NATIONAL RECONCILIATION & TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AUDIT BEYOND JUBA PROJECT BRIEF 3 : BULAMBULI DISTRICT
NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District To document community perspectives on post-independence armed conflicts across Uganda To identify and assess the outstanding reconciliation and transitional justice needs related to each of these conflicts
Three field teams comprising four researchers and one videographer visit twenty-one selected districts equally distributed over the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central regions in Uganda. In each district, concerned civil society organisations are contacted. The teams conduct Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with four different groups namely adult women, adult men, youth and representatives of civil society and local government. There are fifteen participants in each FGD and the discussions take the whole day. FGDs are split into two parts, and follow a simple structure: The morning is spent ‘Looking Back’, at conflicts, their causes, their impacts, and the stakeholders involved, while the afternoon is for “Looking Forward” at the possible justice mechanisms that could be used to address the legacies of conflicts identified – as well as sending messages to key persons and institutions. In the course of each FGD, key informants are identified for further consultation. Findings are recorded on flip charts, through near-verbatim note taking, and on audio- and video recorders. Preliminary Findings are presented initially in these Briefs. The final output will be a Compendium of Conflicts in Uganda, supported by video documentation NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
PART 1: LOOKING BACK A. Is Uganda at peace? Conflict Timeline (national/regional/district/village) B. What were the Causes behind the conflicts you have identified? C. What were the Impacts? D. Who were the Stakeholders? - Victims - Perpetrators - Beneficiaries - Bystanders - Spoilers - Peacebuilders NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
WELCOME BACK - Reminder of purpose of second half: from looking back to looking forward PART 2: LOOKING FORWARD A. How does it feel to be talking about the history of this country? B. 1. What does JUSTICE mean to you? 2. Has JUSTICE been done to the stakeholders? How do you think justice can be done? What would you like to see in the following processes? C. What Messages do you have for key persons and/or institutions? TRADITIONAL JUSTICE CHANGES IN LAW / INSTITUTIONS AMNESTY PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT MEMORIALIZATION REPARATIONS TRUTH-TELLING PROSECUTIONS RECONCILIATION NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Map of Uganda showing Districts NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Bulambuli District NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Introduction This field brief is based on data collected from Bulambuli district, between 31 October and 6 November Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were held with adult women, men, youths, civil society and local government officials in Bulambuli Town Council in Lower Bulambuli. Key informant interviews were held in Upper Bulambuli, a place which has been heavily affected by landslides. The field brief reflects conflict perspectives and opinions as narrated by the FGD participants and are not necessarily those of the Refugee Law Project (RLP) or its funders. This briefing note was written by Okot Benard Kasozi with valuable input from Annelieke van de Wiel and Kari Griffiths, all of the RLP. RLP is very grateful for the contributions made by different individuals and organizations towards the success of Transitional Justice Audit Research in Bulambuli district. This field brief is based on data collected from Bulambuli district, between 31 October and 6 November Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were held with adult women, men, youths, civil society and local government officials in Bulambuli Town Council in Lower Bulambuli. Key informant interviews were held in Upper Bulambuli, a place which has been heavily affected by landslides. The field brief reflects conflict perspectives and opinions as narrated by the FGD participants and are not necessarily those of the Refugee Law Project (RLP) or its funders. This briefing note was written by Okot Benard Kasozi with valuable input from Annelieke van de Wiel and Kari Griffiths, all of the RLP. RLP is very grateful for the contributions made by different individuals and organizations towards the success of Transitional Justice Audit Research in Bulambuli district. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
LOOKING BACK NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Participants in the different FGDs noted that Uganda is currently experiencing relative peace compared to past regimes. Past regimes (before President Yoweri Museveni) were characterised by open brutality and severe violations of human rights both by the army and other Government operatives. However, the majority of participants added that much as there is relative peace under the current regime, the country is grappling with economic conflicts. The participants also noted the absence of peace at a regional level. They mentioned the armed conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda, the Allied Democratic Force (ADF) in western Uganda, and the raids by the Karimojong warriors from Karamoja region on the neighbouring districts. These conflicts have destabilized the peace in the whole of the northern and eastern region for over 50 years. The strikes and violence in the central region of Uganda have also contributed to the absence of peace in the central region. For that reason, participants recognized that there is an urgent need to look at and address the problems that led to the current conflicts alongside the impacts of past conflicts as they pose an impediment to national reconciliation and sustainable peace in Uganda. Participants in the different FGDs noted that Uganda is currently experiencing relative peace compared to