NATIONAL RECONCILIATION & TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AUDIT BEYOND JUBA PROJECT BRIEF 4 : ARUA DISTRICT
NR&TJ Audit Main objectives of the NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua 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. Methodology 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 4 : Arua 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 4 : Arua District Focus Group Discussion Guide
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-TELLINGPROSECUTIONS RECONCILIATION Focus Group Discussion Guide NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Drag picture to placeholder or click icon to add Map of Uganda showing Districts NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District District Information Arua, the biggest district in the West Nile region, is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Maracha district to the west, Yumbe and Moyo districts to the north, Adjumani and Amuru districts to the east, and Nebbi and Zombo districts to the South. The district was created in 1980 and later split into the current Arua, Maracha and Koboko districts. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Arua’s population was 751,700 in Arua district is home to various tribes, the majority being the Lugbara. Other tribes include the Kakwa, Madi, Alur and Lendu.
Arua District map NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Introduction This field brief is based on research conducted in Arua district from 2 – 9 October 2011 as part of the National Reconciliation & Transitional Justice (NR&TJ) Audit. Four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were held supplemented with ten key informant interviews. Separate FGDs were conducted for women, men, youth, and civil society and local government officials. Overall sixty people participated in the four FGDs. A separate meeting was held with representatives of a victims group, the West Nile LRA War Affected Group who declined to join the civil society and government representatives FGD. The field brief reflects conflict perspectives and opinions as narrated by the FGD participants. These are not necessarily those of the Refugee Law Project (RLP) or its funders. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
LOOKING BACK Past NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
The people of Arua said that Uganda is not at peace. Whereas some participants acknowledged that Uganda has been relatively stable in recent times, especially under President Museveni, many thought that “stability without prosperity is a negative peace at best.” All participants agreed that “true peace must impact ordinary people’s daily lives to be sustainable.” True peace, they said, requires improved human relationships and better service delivery. An elderly woman said the desired peace is one “where the current tensions amongst tribes in power and those outside power are unnoticeable; teachers’ strikes are unnecessary, and there is no need for the on-going “Walk to Work” campaigns”. The absence of peace was associated with a litany of suffering: migration and living in exile, poverty, poor governance, unhappiness, no education, lack of electricity, poor infrastructure, unemployment, nepotism and marginalization of other tribes, presence of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), family breakdown, gender based violence, feelings of revenge, internal displacement, absence of truth about what happened, lack of reparation/compensation to victims, and the people still in exile. One female participant said, “we all agree that Uganda is not at peace. People are very poor, people are sick; others have no shelter, medicines, sugar, electricity and water. These are things that cause inconvenience and conflicts.” One youth said peace will only prevail in Uganda when “fats eaten at the top and middle Government hierarchy are equally reaching the grassroots.” All participants mentioned “high unemployment, corruption, poor education, intolerance to opposition, lack of happiness and too much suffering” as indicators of a lack of peace in Uganda today. Another participant said Museveni’s peace is paradoxical, “it is a peace that strangles you. Peace that comes like a prison. It chokes you without killing you...” Is there peace in Uganda? Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District “Uganda is not at peace because we all know that we have been suffering civil wars all over Uganda way back from colonial time through Obote’s times to date. There is no peace at all.” An elderly man
Is there peace in Uganda? P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Participants in Arua insist that Uganda's contemporary woes cannot be understood without pointing fingers at the colonialist and missionary invasion of Africa. Youth remember their parents narrating to them the suffering they experienced due to colonial policies. Adult men identified the Berlin Conference and the partitioning of Africa as a “big conflict” in itself, as well as the source of many on-going tensions on the continent. Participants identified the colonialists’ favouring of Buganda in the 1900 Buganda Agreement, as instigating colonial policies of divide and rule which continue to play themselves out along tribal lines in post-independence Uganda. They also saw policies of unequal development, marginalisation and labour reserves, as enabling the exploitation of the local population and thus as major causes of conflicts. Colonial policies, in addition to imposing an autocratic and non-participatory state system on citizens, were also seen to have destroyed local communities and diluted their culture. One elderly man had this to say: “before the White Man came here, we were at home and very peaceful. Clan leaders headed homes. In other parts of Uganda there were kings, here we had chiefs. Whenever there were conflicts, clan leaders solved these problems and people continued living in peace. Problems used to come over grazing land, water points and these were solved traditionally by chiefs.”
