Left (Times): flying South Sudan civilians
Right (Huffington): Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau
Dear Mr. Trudeau,
I have lived in Canada for 14 years now and I do believe that there is no place I would rather be than in Canada. I have seen Canada in her best and her worst; but I still believe this is a place I can call home. I have witnessed mockery, paternalism, and dismissive attitude of some Canadians. I have also witnessed hateful words uttered to people I care about; and, generally, people who look like me, more or less.
However, I have also benefited from the generosity of Canadians on a personal level and also on a political level as far as the political realities of the country of my birth are concerned. I have also benefited from good-heartedness of the average Canadian. With no doubt, I would not be who I am now were it not for Canada and her international outlook in terms of humanitarianism. Such Canadian blessings inspire me to make Canada a place that makes newcomers smile; a place where the first thing newcomers see is a genuinely welcoming face. This makes the challenges of settling in a new country less stressful!
When I see Canada opening her arms to needy people like the recent decision by our government to bring 25, 000 refugees to safe Canadian shores, I know that Canada is reclaiming her rightful place in the world. This rightful place was almost compromised, not by the needed traditional Canadian conservatism and liberalism, but by the myopic, simplistic conservatism advanced by the previous government. This rightful place is not merely a socioeconomic and sociopolitical ‘interest’ presented as ‘care’, but a genuine desire to make the world less evil. Let me sound naïve and simplistic for a point.
I’m writing to you now as both a Canadian citizen and a citizen of South Sudan. As you well know, South Sudan has been embroiled in a needless, filial war since 2013. I would not waste my time writing to you if I knew that this letter would be another-one-for-the-dustbin. As a voter and a tax-payer, I thought this would be the best time to turn your attention to the crisis happening in South Sudan. Writing is the only way I know best; and it’s the only way I feel I will be able to reach you! Since Canada was instrumental in Sudan during the war of liberation, during the six years of interim period, during referendum and in helping the transition from the then semi-autonomous government to a full-pledged independent nation, I feel Canada can still do more to help alleviate the suffering of the South Sudanese people. Civilians have turned against one another and the government has let down the people.
Unfortunately, there’s no talk in Canada about the plight of the millions of suffering South Sudanese. More than a million people have fled to neighboring countries, nearly a quarter of a million people live in UN protection sites, and over 4 million face famine and the threats of death from the warring parties, diseases and scarcity of medical supplies.
Billions of dollars have been embezzled as citizens suffer, since 2005
Leaders live in luxury as workers go for months without pay
No single development initiative since 2005
No respect for human rights as security forces kill opponents and journalists anyhow
No freedom of speech and press as media houses are either censored, intimidated or closed down
Tribal differences have been exploited and exacerbated by leaders
The peace agreement has been compromised and faces collapse
Different tribal leaders are mobilizing for war if no alternative way to bring peace to South Sudan is urgently convened
Women and children are massacred on the roads because of their tribal belongings
In light of the above worrying realities, I would ask your generosity and the generosity of the Canadian people, to help alleviate the suffering of the South Sudanese civilians. I have been writing about South Sudan for over ten years to high-light the need for good inter-tribal relations. I have also tried to show young South Sudanese that tribal differences should be an asset rather than a liability. Canada has managed to unify a disparate group of people to build this amazing country. I truly believe that South Sudan has a capacity to do that.
I am therefore calling on the government of Canada to do the following for the people of South Sudan.
Take the lead in bringing South Sudanese leaders together to put their people first rather than the advancement of their own personal desires. The greatest challenge to peace in South Sudan is the inability of the leaders to bridge their differences. I am calling on your office to help make these leaders see that the people are more important than their quest to ‘win.’
Help mobilize resources and take South Sudanese leaders to all refugee camps and internally displaced persons camps where South Sudanese are suffering, in order to help them understand the plight of the people.
Lobby at the UN for a clear and workable ‘sticks and carrots’ policy to condition South Sudanese leaders to make peace culture a reality. Threats of alternative administrative realities for South Sudan can prompt these leaders to change. A recent proposal by Ms. Kate Knopf at the ‘US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ hearing can be a good alternative threat. Ms. Knopf proposed a ‘Transitional Administration for South Sudan’ under the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU).
Teach South Sudanese how to build a united country with diverse cultures just as Canada has done. Since Canada has made multiculturalism a pillar of coexistence, there is no reason why South Sudan cannot build a unified country despite tribal differences.
I am looking forward to your actionable response on behalf of the neglected civilians (women, children, and men) of South Sudan.
Kuir ë Garang – Poet, Author, Writer