past regimes. Past regimes (before President Yoweri Museveni) were characterised by open brutality and severe violations of human rights both by the army and other Government operatives. However, the majority of participants added that much as there is relative peace under the current regime, the country is grappling with economic conflicts. The participants also noted the absence of peace at a regional level. They mentioned the armed conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda, the Allied Democratic Force (ADF) in western Uganda, and the raids by the Karimojong warriors from Karamoja region on the neighbouring districts. These conflicts have destabilized the peace in the whole of the northern and eastern region for over 50 years. The strikes and violence in the central region of Uganda have also contributed to the absence of peace in the central region. For that reason, participants recognized that there is an urgent need to look at and address the problems that led to the current conflicts alongside the impacts of past conflicts as they pose an impediment to national reconciliation and sustainable peace in Uganda. Is there peace in Uganda? Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Corruption war (1962-to date): This was noted by participants as another war public officials/national leaders waged on public resources to suppress and impoverish the majority of citizens. This has caused inadequate access to resources and fights to condemn and address corruption in the country. This has caused tensions between corrupt public officers and their supporters, as well as with Parliament and other bodies that are currently trying to deal with the problem in Uganda. Corruption was said to have started immediately after independence in 1962 by Obote, Mutesa and Amin, and worsened in 1986 when the NRA captured power. Kabaka Crisis (24 May 1966): In 1966, a political crisis arose between the King of Buganda (Kabaka) Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa III and Sir Apollo Milton Obote. The conflict between the two leaders culminated in the Ugandan Army attacking the King’s palace on 24 May The participants regarded this as the first post-Independence State involvement in a deliberate and systematic turning of military power on its own people in an attempt to settle a political difference/disagreement. The participants revealed that the event set a precedent for military rule whose legacy is being followed to date. Additionally, they claim it created a legacy of deep seated tribalism and hatred which has contributed to national instability in Uganda, including the 1967 abolition of Kingdoms, the abrogation of the 1962 Constitution and military coups like the one of 1971 that brought Amin to power. Amin Coup (January 1971): Idi Amin Dada who was the army commander in Obote’s Government plotted a violent military coup to overthrow Obote. The coup deposed Obote and Amin declared himself to be the President of Uganda. He reigned as President from His regime was characterized by anarchy, gross human rights violations, ethnic persecution especially against the Acholi and Langi, political repression, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption and Islamisation. This led the country into a state of anarchy from His bellicose personality, despotic and dictatorial style paved the way for a liberation struggle and his subsequent overthrow in Political Instability and Electoral Crisis ( ): In 1979, a coalition of the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) and Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces, popularly known as Wakomboozi (Liberators), launched an attack on Amin to overthrow his tyrannical government. The success of the coalition of the UNLA and Wakomboozi was held to be a success both in Uganda and around the world. However, after Amin was removed from power, the country experienced significant political instability. Four presidents ruled the country in a period of only one year. Yusuf Lule ruled for two months, Godfrey Binaisa for 28 days and Paul Muwanga ruled Uganda until Obote regained power in 1980, after a national election. Obote II and Museveni’s Guerrilla War ( ): The results of the national election that brought Obote to power were contested by Yoweri Museveni Kaguta because of allegations of election malpractice by the Uganda’s Peoples’ Congress (UPC) under the leadership of Obote. As Museveni’s complaints about the election and its results were not answered, he mobilised the National Resistance Army (NRA) to fight a guerrilla war that lasted from Museveni continued to fight for power even after the overthrow of Obote by General Tito Okello Lutwa. Coup by Okello against Obote (27 July 1985): Bazilio Okello-Olara commanded and staged a coup d’état against Milton Obote’s Government and seized power. A military council was established under the chairmanship of Bazilio and later General Okello Lutwa until they were defeated by NRA in January Obote II’s administration had become very unpopular after he regained power, leading to strong opposition in Parliament and from the Buganda region. The problems he faced were compounded by tribalism. Acholi soldiers launched a military coup against Obote under the command of Brigadier Bazilio Olara. Tito Okello Lutwa established a military junta that reigned from July 1985 until January 1986 when Museveni’s NRA claimed power. Again, this was an extremely bloody regime change in which many lost their lives and property, as it was believed by the participants that Museveni’s soldiers had become undisciplined and unruly. Museveni’s takeover (1986): Despite the fact that Tito Okello Lutwa opted for peace talks in Nairobi with other warring factions such as the NRA and that Museveni had entered into an agreement with Okello, Museveni persisted with the fight that later led to the defeat of Tito Okello and a regime change with Museveni as President. In the process, a number of human rights violations were committed against the civilian population. The civilians who were affected are still demanding for an apology and compensation from the incumbent