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Justice and Peace News

 

The Monthly Newsletter of the Justice and Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese

Vol.7 – No. 8

 

 Content

 

Ø    Editorial

Ø    Rosalba Oywa’s profile. She is nominated for the Global Peace Award

Ø    The plight of Gulu Children

Ø    One of the victims of UPDF torture speaks out

Ø    UJCC forms body to end northern conflict

Ø    Peace building from a student’s eye

Ø    Former rebel’s brigade raises moral questions

Ø    Chronology  of recent events in the month

Ø    A call to serve not to rule

 

The referendum has many unanswered moral issues 

   July 28th, 2005 has seen Ugandans deciding on the system of governance to take. For almost two decades, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government ruled Uganda on a one party or no party system.

So, they say time has come for Uganda to go multiparty system. The voting took place on July 28th. However, one wonders the moral integrity of this referendum. To be specific, in the north of the country, there is a population of nearly 1.6m people living in the internally displaced persons concentration (IDPCC) camps. Here are people who depend entirely on World Food Programme (WFP) for food supplies. These are people whose movements are limited by the Uganda People defence Forces’ (UPDF) soldiers and Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels not beyond 4Kms away from the camps. This is a population dying of some preventable diseases because they cannot afford modern medical treatment in hospitals – so they resort to traditional, but fatal treatments. This group of people cannot afford to send their children to school for formal education. They lack decent accommodation, as well as clean water!

Some of the unanswered moral questions are, “Is it fair to subject a population like this to an important issues like referendum? Is it reasonable to waste money on such an exercise about which the population has no civic education? How free are such people when some scrupulous politicians issue threats of withholding supplies of their livelihood if they voted against the government position?  How can one expect a person living under threats to act freely?

The people living in the IDP camps are prisoners of conscience, not free and it is morally wrong to subject them to a referendum. As such, though some people may claim it a success, this referendum raises many answered issues. It is high time the people of Uganda woke up to challenge the attitude(s) behind such senseless misplacement of priories.

 

Voice of the voice less (Rosalba Oywa’s profile)

 She is among the three Ugandan women nominated for the prestigious global Peace prize. If all goes well, then Rosalba Oywa will be the second African woman to receive the Noble Peace Prize. Last year, the first African woman, Wangari Maathai who is the Kenyan deputy minister and environmentalist won. One thousand women have been nominated this year for their outstanding performance in the fight for peace and human rights.

A resident of Goan’s quarters west of Gulu town centre, Oywa is welcoming. Without a call, I just went to her resident, knock at the door, and there, she comes out. I explained my intension for interview and without question, she said, come in. She however explained that she was preparing to go to Kampala and promised to call me immediately she is back. After a day, I got her message and again am back to her in the same sitting room.

I found her busy perusing through many textbooks and pamphlets. Her daughter drawing pie charts and graphs using a laptop computer. The room is full of statues and sculptures depicting peace and how to resolve conflict peacefully. There is a big printer in one corner and many drafted and sketched documents lying on tables and on sofa sets. She served me with soda.

The nomination was a sock to Oywa and came at the time she is organising to celebrate the 10th anniversary for People’s Voice for Peace (PVP), the organisation she founded. “Me, being nominated, a miracle. I even don’t know who nominated me, but I see God’s hand in it,” she said.

 If the nomination becomes real then Oywa plans to marry the event to that of marking PVP 10th anniversary. She considers it a great honour to people of northern Uganda especially women. She said although she is the women’s voice, the honour goes to all of them. “I look at it as the world trying to honour women who have suffered a lot in this region,” she added. To her, the gesture is a big encouragement to women. Personally, Oywa could not belief that she would reach the level of being nominated for such a global award. 

Oywa, 52, became a social worker with the Agency for Corporation and Research in Development (ACORD) in 1986 after she left teaching. In 1995 she however, committed herself fully to peace-building work when she registered PVP as a legal entity. She then focused herself to working for conflict resolution, Human Rights activities and development initiatives.

