By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 2

  • Anarchists' May day in Colombia

    Virunga Mountains

    People's Media:

    As usual, this May Day there was a massive demonstration in Bogotá, Colombia. Hundreds of people from a diverse range of social movements took the streets to fight against capitalism. Walking along with the workers, there were a lot of young anarchists that agitated their black flags and shouted for freedom while hearing rock bands in a non-violent attitude.

    Suddenly, when the demonstration reached one of the main streets of downtown Bogotá, the police started to throw tear gas to the anarchists without any reason. Soon there was an explosion and the police initiated a violent repression, hitting people with wooden sticks and shooting rubber bullets in all directions. In this moment a 15 year old, who was walking inside the anarchist block, was badly beaten up by various policemen.

    Free Uganda
  • Africans from different corners of the world will converge in Zimbabwe

    Virunga Mountains

    New opportunities are continuing to open up for the African continent and Africans to successfully resist imperialist dictates in the currentbalance of class forces. Durable peace is impossible in Africa while colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, discrimination and foreign ruleexists.

    It is in this matrix that the African family will be meeting in Zimbabwe in 2005 for the Global Pan African Congress (GPAC). Zimbabwe has been chosen to host this historic event primarily and simply because of her tireless efforts in the emancipation of the black race and the Third World from Anglo-American driven aggression and immoral brutality.

    Africans from different corners of the world will converge in Zimbabwe, a country that has shown commitment to suffer and be the voice of nations and races that are still suffering under the yoke of colonialism to gain self-determination and resist imperialism, which is continuing its attempts to impose its domination on the world.

    It is also preserving unjust regimes of Abdoulai Wade, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame whilst progressive revolutionaries such as Castro and Nkrumah are always demonized. For instance, Uganda is regarded as a model of democracy by the western countries despite the fact that he has a degree in genocide as well as a doctorate in zero partyism. A zero party state is anti-democracy and this shows that the imperialists are there to promote inequitable international relations.

    The government of Zimbabwe has shown that the revolutionary upsurge of the oppressed people from Iraq to Africa blows up the straightjackets of force instituted by the imperialists and their loyal puppets .The withdrawal from the Commonwealth, the success of the Agrarian revolution and the speeches by President Mugabe at the 2002 Earth Summit and beyond have all stood as a testimony that Africa is on the road to victory over her enemies.

    Amplified by these developments, Pan-Africanists from diverse backgrounds have set up the Zimbabwe Pan African Movement [ZPAM] to do the ground work for the Global Pan African Congress as well as to make sure that the struggles of the African people live after the event that will be hosted by the Southern African Political and Economic Series [SAPES TRUST].

    The idea of coming up with a Zimbabwean Pan African movement came up when Zimbabweans converged in Harare to choose a National Organizing Committee for the GPAC 2005. It was agreed by members of the Organizing Committee that there was need to form a Pan African Movement that can help in the mobilization, education and waging of the war against the imperialists. It is this quest to see the movement growing that has seen Zimbabweans forming such a seemingly formidable organization. All
    delegates agreed that there was need for the rejuvenation and refueling of the Pan-African Movement due to rising cases of western instilled genocide. Recent cases being those of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The birth of ZPAM saw veteran politician Cde Chen Chimutengwende being elected Chairman; Richard CHIRONGWE, vice-chairman; Itai Mach, Secretary; Gilbert Mbiri, Deputy Secretary; Taurai Gobvu, Treasurer; Munyaradzi Muzenda, Deputy Treasurer; Kwanisai Mafa, National Organizing Secretary; Livingstone Jonga, Deputy National Organizing Secretary; Redgies Ziteya, Information and Publicity Secretary; Goodson Nguni, Deputy Information and Publicity Secretary; Caroline Tangai, Secretary for Gender Issues; Mildre Chakanetsa, Deputy Secretary for Gender Issues; Tariro Maturire, Secretary for Education and Culture; Jimmy Ndlovu, Deputy Secretary for Education and Culture; Charity Moyo, Deputy Secretary for International Relations and Chakanyuka Karase, Secretary for International Relations. Joseph MANDIZHA and Chris Gwatidzo are committee members.

    Furthermore the movement endeavours to carry forward the legacy left by Africas Man of the Millenium, His Excellency Kwame Nkrumah. ZPAM like practically all African nationalism, is born out of direct western aggression and impositions. Its most specific source of inspiration is the common experiences [in suffering] of the people of in Cuba, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and the whole Third World in general.

    With neo-colonialism polluting the African continent, the wealth of Africa being drained away by mere strangers and multinational companies and our revolutionaries being castigated willy-nilly there has been the cry for a vibrant Pan-African movement that can counter the current global thinking and neo-colonialism as well as thwarting the emergence of Euroclones such as Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

    ZPAM is such a movement that has emerged to fight against imperialism and its tools such as the World Bank and the IMF as well as other neo-colonial institutions that are there to keep Africa and the Africans in conditions of poverty. It is essential that Africans return to their egalitarian socialist traditions. This is what Nkrumah stood for and this is what we should work for.

    Nkrumah tells us that our philosophy must find its weapons in the environment and the living conditions of the African people. It is from these conditions that the intellectual content and broader scope of our philosophy must be created or as Chairman Mao said, from the masses to the masses."

