Media Ignores Genocide In Uganda

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U.S. government is more concerned with maintaining close ties with the Ugandan and Sudanese regimes in their interest of “combating terrorism.� At the behest of the US, Uganda has sent more than 1,000 troops to Somalia to help crack down on potential terrorist cells. The US does not care about the lives of thousands of Acholis dying every day in the IDPs.

 LETTER TO THE EDITOR


Reporting on the plight of the Acholi in the northern part of Uganda is not balanced or fair in general media coverage. Most coverage does not examine the Uganda Government’s role in perpetuating the crisis.

As an Acholi myself, I do appreciate there have been some media coverage. Many of us have felt the International community has greatly ignored this crisis which has gone on for 20 years. Yet Darfur’s case, which has continued for four years, gets quite a lot of press. The deaths and suffering in Northern Uganda far exceeds Darfur’s.

General media coverage of the Uganda crisis focuses heavily on the brutality of the LRA rebels. There is no coverage of the important socio-political factors involved and the role played by Uganda government in starting the crisis. There have been numerous TV and Movie documentaries such as the “Invisible Children Night Commuters,”—all have the same theme: LRA’s abduction of Child soldier’s, its brutality, and the plight of young “night commuters” fleeing conflict. The overall effect is to generate sympathy and donations to solve the problem. Granted, coverage is welcome: But what about coverage that leads towards a political resolution of the conflict?

Media portray Uganda Government as benevolent in terms of the confinement of the Acholi in so-called Internally Displaced People’s camps (IDP); ostensibly for their protection from LRA. This gives the impression, falsely, that government of Uganda is struggling against a very dangerous skilled rebel force. Given the ragtag nature of the LRA, government could have ended the insurgency long ago if it wanted.

Many of us Acholi know that both Ugandan Government and LRA are behind the suffering. So why has the role of the government not been exposed in the Media? In the so-called IDPs, the Local Defense Units (LDU) is responsible for security. They are poorly trained, rag tag, and often flee, abandoning the defenseless populace.

Reporting that examines all these factors, would provide a more balanced view. For instance, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has a personal Presidential Protection Brigade of 10,000 soldiers; for the defenseless Acholi people in an IDP consisting of 20,000 people or more, are “protected” by about 20 LDUs. These detachments are in the center of the camps, not on the perimeter, which should be first line of defense. This explains why LRA were still able to capture children from these camps; and why children commuted on foot every night fearing LRA abductions. The inadequate “protection” is deliberate.

Another reason why the Acholi believe government intentionally exposed them to harm is how could responsible government confine people in such camps without adequate water, food, and any means of sustenance? In addition to harm inflicted by the LRA, the Acholi are tortured, murdered and raped by government troops in these IDPs. Such information never appears in your articles. There are various video testimonies and UN human rights documents with such evidence.

After years of suffering and abandonment, the Acholi now want peace more so than “justice.” The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for arrest of LRA leaders; many Acholis believe this a hindrance to peace. Even victims of LRA international aid agencies working in Acholi strongly believe the Acholi tradition of cleansing and forgiveness, Mato-oput, to be more effective in healing and reconciliation rather than the ICC’s approach.

U.S. government is more concerned with maintaining close ties with the Ugandan and Sudanese regimes in their interest of “combating terrorism.” At the behest of the US, Uganda has sent more than 1,000 troops to Somalia to help crack down on potential terrorist cells. The US does not care about the lives of thousands of Acholis dying every day in the IDPs.

Recently, new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stopped briefly in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. He talked about Darfur and the Somalia crisis. Ki-Moon thanked Uganda Government for contributing 1,000 soldiers to Somalia. Not even once did he mention the crisis in the northern part of Uganda, merely 200 miles away.

 

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