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South Sudan: singing national anthem restricted

8 August 2019
Image: President Salva Kiir Mayardit/ Facebook
Image: President Salva Kiir Mayardit/ Facebook

On July 19 2019, South Sudan President Salva Kiir passed an order banning singing of the Sudanese national anthem in his absence.

According to the South Sudan’s Information Minister Michael Makuei, the order was passed due to the misuse of playing of the national anthem after it was observed being played for various leaders and institutions at random.

“Everybody is playing the national anthem. For the information of everybody, the national anthem is only meant for the president, and functions attended by him,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP news.

The exception of this order is for South Sudan’s embassies (as they represent the President) and schools where children are taught the national anthem.

The consequences for disobeying this order are unclear, but the Information Minister warned in a statement that “these are orders and of course when you disobey the orders of the president, then you carry your cross.”

The singing ban occurs during a time when President Salva Kiir has agreed to face-to-face conversations with South Sudanese oppositional leader, Riek Machar, who was exiled for being accused of planning a coup against the current president in 2019. Following the accusation, South Sudan fell into a civil war just two years after gaining independence from Sudan in 2011.

This is not the first instance of a national anthem being banned by official governmental authorities.

In October 2017, China passed a law called the National Anthem Law, which made it illegal to play its national anthem in “funerals, ‘inappropriate’ private occasions, commercials or as background music in public places” according to China Daily.

Similar to South Sudan, the playing of the national anthem is allowed in schools to encourage patriotism of the country and any formal political convenings.

People who violate the law, which includes anyone who ”maliciously modify the lyrics or play/sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way”, are subject to be detained up to 15 days or held on criminal charges, reported by China News.  

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