Uganda: Hope or False Peace?
Mr. Secretary General, you hail from a country that suffered massively after World War II and later the Korean war. There was untold deaths and destructions of entire cities. So I do not have to remind you of what it means when a whole ethnic group is subjected to attempted extermination.
[Open Letter To UN Secretary General]
Dear Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon
As you know, a peace agreement is supposed to be signed between the Government of Uganda under Yoweri Museveni and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels under Joseph Kony, on April 10.
As Secretary General, I hope you will help focus the world’s attention on Uganda’s calamity.
Part of the responsibility must be your immediate and tireless effort to help end the ongoing genocide, discreetly orchestrated, and shamelessly carried out against the Acholi people of Northern Uganda for over twenty years, by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime in Kampala, in the full silent view of the international community.
Subsequently, the United Nations should be involved in establishing sustainable peace and stability in Uganda.
The organization that I chair, the Acholi Association (AA) is a legally constituted community organization, working for the well being of Acholi people in Uganda, the United Kingdom, and wherever Acholis reside globally.
As you know, the NRM regime for more than 20 years has failed to protect Acholi lives and property. In fact, it has actively promoted extermination. The inalienable rights of Acholi people and their property have continuously been violated grossly by the incumbent NRM regime in Uganda. This is in total contravention of the provisions and protocols of the 1951 Geneva Convention.
In the past, I have written to your predecessor, Mr. Kofi Annan, on October 25, 2005 about these violations. Since then, little was done to mitigate the suffering and Acholis have died at alarming rates in the concentration camps, where more than one million remain illegally confined as the government tries to sell their lands to “investors.” Many Acholis wonder whether the UN can be a part of the solution or whether it has been a part of the problem, through its silence.
At the very least the United Nations must demand an end to the illegal encampment of Acholis in the death camps; or an end to the ethnic cleansing; and, participate in a well coordinated program to resettle survivors of the genocide back to their traditional homesteads and individual villages.
Obviously some of the atrocities can never be cured. How does one, for example, offer justice to someone who was deliberately infected with HIV/AIDS through targeted rapes in the concentration camps by soldiers in the UPDF, the national army, who were known to carry the disease?
Some Acholis have been killed in the most abominable manner. For example, some were either buried alive or forced into their huts which were then locked and set on fire.
A whole generation of Acholi children have missed schooling and since the destruction of their families’ farmlands and the theft of their livestock, they have been reduced to illiteracy and poverty.
Mr. Secretary General, you hail from a country that suffered massively after World War II and later the Korean war. There were untold deaths and massive destruction of entire cities. So I do not have to remind you of what it means when a whole ethnic group is subjected to attempted extermination.
If any meaningful peace process is to take hold, we cannot only talk about LRA but also the government’s UPDF, which have committed massive crimes against Acholis and must be withdrawn from the region. They have never protected the people, including in the concentration camps, but instead have violated their right to life and property.
You can understand why many people remain skeptical about the long term prospect of the Juba Peace Talks. The Juba process does not address the deep root causes of the extended conflict in Acholi region. How do you cure an ailment by addressing only the symptoms?
Moreover, some of the characters negotiating on the LRA side are compromised and actually work for the Yoweri Museveni regime. Practically, the NRM is talking peace with itself.
The UN cannot be absolved of culpability in the genocide. Members of the UN Security Council have given blanket support to the Museveni regime even when the evidence of the Acholi genocide was right before them.
We also understand that plans are afoot by the international community to deploy South African military forces in Acholi region. To my knowledge, the Acholi people have not been advised on this matter nor have they been properly sensitized and nor was their agreement sought. How do they hope to get the necessary cooperation? Is there not a danger they might be seen as a new army of occupation?
We know that there is another ongoing “scramble for Africa,” whereby foreign corporations align themselves with corrupt dictatorships to rob resources, oil and other natural wealth regardless of how many millions of Africans are killed in the process. In this sense, the Acholi calamity and deaths is similar to the genocide of 5 million people in DR Congo, also committed by Museveni’s army as the International Court of Justice found in 2005.
But with modern means of disseminating information, Acholis and other peace-loving people will not stand by and allow their sisters, mothers, brothers and fathers, to be exterminated.
We shall spread the word all over the world and demand for justice.
So long as the West maintains its support for dictator Museveni and so long as the root causes of the Acholi crisis are not addressed any “peace” measure is stop gap and temporary.
Sustainable peace and security, economic development and social reconstruction can only occur in Acholi after a national conference, involving all parts of the country and dealing with all issues including an end of tyranny by a military regime wrapped in civilian clothing.
JC Amone is Chairman of London-based Acholi Association He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
C.C. Heads of UN Member States, UN Security Council, Heads of Member States, The African Union
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