 With a few group of women with whom she formed PVP, Oywa then began sensitising the community in Acholi sub-region about conflict and its consequences. She also helps to build the capacity of the community and solidarity groups. Their works enable participants handle conflicts that arise in community. The beneficiaries among others are sexually abused women, land mine victims, the maimed and mutilated. The services made them recover from trauma.

Apart from counselling, Oywa and her team offer revolving fund to the victims. It is to engage them into income generating activities. At the same time, the victims are advised to participate in peace building using the knowledge imparted to them. “So they developed tools for conflict resolutions on their own. The tools are poems, songs and other cultural expressions, said Oywa. According to her, the methods help in sustaining peace. The methods stem from their belief that peace can only come through dialogue. “We believe dialogue is better than violent means of solving conflicts. Through peace talks, consensus can be reached. War springs up new violence,” added, the widow of three children.

Her skills were able to soften the hearts of her clients. Most of them wanted to commit suicide but after she counselled them, they scale down their desperation. That is why she concludes that talks can end conflict of any kind.

The soft-spoken dark-skinned woman also engages herself to Justice and Human Rights activities. She documents Human Rights abuses. PVP itself is part of the coalition against torture, which is under the leadership of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. Cases she documents are incorporated in cases from other part of Uganda. The information is used to challenge the government about the Human Rights situation in the country.

 “We challenge the government to live to the expectation of the universal treaty Uganda signed against torture. This is because torture is perpetrated by security agents such as the army, police, prison among others,” she added. PVP gives the information to Uganda Human Rights Commission to use it to show where the country stands in terms of respect for rule of law and human dignity.

Oywa also has economic strategy that encourages her clients to engage in self-help projects that generate income. Some women work in groups while others have individual projects. She provides revolving funds that the women use to buy and sell vegetables, fish, and second hand clothes among other items. “This kind of investment has   enabled them meet their basic requirements and supporting their children in schools,” Oywa said.

Now, many of those women have acquired land from the proceeds and settled in with their children. Majority are women rejected by their husbands after they were deformed by land mines or sexually abused. But now they have regained their dignity by settling with their children in their own land.

Success did not come easily for Oywa. She had to take time convincing donors who could not understand   her long-term peace-building project. Most donors favour short-term projects. On one hand she was dealing with changing of people’s attitudes, which is not easily measured. She therefore had to face problem of funding. Oywa is also dealing with mothers. But they are unable to sustain their children at school. The high demand therefore, goes back to traumatise the women. The youth on another hand go back to anti social activities when they drop out of school. With the meagre resource, it is not easy to control these youths, rendering her effort half way done.

As if these problems are not enough, documenting testimonies of rape and torture victims is risky for Oywa. Because the culprits do not want the truth known.” But if I do not publish the testimony or if I distort it, I will not be doing my work. And where will my credibility be,” she asked.

Despite all the problems, Oywa managed to change the lives of thousands of war victims. She supported serious land mine and rape cases to get treatment and counselling. Over 1500 of them benefited from the loan scheme. Even at the time of inception, PVP had less than 15 members. Now, she has incorporated some clients who grasped the essence of peace building into the membership.

Experience has now made Oywa become member to many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) local, national and international. She has received many invitations to go and share her experience in many countries. According to her, her travel has contributed to “breaking of conspiracy of silence” about the problems in northern Uganda.

Born in 1953, Oywa went to Anaka Catholic primary school where she joined Sacred Heart SSS for her ordinary level. She completed ‘A’ level from Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga in Mukono. In 1974, she graduated with a BSc and later Diploma in education, all from Makerere University, Kampala. She taught chemistry and biology in Kitgum High School and Pabo SSS in Gulu district.

In 1993 while at ACORD, Oywa got an opportunity to study a course in conflict management. It helped built her skills. Currently, she works as a freelance consultant in peace building. She is also a regional coordinator for Coalition for Peace in Africa. She oversees its activities in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan.

