Friday, July 07, 2006

Towards Genuine Peace

The media has been used to condition the readers mind to an untenable position that the LRA and UPDF are equally to blame for the atrocities and war in northern Uganda. This is supposed to be the "middle ground." It is supposed to be the view of the moderates. But the Uganda government and its supporters have consistently painted a more negative picture of the LRA while we never have had the chance to hear from the LRA. Whereas each combating side is bent on making statement of their innocence, we still have a right to know who really is behind the death and destruction of a whole people and culture in Acholiland. Secondly, why can't the problem go away? Recently, Otti, the second in command of the LRA, has been interviewed by the Black Star News of New York and since the interview was over satellite communication, his answers to the questions were not rehearsed and therefore, very revealing. Otti also said that they burned down some camps so that people could go back to their homes. The picture is beginning to emerge why peace talk is not possible under Museveni. The ability of the LRA leaders to talk to the world is giving a different picture of the cause and intent of the Museveni perpetrated war.
The most glaring and convincing is the fact that LRA now categorically denies that the camp was created by them or because of their activities. And that is the single most important issue to Acholi people. They would prefer to be killed in their home rather than in concentration camps. Let the Uganda government tell us clearly why it cannot defend our people but instead find it easier to use the helicopter gunship indiscriminately against the people. To us this is evidence of Uganda government genocidal streaks. Otti stated that Museveni government gave the people 24 hours to leave their homes and move into camps that had not even been prepared for human habitation in any ways! Those who attempted to resist were summarily executed by the helicopter gunship and indiscriminate bombings of the villages. Without proper sanitation, food and shelters, the people were then exposed to death through overcrowding. The culture began to die at the same time as family units were absolutely destroyed. And for those who could not make it to the camps, they were strafed by helicopter gunship. This operation was code-named "Scorched earth campaign." That name is indicative of the government genocidal intent. As happened with the Israeli in Gaza, this was "violating international law in its Gaza offensive by inflicting heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva Conventions." Museveni did this in Acholi. The Acholi live out of the land and they store their foodstuff in granaries. So when they were forced to move to the camps, they were in effect being dispossessed of all earthly belongings. The helicopter gunship was brought in to chase the remaining people from their homes. Many were killed and as a result no one could claim their rights. In the ensuing chaos, the UPDF loaded their entire foodstuff and ferried it to the south. It does not matter that the UPDF would claim all the people as LRA collaborators; it is the duty of the government to ensure that they protect the people. Now, with no food and no homes to return to, the people were forced into the camps. Many may have thought it was temporary but soon found out that their lives was changed forever. This is callous; this is genocide.
It is hard to believe that the government had no control of what was going on and therefore the best way to deal with the LRA insurgency was total annihilation of the homesteads of everyone in the whole of Acholi district. Would Museveni have done the same thing in the area where he comes from? Of course, not. If the many people who were herded into the camps were really LRA supporters as the government would want us to believe, then it would have been an almost impossible task to separate them from their main group, the LRA. It is therefore more plausible that the government has the aim of moving the people form the land and that is why the camps were created and the people were not allowed to go back and get their food or gather information of what really happened. The LRA claim is simply to make it easy for the army to carry out the genocide in the name of fighting the rebels. Assuming that the soldiers were there for the benefit and protection of the people displaced, they would have been protected in every sense of the word because in skirmishes, it was the rebels that got killed. This would have included escort back to their homestead to collect what belonging and supply they may have left behind. That is the work of the army: to protect the people from attacks and harms from all known causes.
There is a movement where the people who have been known as cattle keepers, people of Banyarwanda ethnic origin, are trying to move from the west into the north. Apach has recently expelled some 500 of them. This is the main thrust of Museveni kingdom. An excerpt from interview with BSN gives us a glimpse into what really is happening in the northern Uganda war.
BSN: What else can you say to the people of Acholi region [the war zone]?
OTTI: The people should unite so that we can protect our land and prevent the Ankoles from taking it. This has been our land for hundreds of years.
BSN: You say Museveni's soldiers committed atrocities, do you have evidence?
OTTI: Abundantly. These atrocities you see occurring that he says are committed by the LRA his soldiers are doing. We never had the means of communications before to tell our story.

As regards the peace talks, it is instructive to remember all the peace negotiations that Museveni has been through and what became of them. An excerpt from below is quite revealing.
Museveni is like Hitler in many ways except the color of his skin. Hitler was not a German but an Austrian. Likewise Museveni is not a Ugandan but a Tutsi from Rwanda who came with his mother as a refugee. Hitler attacked one country after another. He planned his attack of Russia and other countries while negotiating PEACE TREATIES with his future victims. British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, naively believed that he could achieve peace with Hitler through mere negotiations. Hitler was planning his attack of Britain while mesmerizing Chamberlain with peace agreements. Museveni is doing precisely the same.
As from Charles O Kagwa:
"The,"First casualty of war is Truth" very true indeed, sad but unfortunately true” The world we live in is a composition of lies, greed and manipulations little truth can be secured”. In Uganda case, the leader is a very important ally to those who have interest to exploit the region, with resources like Gas and Oil plenty in South Sudan, Riches in D R Congo, and Uganda is still a very vital base I see NO reason why the greedy stakeholders should address truth in the Northern Uganda genocide. Unfortunately even neutral countries have joint the scramble for influence and exploitation, forming allies and cares no more for human rights abuses they preach in their own countries. The war in Great lakes provides good opportunity for plunder and employment also for research so it will most likely continue. How many peace accord, have been violated by NRM? More than five, Nairobi Accord 1985, UPDA Pece Accord 1988, UPA with Jesus Ojirot in Teso 1989, Akena Adoko UPDA 1989 all signed but violated. How many Peace jokes effort have been tried? Asked religious Leaders!"
While many people would pursue peace at all costs, the evidence of dealing with Museveni paints a very sinister picture. The people involved in the talks will certainly explore all loopholes that would cause failure of the talk to materialize into genuine peace. Museveni might be sending his emissary to talk peace while he vigorously pursues war to the end. So, he should refrain from making statements like "surrender by July 31."
We need the peace talk in Juba to succeed. Too many lives have been lost and many others are languishing in squalid camps with no hope for a better future. The people trapped in the so-called IDPs represent one of the gravest dangers to Uganda. They are desperate and very unhappy and can do anything because they have nothing to lose. If one can remember the Bolshevik Revolution then it is not unreasonable to see that these people could destroy their oppressor that has been codenamed Uganda government.
Another troubling observation is the big number of Museveni family in the top echelon of the government. Believe me, such people will never share power with the rebels who are bent to remove them from power. I do not see how their interest is going to be safeguarded in the peace talk. If these people can tone down their desires and accept to take their place among other Ugandans as equal, then we are moving towards a better and integrated Uganda.
And, finally, peace will be achieved if Acholi people replace the military commanders in Acholi district and as to concern that they will or might wish to attack Museveni's other forces, none of them should be allowed to cross Karuma armed and vice versa for Museveni's NRA. Only then will participants shake hands truly with open hearts to give Uganda one more chance at peace. This is the only safeguard against Museveni's machination as he did at the Nairobi peace talk and prevents further bloodshed and pogrom by Museveni.

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