Every 30 July is Martyrs’ Day in South Sudan, a day set aside to remember those who gave their lives to liberate the country from oppression imposed on them from the north. It commemorates the sacrifice of those who rebelled against Sudan’s Sharia Law and forced conversion policy and won the freedom of their homeland after decades of bloody struggle.
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The date 30 July was chosen because it was on that day in 2005 that rebel leader John Garang died in a helicopter crash. He and others had sought to overthrow northern Sudan’s Sharia government and establish a united Sudan with freedom for all. Later, it became apparent that full independence for the south was the only viable option.
Southern Sudan declared itself the independent republic of South Sudan in 2011 and quickly made Martyrs’ Day a national holiday. Solemn ceremonies take place in Juba each year to honour the memory of Garang and of all who fought so valiantly for South Sudan during the long struggle for independence. Many get the day off work and spend time with family and friends celebrating the prize they won and remembering the price they paid.
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