But her experience of war while at Pabo remains her turning point in life. The 1986 insurgency found Oywa in Pabo. When the rebel activity intensified, she fled to Gulu town losing all her belongings. She was transferred to Sir Samuel Baker School but quit teaching shortly after and joined ACORD until 2003.

  As a teacher, she had accumulated a lot of wealth but lost everything when the war began.  She became destitute. “I experience life sleeping under people’s corridors. I know what it means to beg,” she recalled.

It was her brother in law the late Monsignor Celestino Odongo that rescued her. He re-located her family to Lacor Seminary. “That experience changed my world view completely,” said Oywa as she peered into the air.

Before taking long in the Seminary, luck felt on Oywa and she got work as a researcher with Panos Institute. As she moved collecting data from war victims, Oywa could visualise what had happened to her.  From her mind she knew she overcame her problems because she got a job. “I realised it was a different story for other women, she recalled and said, we published their testimonies but I could see them gain nothing from it. I said to myself, what will be my accountability to this women?”

With that thought in mind, Oywa hatched an idea of starting PVP in order to generate income for the war victims.

As a child, Oywa grew up in a poor family. Her parents were peasant farmers. She could dig, grow and weed her own crops.

Like other traditionalists, Oywa’s parents favoured boys. Her elder brothers were sent to schools but not her sisters. Unfortunately, boys misbehaved, and all of them dropped out of schools. It was an eye opener to her father and he decided to try his luck on a girl. Luck felt on Oywa. She succeeded and became the only educated person in the family and borne all the responsibility in the home. She cared for the parents till their death. Currently, she takes care of her brothers’ and sisters’ children.

Oywa, with a vision of turning victims into peace agents is a woman gifted with five children. Two girls and three boys. The elder, Deo Olok has completed studies from Mukono University. Like his mother, Olok is also engaged in social work. Two young ones are in S2 and S3.

 

The plight of Gulu children

Very many of them roam the town streets daily. They are in groups but others walk alone. They do not go to a specific area but keep on moving from one street to another. These are the children in and around Gulu town. They are in school going age. Majority of these children range from the age of seven to fifteen. Those from between the age of 16 to 20 also have their own groups. Most of them bicycle or motor bike transporters (Bodaboda).

These are children that are supposed to be at school but they are there on the street. With dry lips, red eyes and shy looks, they walk lazily. When they see you looking at them critically, they bow their heads and try to increase their speed as they passed by. They fear looking straight into your face. Most of them have common answers: I have been chased away from school because of payment. Some are unable to explain the kind of payment needed at school. Others only say extra payment.

Albert Okwonga says he was sent away from school because of non-payment of lunch fee. He is in P3 in Pece P7, a school in Gulu town suburb. I got him walking aimlessly in Tergwana, another town suburb. He willingly accepted to take me to his parents to inquire whether he was honest. At home, I found his caretaker, Janet Atto seated under the grass thatch hut. She says it was the third time this year Okwonga has been sent away for non-payment of lunch fee. He is supposed to pay Uganda shillings. 5000, which Atto is unable to easily get. The worst thing is that she also cares for three other orphans. In her 20s, Atto is unemployed. She depends on her husband who does petty work to earn them a living. They are displaced persons. But Okwonga has a trick that keeps him surviving at school. He first waits for one to two weeks when school authorities have forgotten about him then resumes studies.

Okwonga’s situation is fairer. There are many children in Gulu district who do not even think of school. Their problem could be hunger. When the day breaks, their mind goes to what to eat to day. Some lack guidance. They are left alone. Their parents live in the camps far away. In my survey one early evening, I counted between seven to fifteen children on each street loitering or selling something. At the roadsides, you meet many roasting maize for sale. Others carrying roasted ground nuts, bandazi or sugarcane on their heads, all for sale. Most of them say there are sent by their parents. Some say they do it to get money for their scholastic materials. But what one wonders is that it is approaching exams time. Those in P7 are preparing for mock exams.

