Ugandan Decries Genocide

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(Former top UN official and Sydney Peace Prize recipient Otunnu).

A former top United Nations official and Sydney Peace Prize recipient has once again condemned “on-going� genocide in Uganda and attacked Western governments for turning a blind-eye to atrocities.

Olara Otunnu, who hails from Uganda, spoke at a conference in London where Uganda’s leading opposition figure Dr. Kizza Besigye also appeared. Also in attendance were Counselor Gordon Morrison, representing the Canadian High Commission in the UK; Cyril Ndaba, the South African Deputy High Commissioner, and; Ugandan member of parliament, Ronald Okumu.

An attorney, Patrick Asiimwe, who is the Vice Chairman UK-Chapter, of Uganda’s ruling NRM party, had challenged Besigye to state whether he concurred with Otunnu’s statement on genocide in Uganda—Besigye deferred to Otunnu who then delivered.

Otunnu was emphatic, blaming Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for the genocide and saying recent media accounts had it wrong, implying that he had claimed there was “likely� genocide on northern Uganda. “I said that there is an on-going Genocide in northern Uganda,� Otunnu said, wanting his message to be loud and clear, this time.

“The West has supported, sponsored and colluded with Museveni when committing genocide,� Otunnu added, “Like what Dr. Besigye said, the tax payers’ money in Europe sponsors the suffering of people in northern Uganda.� The former UN diplomat was given a standing ovation from the audience at Resource Centre North London—on September 30.

At as his lecture when he received the Sydney Peace Prize in November 2005, Otunnu spoke about the systemic destruction of Acholi culture, schools, and means of livelihood in addition to the killings. The paper has been widely circulated.

Earlier this year, Otunnu offerred a dossier which he says irrefutably qualifies the atrocities in Uganda’s Acholi region as genocide. He wrote that even HIV/AIDS had been deliberated spread by government in northern Uganda by the deployment of soldiers whom government knew were infected. “Thirty percent of the population in Kitgum district alone had HIV/AID infection, compared with a national level of 4%,� according to Otunnu. “HIV/AIDS is being used in northern Uganda as a weapon of mass destruction, by screening the infected soldier and those tested positive are then especially deployed to the north, with the mission to commit maximum havoc on the local girls and women.�

Otunnu was the United Nations Undersecretary General responsible for children in war zones. The “perpetrator of that Genocide is Museveni,� Otunnu added, referring to northern Uganda. “He has marshaled his power under the look of the western countries because they want a kind of division. Can the rest of Ugandans carry on business while the population in northern is turning into abject poverty?�

He added: “It’s diabolical evil, Genocide is not only physical but a proportioned way of reducing a certain generation, culture. Genocide does exist.�

Separately, Ugandan parliamentarian Ronald Okumu, called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to impede the ongoing peace talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Uganda government. The talks, in Juba, Southern Sudan, are aimed at ending 20-years of fighting between the LRA and government. Okumu also denounced the ICC for selective enforcement of sanctions against human rights abusers.

“Some people should not wash their hand as saints. And the reason why Museveni is giving amnesty to Kony is because Museveni himself has blood in his hand,� Okumu said. “We have over a million witnesses who can testify. We have well documented evidence that Museveni and LRA have committed atrocities against humanity.�

Joseph Kony is the LRA leader.

Referring to the ICC, he added: “And we are surprised why the ICC took much interest to deal with just a portion of the whole northern Uganda conflict..LRA have committed war crimes and Museveni as well has done so. He should be answerable to some war crimes. LRA wasn’t in the bush between 1987-88, it has been created because of Museveni’s propaganda. So, if the ICC is interested it should go back right for some early dates. Maj. Ikondere buried some people in my village when they were still alive. We have evidence. If we need real truce and reconciliation it should be meaningful.�

The event was sponsored by Forum for Democratic Change, which is led by Dr. Besigye; FDC insists it was robbed of victory through massive rigging in the last Presidential elections.

Miwambo writes for The Black Star from London.

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