    The emancipation of the African continent is the emancipation of man. This requires two aims: firstly the restitution of the egalitarianism of human society and secondly the logistic mobilization of all African resources towards the attainment of that restitution.

    It is from genuine African initiatives that Africans can develop. In the words of Edward Blyden, the people of Africa need some African power, some greater sense of identity where their physical and intellectual strength may be collected. Among the Africans, there is enough talent, zeal, wealth and enterprise to form a respectable Pan African Movement
    but all these are being thwarted by imperialists and Anglo-American arrogance.

    Free Uganda
  • Museveni is On the Ropes And Rwanda Has to Pay

    Virunga Mountains

    By Ngango Rukara

    As Uganda sinks deeper into political crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear that the regime and its hired propaganda guns are out to replay the 2001 scenario, where they worked hard to portray Rwanda as the politically unstable neighbour responsible for all of Uganda's problems.

    The regime in Kampala took the joke a little bit too far when they crowned it all with the infamous March 2001 declaration signed by the then Security Minister Muruli Mukasa, to the effect that Rwanda was a "hostile country". Subsequently, the expression "neighbouring country" has assumed a new meaning in the NRM government politico-military lingua, referring to Rwanda as the source of all political problems for the regime.

    Indeed, the Ugandan President's October 2001 letter to the then British Minister for Overseas Development, Ms Clare Short signaled to the world how low President Museveni was prepared to go to smear President Paul Kagame and to draw Rwanda into the mess that was engulfing Uganda.

    For an African Head of State to put pen to paper with no intention other than badmouthing a fellow African leader to an official of a former colonial power, he later described as a junior minister, was a scandal that shook many African leaders to their very core. Here you had an African leader, who had worked hard all his adult life to portray himself as a revolutionary and freedom fighter, reporting a fellow African Head of State to a junior European minister, in the manner of a schoolboy whining to a colonial school headmistress.

    It is now evidently routine, that every time the regime in Kampala is cornered, the only way they can create some breathing space for themselves, is by shifting the focus on to Rwanda. This is an all too familiar diversionary strategy, whereby the regime has desperately sought to fabricate news headlines using government mouthpieces like The New Vision and the Red Paper publications, to peddle falsehoods and outright lies against Rwanda. It simply boggles the mind as to how Uganda's first family which has always postured as champions of family values and Born Again adherents has exploited Kampala's pornographic publication to dish out dirt at real and imagined enemies at home and beyond.

    The screaming front page story "Top Officers Flee Rwanda", The New Vision, Wednesday, May 4, 2005 is a clear illustration of how desperate the Museveni regime is getting and to what extent they are prepared to go in their efforts to manipulate the Ugandan population, and divert the attention from the constitutional crisis that is now President Museveni's nightmare. The New Vision is a Uganda government mouthpiece which articulates government policies, positions and views. It is, therefore, clear that the story referring to alleged unnamed top Rwandan officers fleeing, was a Ugandan government statement, never mind Amama Mbabazi's protestations of editorial independence. For such a sensational lead story breaking news of alleged fleeing Rwandan military officers without naming any of them, without a hint as to who the purported source in the "Ugandan security" is, clearly points to the fact that the New Vision is now serving as a government handout used by the military and other government intelligence outfits to plant stories designed to advance the interests of the ruling clique in Kampala. What is evident here is that the story is not only a lie it also constitutes interference in Rwanda's internal affairs by the government of Uganda. It is a clear provocation which serves to undermine the efforts that have been made to restore relations between the two countries.

    On the other hand, though, it is critical to recognize that the government in Kampala is at the crossroads and desperately needs someone to blame for its failures and inefficiencies. When Ambassador Johnny Carson, an American diplomat who has known Museveni long enough to conceive an informed opinion of the man, having served as the United States Ambassador to Uganda, described the Ugandan President as an "other Mugabe and Zimbabwe", in an article published in the May 1st issue of the Boston Globe, he knew what he was talking about. President Museveni is sinking faster than anyone expected, including those opposed to his regime, and he has made up his mind that if he is going down, he will at least try to take someone with him, and he has evidently placed Rwanda in his sights.

    Indeed, Rwanda's record of success in good governance has not gone down well with the Museveni regime. As the rest of the world applaud Rwanda's phenomenal achievements against all odds, the people of Uganda are beginning to ask hard questions; questions related to corruption in high places, issues pertaining to Ministers who have been censured for corruption and have continued to feature prominently in government, President Museveni's determination to cling on to power at all costs and the whole question of political transition and constitutionalism.

    The future is bleak and Ugandans are worried. They are simply wondering where they are headed, as countries whose financial support has accounted for a larger percentage of the national budget, denounce Museveni's regime one by one. Indeed, as Rwanda's entire external debt was being written off, the British Government was announcing suspension of financial aid to Uganda on account of President Museveni's efforts to manipulate the Constitution which will ultimately guarantee his dream of a life Presidency. As it turns out the only way the NRM regime can address issues related to its own incompetence and corruption is to shift the focus on to Rwanda and as such, this is not the last we have read/heard of Ugandan government fabrications against Rwanda.

