Archdiocese of Gulu Justice and Peace Newsletters
Justice and Peace News
The monthly Newsletter of the Justice and Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese
Ø Traveling around Acholi. Peace around the corner?
Ø Dawn of peace in Northern Uganda
Ø Thousands attends peace day
Ø Profile of a peace maker
Ø Unicef funded project in Pader district
Ø Over sixty people attends peace animation workshop held in Puranga
Ø Caritas AMCEA/ Uganda delegation visits Caritas GULU ARHDIOCES
TRAVELLING AROUND ACHOLI. PEACE AROUND THE CORNER?
Having an exact idea of what is going on in Northern Uganda has never been a simple task. Things can easily change from one day to another and while a visit to a certain area can give you an impression of normality it may hide high insecurity just a mere eighty kilometers away. Analysis made barely a couple of months ago may not be very valid at the moment. With no international journalist based here and local media heavily dependant on Army statement, having access to reliable and independent sources is not easy and it requires to verify things on the ground by traveling to rural areas, which at times can be risky.
Three staff of our Justice and Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese moved last week to Puranga (Pader district) and later on to Anaka (Gulu district) to conduct peace animation sessions. This was what we saw and heard.
As one travels fro Lira, Puranga is the gateway to Pader district. One gets at least two good news moving from the capital of Lango up North: the first is that the number of displaced persons in Lira town has reduced fro 200,000 to 40,000. The second is that Acholi businessmen from Kitgum and Pader are traveling again to Lira, one of the most important economic hubs of the region. Quite remarkable. If one keeps in mind that following the February riots that took a nasty ethnic outlook many Acholis started fearing passing through Lango territory and preferred to go the long, more dangerous route to Gulu. The tension seems to have subsided, although as local leaders often put it a lot of work for reconciliation is needed to avoid further eruption of tribal tension
Also, the reduction in the number of the displaced cannot hide out the facts that most local people are still highly traumatized and that camps North and East of Lira ( Agweng, Ogur, Aloi and others) are still filled up with thousands of people who fear returning to their homes. A quick visit to a nutrition center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the outskirts of Lira town revile that 265 children from different camps are admitted there because of malnutrition, some of them quite severe cases. Often their mothers are so traumatized that they need counseling to help them to get over the tendency to neglect the child. While people in Teso have started returning to their homes, it may still take quite some time for those in Lango to do so, especially keeping in mind that some killings by the LRA in Lango still took place as recently as two weeks ago.
The estimated 15,000 displaced persons at Puranga seem quite optimistic about a progressive end of the war and a return to their homes. It is understandable, if one keeps in mind that generally people in Pader have been the last ones to be displaced (hardly two years ago) and are likely to keep in their desire to return home more alive. Also Puranga- like other places in Pader such as Pajule, Atanga and Acholi-bur- has seen some rebel commanders surrendering during the last few months. One of them LRA Maj. Ochan Olwete came out of the bush in July with some of his fighters thanks to the efforts of some of the local religious leaders, who have been very active in keeping people united for peace. As we met for two days a group of about 60 people who had come from Awere- surely on of the most dangerous places up to now- Kilak and Rackoko the news of the surrender of another LRA captain with six combatants in Acholibur was greeting with jubilation. People generally speak well of the UPDF soldiers in charge of the protection of the camps and remark that they are quite serious about high deployment and that as a consequence it is quite some time since there was an attack. Nevertheless, everybody is very bitter about the on-going practice- tantamount of forced labour- of stopping people on the road by soldiers and forcing them to fell trees and or slash the grass.
With the improvement of the situation and a good number of people are able to go to their fields, up to about three kilometers away from the camps, and dig hard taking advantage of the second rainy season.
Two days later on the 21st and 22nd September, we were in Anaka. The camp was one of the first to be created in Northern Uganda, way back in 1996 and at present it hosts 40,000 people. In a place like Anaka it is easy to detect the effects that long term displacement has on human beings, with loss of cultural values, high alcoholism, early motherhood and lack of perspectives. Also despite the fact that soldiers generally are disciplined, their relations with the local population is not the best and it is an open secret that there are high number of LRA collaborators living within. Nevertheless, people are also very positive about the common trend of surrendering rebels. Since April up to the beginning of September 43 have done so in Anaka, and just the day before we arrived some rebels released on of Brig. Kenneth Banya “wives”, who arrived at the detatch.
