One by One, South Sudan Tries to Name Its War Victims

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ODA NYAJIECH JUCH, wearing a white and purple dress with a gold band on her ring finger, can’t stop wringing her hands as she tells me about eight students killed near Jebel Checkpoint, a neighborhood in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. It was December 16, 2013, just hours into a civil war pitting President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, the largest tribe in the country, against Riek Machar, his former vice president and a Nuer, the second largest tribe. The war has defied ceasefires and continues to this day despite a peace deal signed in August. Juch says she watched from her home across the street as a military vehicle rolled up and opened fire with a machine gun, killing a group of youths whose names she ticks off for me: Kuong Gatpan, Puok Thichot, Kam Machak, Puok Wiech, Leklek Kai, and three brothers, Kai Thoan, Gatkoi Thoan, and Dak Thoan. In the years since — which have seen war victims forced by soldiers to eat the flesh of their neighbors, the emergence of “rape camps,” boys killed by castration, and young girls sexually assaulted and burned alive — no one has counted the dead. No government office or nongovernmental organization has kept a tally of the names of those killed by government forces, rebels, and other armed groups. But in a country in which automatic weapons are more plentiful than civil rights, and local journalists are regularly under assault, a tiny civil society group is trying to step into the breach by naming all of the names. Continue reading on on The Intercept
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