    The Uganda government statement as articulated in The New Vision lists a number of Rwandan officials allegedly victimized on the grounds that they are what the regime in Kampala refers to as "Ugandans". Ironically, it is these very officials that the Ugandan political elite has always described as the "RPF inner circle". They further claim that Col. Patrick Karegyeya is "likely to be charged with insubordination". Col. Karegyeya stands accused of indiscipline not "insubordination", as the question insubordination does not arise in the Rwanda Defence Forces. Insubordination is an inherent characteristic of armies like the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), where a Major General David Tinyefuza is charged with treason and the next day he is appointed a Presidential Advisor on Defence ! As an officer in the RDF, Col. Karegyeya is bound by the rules that govern discipline in the Army, and there is nothing unusual if he is found in violation and charged accordingly. On the other hand, one would understand why such an action would constitute front page news for the Uganda government, since such codes are non-existent within the UPDF.

    The crocodile tears The New Vision and the Kampala regime shed for Gerald Gahima and his brother Theogene Rudasingwa are simply an exercise in futility. Gahima resigned his position as Deputy Chief Justice after newspapers published stories detailing his default on payment of personal loans to commercial banks in Kigali, to the effect that a man in his position had been blacklisted by the National Bank as delinquent. Certainly this was not an individual with any moral authority to sit in judgment of others. While Dr. Rudasingwa was acquitted of embezzlement charges by the courts, he had not only lost the moral authority necessary to hold the kind of office he occupied, his employer, the Government of Rwanda in this case, had lost confidence in him and this cost him his job.

    Mr. Sam Nkusi resigned his cabinet portfolio after he failed to fulfill his responsibilities as a minister, with a tenure characterized by improprieties which went against the spirit of ministerial collective responsibility. Dr. Ben Rugangazi was appointed from the private sector to become Rwanda's Ambassador to China and portraying his appointment as a demotion is misleading, to say the least. Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa was appointed Ambassador to India, a re-assignment that is normal in Rwanda, since representing one's country at that level is indeed regarded as an honour by the Rwandan people. Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza was moved from the Directorate of Military Intelligence to become the RDF's Chief Political Commissar not Director of Education and Sports as alleged in The New Vision. Lt. Col. Richard Masozera was promoted from the position of Director of Immigration to Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. What the regime in Uganda would want to spin as "purging" in Rwanda, is clearly routine re-assigning of duties and outright resignations on the part of those whose moral authority is found wanting for various reasons. Once again, this would sound strange to the regime in Kampala, since the act of taking personal responsibility for one's failures in public office is unheard of in Uganda.

    While Rwanda and Uganda are next door neighbours, with so much in common between their two peoples, the story ends there, especially when you consider the value systems that set the leadership in the two countries apart, and this will continue to be a source of conflict as long as the government in Kampala seeks to use Rwanda as a diversion from the crisis that is fast engulfing Uganda, owing to failures inherent in poor leadership, so characteristic of the NRM.

    Ngango Rukara is a Policy Analyst at the Great Lakes Centre in Kigali

    Free Uganda
  • Uganda Army(UPDF) charges 3 with spying for Rwanda

    Virunga Mountains

    "Three UPDF soldiers were yesterday charged with spying for Rwanda, just days after Kigali detained one of its top intelligence officers, Col. Patrick Karegyeya, once accused of spying on Uganda.

    WOII Sam Tugume, the head of security and investigations at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Sgt Bakirirahi Barigye, an army radio signaler attached to the Internal Security Organisation, and Lance Corporal Peter Agom, attached to the Military Intelligence, appeared before the 1st Division Court Martial at Mbuya, Kampala District.

    They denied the six treachery charges read to them at the court presided over by Maj. Willy Ndinda, assisted by Captains Edward Kulanyi, Sam Kanamugire, Nazario Mwekwasize, Lt. James Taremwa and Sgt. Birungi Mustafa.

    The three soldiers were arrested in October 2004 for allegedly passing on classified information to Rwanda.

    Prosecution yesterday accused the three of leaking UPDF information to the Rwandan Patriotic Army's Col. Karegyeya and the Director of Military Intelligence, Col. Jack Nziza, an "act prejudicial to security interests of Uganda."

    The leaked information allegedly concerned the UPDF operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the war with the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda between March 2003 and September 2004.

    Karegyeya, once regarded as President Paul Kagame's right hand man and a long-time central man in the Uganda-Rwanda misunderstandings, was arrested in the Rwandan capital Kigali for alleged insubordination.

    He headed Rwanda's external intelligence body and was also Kagame's key point man in the Britain-mediated talks between Kigali and Kampala.
    Capt. Moses Wandera, who headed the prosecution team yesterday, said he was ready to adduce evidence against them, but the accused soldiers opposed the hearing of the case, saying they needed their lawyers around.

    Maj. Ndinda asked them to contact their lawyers for the hearing to start today.
    However, Tugume told the court that he was surprised the government had continued with his trial after he had confessed to the "insurgency" acts and applied for release under the Amnesty Law.
    "I think bringing me here for trial is torture," he said.

    "On December 21, 2004 when I last appeared before this court, I declared intentions to apply for amnesty. I have for the last five months been thinking that authorities are working on my release."

    Tugume added: "I am surprised and I think it's wrong for this court to handle this case."
    Since their arrest, the suspects have been among dozens of inmates locked up at the Military Police Barracks at Makindye, in the suburbs of Kampala.
    The group recently went on a hunger strike demanding release on bail and immediate trial.
    Tugume said his colleagues in Makindye are still on a hunger strike protesting their overstay in prison.