Is there peace in Uganda? NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Participants also pointed out that the colonial invasion and policy of recruiting young tall men from northern Uganda into the Kings African Rifles (KAR) bred a “gun culture” in Northern Uganda and planted the notion that “might is right”. One elder described how “the White Man came and settled in Buganda and started education and job creation which empowered the Buganda to get white collar jobs. They came to the North and noticed tall and well-built bodied men and concluded they should be hunters and thus good for the army.” Participants pointed out that Uganda is not yet fully independent and that the British have continued to play a critical role in post- Independence events and conflicts. The foundation for Britain’s involvement in post-Independence Uganda was laid right from the very start with the country’s Constitution being drawn up in Lancashire. One male participant said; “the White Man had a religion and wanted the Ugandan president to only be a protestant and that’s how Obote made it to the presidency. After Obote was ousted from power, the people who had the pens now even have the guns, and they tell their people ‘it’s now our turn’.” P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Participants identified a number of armed groups and conflicts that in their view affect the people of West Nile up to today. The participants discussed the episodes of conflict in Uganda on a national, regional, district and village/community level: Conflicts Timeline: National Level NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District The Munana Munana protest (1956): In 1956 there was a boycott in Kampala led by local traders against Asian stores in protest against exploitation and perceived discrimination. The Obote-Kabaka Crisis (1966): Tensions arose between Prime Minister Milton Obote and President Kabaka Mutesa over the referendum on the “Lost Counties”. The Lukiiko (Buganda Parliament) and Mengo (Buganda Government) passed a resolution urging the central Ugandan Government to move its capital from Buganda land. They also demanded autonomy. Obote then ordered Amin to storm the Palace, forcing the Kabaka into exile, after an allegation that Mengo was arming itself. Rising tensions between Acholi, Langi and West Nilers in the army over leadership ( ): Idi Amin was appointed army commander by Obote as a result of rising tensions between the Acholi, Langi and West Nilers in the army over leadership. This was intended to side-line the Acholi generals in the army. It also created enemity between the inhabitants of these three regions. Kikosi Maluum (1971): Kikosi Maluum was a rebel group led by Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), their aim was to return Obote to power. FRONASA ( ): FRONASA was a Ugandan group exiled in Tanzania with the aim of fighting Amin, led by Yoweri Museveni. Force Obote Back (1978): Force Obote Back was led by Aggrey Awori, a former UPC strongman; their aim was to reinstate UPC Government. The Liberation or Saba Saba War ( ): The Liberation War is also referred to as the 1979 War and was a coalition force of all Ugandan dissidents in exile. The force was backed by the Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces and its aim was to fight Amin. The Oyoro or Oyolo Boys ( ): A collection of small rebel groups formed in Arua was called the Oyoro or Oyolo Boys and emerged after the overthrow of Amin and withdrawal of Tanzanian forces. They comprised of former soldiers under Amin, such as Bumuze and Yerego. They eventually came to be known as the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). They were formed with the aim of returning Amin to power and launched attacks against the Acholi and Banyankole forces of the UNLA. They were involved in looting and occupied Arua town for one day before they were chased away by the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). The Yerego War (1980): Yerego (former military commander under Amin) led a small insurgent group who fought the Yerego War. They committed a lot of atrocities in present day Maracha District. Amin Onzi War ( ): Amin Onzi (a former Oyoro Boy) formed a group that fought the Amin Onzi War. He also later led the WNBF. Tito Okello’s Military Government (1985): People from the West Nile were able to return from exile in Congo and Sudan after Tito Okello’s Military Government made peace with them. The West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) and Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) I ( ): The WNBF and UNRF I were the two biggest and most well- known groups. However, the participants across all four FGDs insisted that smaller groups, such as the Oyoro Boys and Yerego groups, while part of a larger group, committed various atrocities and violations and there is need for disaggregation when dealing with them to ensure comprehensive solutions to their respective legacies. Museveni’s Bush War in Luwero ( ): Tito Okello was ousted and the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) came to power after Museveni’s Bush War in Luwero. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
