Concert opens Human Rights Day celebrations in South Sudan

10 Dec 2012

Concert opens Human Rights Day celebrations in South Sudan

9 December 2012 - Celebrations for Human Rights Day in South Sudan kicked off today with a free, public concert featuring the Juba-based dance and music group Orupaap, who dedicated a song to the occasion.

Written specifically for Human Rights Day, the song focused on the desire for freedom, inclusion and protection, regardless of tribal origins or economic status.

"I didn't choose to be a son of a nurse or a chief... I haven't selected my tribe.... Remember what we fought for – human dignity, your voice to be heard..." were among sentiments included in the lyrics.

The concert at Juba's Nyakuron Cultural Centre, hosted by the South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) and UNMISS Human Rights Division, attracted about 800 people, most of them South Sudanese.

The SSHRC is leading celebrations in South Sudan, supported by UNMISS Human Rights, which doubles as representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) in the country.

The theme for the commemoration this year is "My Voice Counts". According to OCHCR, this spotlights the rights of all people to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.

The celebrations are expected to culminate in several activities across South Sudan's 10 states on 10 December, the official date for Human Rights Day, with the main celebration a series of speeches and cultural performances at Nyakuron in Juba.

Event in the states, organized by UNMISS Human Rights and partners, including state governments and other national counterparts, will include quizzes at secondary schools, radio talk shows, sensitization workshops and public advocacy campaigns on different themes.

"This is an appropriate moment to reflect on the commitments made by the government to human rights and the human rights situation as a whole," said UNMISS Human Rights chief Richard Bennett at a Human Rights public forum discussion in Juba on 7 December.

"There has been considerable progress in recognizing human rights, including the rights of women and children," he added. "However, there are many challenges ahead, including insecurity, protection of human rights defenders and journalists, arbitrary detention and fulfilling the right to freedom of expression, education and access to health."

Speaking on behalf of the Human Rights Commission, Dr. Anei Arop said human rights had been respected and promoted in South Sudan from the signing of the (2005) Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

"Since the (2011) referendum, some things have gone wrong," he said. "We need to examine and reflect on what went wrong and work out a better way ahead."