Government. Museveni’s military overthrow of Tito Okello’s Government paved the way for a number of regional conflicts that have since terrorised the people in those regions. When the NRA war intensified, many of Tito’s soldiers were redeployed out of Bulambuli where they were normally deployed to provide security; to fight the NRA who were advancing towards the capital city (Kampala). This led the Karamojong to intensify their raids in Bulambuli and many other eastern Uganda districts such as Soroti. Many of Okello’s Acholi fighters fled back to the north and hid in the bush, while others fled into exile in Sudan and formed rebel groups such as the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA), the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM), the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Force Obote Back Again (FOBA). These different rebel groups contributed to the insecurity and suffering that many continue to experience in Uganda. The conflicts in Uganda’s history were discussed by the participants at a national, regional, district and village level: FDC vs. NRM conflict (2004-to date): This conflict started on 16 December 2004 when the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) political party was founded, a year before the 2005 National Referendum. On 28 July 2005, a national referendum paved the way for multi-party politics in Uganda. This led to competition and inevitably conflicts between the two top parties i.e. FDC and NRM. The opening of political space created further divisions along party and political lines. The conflict between both parties resulted in violent strikes and demonstrations. It also contributed to the emergence of pressure groups such as Activists for Change (A4C). Government officials accused FDC leaders of having links with rebel groups such as the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) led by Colonel Samson Mande and Lieutenant Colonel Kyakabale Anthony, both of whom currently live in exile in the UK and Kenya respectively Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District 1981 ‘Walk to Work’ Campaign (2011-to date): As a result of economic hardship experienced by many Ugandans in the last few years, Activists for Change backed by leading opposition figures such as Dr. Kizza Besigye organized a ‘Walk to Work’ campaign that took place in several towns, including Gulu, Mbale, Masaka and Kampala. The rising cost of essential items such as sugar and fuel has made life very difficult for many Ugandans. The ‘Walk to Work’ campaign was widely supported by the populace and led to the imprisonment and deaths of many people. People lost their property because of the looting and on the days of the campaign businesses were closed. Despite attempts by the Government to condemn and stop the ’Walk to Work’ campaign, it continued to gain support, partly due to the fact that the Government was more focussed on stopping the campaign than on addressing the causes of this conflict. In 2011, other strikes hit Uganda due to the rising cost of living. Primary school teachers and lecturers of Makerere University went on strike demanding for a salary increment.
Sabiny vs. Bagisu over land/district boundary (1950s-to date): Since the 1950s, there have been conflicts over land between the Bagisu and the Sabiny tribes. In 1961, the conflict escalated when Benedict Kiwanuka who was the President General of the Democratic Party (DP) and the Chief Minister in the Uganda Legislative Council gave the Sabiny a district called Kapchorwa as a reward for voting overwhelmingly for the DP in the 1961 pre- independence elections. Problems arose as the boundaries of this land were not clearly demarcated and the Sabiny people believe that their district stretches up to the borders of Sironko District and covers the entire Bulambuli District. In 1979, the tribal conflict over land between the Sabiny and the Bagisu left hundreds of Bagisu dead and many others homeless and landless to this day. As a result, many revenge killings between the Bagisu and Sabiny took place. However, the Government seems to be reluctant to settle the dispute. Both tribes feel insecure as they expect an attack at any time. The conflict has been compounded by the 1986 displacement of the Bagisu people who used to occupy the Mount Elgon Forest reserve. The displaced were forced to flee back to Bulambuli District to occupy the land that the Bagisu and the Sabiny of Kapchorwa claim ownership over, thereby sparking more violent encounters among these two communities. Karamojong vs. Bagisu (1960s-to date): This conflict is best described as a one-way conflict in which the Karimojong raid and steal the property and cattle of the Bagisu people. The participants emphasized the prolonged historical conflict between the Bagisu and the Karimojong dating back to the 1960s when the Karimojong first raided the Bagisu cattle. Their first attacks were relatively innocent, as they used rudimentary weapons such as spears, arrows and bows. However, after breaking into the Armoury in Moroto in 1979, the Karimojong acquired heavier arms like guns that they began using to attack the Bagisu and other neighbouring communities. Their raids intensified as they embarked on armed raids, killing many local people, raping women, displacing others to neighbouring communities and destroying crops. The conflict intensified between 1986 and 2000 prompting the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) to deploy at the Karamojong-Bagisu border to contain the raids. Nevertheless, the Bagisu people have developed a deep seated hatred and bitterness against the Karimojong, attributing their current impoverishment to the Karimojong. The Bagisu would like the government to carry out a restocking exercise in the region as compensation for the loss suffered at the hands of the Karimojong. They also expressed desire for reconciliation with the Karimojong, however, there seem to have been no concrete steps taken in this direction. Although this conflict is not over, it has been alleviated by the government’s efforts to disarm the Karimojong and increase security in the region