As in Puranga, the improvement in the situation is seen in the high number of people who go to their fields- Anaka is one of the most fertile areas of Northern Uganda-to dig. To travel to Gulu, these days most people follow the road through Alero, which up to recently was practically closed to all traffic for almost two years and now has been repaired and put in good shape. UPDF patrols are almost everywhere and give a certain feeling of safety. But things are not always bright. Hardly two weeks ago a total of 20 abductions, mostly of young people took place at Purongo, Agung and Wii Anaka, camps located few kilometers away.
Things are turning to be hopeful, but people continue to meet violent death in Northern Uganda and many efforts are still needed so that we may one day say that peace is round the corner, just in sight.
PEACE IN THE SOUTHERN SUDAN WILL MEAN PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA
Nearly sixty religious and cultural leaders from Northern and Southern Sudan recently gathered at Acholi Inn Hotel from July 20-23 2004 to first tell the story of war in their region and secondly, to develop a joint advocacy strategy to further the peace process. This third workshop of its kind was hosted by Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) and facilitated by John Asworth of Sudan Focal Point.
During the four day gathering, participants deliberated in groups; they expressed themselves and presented new ideas in plenary sessions; and they invited a few outside guests to share various perspectives and guidance. In groups, participants articulated how the war has affected their communities as well as the priority issues for communicating to the outside world. The outside presenters included a UPDF commander, the three former LRA commanders, and the current LC V Chairman of Gulu. The workshop was opened by Colonel Mugisha, the fourth division commander of the UPDF, who spoke largely on the issue of terrorism and graciously entertained several rounds of questions, providing an opportunity for issues of concern related to the war to the surface early on in the workshop. On the third day of the workshop, the participants spend the afternoon with three returnees from the LRA: Brigadier Kenneth Banya, Ray Acire, and Major Acaye Komakech.. these individuals shared their stories of life in the bush as well as they fore see conclusion of the war. And finally on the last day, participants welcomed the LC V Chairman, Lt. Col. Walter Ochora, to close the workshop. The Chairman shared encouraging words of the growing relationship between Sudan and Uganda.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the participants issued press release in which they outlined and committed to working on the following advocacy priorities in order to bring an urgent close to the 18-year conflict in Northern Uganda.
THE DAWN OF PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA?
Suddenly, there is real hope that the 18 year old war that has afflicted Northern Uganda- particularly Acholi- may come to a quick end. Many organization are even beginning to talk of the imminence of a “post-war” situation. Following this year’s first months which saw some of the worst massacres ever perpetrated by the LRA (Abia, Barlonyo, Pagak, Kalabong…) scores of rebels started coming from the bush and laying down their arms. What started like a trickle soon became a flow and a trend. Every few days whole groups of LRA combatants and abductees report to some military unit with their commanders. According to the UPDF the total number of these returnees since April until mid- August reaches 316 of which 46 are officers (from the rank of second lieutenant upwards), some of them prominent ones. Maj. Okot Ayoli, Lt. Col. Okwonga Alero, Maj. Isaiah Luwum, Lt. Col. Ocan Nono.
Of all these none has had more psychological impact than the capture of Brig. Kenneth Banya, who for years was Kony’s main adviser and military strategist.
Why are they coming out in that big number? Judging from their own testimonies, two factors have been crucial: big pressure because of hunger (and because of more effectiveness from the UPDF) and the very positive influence that the popular “Dwogo Paco” program of Radio Mega FM has had on many LRA, destroying the Kony’s inculcated belief that whoever comes back will be killed.
There may be other reason, somehow more difficult to confess. The aura of Kony as a spiritual leader endowed with supernatural powers is breaking down. For a group like the LRA, with a cult-like future, this is an important factor that has made many realize at snowball speed that there is no sense in holding out in the bush.
