29th March 2023
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The life of Roger Winter as recalled by friends

Author : | Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Roger Winter (middle) with his friends in an old undated photo. With him are co-authors Eric Reeves (second from left), Ted Dagne (second right) and John Prendergast on extreme right. (Courtesy)

Three friends of Roger Winter have written a tribute to the late US diplomat, describing him as a selfless person who dedicated his life fighting for refugees and survivors of war across African and the world.

In the tribute titled “Roger Winter: Remembering A True Friend”, and published in the New York Times,  the authors Eric Reeves, John Prendergast, and Ted Dagne said Roger had inspired many people to be better advocates for justice and to be better human beings.

Roger, a former United States Envoy to Sudan passed away on Wednesday last week, at the age of 79.

He is seen in South Sudan as a champion of the country’s independence – having been pressuring Washington and Khartoum to resolve the 21-year Sudanese civil war.

“We will not forget anything you did, Roger. South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011, in part because of your decades-long work and passionate campaigns for the people of South Sudan,” the longtime friends of Roger Winter wrote.

“This is indeed “our” collective recollection of what you were for us, for Sudan (north and south), and what you have been as a champion of those people in Africa desperate for the kind of compassion and courage you’ve so long shown.”

Roger’s demise came as a shock to many South Sudanese and Sudanese politicians and citizens, who have conveyed their condolences to his family and friends on social media.

Former SPLM Secretary-General, Pagan Amum Okiech, describes Roger Winter as a steadfast supporter of the cause of the people of South Sudan.

“He was a steadfast passionate supporter of the cause of South Sudanese people, and all the marginalized people of Sudan in the Nuba mountain, Southern Blue Nile, Darfur, and Eastern Sudan,” he said on Tuesday.

“During the liberation struggles he would visit so many villages in South Sudan, Nuba mountain, Blue Nile, Darfur, and Eastern Sudan where he brings them hope,” Amum recalls.

Roger is not only remembered for his campaign for peace in Sudan.

In 2010, he won the “URUTI” Rwanda’s National Liberation Medal and “UMURINZI” Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal for writing about the US failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide.

After handing him the awards, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said: “You dedicated yourself to informing the American public and the rest of the world about the root cause of this crisis. In the 100 days of genocide, at the risk of your own life, you visited the RPF liberated zone several times, was the first foreigner to arrive at sites of mass massacres such as Nyarubuye and continued to act as ardent and vocal eyewitness to what was happening.”

His friend also recall how he braved dangers in the African continent. He was reportedly kidnapped in Nairobi, then being stripped of his possessions, and left in the countryside.

“Roger’s steadfast, passionate work on Sudan, for so very many years—even after retirement—inspired us all, if in different ways. Roger was never tired advocating for the people of Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda and Congo.”

Following South Sudan’s independence, Roger Winter was granted Honorary Citizenship of the republic of South Sudan by President Salva Kiir in recognition of his contribution to the birth of the country.

He will be buried in Columbia, Maryland USA on February 4, 2023. South Sudanese living in the US are urged to attend his burial in honor of his contribution to the cause of South Sudan and Sudan.




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