The lack of electricity in West Nile (Colonial Era – to date): Despite their parents and grandparents who perished while constructing the Owens Falls Dam, lack of electricity is an issue they are grappling with each day. One participant asked “is this a deliberate attempt to keep us backward and deny us development?” Conflicts Timeline: National Level (cont.) Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Museveni’s Cold War ( to date): The participants in Arua named one of the conflicts affecting them as 'Museveni’s Cold War'. According to the participants, there is an on-going 'cold war' against the people of Uganda. Museveni is fighting this war using political domination, poor education, the economy and poverty. The amendment of the 1995 Constitution to lift term limits was referred to as a tool of domination. The composition of Parliament and the Cabinet reveals that Uganda is progressively becoming a tribal entity. One respondent asked “Is Uganda a project for Banyakole empowerment?” She added, “why is it that all ministers who matter are his relatives, friends and in-laws, while the rest are just there to take instruction?” They alleged that Museveni’s Government has sold off all Ugandan owned assets to his family and foreign financers. The youth pointed out that at least people hailing from western Uganda have a decent opportunity to gain employment and lead happy lives while people from the other parts of Uganda languish in poverty. They added that the current economy drives everything to the western side of Uganda. One woman said, “all we have here are so called reconstruction efforts; building health centres without doctors and medicines. It is better to get treated under a mango tree than to die in a hospital bed without a doctor and no medicine.” Corruption in Uganda (1986 – to date): Corruption in Uganda was mentioned to have spiralled out of control and no one in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government was seen as 'clean'. The participants argued that the NRM system of governance is self-profiteering. One respondent said, “The MPs we have elected to represent us in Parliament get corrupted. During elections they beg us for votes. Some even apologise and bend over to be punished. But after elections, they now think they are ruling Pakalast (forever). For us things are moving in the wrong direction. Are we going to go in the wrong direction Pakalast?” Makerere University (1986 – to date): The participants cited discrimination and nepotism in the Makerere University admission policy and alleged that students from northern parts of Uganda cannot get good marks and honours degrees or doctorates since all lecturers are from west and central region. It is also alleged that the administration of Makerere University is now firmly in the hands of westerners and there are no people from West Nile in high ranking positions. The tension between Museveni and the Kabaka of Buganda (2009): Tensions between Museveni and the Kabaka of Buganda led to the Buganda Protests and the burning of the royal Kasubi Tombs in This was mentioned as a significant conflict affecting the peace in Uganda. National border conflicts between Uganda and Sudan (2009– to date): Amongst the other conflicts identified was an on-going border dispute between Uganda and Sudan in Moyo District. It is alleged that violent clashes have occurred at the contested border line in Moyo between the Dinka and the local population. The conflict is over border demarcation and grazing land. Many people have been forcibly displaced and there is a growing bitterness and resentment against Sudanese in this area. General Strikes and Protests (2011): At a national level the participants identified the strikes by teachers, “Walk to Work” protests, high inflation and biting poverty as serious conflicts. Serious political disagreement between political parties and the regime in power has affected them in terms of service delivery and development. Growing extortion by Congolese authorities (ongoing): Congolese authorities that levy arbitrary fees on Ugandan traders who cross the border to Congo were identified as a source of conflict. This has created enmity against Congolese who come into Uganda and yet the two neighbours used to trade peacefully.
Land conflicts (1986 – to date): All the participants cited an increase in land conflicts locally and with neighbouring districts. The origin of land conflicts was traced by the elderly participants back to when they were forced into exile following the overthrow of Amin. When they came back from exile in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, other people had sold off or settled on their land thus causing conflicts. Many of the children whose parents died in exile came back and found that their land had been grabbed by their neighbours. Some unscrupulous neighbours, who knew that their elderly neighbours had died, dispossessed the the orphans of their land. While land in Lugbara is traditionally vested in the clan chief, today’s land conflicts, according to participants, are solely attributable to the unregulated sale of land and the creation of new districts. One man said “land belongs to the people and should not be sold off.” Decentralisation (2001 – to date): The creation of many districts is allegedly a tool that Museveni uses to divide and rule. One elder said, “it is not decentralising services. It is decentralising poverty and blame.” The participants said the creation of districts is creating animosity amongst people who used to live together. They cited examples of land - border disputes between Adjumani and Amuru, Maracha and Terego, Aringa and Vurra, Ayivu and Terego, as well as different clans within Arua now clamouring for their own districts Conflicts Timeline: Regional Level 2001 Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit Other resource-based conflicts (2009): Conflicts over oil and forest resources were identified as causing problems in the region. In particular the shifting of the oil exploration site from Rhino Camp caused much anxiety to the people of Arua who felt suspicious of Government motives. BRIEF 4 : Arua District Inter-religious conflicts (2009 – to date): All the participants mentioned an apparent conflict between the many religious groups. They identified a war on Christianity by the Muslim leaders. The majority expressed concerns over how Muslim clerics openly hold public rallies in Yumbe and Arua town during which they misinterpret and preach against the Bible publicly. One participant said “you know the Muslims easily get annoyed and engage in terror tactics. Now, they are publicly misreading and preaching against the Bible and the Christians are quiet. What will happen the day bishops and pastors get annoyed and start condemning the Quran publicly in Arua here?