by deploying UPDF at the Bagisu borders. Force Obote Back Again and NRA counter-insurgency (early nineties): The insurgent group Force Obote Back Again (FOBA) was much more active in Sironko and Teso region than in Bulambuli. Nonetheless, Bulambuli also suffered the consequences of this conflict such as rape, looting, killing and abduction, the effects of which still haunt the community. During Obote II, the region was a stronghold for UPC and had many Obote supporters who took up weapons to fight for his return. Participants specifically mentioned the name Werikhe believed to be one of the commanders of FOBA in charge of Mafudu areas in Sironko district during the early nineties. Werikhe was one of the former Obote soldiers who did not join NRA but instead fought against them. He was ill equipped and had few followers who were soon defeated and disbanded by the NRA. He fled to Kenya where he died a natural death without ever facing justice. Because of the FOBA activities, the NRM sent soldiers to Bulambuli to suppress the rebel activities. In the context of this counter-insurgency, one unnamed army commander forcefully circumcised one hundred men as a collective punishment measure. Of the one hundred, ninety men bled to death and only ten survived. The commander fled to Kenya and his whereabouts remain unknown. People blame the Government for its failure to arrest and prosecute this UPDF commander. They wondered how victims can benefit from justice where a perpetrator has fled Uganda Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District The major regional conflicts being experienced are inter-tribal conflicts over land and Karimojong cattle raids.
Nature vs. Man (time immemorial-to date): Natural disasters such as landslides, floods and droughts have repeatedly been the source of suffering in Bulambuli District. Property has been destroyed, lives have been lost and a remarkable number of people have been displaced by natural disasters. They are still fresh in people’s minds, as they vividly describe them. Participants expressed their sorrow and pain with tears, while recollecting these bad memories. An example of a natural disaster in Bulambuli was the landslides in the upper part of the district after the heavy rainfall from 7 to 28 August The landslides left 26 people dead and many displaced. The affected population of Bulambuli District has asked the Government to resettle them to safer areas but in vain. The survivors of the landslides who lost their loved ones are seeking for a special remembrance of the deceased through the construction of memorial sites. Initiatives to prevent future landslides, such as tree planting, have commenced, but little is being done by the Government to address emotional distress and other consequences of the landslides. Babuya vs. Bhatikhana (post-independence-to date): Both the Babuya and the Bhatikhana people are part of the Bagisu within Bulambuli District, but they are separated by their geographical location, within the borders of the district. They are separated because the Babuya live in the dry area of the district known as lower Bulambuli, whereas the Bhatikhani live in upper Bulambuli, which is the mountainous part of the district. The former are the minority. The Bhatikhani dominated most elected political positions in the district leading to dissatisfaction among the minority Babuya. The incumbent LC5 chairperson and the two elected members of Parliament are all from the upper region of the district and it is believed that all good development programmes are diverted to the upper Bulambuli people. For this reason, the Babuya people of lower Bulambuli are very bitter and feel marginalized and would like to have their own constituency so that they can have a proper representation in elective positions Shana vs. Bagisu (2009-to date): In Bulambuli District, there is a conflict between the Shana and Bagisu over land ownership, illegal habitation and political representation at the district levels. The Bagisu are the original inhabitants of Bulambuli. The Shana are immigrants who are believed to have come from Western Uganda. It is believed that they first settled in Budaka district and slowly migrated to Bulambuli District where they are currently based. They are the minority group and feel marginalized. The conflict escalated recently after the national elections in January and February 2011, when a new administrative unit (Bulegeni Town Council) was created, at the behest of the Shana leaders. The conflict resulted in physical confrontations. Crops, like coffee and bananas, and other property were destroyed and many people were forced to flee in fear of mob justice and attacks from their rivals. This has created further hatred and distrust between the two communities. Unfortunately, the town council is still not functioning to date due to the lack of leadership structures since the Shana boycotted the 2011 election. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
There has been an increase of domestic violence and child abuse as a result of disrespect for the rule of law. Land conflicts over boundaries are common between families, individuals and clans due to the lack of clear boundary demarcations. For example, clans in Bunambutye Sub County have been fighting over ownership of land and land boundaries. Also, conflicts between families and communities who have hosted displaced victims of the landslide occur on a regular basis. Extreme poverty at a household level also increases domestic violence Finally, the practice of child sacrifice is common because parents want to be wealthy to escape poverty. It is harder for parents to discipline their children as they are no longer permitted to cane them. Conflict between children and parents has become very common. