Uganda: Youth Activist Resisting Land-Grab Questions U.S. Silence over Regime Atrocities

-A +A
0

Human Rights Activist, Mr. J. B. Uhuru in white T-shirt, during a demonstration

“The question is does Uganda qualify to be such a state? If it does qualify, as it definitely qualifies, then it is right and fitting for the US government to pick fresh interests in the issue of governance in Uganda - putting into consideration of what happened in Iraq and Libya. It is important that any regime change is positive”

“It is not sufficient justification that regime change must happen in Uganda without recovery of assets privatized in Uganda”

“As a community of Apaa, we only wish to live peacefully on our land. Violent attempts to evict our people from the area started after the area of Apaa was supposedly gazetted as East Madi Game Reserve, a process that took place illegitimately while our people were relocated in Internally Displaced Persons’ Camp during the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict”

GULU, Uganda--The youth of Uganda have emerged in the center stage of resisting dictatorship, corruption and land-grabbing. The world became familiar with the name Bobi Wine after the regime of Gen. Yoweri Museveni last year brutalized the 37-year old legislator, leading to global condemnation by the EU and the U.S., his main supporters. 

Here in the northern part of Uganda a 27-year old activist named J.B. Uhuru has emerged in the forefront as well, resisting the Museveni regime's attempts to land-grab in a part of the region known as Apaa, with phenomenally fertile land. 

Uhuru led a protest against the deadly land-grab campaigns in which the regime uses security forces to attack people, burn homes, and even kill some civilians. He quoted the late Nelson Mandela, as having once said that "for any unpopular government that never respects humanity, such government must be exposed, denounced and its corrupt officials sent to exile".

The U.S. supports the Museveni regime with hundreds of millions of dollars annually and with arms shipments. Uhuru questions the U.S.'s silence over Uganda when it condemns atrocities in other parts of the world.

“The question is does Uganda qualify to be such a state? If it does qualify, as it definitely qualifies, then it is right and fitting for the US government to pick interests in the issues of governance in Uganda afresh putting into consideration of what happened in Iraq and Libya. It is important that any regime change is positive”, Uhuru says, adding; “It is not sufficient justification that regime change must happen in Uganda without recovery of assets privatized in Uganda”.

He made these remarks during an interview with this reporter on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 following his release from prison on bail on Friday, February 8, 2019. He was charged by the regime of dictator Museveni, who has already ruled this East African nation for 33 years, of having organized and leading an unlawful demonstration in Gulu city over disputed Apaa land on February.

The Apaa land saga started way back in 2002 when the Adjumani local government requested the Uganda parliament to recognize  the area and gazette it into a Wild Life Game reserve. However, the area is in Amuru district, formerly Kilak controlled hunting ground, neighboring East Madi controlled hunting ground. At the time the locals were still in government-created concentration camps euphemistically refered to as Internally Displace Persons’ Camp.

The People only returned to the area after the LRA and government signed cessation of hostilities agreement in 2006 and the LRA relocated to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the same year. In September 2016, the minister of Local Government, Mr. Tom Butime declared the area part of Adjumani district much to the chagrin of the Acholi community.

In July 2018 a group of over 200 residents of Apaa pitched camp at the compound of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Gulu to drum international intervention into the long-running land issue which has led to the deaths of more than 20 people and injured several others.

“As a community of Apaa, we only wish to live peacefully on our land. Violent attempts to evict our people from the area started after the area of Apaa was supposedly gazetted as East Madi Game Reserve, a process that took place illegitimately while our people were relocated in Internally displaced Persons’ Camps during the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict”, reads part of a petition to The Speaker of Uganda parliament dated August 6, 2018. 

It seems that now that those residents peacefully agreed to return home, the regime has resumed its brutal campaign. 

On February 4, 2019 J.B Uhuru joined Acholi members of parliament from the disputed area in a demonstration on the streets of Gulu town in protest of government inaction to stop renewed violence in the area. He was arrested together with the five Members of Parliament and bundled onto a waiting police car during which he suffered injuries in the waist and lost his wrist watch to the policemen who forcefully broke up the rally accusing them of convening an illegal assembly.

Uhuru says it was wrong for the Police to act with iron hands after he informed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) about the peaceful demonstration in writing as required by the Public Order Management Act (2013).

This is not the first demonstration that Mr. Uhuru organized in Gulu as a human rights activist. The first time he organized a demonstration in Gulu was in protest of persistence power (electricity) blackout in the city. He was simply pepper-sprayed in November 2018 while one person was struck dead by police stray bullets shortly after they opened fire at the demonstrators.

“We had planned to start the demonstration with praying for the people of Apaa at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Unfortunately, police violently arrested us while walking for the prayer, well before the demonstration had even started. I was thrown into a police car, injured in the waist and taken to police cell. They removed my shoes and wrist watch but up to now I have never received my watch back”, says Mr. Uhuru.

The legislators were unconditionally released from Gulu Central Police station for delays without charge. According to the Leader of Opposition in Uganda Parliament, Ms. Betty Aol Ocan, the police always act on ‘order from above’, which is unfair to the people of Uganda who would like to express their grievances with government in ways guaranteed by the constitution.

“We, as citizens and the International community, must put pressure on government of Uganda to try to follow the law and to continuously inform Ugandans on what is happening in the country”, says the legislator.

The Prime Minister of Acholi cultural institution, Mr. Ambrose Olaa says the government has hidden interests in Apaa land which makes it difficult to be trusted to resolve problems there.

The government uses the Public Order Management Act to clamp down on the opposition and restrict their activities. Gen. Museveni is on record to have said to the effect that there would be no opposition in Uganda by the 2021 election cycle.

 

Also Check Out...

Local Brooklyn Reggae Artist And
GRACE JAMAICAN JERK FESTIVAL
Trinidadian-Canadian Poet Dionne
Uganda Community Farm Organization
Trailblazing Innovative “Boys n
Lost Live Restored Recordings Of