Uganda Peoples Congress
February 25 2004
- Horror, death, damnation were the words Will Ross of BBC used to describe what he saw at Barlonyo internally displaced camp (IDC) in Lira district. This reminds me the Shakespeare's comedy Macbeth where MacDuff shouted "Horror, death, damnation viper, enter ye the chamber and destroy your sight upon a new Gorgon". MacDuff had found king Dunkan murdered in his host's chambers. The scene at Barlonyo was indeed a Gorgon.
- Joy Wacha who reported for Monitor Newspaper counted 173 bodies. She did not indicate that she counted all. The local MP (Lira), Charles Angiro himself counted 192 bodies and included some from near by bushes. He did not claim to have combed all the bushes to give a definite final figure. The two who counted described the incident as a massacre. The military intelligence officer in the North, himself a rebel turncoat played down the figures to 84 and it appears that he is the one who mislead the President to ridicule himself and claim that the rebels had killed only 80 people as if numbers mattered in the horrendous mayhem reported to have been occasioned by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony. The LRA supposed spokesman one "Brig" Sam Kolo denied responsibility but claims that a combined force of UPDF and Rhino militia attacked their base in Ogur sub country. He claims further that they repulsed the combined government force and pursued them to their camp which they destroyed, killed many and captured some. He claimed also that they carried away a lot of guns and ammunitions. Other reporters claim that LRA took captives.
- President General Museveni was quick to blame the UPDF and has assured the victims with transfer of the 403 Brigade Commander to Headquarters ostensibly for training since Museveni must have faulted in making him Brigade Commander, whereas his training qualifies him to be only a battalion commander. Museveni does not say that he made a mistake to have done the assignment. It is always other people; ministers, MPs, civil servants including army or police who make mistakes but never the infallible Museveni! Moreover it is claimed that the camp housing over 6000 citizens was guarded by a mere 60 Amuka militia who were just recently and hurriedly recruited. They are poorly armed and poorly motivated. The claim that half of them had been paid and gone to their homes is just not believable. If their bosses i.e. UPDF, gave them passes to go home, then they would arrange to cover the vulnerable IDP's security. It is no wonder that locally, nationally and now internationally, Museveni's government has been blamed for failing to provide security for the people of Northern Uganda.
- What is enigmatous is who is killing these people in Northern Uganda. Only two weeks ago i.e. 6th February, 2004, 51 people were butchered at Abia. The government blamed LRA, who denied involvement. Local people talk of Wobulenzi Mobile Brigade using uniforms similar to UPDF and moving at night with numberless vehicles. They pass UPDF check points undeterred and commit murders and vanish the same night. This is not the first time to experience Mobile Brigades. There was one in the Luwero triangle that killed most UPC leaders and civil servants that served UPC government in 1981-1985. They behaved exactly in the same manner and were confined to areas under control of NRA. Now the notorious Brigade is confined to Northern Uganda which is virtually cordoned off by UPDF (renamed NRA). News from these areas are a preserve of UPDF spokesmen. Anybody who tries to give a witnessed account is labelled corroborator of Kony, a traitor, a saboteur or supporter of terrorists. Recently father Carlos Rodriguez was threatened with deportation because he reported what he saw at Pabbo where UPDF soldiers actually burnt up an IDP camp. Major Shaban Bantariza the Army spokesman said that "UPDF carried out operation at Pabbo."
- The United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Anan has condemned the massacre of civilians at Barlonyo. He has implored the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hauge to investigate the carnage. ICC has concurred and will send a prosecutor to investigate the massacre at Barlonyo. UPC welcomes the steps taken by the UN Secretary General. We however beseech that the prosecutor should carry out an in-depth investigation, otherwise the UN and ICC will be treating symptoms and leaving the disease intact. We have information about the Mobile Brigade in Luwero triangle 1981-1985. We also have evidence of similar massacres in Eastern Uganda, Northern Uganda starting with Conner Kilak where Museveni himself asserted that they had "massacred the chaps badly".
- It is the hopes of UPC that this investigation by the ICC prosecutor will be an all encompassing exercise so that all the stakeholders make input. We trust that the ICC prosecutor will unearth the enigma that has bedevilled this country and thus put an end to the perennial wars in Uganda. We hope the same prosecutor will have the liberty to collect evidence from anyone in Uganda and we hope that the government will give the prosecutor every corporation he will require.
- In 2001 Museveni swore to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of Uganda, to serve the people of Uganda. In the same Constitution articles-208 - 210 created the UPDF and the main function is to defend the people of Uganda. The people of Northern Uganda are part of he citizens of Uganda that deserve security of person and property. Of late the defence of people in Eastern and Northern Uganda has been relegated to auxiliary forces in form of Arrow Boys in Teso sub region and Rhino (Amuka) militia in Northern Uganda. It is most irresponsible of Museveni's government to abandon its duty and obligation and relay on auxiliaries. These militias are ill trained, ill equipped and ill motivated to carry out the task of protecting these people leave alone the legal implications. If we may ask Museveni where is the 50,000 strong UPDF. Have they all become ghosts?
- Minister Amama Mbabazi apology is unimpressive as it shows no plan to avert repeated catastrophes. Museveni camping in the north has become routine and nauseating. Maybe this is a form of another vision. The only reasonable course of action remaining is to make the northern Uganda rebellion part of the national dialogue the G7 has requested to have with Museveni government. Museveni must accept that military option has failed.
- Throughout the country there is a plethora of security organisations; ISO, ESO, PIN, KAP, CMI, CID etc and administrative organs. They are quick to harass torture, detain and even kill innocent politicians but cannot do the duty of giving information to avert danger to the citizens. Currently they are in top gear campaigning for Museveni life presidency but do nothing for the duty they are engaged to perform.
- The government has failed to guide public officer on the limits of their power. Last week the director of information at the illegal Movement secretariat lambasted H.M. Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the Kabaka of Buganda. Fox Odoi, assistant secretary to the president taunted Lady Justice Sebutinde. Kakoza Mutale was at it again, this time insinuating that he had a business of spying on and reporting about Eriya Kategaya to Museveni. Charles Rwomushana pronouncement on various important people is well known. Who controls these people?
For God and My Country.
Dr. James W. Rwanyarare
Presidential Policy Commission
25th. February 2004.