A northern Uganda Humanitarian situation report of may by UNICEF indicates that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels attacks and abductions drive an estimated 40,000 children from villages to urban centres. The report states that although the threat of rebel attacks forces children to streets, recent assessment in Gulu district indicated that 25 percent of child commuters leave their homes due to family problems. The report said 25 percent of the school going age children are out of school with over 60 percent of the 1,229 primary schools in the districts of Gulu, Lira, Apac, Kitgum and Pader are not functioning.

 Teachers have their own reasons to tell for children missing class or dropping out of schools. At Laliya displaced schools about 3km north of the town, teachers say some parents, especially mothers, keep their children at home to baby sit or to do home work when there is problem like sickness. Others, whose parents have left the camps for home village, followed them. A teacher from Laliya, the primary school that hosts the displaced schools says there is also problem of young girls getting pregnant yearly. This year, one has already gotten. She was in P7. “Some of these girls stay alone. Their parents are in the camps. Temptation can come to such a girls,” a teacher who asked not to be named said. Rwot Obilo, another displaced school also at Laliya had 445 pupils that registered at the beginning of the year. But, by the end of June, about 87 had already dropped out. A teacher attributed it to abrupt end of school feeding project. The project ended last year. Before its end, it had kept many children at school.

Re-establishment of new camps like Coope is also a contributing factor. Parents re-located to new camps where they can get gardens. Their children also followed them. With all these problems they are faced with, children from northern Uganda including those living in the camps sit the same primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) with the rest of others in the country. And they are marked using the same standard and judgement. Is this justice?

There is also the problem of child headed families. As orphans, they are also breadwinners at home apart from taking care of other young ones. Too much responsibilities do not allow them attend class. Yet negative attitudes towards education have also cropped in now. Children view education as having no immediate outcome and waste of time. They join militia/home guard and girls are married away. Teachers are also few. Some classes wait the whole day without being taught. Teachers lack basic teaching necessities like textbooks. “There are no good Kiswahili text books. Now they have introduced again local language in schools but no text books for them,” a teacher complained. New curriculum has been introduced but teachers were not given refresher course to update their knowledge.

Teachers also complain of welfare. Those living in camps, complain of lack of accommodation, transport and meals at lunchtime. “We teach from morning to evening without meals,” one teacher added. Some head teachers complain of threats from the politicians in the district. “Instead of advising us they come to threaten us. So we live in fear of being removed from our posts anytime,” head teacher who did want to be named said. Others say parents and children misinterpret children’s rights. “When a child makes mistakes and is given punishment, they complain that there is no beating. Teachers become demoralised and give up,” one head teacher said.

Sympathisers of children who live in war areas especially in the camps suggest that government should make Universal Primary Education (UPE) completely free and compulsory by removing all hidden cost like uniforms or feeding. Government should provide free uniforms, meals and scholastic materials. According to this survey, it is clear that lack of meals, desks and other scholastic materials are responsible for the high drop out rates from schools. The government should also end this ‘unending’ war, children are just victims to it. Children and women have borne the greatest effect of the war that has taken nearly two decades. According to UNICEF, over 20 percent of children in the northern districts of Gulu, Pader, Kitgum and other surrounding districts are orphans. Their parents died due to war or AIDS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victim of UPDF torture speaks out

 

He limps and sits with difficulty. He has to sit on one buttock to avoid bruises on the other buttock. If he sits for long time, pains force him to lie on his stomach. He is helped to sit, lie or change position. He can neither walk alone.

Okelo (not his real name) is critically injured. Bruises are all over is body. His buttocks bleed as he walks or sits. The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers battered the 36-year-old man.

Okelo met his barterers on June 6th 2005 at 5pm in Koro Abili, about 5 km from Gulu town. 