    The Court's Judge advocate, Mr Simon Wankandya, said the issues raised by Tugume would be handled today when their lawyer, Mr Kiiza Rwakafuzi, is around.

    The prosecutor said he would respond to them in the presence of their lawyers."

    Re-posted from Monitor media

    Free Uganda

    Virunga Mountains

    People's Media:

    Westerners schmoozing with a criminal

    The western world should be ashamed for supporting and consuming propaganda from the government of Dictator Yoweri Museveni. How can you all seat there praise and dine with a criminal who knows no human rights while at the sametime you shovel your pathetic values under our throats?? Yoweri Museveni has taken the entire country hostage, he can kill and abuse because the western world will always love him and poor ugandans will have no justice-what a bluff!

    This sort of criminality by the state is very rife in all parts of Uganda. Western donors dress and feed the goverment criminals.


    American instructor shows a UPDF thug how to kill Ugandans

    UPDF forces and officials of other government-related military security agencies have committed and are still continuing committing multiple abuses against the human rights of northern Ugandans, including summary execution, torture, rape, child recruitment, and inhuman conditions of detention in unauthorized detention locations. They are rarely prosecuted for crimes committed against civilians. Even when UPDF abuses have been investigated, the investigations have sometimes been kept internal and therefore have created an appearance of impunity, which has not improved public trust.
    UPDF responses to allegations of abuses against civilians, such as rape, unlawful killing, and torture, range from the crime going unpunished, to being "punished" by transferring the accused, to the court martial of some individual soldiers without proper investigation, all the way to the rare court martial. Often it appears that the action followed, or the punishment meted out is at the sole discretion of the individual UPDF field commander.

    For example, the storming of Gulu Prison by UPDF Soldiers.
    The UPDF has committed summary (extra judicial) execution and torture of captives since Operation Iron Fist began. Since the last time when four UPDF mambas (armored vehicles) full of UPDF soldiers raided Gulu Prison under the command of the head of military intelligence of Operation Iron Fist, Lt. Col. Charles Awany Otema. According to eyewitness reports by prison inmates and confirmed by the assistant superintendent of Gulu Central Prison, prison authorities (wardens) refused entry to the soldiers after the UPDF officers failed to produce a search warrant or any other document permitting them to enter.
    During the raid, the UPDF soldiers beat and pushed aside the prison wardens, as they forced their way into the prison. Captain Rugadia, of the intelligence division of Internal Security, ordered twenty-three prisoners by name out of their cells. A UPDF officer singled out a prisoner known as "Yumbe," Peter Oloya, who was accused of planning to escape from the prison. That officer then ordered the soldiers to shoot Peter Oloya.

    The prison wardens rejected this accusation and tried to stop the killing, arguing with the UPDF that no one would try to escape from the prison with so many soldiers present, and therefore there was no reason to shoot any prisoner. Nevertheless, the UPDF soldiers shot Peter Oloya in the back, with the bullet exiting his chest. Everyone panicked and another prisoner was almost shot.
    The UPDF soldiers hastily loaded the twenty-two prisoners, together with the dead body of Peter Oloya, on the mambas, ordering them to lie down flat. They took the prisoners straight to the quarter guard at the army barracks detention center in Gulu. The UPDF took Peter Oloya's body away and has not released it to his relatives for burial as of the writing of this report. The UPDF claimed it had to move the prisoners from Gulu Prison based on military intelligence's discovery of a planned rescue attempt by the LRA.

    This event, and the subsequent torture of the prisoners at the Gulu barracks, has generated a number of civil suits, and actions by many human rights bodies such as UHRC, Amnesty International, etc. Leave alone many unreported arrest, detention, killing of civilians by the UPDF soldiers.

    These days is even worst under the command of Operation Iron Fist, Lt. Col. Charles Awany Otema, because the UPDF soldiers would falsely suspect you of being a rebel or rebels collaborators. On suspecting you, they will arrest you, torture or ill-treat and detain you in the military barrack. Sometimes they arrest you and dress you in military uniform and begin claiming that they caught you in the battlefront fighting against the government alongside the rebels. This happened to so many people who are civilians, some even students. The best-known case of this kind occurred in Nwoya county last February 2005 where a man by name Opoka, a farmer was accused first of growing crops for rebels and later after he was arrested by UPDF soldiers from his garden even when digging in his cassava plantation by the UPDF soldiers. They arrested and dressed him in army uniform, and they later killed him, then they fabricated a story and reported that Opoka was a rebel and he was killed in a battlefront fighting on the side of LRA.

    Another case was a boy named Odida Churchill from Awac, a student of Awere senior secondary school. Odida was arrested when he was coming from school and he was even carrying his books, but he was arrested, taken to Gulu military barrack, and later UPDF soldiers said he was arrested in a battle fighting alongside rebels. He was tortured to death by UPDF soldiers, and so many others.

    Non-stop Torture and Ill-Treatment by the UPDF

    The UPDF soldiers ever since has been arresting, torturing and detaining civilians in Gulu military barracks. Aida Lagulu was arrested and gang-raped during her detention there. Tony Kitara, the local councilor-III of Bungatira, Gulu district, reported that he was tortured in Gulu barracks. AbuOpoka was arrested, tortured and detained in Gulu Military barrack on so many times for being a mother of suspected rebel collaborator. Recently she was found shot with other women whom the UPDF soldiers claimed they shot them unintended because they (UPDF) thought they were rebels.