The Balaalo Cattle Conflict (2009 – to date): The four FGDs all mentioned the Balaalo and their cattle as a major conflict. Many alleged that the Balaalo cattle keepers have guns and have been terrorising the communities. The communities in Arua have also used pangas, bows and arrows to evict the Balaalo from their land. Some participants accused the Government of arming the Balaalo. It is suspected that being westerners, the Balaalo have relatives who are high ranking soldiers who are giving them guns. All the participants expressed sentiments about how the Balaalo graze their cattle abnormally and clear everything. Even the deputy RDC, while urging the people to approach the conflict with the Balaalo peacefully and use the relevant authorities, noted that the way the Balaalo cattle graze is strange as they eat everything to the ground. “Big Man in the Forest” and the “War on Cassava” (2009 – to date): It is alleged that the big man is Museveni’s cousin brother General Salim Saleh who has occupied Biafra Forest Reserve under the pretence of setting up a temporary camp from where to pay ex- soldiers. This happened just before the 2011 general election. According to the participants, including ex-soldiers, only a few were actually paid. Instead the camp was used primarily as a political tool for campaigning for Museveni and the NRM. The people in Arua complained that they were not consulted and the forest has been cleared to pave way for construction of houses. General Salim Saleh is also alleged to have given a lot of money to his agents to buy cassava flour, the staple food within the region, for export to China. This has resulted in a rapid increase in the price of cassava with prices going up from 300 shillings per kg to about 1,200 shillings per kg. The sudden increase in the price of cassava led producers in the area to sell their cassava to the big man in the forest and suddenly people had no food reserves and could not find cassava in the ordinary markets. In instances where it is available, it is unaffordable. At the time of the FGD, tensions were flaring over Saleh’s occupation of the forest land. The land was supposed to be de- gazetted and sold off to the local landless people but it is alleged that Saleh wants to build a shopping mall instead Conflicts Timeline: District Level 2011 Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Female empowerment conflict (1986 – to date): Alongside the prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) female empowerment was mentioned by both male and female participants as a source of conflict. The empowered women lack education and decent job opportunities. The empowered women have to climb onto lorries and engage in risky trade or activities for survival. The women cited a recent incident were several women died after falling from the top of a lorry going to trade in Sudan and asked the question: is that what female empowerment is about? The result is a loss of peace within the family. The disempowered men now depend on women for survival. In Arua these men are known as “Amario” (Men who marry for survival). Many marriages have also broken up due to domestic violence and prostitution. Adultery is also on the increase, as everyone wants to prove their equality. Conflicts amongst the youth (ongoing): A female participant said, “as a parent you educate your children but they can’t get jobs after completing school. They come back home and stay with the same pair of shoes you bought them. In the end they start fighting you to sell off family assets. Recently here in Arua, some two boys even killed their father to sell off his land.” Youth cited hopelessness and serious frustration with the status quo. Adult men cited prostitution, alcoholism and drug abuse as rampant amongst the youth. This was attributed to the influence of Nigerian movies, western culture and pornography, unemployment and idleness. The Deputy Resident District Commissioner narrated an incident where he was investigating incidents of alleged commercialised sex in one street of Arua. When he asked a young girl why she was engaging in prostitution at her age, the girl retorted “you say I am young, come, I will finish you in five minutes.” One participant said the unregulated distribution of pornography and technology is killing morals. Another participant said “the youth are loitering around because of lack of employment. The Government has failed to provide a market for agriculture which makes young people abandon rural areas.” Conflicts Timeline: Village/Household Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Greed for power Power contests HIV/AIDS prevalance Broken familiesRegional inequality Colonial legacy Commercialisation of land Lack of reparations Economic marginalisation and social exclusion Settling of scores Impunity Causes & Impacts Causes Impacts Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Unethical practices
Colonial legacy: The colonisation of Africa/Uganda broke down traditional systems and people-centred governance structures. Elderly men who had lived at the tail-end of the colonial administration said the same colonial policy of divide and rule is still being used by post-colonial regimes, as demonstrated by the current wave new districts, and the tribal cleavages that exists between northerners and southerners in Uganda. Recurring conflicts were also attributed to the colonial legacy of ‘guns as might’ and the division of labour and recruitment into the army as a source of employment for Northerners. In colonial times, a certain ethnic grouping was favoured, planting the seeds of tribalism and nepotism. Greed for power: All FGDs cited greed for power as the reason Ugandans are always at war with each other. Individual greed from Obote against Kabaka Mutesa II, and Museveni violating the Nairobi Peace Accord have made Ugandan politicians feel they can do anything dirty to get to power. Even Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) went to the bush to fight for power. According to participants, the greed for power underpins weak institutions of governance. Each leader seeks to entrench himself instead of building strong institutions for service delivery and proper checks and balances. Causes of conflicts Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Elderly men and women point to colonial Governments. Civil society and Local Government actors cite unresolved legacies of past conflicts. Youth blame current leadership and politicians : “The LRA insurgency followed Museveni’s takeover and the failed Nairobi Peace Talks. I was here when Major Wilson Toko mobilised people to fight. All leaders have demonstrated an insatiable greed for power, including changing the Constitution.”