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3: Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The unequal distribution of political power The loss of lives, cattle and other property Many Bagisu fled their homes People live in fear Deaths of people and destruction of crops and boundaries The discovery of oil in Uganda Overstaying of politicians in power The controversial demarcation of land boundaries The on-going repetition of past mistakes by current & past regimes Corruption Inter-tribal hatred NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The discovery of oil in Uganda, has led to the displacement of people without a proper relocation plan. The fact that the discovery and exploitation of oil in other countries, such as Libya and Iraq, has been the root cause of conflicts in those countries, the participants of the FGDs envisaged a similar scenario in Uganda. The on-going repetition of past mistakes by current leaders has caused national instability. Such mistakes include: tampering with the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; use of the army to maintain leaders in power; lack of genuine democracy; interference with the concept of the separation of powers; inflation, corruption, regimes based on militarism; using the army to fulfil personal interests; unequal distribution of national cake; tribalism; blame games in which the incumbent government blames past governments instead of offering a solution to national problems; lack of respect for the rule of law and soldiers plundering minerals from neighbouring countries, like the DRC, can cause conflict with neighbouring countries and increase support for rebels. NR&TJ Audit Causes of conflicts BRIEF 3: Bulambuli District National Level Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The controversial demarcation of land boundaries has caused problems between the Sabiny and the Bagisu. For example in November 2010, when the Sabiny installed a sign post in Banambutye Sub County in Bulambuli District: ‘Welcome to Kapchorwa District’. It was soon destroyed thus leading to more tension between the two communities. The unequal distribution of political power caused tension between the Shana and the Bagisu. The Bagisu occupy the majority of political and administrative posts in Bulambuli District. For example, the Shana view the naming of the newly created town council in Shana land (Bulegeni) as political subjugation. The Bagisu claim that Bulegeni was the first Mugisu trader to open his shop in the current place occupied by the Shana while the Shana claim the land belonged to them and hence the town council should have been given a Shana name and not a Bagisu name. NR&TJ Audit Causes of conflicts (cont.) BRIEF 3: Bulambuli District District Level Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Other General Causes of Conflicts Unequal distribution of resources has caused poverty and has led leaders to stay in power to accumulate wealth. Overstaying of politicians in power in Uganda has always been characterized by suppression and oppression of the citizens thereby leading to dissatisfaction, emergence of pressure groups and rebellion. Corruption is a severe cause of conflict, as it creates gaps in delivery of social services like roads, health centres and hospitals and drug availability. Unemployment coupled with the poor education in Uganda produces more job seekers than job creators. Participants believe that both factors have been responsible for the many idle youth in Uganda and the involvement of unemployed people in violent activities. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3: Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Impacts of conflicts The loss of lives, cattle and other property caused by prolonged Karimojong cattle raiding affected the livelihood and wealth of the people. It has also contributed to poverty and hatred between the communities. Unresolved anger due to the atrocities committed in the area, such as the forced circumcision of one hundred men with knives by the NRA commander in charge of Bulambuli in 1990 as a punishment. Many Bagisu fled their homes in search of safety after the Karimojong intensified their raids. Many people sought refuge in places like Tororo and Masindi, and others crossed the border into Kenya. Property and land belonging to the Bagisu who fled the Karimojong raids were often occupied by others upon return. In some cases, land and property had been taken by schools or churches. Again, this had an adverse effect on the communities. Deaths of people and destruction of crops and boundaries were among the consequences of landslides that people suffered in Bulumbuli. The landslide buried many people whose remains surfaced by further heavy downpour, further traumatising survivors. The survivors continue to live in fear of further land or mud slides and have repeatedly requested the Government to relocate them to a safe area. Negative NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Impacts of conflicts (cont.) The January-February 2011 national elections were boycotted because of the conflicts between the Shana and the Bagisu and the failure to address the conflicts and grievances of the minority Shana. Insecurity has deepened leading to the deployment of police and UPDF because of the conflict between the Shana and Bagisu. People live in fear because of high costs of living. It is a sign of no peace and can distort future peace as the sufferers may resort to dubious ways to acquire basic needs. The high rate of adult illiteracy can be explained by conflicts prior to 1986 that negatively affected children’s education in Bulambuli District. Inter-tribal hatred as a result of inter-tribal conflicts between the Karimojong and the Bagisu, as well as the intra-tribal conflicts between the Bamasaba in the mountainous areas and those occupying the low plain. Negative NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