He was from his home at Awer camp for displaced persons about 12km west of Gulu town but ended up in the army cell for a week. He was going to visit his niece who stays near Koro army detach. “I had stayed for long without seeing my niece. Unfortunately, the day I planned for the visit was the day problem was waiting for me. So when I branched from the Kampala high way to the path leading to her, I met soldiers who said I was a rebel. They immediately began beating me, he adds.

Okelo said, the soldiers, numbering four, broke tree branches and used them for beating him. “I become powerless and unconscious because all of them were beating and kicking me. I only realised that I was in the cell after I gained my consciousness and woke up at night,” he said. This is where Okelo was locked up for a week. Every morning, lunch and suppertime he would be beaten before he is allowed to get meals. According to Otim, the UPDF referred to the beating as tea or meal. He could be given little posho and beans. The food is usually very hot. The soldiers scooped it direct from a boiling drum on fire and forced him to eat it very fast. If Otim tries to cool the food in his mouth he would be beaten.

When Okelo was released after a week from the quarter guard (army cell), he could not sit on the bicycle brought to take him to town. The whole buttocks were wounded. He had to send message to his brother in Awer camp to hire a vehicle. He then laid on his stomach while being transported home.

Okelo’s problem continues when he failed to get money for treatment. The nearest hospital is at Lacor, which is about 7km from Awer camp. He was weak to walk up to Lacor. The brother was also unable to cater for him anymore because he had used all the money he had for hiring vehicle to bring him home. His wife however, was using hot water to massage him.

Luck felt on Okelo when a paralegal identified him. She sacrificed her money to transport him to a clinic in Gulu town where he began receiving treatment. Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Gulu to report cases of Human Rights abuses train paralegals. They (paralegals) are in all the sub-counties in Gulu districts. Others are in Kitgum and Pader districts. She reported Okelo’s case to Justice and Peace Commission that referred it to Uganda Human Rights Commission.

Okelo’s major problem is now weakness and pains. He is worried that his future will never be the same again. He is unable to do heavy work. Yet he says he has gardens of maize and cassava, which he has to weed. He is also not sure whether he will be strong again to till and grow crops for his family. He feels pains all over the body. His arms are paralysed. He is unable to handle a hoe for digging. All these came about as a result of a lot of beating. He could be kicked and stepped on. His waist is affected and he fears he may not have normal sex again with his wife.

At least Okelo has been identified by the paralegal and he was brought to Justice and Peace Commission’s office (JPC). JPC has forwarded his case to the Human Rights Commission’s office. Justice may be done to him. There are however, countless cases in the villages there where the victims are not aware of their rights.

According to the Human Rights Watch release (Vol.16 No. 4 (A), the use of torture as a tool of interrogation is foremost among an escalation in human rights violations by Ugandan security and military forces. Forms of torture in use in Uganda include kandoya (tying hands and feet behind the victim) and suspension from the ceiling of victims tied kandoya, “Liverpool” water torture (forcing the victim to lie face up, mouth open, under a flowing water spigot), severe and repeated beatings with metal or wooden poles, cables, hammers and sticks with nails protruding, pistol-whipping, electrocution, male and female genital and body mutilation, death threats (through showing fresh graves, corpses and snakes), strangulation, restraint, isolation, and verbal abuse and humiliation. Some of these practices have resulted in the death of detainees in custody. An informal survey at Kigo Prison near Kampala, where “political” cases are held, indicated in June 2003 that 90 percent of detainees/prisoners had been tortured during their prior detention by state military and security agencies. Under Ugandan criminal law, only the police are authorized to detain a suspect, who within forty-eight hours must be transferred to the jurisdiction of the criminal court to be charged, or released. The constitution requires military, security and intelligence agencies to promptly turn suspects over to police for detention. Uganda’s rising tide of human rights abuses—torture chief among them—is a reversal of “recorded improvements in the observance of human rights by the state in Uganda” from 1986 to 2000, according to a nongovernmental Ugandan human rights group. Since 2001, “many human rights violations in breach of the rights to life, liberty and security of person have been recorded.” The official Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) documents that “torture is on the increase and, during the period under review [January 2001-September 2002], more cases than ever had been received.”