    In a separate case, Stephen O, a twenty-five-year-old man from Layibi in Gulu municipality, lost a leg after UPDF soldiers shoot him outside a shop and later they came back to make sure he was dead. Stephen went on his bicycle to the trading center to buy paraffin. Just before he entered the shop some UPDF soldiers ordered the shopkeeper to close up. Two of the soldiers came up to him, placed him under arrest, asked him about his home, and started beating him with the butts of their guns.
    One soldier, addressing Stephen in Kiswahili, ordered him to run but Stephen did not understand him and ignored the order. The other soldier, from Teso in eastern Uganda, told him (in a language he understood) to run "otherwise I would be shot. I started to run and they shot at me. They hit me in my leg."

    The Teso soldier ordered many people around the shop to leave. stephen lost consciousness and woke up three hours later and started crawling into a nearby hotel. He heard the soldiers coming back to check on him and one said, "I told you the guy's leg was not shot properly, so he escaped."

    Stephen hid under a bed in a hotel room but the soldiers, after more searching, found him and took his identification card. He played dead. More soldiers came in and argued over whether Stephen was dead or not. Searching his belongings, they took 1,000 Ugandan shillings from his pockets, and left. Two soldiers came back, dragged Stephen from the room, and threw him into the bush. Early in the morning, he managed to reach a nearby house and ask for help.

    Stephen's leg was amputated in Lacor hospital in Gulu but he did not take his medical form, describing his injuries, to the police afterward. He did not see any reason for doing this because, "There are so many people who were shot by UPDF in my area and nothing happened, nothing will happen when I bring the form to the police because even police is part of them."
    Torture is inflicted on some people held in military detention facilities by UPDF soldiers. After David O. was arrested for alleged collaboration with rebels, UPDF soldiers under the command of a second lieutenant, whose name David provided, burned David O. by pouring melting plastic from a jerry can over his shoulders and back.

    The incident was reported to a local human rights organization. According to the report, David O. was initially arrested by members of the Kalangala Action Plan, and the torture allegedly took place in their presence. Subsequently the case developed its own momentum. The UPDF arrested and reportedly tortured members of David O.'s family inside the army detachment to force them to disclose the name of the person who had reported the case to the human rights group. Under coercion, they provided the name of the paralegal of Olwal IDP camp, who was then arrested and kept in detention at the army detachment in Olwal camp.

    David O., the torture victim, was asked to pay 35,000 Ugandan shillings for his release. He was later sent to the hospital for treatment of his back, which was badly injured.A sixteen-year-old Peter O. who was abducted by the rebel of LRA but managed to escaped from the rebels was shot at by the UPDF when he was approaching a roadblock, even when he was pleading that he is a civilian. The soldiers kept shoting at him three times, but failed to hit him. "I started rolling and then raised my hands in surrender, so the commander ordered them to stop shooting."
    The UPDF beat him badly. "They started beating me in the barracks, loaded me on a vehicle and took me to Miajakulu detachment" where he said he was kicked and beaten "until they were sure my backbone was broken. I was tied in the three-point ‘‘kandoya’’ way and kicked.

    Arrests of Alleged Rebel Collaborators

    The Gulu branch of the Legal Aid Project received complaints that Ugandan government authorities, mostly the UPDF, had arbitrarily detained people on treason charges, illegally detained persons in UPDF military barracks, conducted arrests without warrants, and denied detainees access to the judiciary.

    Suspected civilians were arrested and kept in military barrack instead of police detention, investigations and collection of evidence were rare, torture and ill-treatment of suspects were rampant, living conditions were unsanitary and overcrowded in many cases, and some of the persons carrying out the arrests had no authority to do so. Suspects have been arrested by the UPDF, the LDUs, the police, the KAP, the CMI, and officers from various intelligence agencies connected to the Internal Security Organization (ISO). Many people arrested for alleged rebel collaboration in northern Uganda were arrested in their villages or fields, pursuant to an order whereby the government restricted movement from the internally displaced persons camps as described above.

    This order resulted into a precarious situation for the population of northern Uganda. They were restricted to camps where they were vulnerable to UPDF and LRA attacks and famine (food shortages due to little space in which to garden and LRA attacks on relief food convoys), or they risked arrest for alleged rebel collaboration for trying to return to their homes and fields to plant or harvest food crops.

    UPDF soldiers also on many occasions go to people gardens or plantation and destroy their crops, claiming they are doing that because people in the villages are growing crops for rebels. They also claim most Acholis are rebel collaborators.
    Many supporters of the political opposition are arrested, detained or killed, depending on God luck. In a region where the support for President Museveni in the last presidential elections allegedly did not exceed 20 percent, the arbitrary practice of the UPDF and security organs of arresting and incarcerating civilians created an atmosphere of fear and political repression. According to one of the Gulu prisoners,I was politically outspoken and I had told the president [Museveni] during a rally in Gulu that he will not win 87 percent of the votes in Gulu as his campaigners promised. I had been in and out of prison for my political convictions since Museveni's NRM and political organization came to Gulu in 1986.

