Politicizing Death: Where Is Humanity Around J-1 in South Sudan?!

Posted: September 8, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

“Doctors need my DNA in order to identify the body of my daughter in Kenya but the presidency refused as per now,” Gen. Paul Malong Awan told Ajak Deng Chiengkou of SBS Dinka radio on the 6th of September, 2017

By Lucy Ayak Malek, Nairobi, Kenya 

Gen Paul Malong and his late daughter, Alakiir Malong Awan

Gen Paul Malong and his late daughter, Alakiir Malong Awan

September 8, 2017 (SSB) — On the 02nd of September, a fire that gutted a girls’ dormitory at Moi High School, claiming the lives of 10 students with many others critically injured, was another test and touching trial for my family. I had two students in this school, a 14-year-old, and a 16-year-old.

My 14-year-old survived the fire with minor injuries, thanks to her brave late elder sister who managed to push her through the window before she was caught up when she ran back to save her friend. As my 14-year-old recovers in hospital, her elder sister is still unaccounted for and thought to be among the 10 who burnt in the fire.

That unstoppably welled our cheeks with tears and engulfed us with unfathomable grieves because as a tradition, in death, a little relief comes from the ability to identify and burry the remains of our loved ones. My late daughter (Alakir Malong) was a very cheerful, kind and humble girl who had a bright future. The Parents of the missing children have been asked to provide DNA samples to help identify the remains of their loved ones who died in that sad tragedy.

Sadly, my husband Gen. Paul Malong has not been permitted by South Sudan’s government to provide a DNA sample to help identify his daughter, leave alone that he is socially required to mourn and console with his family. When the news of the fire broke out, we were all struck heavily, but more devastation came with the reports that our daughter may be one of the victims since she was reported missing.

This grief was compounded more on the morning of 6/9/2017 when I called my husband to inquire whether he will be permitted to come and give a DNA sample to identify his deceased daughter and he sadly told me that President Kiir (well knowing our current predicament) has declined to let him come and help to identify his deceased daughter’s remains and arrange for her burial.

Traditionally as Africans, life and death mean a lot and that is why the tragedy of death brings people together with none ready to mock the other because of power or whatsoever. Unfortunately, the leadership in Juba seems to have lost this basic social element of our tradition and humanity to the extent that they deny Gen. Malong the chance to mourn and burry his daughter.

In nutshell, it is really tantamount and can be considered the lowest level of thinking even if one lacks compassion and sympathy in such a tragedy and trial. My question is, have the powers around J1 become so rigid that they have lost that basic social element?

When I first published an appeal for my husband’s release on grounds of his health, the response from the President’s spokesman was a plain denial that Gen. Malong was not under house arrest. He openly lied that Malong is free to move as he wishes.

In the thinking of Mr. Ateny (president Kiir’s spokesman), Gen. Malong has simply chosen not to go for medical treatment even when he is not in a good health. Now, I presume they will claim that he has chosen not to provide a DNA sample to identify his daughter’s remains and equally chosen not to mourn with his family.

I call upon president Kiir, and his handlers to reconsider and show some humanity. If you would not let my husband out of detention, then at least allow him to come and provide a DNA sample to help in identifying his daughter’s body. There is no threat in that and denying him that is just being un-emphatic.

And if the government reaches such proportion of being too inhumane, then everyone should be scared. Because if they can do that to Gen. Malong if they can refuse to let him get his daughter’s body and burry the remains because of the “fear of the unknown,” what about the lives of other citizens whose names are unknown to president Kiir, will anything matter to J1?

While Gen. Malong and others are being persecuted without any charge, those in the corridors of power who stay silent in the face of this grievous and engraving injustice should be on notice. Because your silence gives credence and a node to the unlawful actions in J1, you are just preparing the ground for yourselves to suffer the same fate, tomorrow or the next day.

Remember the words of Martin Luther King Junior when he said, “our lives just stop the same moment we chose to be silent about the things that matter to us.”

My late Alakiir Malong, May your soul rest in Peace!

The writer is a Student of Masters in Leadership and Governance from University of Nairobi, and a wife to Gen. Paul Malong Awan, the former Chief of General Staff of the SPLA, South Sudan. You can reach her via her email: Ayak Malek <ayakmalek@gmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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Comments
  1. SPLA OYEEE says:

    This is the worst political stage our country had entered into. Why can’t our president allowed Gen. Malong Awan going to check for his daughter? Have we forgotten our custom? If the government is afraid of Paul Malong leaving the country, from where can Gen. Malong recruit any army to overthrow the government? Has our government really forgotten what general Paul Malong has done for the sake of South Sudan? He would have overthrown the government at the time he was commanding the whole army, not at this time when is with only very few body guards. This treatment of gen. Malong from the very government he rescued from the rebels, is a big lesson to be learned by those still very loyal to the government. Regardless of whatever your loyalty may be, still you are not more loyal than Gen. Paul at his time; so will you not face the same consequence later?
    I was expecting Gen. Malong to be given a sybol of recognition for the job well done, and not disgracing him.

    Like

  2. Alam says:

    The region plunged the country into war and now it’s coming back to bite you all. Kiir is not a president that you can sacrifice yourself for. Look at that Malong Awan did on behalf of Kiir and look at what he’s doing to Malong at this difficult time. Taban and Wani are just dogs who just like to see the Dinka divided by all cost. A foolish president for sure supported by foolish majority.

    Like

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