Economic marginalisation and social exclusion: Respondents stated unequivocally that only the Obote I regime had beenequitable and all-inclusive and had made attempts to unify Uganda: His cabinet was seen as nationalistic and services like hospitals were equitably distributed nationwide. However, during his second term in office, Obote became tribalistic and rallied his tribe to consolidate his stay in power, alienating others. All other regimes have favoured their own tribes and marginalised the rest of Uganda, contributing to current tensions. Museveni’s Government has been the most exclusive and is seen as akin to a tribal empowerment project. One youth said, “today’s Uganda belongs to one tribe and everybody knows that. I got a job because I have a western name. Many of my colleagues had to change their name to sound westerners to even get called for an interview.” Wide-spread poverty/unemployment and income gap: All participants cited biting poverty as underlying escalating conflicts. Apart from the lack of employment, participants also mentioned income inequality and the gap between richer and poorer tribes. One participant said, “some people here in Arua are poorer than church mice which makes conflict inevitable.” One youth said; “it’s going to take us a long time to achieve peace in Uganda. People go to war because it’s the last attempt of survival. If 70% of the people here are poor and do not have any source of livelihood how can you talk about peace?” Commercialisation of land: The participants also concurred that the sale of land has exacerbated land conflicts. They said land used to be a communal commodity and not easily transferable but today, land has been commercialised. One participant said, “because of poverty, people are selling land that belongs to other families, especially where there are no elders. This is causing a lot of conflict within the community.” Causes of conflicts (cont.) Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Settling of scores: Participants mentioned failure to deal with the impact of past atrocities as a cause of recurring conflicts: people are busy waiting for an opportunity to settle scores. The WNBF, UNRF and splinter groups were all formed to bring Amin back to power and also to defend the people of West Nile from retaliatory attacks by UNLA. The Acholi-dominated UNLA was perceived to be revenging on Amin's people for the killings he committed in Acholiland. The Oyoro boys and Mazaka rebel groups were specifically targeting the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF), Acholi and Banyakole soldiers for revenge during the 1980s. Lack of reparations: Civil society and local government officials cited the lack of reparations/compensation to victims and veterans of past regimes and the failure by Museveni to build credible institutions as causes of recurring conflicts. Unethical practices: Other causes mentioned in all the FGDs included practices like polygamy that cause conflicts between co-wives, corruption amongst Ugandans, lack of truth-telling and dealing with the past, broken promises by Museveni; missed educational opportunities during exile; unemployment; lack of power and electricity; the eating habits of Balaalo cattle that clear everything and degrade the environment, poverty, nepotism, politics of untouchables or impunity enjoyed by NRM historical figures, income gap and poverty cycle, low infrastructural development, foreign takeover of businesses, special treatment of foreigners, foreign influence and Uganda being used as a dumping ground for substandard foreign goods. One elderly man said, “Uganda has ceased to be a caring nation and people have become materialistic. There is a gross disparity in the allocation of the national cake and widespread greed by politicians”. Causes of conflicts (cont.) Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Corruption in the formal justice sector: The judiciary was also cited as corrupt; as a result, frustrated people take matters into their own hands through mob-justice. When land matters are taken to court, the person with money wins. “Justice”, they said, “belongs to the rich”. Governance gap: The participants identified the oppressive nature of the State and the politics behind the creation of new districts and the distortion of decentralisation (through creation of multiple districts) as a serious cause of conflicts. Some pointed to the broken or mal-functioning multi-party system; privatisation of state parastatals, centralisation and Government takeover of local resources and property; disparities of revenue sharing between local and central Government as causes of conflicts. The factors listed above all make the presidency attractive, meaning politics has become a source of employment and not about service to the people. Mistrust amongst tribes and misunderstanding of tribal practices: The people of Arua cited mistrust between different tribes and their beliefs as a cause of conflict. They said some tribes appear to perceive themselves as superior to other Ugandans. It was pointed out that this perception underpins the attempt to forcefully change Karimojong from their way of life, and that this attempt is causing further conflicts. Causes of conflicts (cont.) Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Impacts of conflicts Division amongst different tribes Oppressive state machineries Bad governance Regional inequality Impunity Power contests Loss of lives Hatred and revenge killings Heavy involvement of the military in politics Displacement and migration Broken families HIV/AIDS prevalance Economic crisis and poverty High crime rates Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District According to all groups, the conflicts mentioned above, whether regional or national, have affected the people of West Nile in the following profound ways:
STAKEHOLDERS Victims Conflicts Beneficiaries By-standers Peace Builders Spoilers NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Victims All natives of what has become known as Uganda. “This conflict has affected all Ugandans in one way or another and that is why we must all be involved in dealing with its legacies and prevent future conflicts,” declared one participant People who died under Obote, Amin and Museveni Opposition politicians who were persecuted Many civilians in the North and West Nile who lost their lives innocently due to the LRA insurgency Women who suffered physically, emotionally and psychologically Children who were victims of abduction by the LRA or forcefully recruited by other groups including the National Resistance Army (NRA) The elderly who died and those who lost the respect of younger generations Culture which was undermined as a result of exile and displacement All non-Banyakole. According to a youth in Arua, “under Museveni today, all ethnic groups are being marginalised apart from Banyakoles”. STAKEHOLDERS Among the groups considered worst affected by the different conflicts were: Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