    Others are detained for treason or on rebel collaboration charges and others belong to political opposition organizations. Some were reportedly members of Uganda Young Democrats, campaigners for Kiiza Besigye's losing presidential campaign, supporters of opposition candidate Lt. Col. Okot Alenysio in his electoral campaign for local councilor-V, or campaigners for government opponent Kerobino Uma for the district chairmanship elections.

    A credible source from Palatjera IDP camp reported that more than sixty people from that camp were arrested on allegations of rebel collaboration. According to him there was an arrest list in circulation with an additional 400 names on it. A human rights defender from the Ulwal IDP camp in Lamogi sub county told Human Rights Watch that arrests from the camp increased after Operation Iron Fist started, and that there were ten Luwal people charged with treason being held in the Fourth Division barracks in Gulu. The ten, all males, were arrested and some were killed and others upto now some of them are still missing. According to a credible source from Atiak camp, "In Atiak and Anaka camps every week somebody is picked up as a rebel collaborator. Some are released, others remain in the military barracks."

    Rape and Sexual Abuse inflicted on mothers, sisters and young girls by UPDF soldiers.
    Sexual violence, including rape and defilement, appear to have risen in the north as a result of the current conflict, with adolescent girls at greatest risk. A survey found that in Gulu, girls identified "rape and defilement" as their third most important concern behind "insecurity, abduction and murder" and "displacement."

    The apparent increased incidence of rape is associated with the increased presence of the UPDF and the vulnerability of the displaced population. Girls are vulnerable to sexual assault when traveling from IDP camps to work in the fields of their original homes, and when traveling into town in the evenings as "night commuters." Young boys are also at risk.
    There is a social stigma attached to being raped. The perception that abused women should feel guilty and might have seduced the rapists is still prevalent in Acholiland, according to the program coordinator of Caritas' women's desk, Sister Margaret Aceng. People's Voice for Peace reports documented several cases where women were abandoned by their husbands or communities after they reported being raped to the police.

    The case of Mrs. Paska, forty-eight years old, mother of eleven, and a widow, exemplifies the dilemma of many raped women. She found herself grief-stricken over being raped by UPDF soldiers and also over the death of one of the twins born as a result of the rape. She was painted by her in-laws' comments that "`I knew the soldier or else how could he come to me.'" She stated, "My in-laws do not want this child and even my older children do not want this child."

    Even when the family of the rape victim is supportive, the perpetrators identified, and the case reported to the police, the result is discouraging because many women do not want to draw more attention to themselves. In addition, women may be discouraged from reporting cases of rape by soldiers because most reports are not followed through, the violators are transferred to another unit, and the case might be stuck at the local police or army detachment where it was reported.

    Also two young girls who are cousins, ages thirteen years and nineteen years, were raped by two UPDF soldiers. Joanna A. and Alice O. went with Joanna's mother from the displaced persons camp where they lived to their garden in the early morning to work. Returning to the camp at about ten o'clock in the morning, they met two uniformed UPDF soldiers at a junction in the road. The soldiers told them to sit on the ground. Then they asked if they had chickens at home. The mother replied in the affirmative, and one soldier then said, "If they are there, let's go and get them."
    Although the mother wanted to return to the camp on the regular path, the soldiers wanted to move through the bush. At a certain point, one of the soldiers stopped and began to prepare the ground, stepping on the grass. According to one of the teenagers, Joanna A.,
    ‘‘He said to sit down and then ordered us to take off our clothes. First we refused, and one of the soldiers said that if we didn't, he would shoot us. Then he told us to lie down. When Alice [her cousin] didn't, one of the soldiers kicked her in the chest. My mother said "don't mistreat my children; they are very young." The darker soldier took Alice a short distance away, while the other one stayed with me. He threatened me with a gun and raped me. I was just crying. The other soldier raped Alice. Then the darker soldier who had raped Alice called me to him and raped me too, while the other one raped Alice.’’

    Upon release, Joanna A., Alice O., and Joanna's mother immediately reported the rape to the camp's local councillor, the local army commander, and the local police. One of the soldiers was apprehended and taken back to the barracks, where he was reportedly beaten. The other returned to the barracks that night and family members of the rape victims were told he was beaten also. However, two days later, the unit was transferred out of the area. That is what they normally do. They transfer the rapist and killers as a means of punishment.

    The soldiers don’t use condoms, and both survivors were fearful that they were infected with the HIV virus. Joanna said, "People tell us we will die. They say the soldiers may be infected. I think about it a lot."

    Both Joanna and Alice were tested for the HIV virus after the rape, and the results were positive.
    Lt. Paddy Ankunda, the public relations officer (PRO) for the Fourth Division of the UPDF in Gulu, denied that there was a lack of legal redress for the rape victims. He insisted that, "In all cases of harassment of civilians by the army the culprits are brought to the book. We take action and follow the case. There are no cases where rapists were transferred."
    In Matere, Kitgum district, according to a women's rights activist, a group of women visiting a mother and her newborn were gang-raped by twenty UPDF soldiers. They had been followed to the home of the new mother by the group of soldiers. The soldiers entered the compound and ordered the women to lie down, at gunpoint. They raped the women there and threatened them with death if the women reported the rapes: "Should we hear anything about you, you are all dead."
    The local councillor (LC-I) of the area witnessed and reported the case, but no identification of the soldiers was made.