 

 

UJCC forms body to end northern conflict

The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) has formed a task force on the conflict in northern Uganda. This was in fulfilment of resolution ‘g’ that states that, “We undertake to establish a taskforce composed of representatives from our member churches whose mandate shall be to liaise with the government and other stakeholders with the view to finding an end to the war in northern Uganda.”  The resolution is under conflict management passed during the plenary meeting held on June 2, 2005. Four people in the taskforce represent each member church. UJCC is an ecumenical body comprising the Catholic Church, Orthodox, and the Church of Uganda.

At its inaugural meeting held in Kampala, the Rt. Bishop Rev. Zac Niringiye, the assistant bishop of Kampala was unanimously elected the chair of the team. Quoting from St. Paul’s letter to the Roman 12:16-12, Niringiye reiterated the need to overcome the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels’ problems in northern Uganda.

The purpose of the taskforce is to contribute to the speedy end of the violent conflict of the northern conflict. The objectives are to respond to and address the needs of the affected population in the region. Undertake advocacy and lobby using the members’ structure. The ask force is to network and collaborate with all stakeholders, nationally and internationally.

Besides continuous awareness throughout the country, the taskforce proposed a monthly prayer day for peace in the north. It is to be either on the first or fourth Sunday of the month. The decision is left to the chairperson and the two co-chairpersons to choose and promulgate. The second meeting is to be held in August 12, 2005 at the UJCC boardroom in the morning.

The move by UJCC is very significant, as it has been noted time and again that the senseless suffering of people in northern Uganda perpetrated by the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army is a problem and a concern to be addressed by all Ugandans. It must not be left to the Acholi in particular and people from the north in general. This is a kairos, an opportunity, to consider efforts for peace and reconciliation. The move also builds and strengthens the united stand taken by a cross section of Acholi leaders at a retreat held at Paraa Safari Lodge, which was fully endorsed by His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda. The taskforce will cover the districts of Acholi, Adjumani, Lango and Teso. May Christ, the Prince of peace grant us peace!

Members of the taskforce are Rt.Rev. Zac Niringiye, Assistant bishop, Kampala diocese (Church of Uganda) – Chairperson, Rt. Rev. Charles Obaikol, Bishop of Soroti diocese (Church of Uganda), Rev. Stephen Namanya, North Ankole diocese (Church of Uganda), Mr. Elly Nayenda, Arua Church of Uganda, Sr. Speciozia Kabahuma, Uganda Catholic Secretariat, Mr. Gedeon Obbo Nation President of the Catholic Laity Council, Mr. William Kidega, Focal Point HIV/AIDS, Uganda Catholic Secretariat and Fr. Cyprian Ocen, Chairman, Justice and Peace Commission Archdiocese of Gulu. Others are Fr. Peter Matovu (Orthodox), Fr. Julius Orach (Orthodox), Fr. George Lakony (Orthodox) and Ms. Joy Kemirembe (Othodox). 

 

 

Peace building from a student’s eye

Jackie Ange (Sacred Heart) S2

 NGOs have great impact on peace building. Both positive and negative effects. First, they give both material and non-material items to war victims. This brings peace because the recipients are touched. NGOs also involve in peace talks. They can mediate talks or get direct in negotiations.

On the other hand, they can set up counselling centres for the war affected. Examples are Gulu Save the Children organisation and World Vision. This arrangement encourages those still in the bush to come out and join their friends who are being rehabilitated. It should be noted that NGOs have created a spirit of trust among the conflicting parties because they do not take side. The neutrality softens the hearts of the fighting parties and may result into peaceful negotiation and thereafter lasting peace. NGOs advocate for peace through many strategies such as organising drama, drawing and essays. Since people get message through different ways, these can touch them and their sympathy can be arisen.