British Government as the former colonial master The Israelis who aided Amin in toppling Obote’s Government Col. Muhammad Gaddafi who was accused of supporting President Museveni and many dictators in Africa Juma Oris, Ali Bamuze, Moses Ali, Yoweri Museveni, Joseph Kony, Musa Ecweru, Itongwa, Yerego, Malera and Amin Onzi were accused of taking up arms and destroying innocent lives to fight against past or current Governments The Tanzanian People Defence Forces (TPDF) and the UNLA were identified for overthrowing Amin, unleashing revenge violence on the people of West Nile NGOs, specifically with their approach of gender equality and empowerment, were undermining social cohesion Muslim leaders were blamed for preaching against the Bible and inciting religious tensions The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Abiriga, was accused of arbitrary arrests and polarising people along ethnic and party lines General Salim Saleh (“the Big Man in the Forest”) was blamed for lying to the ex-soldiers, occupying the forest and jeopardizing people’s food security The Balaalo were accused of roaming around with large herds of cattle that destroy people's crops and land Uganda’s leaders including President Museveni All Acholi and Langi in the UNLA military All Lugbara and Kakwa who served Amin; Kony, Otti, and all senior LRA rebel commanders The Congolese and Sudanese soldiers The NRA/UPDF Foreigners and the American Government for supporting oppressive regimes. British Government, missionary groups, explorers, colonial agents, local chiefs, Indian coolies, and the local population. Perpetrators Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Some perpetrators were also considered spoilers for blocking a quick resolution of the conflicts Museveni was considered a spoiler in the Nairobi Peace Talks of 1985 Gen. Salim Saleh was seen as a spoiler given his commercial activities in war zones The Local Government of Arua was accused of failing to negotiate or advocate well on behalf of its people. The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Arua was specifically accused of being too confrontational and thinking he is the President UPDF was blamed for failing to protect all Ugandans equally and giving too much loyalty to Museveni as a person and not paying their allegiance to the Constitution. Spoilers Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Beneficiaries Rebel commanders, like Bamuze, received amnesty and economic benefits without apologizing to their victims Communities with many NGOs benefit from a higher level of employment Military personnel benefited financially from prolonged conflict UPDF soldiers got promoted and officers in the war torn regions created ghost soldiers (they exaggerated the numbers of soldiers to collect extra salaries) and bought substandard equipment like helicopters, trucks, and undersized uniforms to make money High ranking army officials under Museveni who act with impunity like his brother Salim Saleh and Kakoza Mutale Other parts of the country apart from northern Uganda, West Nile, Teso and Karamoja benefited from Government programmes which could not at the time be implemented in the conflict affected areas NRM supporters benefitted from “brown envelopes” of bribe money while others got nothing Foreigners connected to NGOs got jobs and as a result have luxurious lifestyles Cassava farmers, and others working for General Salim Saleh in the forest got money and jobs Peace delegates in Juba also benefited from fat allowances Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Elders like Naphtali Phalea Draniva, Gali Agustra, and the cultural leaders in Alur Kingdom The Amnesty Commission played an important role in ending the insurgency and resettling former fighters The International Committee of the Red Cross provided much needed assistance and help in the return and repatriation process Churches and religious leaders spread messages of peace Ex-soldiers responded to amnesty and embraced the peace talks The Tanzania People’s Defense Force (TPDF) liberated Uganda from Amin General Tito Okello Lutwa and Wilson Toko, forgave Amin’s former soldiers and worked to reconcile Acholi with West Nilers. Peace Builders NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Several people were identified by different groups as peace builders. The people below were identified by participants in all FGDs as having made important contributions to peace building; P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Talking about conflict Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District When asked how it felt to talk about their conflict experiences, participants shared different feelings. All FGDs agreed that it is important to talk about the history of our country and the various conflicts. Many felt that conflicts will recur unless truth is told and measures are taken to reconcile victims and perpetrators. The following were some key feelings expressed: Uganda’s conflict experiences Conflicts have damaged the image of our country. We need to learn from our history to avoid past mistakes and see a positive way forward The Government is clocking 30 years in power and some groups have yet to benefit from the national cake One participant reported he felt like a foreigner in his own homeland Uganda is on the wrong track since elders are excluded in Government decision making processes and MPs are corrupt People in the West Nile region are not part of Uganda People will be happier if given opportunity to speak the truth and forget about the past The only benefit from Museveni and NRM is the absence of guns Document our history for posterity because our history is “full of dirt” A young female participant said she felt the need to inform Ugandans about the necessity to discuss the history of our country There is a need for all of us to unite as Ugandans to reckon with our past and solve our current problems Participants felt like there is a lot of unfinished business