    Free Uganda
  • Does the chairman of LRA fear a woman with a Mobile Phone?

    Virunga Mountains

    People's media:

    Betty Bigombe, 49, is an urbane, Harvard-educated sociologist who was in a plush office at the World Bank a year ago. In the past few months, she has walked into the bush near the Sudanese border and met the rebels nine times, protected by nothing more than the notepads of a few international observers, attempting to win the LRA's trust and negotiate a ceasefire.

    Ms. Bigombe's detractors question her methods, her motives and her loyalties. But increasing numbers of people say her painstaking mediation process may be the only way to end this savage war.

    Last week, she said that Mr. Kony told her he has ordered his troops to stop committing atrocities, and that she expects him to commit to a ceasefire within weeks. She says that she believes full peace talks could be under way by the fall.

    Mr. Kony's ostensible goal is still to overthrow Mr. Museveni and install a government based on the Ten Commandments. In truth, the LRA has little agenda except for terrorizing civilians.

    "That doesn't mean that there aren't underlying issues: poverty, the disparity in the share of the national cake," Ms. Bigombe said.

    MS Bigombe entertaining her friends
    But the LRA's lack of platform makes negotiations difficult, and in a post-Sept. 11 world, it bolsters Mr. Museveni's position that he doesn't have to talk to them. Yet Western observers say the rebel movement is a far more rational, well-disciplined force than government propaganda suggests.

    "The LRA is a rational war machine, despite all that has been written about it," a senior UN figure said. "So any abduction, killing or mutilation has a logic behind it -- it may be a macabre logic, it may be a total violation of international law, but it's not wanton or meaningless."

    Ms. Bigombe, who is an Acholi born and raised in Gulu and who once served as Mr. Museveni's minister for the pacification of the north, said she sensed an opportunity in the war-weary region last year and approached the President to ask whether she could try to mediate. She travelled to southern Sudan, where the LRA has long had a base, to "lay the groundwork," then began regular dialogue with the rebels -- who she said had periodically contacted her since she left government in 1994.

    When her mediation began in October, the UN reported an almost immediate improvement in the security situation -- rebel attacks dropped off -- and in people's optimism.

    By Dec. 29, in a process carefully orchestrated by the United Nations, Ms. Bigombe had taken two cabinet ministers into the bush to sit down with LRA commanders, the first time members of government had met with the rebels.

    Self appointed spokesperson of LRA (Sam Kolo) gave the wrong information to the peace team

    With a unilateral army ceasefire in place, negotiators for the two sides agreed to a memorandum of understanding on a truce, the first step toward peace talks. The rebels were supposed to come back and sign before the ceasefire expired 48 hours later, but they didn't show.

    The government says they weren't serious and never will be. But others say the ceasefire should have been extended.

    The rebels "had to walk we don't know how many kilometres. Their top officers were spread out; it was impossible for them to take a decision in 48 hours," said Lars Erik Skaansar, the UN envoy supporting the mediation process.

    Almost immediately, the fighting escalated again. Ms. Bigombe reckons that the rebels, seeking talks, want to make sure everyone remembers that they are a force to be reckoned with, and not "totally finished," as the President has assured people for the past 18 years.

    Although the roster of dead and abducted each day belies that statement, it is true that the LRA has been badly weakened in recent months.

    Ms. Bigombe said she expects to go into the bush once again in coming days -- "every time, my heart is just popping out" -- to meet with Mr. Kony's chief deputy.

    "You can't find any person better for this job than Betty. People here love her. She's very intelligent, very fair and she respects everyone,".

    Ex LRA field commander now a government informer

    "The bottom line is that the LRA do trust her," added Erin Baines, a researcher from the Liu Institute for Global Issues in Vancouver who has observed the peace process since 2003. "Parachuting an international mediator would not work. The LRA are not like that: They believe in tradition and rituals and spiritualism, and they trust her for some logic only they know."

    Ms. Bigombe says firmly that she speaks to the rebel leader like she would anyone else.

    "You've got to reach him at his level, have an ability to meet his personality," she said. "I laugh with him, talk with him, all to get him to understand what he's doing."

    Ms. Bigombe has, according to several of those who deal with her, "a massive ego." Some associated with the negotiations say privately that she is so determined to control the process that she shuts out what might be useful suggestions. Others say she is so caught up in the drama that she is deluded about the chances of getting Mr. Kony to surrender.

    The government also has its serious doubts about her. A senior adviser to Mr. Museveni, for example, said he believes Ms. Bigombe is allied with the rebels. And many military figures "don't want to see a woman, especially that woman, succeed where they have failed -- and they get rich off the war," said one observer from a donor country.

    But those who work with her offset the criticism of her personality by noting that a person would have to have a fair degree of faith in herself to take on this kind of job. And everyone, including Mr. Museveni, acknowledges that she has, in her own words, "forced the mediation process down his throat," using pressure from donor countries, which have little appetite for Mr. Museveni's "military solution" against a force that is made up almost entirely of children.

    As for Ms. Bigombe, she is accustomed to the accusations, the mistrust and the stalling.

    "It's like tearing through rocks and mountains. I'm holding my head in my hand, my hair turns grey and I dye it again . . . I feel like a punch bag," she acknowledged.

    But she intends to keep going, with both cellphones and the faith of many frightened refugees.

