution, the Soviet Power and Socialism. Enlistment was conditional upon “guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power” or by Party or Trade Union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations.”
In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a “collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members” would be necessary. At the beginning of its existence, the Red Army functioned as a voluntary formation, without ranks or insignia. Democratic elections selected the officers. However, a decree of 29 May 1918 imposed obligatory military service for men of ages 18 to 40.To service the massive draft, the Bolsheviks formed regional military commissariats, which as of 2006 still exist in Russia in this function and under this name.
The Jesh al Ahmr or The Red Army is a South Sudanese revolutionary group composed of teenage boys from 1983 to 2005, (and some girls) who participated in the war of liberation, the Sudan Civil War. The members of jesh al Ahmer composed of young boys and girls who voluntarily sacrificed their souls to fight for freedom of the marginalized Sudanese people regardless of their race, religion or gender. The young men and women travelled from their remote respective villages all over Southern Sudan to attend military training mainly in Ethiopia.
Some of them abandoned their elderly parents who might be in need of their services and responded to the national call for liberation from the yolk of oppression. The young patriotic comrades travel all along from Bahr el Ghazal region, Upper Nile and Equatoria not fearing of wild animals from the thick bushes of Southern Sudan, they slept without food, they moved naked and with bar foot and had no shelters to sleep during rainy season. With all the untold agonies the red army was able to stick into their common objective of fighting to liberate Sudanese people.
The members of Jesh al Ahmer gave up their studies as an answer to the SPLA (Muor –Muor battalion) famous songs which appeal to students/pupils to abandon their studies and take the guns as pen is not any longer a necessary tool to liberate the marginalized people of Sudan, (mith kuan abun pal ke gaat buk them riel baai ace pan ben luel galam, ben ku them kalesh ku forty six, akum Garang dom baai riem). The red army fights hand in hand with other adult members of the SPLA for twenty years that led to the signing of comprehensive peace agreement which granted right for the people of Southern Sudan to determine their future after the end of six years interim period.
The red army fought with a dream that South Sudan will be one day an independent state and they (jesh ahmer) will be the very seeds to lay down the foundation of the country and indeed after hardly won independent on the 9th of July 2011 the members of Jesh Ahmer organized themselves by forming a body that bring them together in order to contribute national ideas for the nation building, the Red Army, is now made up of many professionals ready to develop their new country.
Before responding to Mama Rebecca Nyadeng de Mabior, It was necessary to give a brief background of the mighty Red Army above so that my readers will be able to judge Mama Rebecca. In her interview on Friday 24th last month with Al Jazeera Upfront Program, Mama Rebecca was questioned by the Journalist to comment on the involvement of child soldiers in the movement during civil war and she had this to say and I quote, “the children came with their parents and some of them just followed the army because sometimes when they go with the army they can find better services, food and other things like that because we were in the bush” ended the quote.
It is beyond doubt that the SPLA during those dark days of liberation struggle used to get food from the civil populations who contribute either Dura, cows, goats/sheep or other eatable properties in their custody. The civilians who did not took arms remain in the villages to cultivate and later share their harvest with the army by donating what was popularly known as kilo from each household and the writer of this article has witnessed this vital role played by our civil population throughout the years of liberation struggle.
It is dishonest from Mama Rebecca to cheaply conclude that Red Army joined the movement because of food and if you read critically she contradicted herself by saying that red army find better services like food and things like that because we were in the bush. How can a young man leave his parents with enough food, fresh milk, and good shelter and join the bush in order to get better services.
What were the better services that were in the bush than home? I doubt whether the comrades in the Red Army joined the movement as a result of hunger from their various communities where they came from because there was enough food and better services at home than in the bush and so, it is immaterial for Mama Rebecca to brazenly talk of the food to be the reason why Jesh Ahmer joint the Movement.
Yes, there used to be little food from the civil population to their sons and daughters in uniform of which Red Army were part of and that could not constitute the main reason why Red Army join the bush. There were other services like bush schools that were operating under SPLA liberated areas and other military training camps like Itang, Panyido, Pageri etc, the SPLM/A as a guerilla movement was doing two things at ago, teaching children how to read and write as well as how to hold gun and fight for freedom.
Our long walk to freedom was not easy had it not been the sacrifices made by our people from various fields being adults, children or women and therefore, is very unfortunate and shocking to hear people like Mama Rebecca the wife of the very hero denying the role play by the red army.
Indeed it is not abysmal to be an opposition, mama Rebecca should oppose as she wishes but should also be mindful that this country came through the sacrifices made by our young men. What will Mama Rebecca tells the young heroes if it happen by miracles for them to resurrect and hear her commenting negatively about them? What Nyadeng thought to be the reactions of parents who lost their young ones during the war of liberation?
The heroes (Jesh Ahmer) whose blood cemented our national foundation were not food lovers but freedom fighters and that is why those of Mama Rebecca were able to be national ministers though without required qualifications. It seems to me that Mama Rebecca ran out of words because the learned Journalist was asking very anesthetize questions of which Rebecca was not able to answer conscientiously and that is where she found herself using despicable words like food to be the reason why Jesh Ahmer (Red Army) joined the war of liberation.
In conclusion, Mama Rebecca is gratis to oppose and to give her opinion as she wishes but should not deliberately and fraudulently deny the heroic sacrifices of Red Army during liberation days, and therefore, it is not too sluggish for Mama Rebecca to apologies to the members of Red Army and particularly to the families who lost their sons and daughters in the Red Army.
Bol Madut Ayii Holds LL.B (Bachelor of Laws) from University of Juba and currently an LL.M (master of laws) candidate, reachable via email@example.com or +211915884485.
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