We should note that NGOs could also negate peace building. Their workers can take advantage of the war to make money for their personal gain. This is corruption. They may sell or give relief items to their relatives who may not be in need. However, the impact of NGOs on peace is more positive than negative.

 

Former Rebels’ brigade raises moral questions

Many people are questioning the justice behind creating 105 brigade, which comprises former LRA rebels. The returnees are now engaged in farming activities in Labora, Patiko sub-county. The brigade is under the leadership of Brig. Kenneth Banya, former LRA commander who was captured in Atiak, Kilak County by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). Report says some of the returnees who were commanders were allowed to go with their ‘wives’ to the farm.

The creation of the brigade is raising a lot of Human Rights questions. During the workshop organised by Amnesty commission on the roles of stakeholders in resettlement, reintegration and peace building, district officials and NGOs sought explanation about the creation of the brigade. Human Rights Commission officer Francis Ogwal also acknowledged receipt of complaint from various people. According to him, many concern people questioned whether the returnees were forced to join the 105 brigade, joined it out of fear or they freely joined it. “It was seen as discrimination because why put them under only one brigade.” Ogwal however says he was made to understand that they are grouped under one brigade to dispel the rumour that when they come out of the bush, they are killed.

But still some people argue that grouping them in one place is not a good way of integration. They should be in the communities, not government farm. The proponent of the arrangement says it is to create for them opportunities for surviving. And that it is a temporary arrangement. The issue of child mothers working in the farm also came up. How were they recruited to go there? How will those who work there benefit from their labour? Will they not be exploited? These were the kinds of questions Ogwal received. Some of the crops planted there are beans and maize. They are about to get ready. The issue of leadership was also queried because Brig. Banya being the leader is seen as an extension of what happened in the bush.

There are however, some basic rights, which should be observed and extended to these returnees. The rights to marry person of your choice. Consider child mothers and their relationship with their former rebel husbands. These girls were abducted when very young and forced to marry the LRA commanders. There is coercion in this relationship. The innocent girls should be allowed to make choice now that they have come out of the bush where they had no rights to decide.

There is also the right to belong. No body is very sure that all the returnees in the 105 brigade chose freely to be there.  They would have been integrated into the community and given the same facilitation they are getting from the government farm. By this, they would be accepted in the community, but now they are still seen as belonging to another group isolated from the community. This makes the aspect of acceptance low in the community. We all know that without belonging in a family, you are not normal. It’s a basic right. The returnees whose parents are not there should have somewhere, other than the government farm, to belong to. Many NGOs in Acholi are now doing the work of tracing of parents of returnees to re-unite them.

Taking these former abducted children to the farm under 105 brigade denies them their basic right to education. They are isolated and lack information about opportunities for studies. Yet when re-integrated into the community, they could see their age mates studying and be challenged to go back to school. But now, they are under command of their former commanders. The district education office should come up with education programme, “the catch up” programme so that these returnees get somewhere in the level of education near to other normal people. They were abducted and denied the right to education, and I know all of them feel cheated.

These returnees need continued therapy. It should continue for more than two to three years. The period in captivity created a number of hill health for them. The common one is the psychological problem. If they are confined under their former commanders, they will continue with the trauma they came with from the bush. Therefore this 105th brigade arrangement is seen as a denial of their rights to therapeutic care.

There is also the right to sustainable livelihood. The Lukodi project is temporal. They should get into the community and join other youths in doing some thing. Many young people are involved in income generating activities. The earlier they are integrated into the community, the faster they will realise their rights to ownership of property.

 

A call to serve not to rule

Strive to serve rather than to rule. That is the advice the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese John Baptist Odama gave to the new bishop of Lira diocese.

Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Joseph Franzelli on April 2nd 2005 before he died. Franzelli, a Comboni Missionary was consecrated on July 9th in the same year.

 Odama, who was the principal consecrator, warned Joseph Franzelli that he was chosen at the time when the population of the region is facing the challenge of strengthening their faith because of depression by many evils and adoration of violence.

 “I called it adoration of violence because it is taken as a means of living and seems to over power human efforts,” the Archbishop said. He added that violence in the region has affected practicing religion because of displacement, poverty and sickness among others.

The archbishop also advised Franzelli to proclaim the message of God whether it is welcome or not and should correct error with unfailing patience and teaching. “Be a faithful overseer and guardian. Always be mindful of the Good Shepard who knows his sheep and he is known by them who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them,” he emphasized.

He told Christians in Lira that bishop Franzelli was the last gift given by Pope John Paul II before his death. “Before he (the Pope) went to heaven he said, Franzelli be my sign of love to the people of Uganda and Lira in particular,” bishop Odama said.

He worked in Gulu diocese between 1970 and 1986 in the parish, Social Communications, as teacher in the minor Seminary and Kitgum Pastoral Institute where candidates for the priesthood were trained in a novel way that emphasize pastoral work. He replaced Bishop Joseph Oyanga who retired in 2003. Franzelli becomes the third bishop of Lira diocese. The first was bishop Caesar Asili from 1968 to 1988.

Because of insurgency and cattle rustling in the region, Franzelli faces the challenges of responding to people’s need. Many people live in camps and lack basic necessities.

 

CHRONOLOGY

 

June   

26th- An elderly man was killed in Kitgum when he was going to his field in Lamit.

         Two soldiers were killed on the Patongo-Kalongo road when they were on patrol.

 

July

3th- Fifteen herds of cattle were raided from Parabongo, Pader district by Karimojong warriors. 

 

4th – Rebels ambushed and burnt two vehicles in Opete (Kitgum – Kitgum Matidi road). Occupants escaped unhurt, but two soldiers were abducted.

 

5th – Kitgum LC5 Chairman vehicle was ambushed by rebels between Madi-Opei and Paloga. The attackers were repulsed. 

 

5th – One person was killed in Awere and four others were abducted in Puranga all in Pader district.

 

6th – UN representative Dauda Ture repeated call on Uganda government to renew talks with the Lord Resistance (LRA) rebels.

 

6th – Two women in Acholi, Rosalba Ato Oywa and Ms Jolly Grcae Okot were nominated for Global Peace award.

 

7th – LRA top commander, Lakati was killed by the UPDF in Palabek.

 

7th – The recent UNICEF report puts the number of children night commuters in the north to 40,000.

 

9th - SPLA took control of southern Sudan.

 

9th – 5 People were killed in an ambush on Patongo – Kalongo road

 

16th – LRA killed Santo Okello between paicho and awach

 

18th – SPLA took full control of southern Sudan

 

18th – One person was killed, ten others wounded when the lorry they were travelling in was ambushed by the LRA rebels in Madi Opei. The Lory, with New Sudan registration number was going to southern Sudan.

 

19th – A teacher of Koro Abili P7 school was found dead in River Pece. The teacher identified only as Obina is a resident of Pslenga camp for the displaced persons.  He was found trapped at the River bank. What killed him could not be known and was buried without posmortem. 

 

20th – Three LRA rebels, among them a commander only identified as Owacgiwu were killed by the UPDF in Ogony-Lagile, Awere in Kitgum district.

20th – UPDF said it had unearthed an LRA arms cache inside Sudan

 

21st – Samuel Otto shot dead by a UPDF soldier in Alerao Camp. The soldier was also killed by his colleagues before he could run away.

 

22nd – A UPDF soldier died of Cholera in Parabongo. He died on the way as he was being rushed to the military hospital. Three of his colleagues are admitted to Gulu referral hospital.

 

26th – LRA killed 8 people in a village inside Sudan close to the Uganda border