STAKEHOLDERS Victims Conflicts NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Beneficiaries By-standers Peace Builders Spoilers Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Victims The victims of the conflicts in Bulambuli District are: Men who fought in the frontline of most of the wars Women who were raped by Karimojong raiders Children who were sacrificed by witchdoctors for wealth The business community who suffered attacks by insurgents and rioters causing their businesses to come to stand still Disabled people who were unable to hide; they were tortured and killed Fighters themselves who lost their lives during cross fire Elderly persons who were left behind as the able-bodied persons ran to safer areas Activists for Change during ‘Walk to Work’ who suffered from brutal arrest and tear gas Community leaders who were subjected to attack by the warriors and Civil servants who were attacked by Amin soldiers. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District STAKEHOLDERS The major conflicts that Bulambuli experienced are cattle raids by the Karimojong and natural disasters such as mud and landslides in Upper Bulambuli. There are also no victim support groups in the district. This makes it hard for them to attract any external support or explain their plight or grievances to government representatives or civil society organisations. Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The key perpetrators of the violence identified in Bulambuli District are: The Karimojong who raided cattle, killed and raped women The Electoral Commission that failed to organize free and fair elections in Uganda Manufacturers of fire arms who have been promoting wars/rebellion in Uganda Unemployed youth who have been involved in riots and rebellion in Uganda Museveni as a war monger Drug abusers who have been involved in violence Opposition politicians who incite people to riot Amin and his former soldiers who killed many Ugandans Witchdoctors who are involved in child sacrifice Thugs who loot property and assault innocent Ugandans Tribal leaders who incite violence in Bulambuli District e.g. between the Bagisu and Shana Corrupt government officials who have made Ugandans poor and sick by using tax payers’ money to bribe people during elections Besigye who championed ‘Walk to Work’ that claimed some lives The illiterate who do not understand the law and have been abusing human rights during wars; and Werikhe who was operating as a commander of FOBA, mainly in Sironko district near Bulambuli and committed many atrocities against people. Perpetrators NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Among the beneficiaries of the conflicts are: Museveni who obtained funds from abroad and used them during campaigns and against the rebel insurgency in the north Robbers who steal from those who have wealth and in some cases even the poor The rich who were involved in lucrative business during war periods Witchdoctors who took money from those who wanted to get rich and engaged in child sacrifices Researchers who got money to fund their activities Manufacturers of arms who had available markets in Uganda during the various wars Donors interested in sending funds for peace building Karimojong who became wealthy from looted cattle and property from the Bagisu Youth who looted property Collaborators who were heavily rewarded by rebels e.g. LRA and government obtained huge foreign aid and donations to fight the wars and support victims of the wars. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The bystanders of the conflict include: God who allowed the evil to happen on His own people Some politicians who played double standards Some religious leaders who did not mediate peace The Government which did not relocate the vulnerable people living in upper Bulambuli that experience frequent mud and land slide President Museveni who merely looked at corrupt government officials rather than punishing them UPDF which has done little as Karimojong kill and loot cattle The Government which has failed to stop Karimojong from raiding cattle and failed to wipe Kony away for ever and The Police which looks on as civilians are being abused. Sometimes they even ask for money from victims. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Among the spoilers of peace are: The police who often favours the person who offers money Some local traitors and community members who collaborated with the Karimojong Political opportunists who wanted to gain popularity Joseph Kony who refused to sign the peace agreement Politicians who played double standards Biased media coverage Some musicians Witchdoctors NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Peace builders of the several conflicts include: Civil Society Organizations such as Mbale Nakapiripirit Sirinko Peace Initiative mediated peace between the Karimojong and the affected districts DANIDA facilitated peace talks between Bagisu and Karimojong International Committee of the Red Cross conducted impact assessments and supported the victims with food and non-food items Religious leaders involved in peace processes UPDF were deployed in Bagisu/Karimojong border to stop raids Office of the Prime Minister Disaster Management Desk was also involved in peace processes and supporting victims of both manmade and natural disasters in Bulambuli District and Some district politicians such as Sam Wamboru (district councillor) mobilized for peace talks between the Bagisu and Karimojong. Peace Builders NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
LOOKING FORWARD NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Has Justice Been Done to the Stakeholder of the Conflicts? According to the participants of the FGDs, justice has not been done to the Karimojong. The Karimojong continue their practice of raiding cattle from Bagisu land. In addition, the needs of the victims of the landslides have not been addressed by the Government, yet their vulnerability to further landslides is still significant. The vulnerable people of the upper Bulambuli District are still living on the land with a crack that runs for over 14 miles. This puts their lives at risk and they yearn to see Government involvement and commitment towards relocating them to safer areas. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
How it feels talking about the history of Uganda NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District The majority of the participants felt bad talking about the history of Uganda because it reminds them of bad memories and missed opportunities with regard to their education and development. On a positive note they emphasized the importance of talking about the past as a remedial step towards understanding and addressing conflicts in Uganda. They explained that it is of paramount importance to correct past mistakes in order to pave the way for national peace. They also noted that it is necessary to address the current problems as they are rooted in Uganda’s history. Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