Talking about conflict (cont.) NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Uganda’s conflict experiences All Participants felt inspired when talking about the root causes of conflicts in Uganda: “talking about the history of our suffering gives us hope for dealing with the issues underlying conflicts.” President Museveni is a typical “Enjoba”, meaning habitual liar Talking about the conflict evokes bad memories One elderly participant said, “talking about the conflicts reminded me of my lost savings frozen in cooperative banks” Many people felt the need to begin the process of forgiveness and reconciliation: to learn to forgive and respect each other as Ugandans. Many participants said they felt alienated within Uganda as a result of a lack of trust in politicians and the Government. They said, “too many promises are unfulfilled” and “you can never trust the politicians”. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Perceptions about justice NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Asked whether justice has been done to the different stakeholders and what justice would mean to them, participants expressed divergent views. All agreed that justice has not been done in Uganda, though some cautioned that the term justice is fluid and means different things to different people at different times and regions. The following are the key opinions on justice: West Nile continues to suffer recurring injustices. Participants said that there is no justice in this country but only suffering: “Our justice systems are corrupt and justice is a preserve for the rich”. One elderly man argued that the injustice is evident in the sabotage of development projects, lack of universities in the region, and the absence of truth about the identity and whereabouts of the real perpetrators. “Justice is a preserve for the rich” P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Perceptions about justice Please remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District All participants claimed that court justice has no impact on people’s lives. Some participants felt that justice goes together with peace and where there is no peace, there is no justice. One participant said “justice is the mother of prosperity and means extending our hands of peace to one another like Jesus did. Examples of justice include fulfilling cultural rituals like touching the sheep.” When asked whether justice could be achieved when judges are appointed based on political inclinations. A female youth said “for justice to be done there should be no corruption in getting jobs, leaders [should] follow constitutional mandate, and that there should be money and education for all.” One participant said “justice means democracy and one term in office per president, that the retirement age is reduced to create space for young people to access jobs.” Justice means stopping people’s suffering, having better houses and development projects, distributing universities equally in all regions, and bringing electricity and power to the community of Arua.
Perceptions about justice NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Justice means saying sorry or giving apologies for wrongs done, being judged correctly and accorded rights (as in the case of Kwoyelo). Justice means equal treatment of all Ugandans, respect for people’s right to freedom of association, acceptance of people equally irrespective of status, respect for one another’s opinions and respect for people’s dignity. Justice means that Heads of State are assured of their liberty after leaving power and ensuring the adequate payment of ex-soldiers. Justice means keeping promises and requiring the “big men” to sit down and talk with ordinary people in the peace and reconciliation process, instead of just addressing rallies. Justice means “putting things” in the right way for good governance. If there is no justice there is a crisis. In all the FGDs, participants concurred that the people of Arua were trapped in a quagmire. They said they are like slaves in their own land. Interestingly, according to one elder interviewed, the name Arua means “prison” or “cell” in their vernacular (Lugbara). P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Transitional Justice Mechanisms NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Participants were asked what local mechanisms they have used before to address the conflicts and their legacies. In all four FGDs and key informant interviews, traditional rituals, amnesty and forgiveness were named. Others suggested surrendering, defection and peace talks. When asked what they would like to see in the establishment of any future transitional justice mechanisms the following general responses were common across all FGDs: P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Legal Reforms Reconciliation Transitional Justice Mechanisms Religious leaders should be given power to promote reconciliation Leaders should speak the language of reconciliation There is a need to bridge economic gaps. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Laws on corruption should be strengthened Term limits should be restored for those in power The President’s protection should be guaranteed so that he can voluntarily retire. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Transitional Justice Mechanisms Institutional Reforms Police should conduct serious investigations Levels of militarization should be reduced. Centers for counseling and rehabilitation should be established Sports grounds and recreation facilities should be built. Psychosocial Support NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Amnesty Memorialization There is a need for the documentation and memorialization of all conflicts and legacies The dead need to be remembered in all instances The community should be involved in leading documentation and memorialization. It should not only be church-based Experiences of those in exile need to be memorialized, in a similar way to the spontaneous skit performed during one of the FGDs. The women performed a skit depicting the flight, stay and return from Congo during the war Transitional Justice Mechanisms Prioritising the role of Amnesty in Uganda Amnesty should be made more visible Amnesty should be taken very seriously to avoid more wars Applying Amnesty more fairly, It should not only favour perpetrators but address the concerns of victims Amnesty should be coupled with reparations to victims. A number of participants said that if amnesty is not coupled with reparations to victims then “maybe the victims should also pick up arms and later benefit from amnesty because the rebels who killed our people are at peace and receiving money” NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Traditional Justice Economic reparations are key to livelihoods A reparations policy should be instituted Reparations to suffering victims should start immediately and not wait for truth-telling or prosecution Investment in infrastructure alone is not enough Payment packages to ex-soldiers should be honored Both Governments and former colonial masters should pay reparations; Uniform reparation processes for victims of the same violations should