    "There are no insurmountable situations," she said.

    Meanwhile, There is no new way to end this war other than the old way. The aggressors have to be beaten because Kony is stubborn," said Nahaman Ojwee, chairman of Kitgum district, which borders Gulu.

    Analysts say mediators need to travel to southern Sudan to put a comprehensive peace proposal to Kony.

    Such a move would test the rebels' willingness for peace, and would be vital "if the chance to end an extraordinarily brutal conflict is not to be lost," International Crisis Group (ICG) said in report on the north last month.

    "Given the attitudes of the parties, none of this is likely without more vigorous and sustained international support, most particularly from the U.S., which has considerable influence with Museveni and whose reserve causes LRA leaders to doubt it supports a negotiated peace," ICG said.

    "The trend on the ground and the direction in which both the Ugandan government and the LRA leadership appear to be moving suggest that a briefly promising peace process could soon crumble," it added.


    Opposition leaders accuse Museveni of benefiting politically from the war, which has forced 1.6 million people into camps across the north.

    Museveni denies wanting to prolong the conflict, and appears to resent pressure from Western donors -- who fund half his budget -- for him to talk to a group he has denounced as "fools" and "bandits", and which is on a U.S. list of "terrorist" organisations.

    "How can I talk to a killer? ... We don't believe in unprincipled compromises," he was quoted as saying by a newspaper in April.
    But Museveni is reponsible for the killings in Luwero, DRC and ofcourse Northern uganda.

    He has also asked the new International Criminal Court in The Hague to probe LRA atrocities including massacres, rapes and the abduction of more than 20,000 children.

    But many northerners say dialogue is the only way to end the war, leave the squalid camps and liberate hundreds of children from rebel captors who use them as fighters and sex slaves.

    They blame the failure of talks so far on government apathy and a lack of concern about the conflict among people from other tribes in the peaceful and more prosperous south.

    "Avoidance is the government's way of dealing with things when it comes to the north," said northern MP Morris Latigo.

    "What about us Ugandans? If we all joined hands and said the north is bleeding, this war can even stop tomorrow. If we marched there together, Kony would flee before us," he said.

    Free Uganda
  • Uganda militiamen escape with guns

    Virunga Mountains

    By Tabu Butagira & Jamal Abdi

    YUMBE - Eighty-six Local Defence Unit (LDU) recruits have run off with guns days after being armed by the army.

    The trainees were part of 872 LDUs who had just completed a three-month basic military course at Lugore UPDF Infantry training school in Aswa County, north of Gulu town.

    They had been moved to Yumbe District awaiting official pass out, when they ran away.
    Capt. Henry Okwanga, the commandant of the school, said on Saturday the deserters sneaked out at night a week ago.

    While presenting 786 trainees for commissioning by the Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Aronda Nyakairima at Yumbe Boma Grounds on Saturday, Okwanga said 55 of the escapees were from Yumbe, 21 from Arua and 10 from Koboko.

    News of the escape has caused panic in West Nile, which in the recent past, had been combed by state agencies for suspected People's Redemption Army (PRA) rebels and arms.

    The Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and Joint Anti-Terrorism squad unearthed subversive activities in West Nile in November 2004 and said then that the PRA was recruiting its fighters from the region and training them in the jungles of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The detectives picked at least 26 PRA suspects in the region in the four-month crack-down that ended in February this year and recovered a stockpile of arms and other rebel training kits, mainly from Yumbe District and Koboko.

    But Nyakairima said he still believes the missing LDUs had briefly moved home to visit their families and enjoy better food and would soon return to duty.

    "In case there is an enemy who has taken them away, they (deserters) are wasting their time because we shall get them anyway," he said.

    A reliable security source said seven of the guns the fugitives had, had been recovered from Lodonga (in Yumbe) on Friday.

    Nyakairima ordered his commanders not to reprimand the absconders if they come back voluntarily but said they should search and arrest them immediately in the event that the fugitives fail to turn up willingly.

    The Commanding Officer of the 4th Division, Col. Nathan Mugisha, said he believes some rogues could have been recruited to join the special militia due to improper screening by LCs and recruitment officers.

    President Yoweri Museveni last year ordered the army to build a new battalion of LDUs in the West Nile region to respond to the security threat.
    Nyakairima said the new LDUs, to be called West Nile Taskforce, would act as an auxiliary force to the regular army, serve as frontier guards to maintain peace and security in their respective localities and gather intelligence information for UPDF.

    "Please, you young girls and boys (LDUs), do not misuse these guns we have given you. Respect and help the wanainchi where necessary and do not abuse local leaders," he said.

    He ordered them to avoid alcohol because "it does not go well with the gun".
    "Avoid reckless sexual behaviour that could lead you to contracting the deadly Hiv/Aids because we do not want you to die young," he advised.

    He announced that each of the LDUs would be paid Shs60,000 monthly and were entitled to medical care, two pairs of uniforms and boots each year beside daily food rations of half kilogramme of posho (maize flour) and 300 grammes of beans.
    He handed out wrapped prizes to the best performers.

    He explained that following the pressure the UPDF exerted on LRA bases in Southern Sudan through Operation Iron Fist, intelligence information suggests that the LRA was trying to coordinate their activities across the Nile by linking up with the PRA that had established bases in the area.

    re-published from Monitor media

    Free Uganda