According to the participants, truth- telling is significant for the appropriate implementation of transitional justice mechanisms. The origin of truth-telling can be traced back to the old tradition of justice where the elders were instrumental in mediating the process and truth- telling was a critical component of justice to address past wrongs. There is a need for Ugandans to learn to speak the truth and for children to be trained to speak the truth. Transitional Justice Mechanisms The majority of the participants felt that Government is required to build peace between the people of Bulambuli and the Karimojong through reconciliation efforts. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Transitional Justice Mechanisms The survivors of the landslides kept proper records of those who were buried alive by the mud and are demanding for special remembrance through the construction of memorial sites. Participants noted that reparations are key to acknowledging and redressing the suffering of the people of Bulambuli District. The absence of a Reparations Policy shows that the Government is not committed to a national healing process. Some people and communities have received compensation, while others have been left out. The participants are still agitating for a restocking programme by the Government as a way of compensation for the cattle lost to Karimojong. The landslide victims would also like to be relocated to safer places. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The majority of the participants express their dissatisfaction with the prosecution process and the lack of an independent prosecution body. They said this is an indispensable mechanism to address human rights abuses and violations and underscored the need for reforms. Transitional Justice Mechanisms A traditional justice institution (Omukuka) exists but its contribution to peace building in the district was said to be minimal. Instead, the women felt extremely marginalized by the traditional justice systems whose arrangement is based on patriarchy. As a result, they have been subjected to abuse by men. The female participants recommend formal justice. However, they also stated that formal justice can negatively affect marriages which are based on tradition and patriarchy. In case formal justice leads to imprisonment of men, the men divorce the women once they are released. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The majority of the participants emphasized that the lack of any genuine accountability in Uganda explains the public bitterness and continued injustices in Uganda. Since Independence, the majority of the perpetrators of violence have not been held accountable for their actions despite the continued suffering of their victims both physically and psychologically. The majority of the participants viewed amnesty as an acceptable form of peace building, and they stated that it should be given to all who denounce rebellion. They cited examples in north and eastern Uganda where amnesty played a significant role in ending insurgency in those regions. Transitional Justice Mechanisms NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
According to the majority of the participants, the current institutions are good, but they do need reforms to ensure appropriate functionality and efficacy. These reforms could be in terms of public evaluation and vetting. The ongoing conflicts and disasters are a major reason for the poor psychosocial condition of people in Bulambuli District yet attempts to address the problems have been minimal. The experience of Karimojong raids, mud and landslides and resultant fear has greatly affected the psychosocial wellbeing of Bulambuli District’s population. The participants are yearning for comprehensive initiatives such as holistic psychosocial support programmes, decent burials and commemoration of people buried by the landslides, compensation for properties destroyed/lost to Karimojong and the landslide, restocking of cattle raided by Karimojong and immediate but also proper relocation of vulnerable population living in total fear of worst landslide since the indicators are vivid. Transitional Justice Mechanisms NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions When participants were asked to address a message to any leader or institution, the majority of the participants forwarded their messages to President Museveni because he is the one who caused most of the conflicts and suffering since Look for possible ways to reduce the increasing prices of goods and essential items The LCs should be paid salaries Work hand in hand with the Judiciary to fight corruption instead of suppressing them If your time comes for retirement, I kindly request you to retire peacefully Respect people's views and stop appointing people who have lost elections as RDCs As commander of the armed forces, we have enjoyed your regime as compared to the past regimes, but you should not let our country go back to bad governance of the past. Respect the constitution, stop using force to maintain yourself in power and avoid past mistakes Continue disarming Karimojong The rule of law should be respected and laws should be binding to everybody Do not allow the western countries to spoil justice in Uganda. Besigye: Be calm, don’t disturb this Government, but wait for this term to end and try your luck later. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Obama: Do not attack us just because we have discovered oil in our country Wamimbi Wilson (traditional leader): Talk to the chiefs of Karimojong to bring peace in the area. Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions(cont.) Message to other actors were: To the Executive Respect other arms of Government like the judiciary and Parliament, observe their roles and let us be transparent on all matters. To Government: Allow the corrupt people in the country to face justice Institutions should be headed by professionals Resettle our displaced people. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District To Ministers To the Minister of Disaster Management and Preparedness: All people from Bulambuli suffered from drought. When relief items came, not everyone was equally provided with aid To the Minister of Gender: Sensitize the women on their rights To the Minister of Gender: The Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FAL) instructors are paid only 15,000shs on a quarterly basis. This is very unfair and unrealistic. This amount of money cannot help anyone To the Minster of Land: Come to Bulambuli District and try to understand the conflict over land between the Bagisu and Sabiny To the Minister of Health: Come in person and assess whether drugs are there in health centres or not and create an appropriate solution to ensure the stable distributions of drugs To the Minister of Education: The curriculum introduced to teach pupils from P1 to P3 in local language is wrong because exams are set in English To the Minister of Education: Devote more money to the education of the Karimojong To the Minister of Defence: Security should be deployed to protect us from Karimojong To OPM/the Minister of Disaster Preparedness: Thank you for the assistance during the disastrous flooding, landslide and mudslide. However, also think of the lower Bulambuli which was affected too. Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions(cont.) Message to other actors were: To Police: Desist from corruption. To the head of civil service in Uganda: Increase salaries for all the civil servants and improve their condition of work. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District To District Leaders: Award projects with fairness and be transparent. Do not divert projects meant for one parish to another. To Red Cross: Thank you for assisting our people after the disaster. To Colonial Masters: Give us time to handle our own issues. To MPs: We should reinstate the term limits in our constitution to create harmony in society Women MP Bulambuli, Minister of Energy and Development Engineer Irene Muloni: Get more involved with what is happening in your constituency i.e. land conflicts and women’s issues Honourable Ignatius Wamakuyu (area MP): Since we have elected you, you did not come back to see us. Think about us and your constituency. Start working on the bridge and road as you promised during the election. Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Recommendations There is need for alternative source of livelihood for the Karimojong so that they do not rely on cows only. This will help stop cattle raids on neighbouring communities Consult and resettle the people affected by both land and mud slides The Karimojong took advantage of aggressive and violent regime changes to acquire arms like they did in There should be a peaceful transition of power or government to avoid war and illegal acquisition of gun. Develop programmes that are easily accessible for everyone to help solve the problem of poverty. Programmes like NUSAF are very complicated Invest heavily in educating the Karimojong so that their mind set is changed. Instead of thinking of raiding. They need vocational institutes to empower them with hands on skills. Provide youth with income generating activities like poultry and cattle rearing projects to occupy them and reduce their vulnerability to people who could easily mobilize and or incite them to violence and eventual conflict NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Recommendations Politicians are representatives of the people, so they should make regular visits to their constituencies for consultations with their electorate and they should refrain from making empty promises Completely disarm the Karimojong and beef up security to prevent cattle raids The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda should be respected, tampering with it must stop and the term limits must be reinstated Revise the salary scales of civil servants and improve their remuneration as this will motivate them to better perform and perhaps it is a remedy to corruption Devise means of subsidizing or reducing the escalating prices of goods and essential items as they have become hard for a poor man to afford. The participants said this is the reason which led to the ‘Walk to Work’ campaign, because many people are held up in this trap Champion and support reconciliation efforts between the Karimojong and neighbouring communities Consult and relocate the landslide victims/survivors to a safer place. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Acknowledgements RLP would like to acknowledge the contributions made by the following civil society organizations towards the successful data collection during the NR&TJ Audit in Bulambuli District: Human Rights Foundation-Bulambuli District, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Anglican Church of Uganda. We look forward to partnering with these organizations to achieve transitional justice and national reconciliation in Uganda. We also thank Bulambuli District Council for their valuable participation during the FGDs. Lastly, great thanks goes to the key informants and the FGD participants who offered us their valuable time and their constructive responses. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Acknowledgements The research team comprised of Veve Richard, Wamimbi Jimmy, Aliobe Joan, Opiny Shaffic and Okot Bernard Kasozi as team leader. This briefing note on which this presentation is based was written by Okot Benard Kasozi with valuable input from Annelieke van de Wiel and Kari Griffiths. Presentation prepared by Opiny Shaffic, with inputs from Chris Dolan and Annelieke van de Wiel and edits by Angella Nabwowe and Moses Alfred Nsubuga NRTJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District
Watch this space for Brief 4: Arua district NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 3 : Bulambuli District