be established There is a need for transparency in reparations The Congolese Government should compensate the people of West Nile for atrocities committed on refugees in the Democratic Republic Congo between The UN should be involved in reparations in Africa since most of the Governments are corrupt. Reparations Rituals are important for conflict resolution Traditional justice should complement the formal judicial system to make justice broad enough There is a need to tap into the wisdom and deep knowledge of traditional leaders The reconciliation that took place between elders of Acholi and Lugbara led by Mzee Jason Abutiya could serve as an example for further traditional conflict resolution There is a need to educate children on the culture of traditional conflict resolution Cultural institutions need to be strengthened and revitalized Government should support, not fight, traditional elders in dispensing justice. Transitional Justice Mechanisms NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Truth telling should identify both the patterns and the gravity of crimes by perpetrators Experiences of Ugandans exiled in DRC and Sudan should be documented Economic inequality and ownership of this country should be addressed There should be no stigmatization of those telling the truth Truth seeking processes should not be corrupted There is need for a national movement for truth seeking People should acknowledge their wrongs The colonial legacy in this country should be tackled People should testify freely A truth-telling process needs to be cooperative and healing and should not be a battle to win cases Truth seeking should involve getting firsthand information from both victims and perpetrators People should be sensitized before truth-telling Truth-telling can help ourselves move towards healing and end suffering Ugandans should be allowed to get courage to tell the truth to the President, especially on term limits There is a need for a national truth-telling commission Truth-telling should be led by traditional leaders There is a need for truth-telling at all levels There is a need for the creation of a good environment for truth-telling to address people’s fear There is need for a rehabilitation centre to foster truth-telling Government must demonstrate its commitment to facilitate truth-telling. Truth-Telling Transitional Justice Mechanisms NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District Avoid partial accountability: all key perpetrators should be held accountable and prosecuted if possible. Prosecution should be uniform, fair, free of corruption and non-selective. Prosecution P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions The following were the key messages by participants to the identified stakeholders/leaders: President Museveni: Divide the national cake equally Be sincere and accept responsibility for the suffering of Ugandans over the last 25 years Consult with local people and avoid listening to sycophants Pay ex-servicemen from all parts of Uganda Stop making empty promises Retire and vacate the office of President before it is too late Borrow a leaf from Tanzania and unite this country (“enough is enough”) Respect cultural leaders and listen to their advice Be a national leader and do not segregate people along tribal or party lines Thank you for bringing peace Look forward and not backward to avoid our children going back to war. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District The Big Man in the Forest [Salim Saleh]: Vacate the forest and let the land be used to settle the local landless people. Joseph Kony: Please stop killing civilians and come back home. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions(cont.) Message to other actors were: The Government of Uganda Restructure and professionalize the police and prison officials and remove military generals Increase teachers salaries Stop buying unnecessary weapons like fighter jets and tanks Put in place enough rehabilitation centres in northern Uganda Reduce high taxes on essential goods Develop institutions to specifically handle reconciliation and restore broken community relations Ensure accountability for all actions Stop hiring expatriates at the expense of local citizens Find root causes of conflict in Uganda and address them Reduce the size of Parliament to a smaller number and remove the army from the civilian Parliament. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District MPs and politicians: Please reduce greed and focus on the plight of the people who elected you. Local Government officials: Please come to local communities and listen to the people. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Messages to Leaders/Institutions(cont.) Message to other actors were: The Refugee Law Project Disseminate the research findings, give us feedback, forward our views, spread the gospel of good governance, and reassure us that this research will not bring us problems. Cultural institutions: Help resolve land conflicts Establish a regional cultural leader’s forum to help in addressing peace, reconciliation and justice Recognize and reward elders who were involved in peace building. Civil society groups Spread the gospel of good governance and unite for national reconciliation and good governance. British High Commissioner: Clear the confusion caused by the missionaries and their religion which demonized traditional African religion, the arbitrary partition of Africa and creation of a Uganda comprised of different tribes, division of labour, poor cash crops, and unfair terms of trade in Uganda. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District All Ugandans: Let us recognize this is our country; people should accept the truth and move forward. Religious leaders: Use your platform for reconciliatory purposes. P lease remember that this brief reflects community perspectives on national issues.
Acknowledgements The research team was led by Stephen Oola and comprised of Helen Mayele, Hellen Mabonga, Lawrence Okware, Thomas Kanooti and Solomon Luzinda. This briefing note was written by Stephen Oola 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 the National Reconciliation & Transitional Justice Audit research in Arua District, in particular the Alur Kingdom, Lugbara Chiefdom, the Ker Kwonga Jonam Kingdom, the Arua Justice and Peace Committee, the Peace Recovery and Development Organization and the West Nile Kony War Victims Association. Presentation prepared by Opiny Shaffic, with inputs from Chris Dolan, Annelieke van de Wiel, Moses Alfred Nsubuga and edits by Angella Nabwowe. NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District
Watch this space for Brief 5: Soroti District NR&TJ Audit BRIEF 4 : Arua District