Coupled with this since mid-June there have hardly been any abductions and although few ambushes and killings still have occurred it has not been with as deadly often as before. Numbers of night commuters have decreased (for instance in Lacor Hospital, from 9,000 in mid-June to 4,000 in mid August).
Returnees have also been saying that since January this year the LRA have not received any military supply from the Sudan Armed Forces
THOUSANDS ATTEND PEACE DAY.
Thousand of peace lovers attended the climax of peace week in Gulu on Saturday 25th-9-2004 at Kahunda Ground Square with participants drawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Sudan and other districts within Uganda.
The guest of honor was the UN representative to Uganda Mr. Toure who said the war has taken long because it was taken by some people as an Acholi war.. he promised his organization support in the reconstruction of the post war era.
The chief guest, State Minister for Security and MP for Gulu Mrs. Betty Akech Okullu blamed the International Community for fueling the war in Africa by selling arms.
UPDF 4th Division Commander Col. Mugisha said, the relative peace being experienced in the North is the combined effort from the UPDF, Acholi Religious Peace Initiative and the cultural leaders and all the civil society at large.
He reiterated government position to defend the people and their properties.
Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu Archdiocese, Bishop Onono Onweng, Bishop Mac Baker Ochola and the M.Ps attended the function from Acholi sub-region
The day was crowned with some cultural dances performed by different groups who turned up for the celebrations. The International Day of Peace was founded by the United nations and was organized by the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) together with Kabarole Research and Resource Center and the District Reconciliation Peace Team(Gulu) here in Gulu district. Amongst those who were for the celebration were, the Coordinators of Justice and Peace, National Office and representatives from the dioceses of Arua, Nebbi, Mbarara, Masaka and Tororo.
PROFILE OF A PEACE MAKER
Starting with the Newsletter of July 2004, Justice and Peace News is proud to introduce a new column to our Newsletter where we will regularly feature peacemakers, both globally and locally recognized. We believe these are inspiring people from whom we can learn a great deal that apply to our lives
Martine Luther King. Jr.
Martine Luther King, Jr., lived from (1926-1968) was the principle leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. A Baptist minister, King, with other black ministers, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 to fight racial injustice through nonviolent means such as boycotts and demonstration. His action laid the groundwork for passage of the Civil Rights of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination in public places and calls for equal opportunity in employment and education. For his leadership, King received the 1964 Noble Prize. King was shot and killed on April 4 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee where he was supporting a work strike of black refuse workers.
…Nonviolence is a way of humility and self- restraint. We Negroes talk a great deal about our rights, and rightly so. We proudly proclaim that three fourths of the people of the world are colored. We have the privilege of watching in our generation the great drama of freedom and independence as it unfolds in Asia and Africa. All these things are in line with the work of the providence. We must be sure, however, that we accept them in the right spirit. In an effort to achieve freedom in America, Asia and Africa we must not try to leap from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, thus subverting Justice. We must seek democracy and not a substitution of one tyranny for another. Our aim must never be to defeat or to humiliate the white man. we must not become victimized with a philosophy of black supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men, and brown men and yellow men. God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.
Non-violent approach provides an answer to be long-debated question of gradualism versus immediacy. On the one hand it prevents one from falling into the short of patience, which is an excuse for do-nothingism and escapism, ending up in standstillism. On the other hand it saves one from the irresponsible words, which estrange without reconciling and the hasty judgment, which is blind to the necessities of social process. It recognizes the need for moving toward the goal of Justice with wise restraint and calm reasonableness. But it also recognizes the immorality of showing up in the move toward justice and capitulating to the guardians of unjust status qou. It recognizes that social change cannot come overnight. But it causes one to work as if it were possibility the next morning…
Taken from his 1958 book “Stride Towards Freedom:” The Montgomery
UNICEF FUNDED PROJECT IN PADER DISTRICT.
On the 26th 8- 2004 Caritas Gulu handed over a 6 months UNICEF project of temporary school structure construction to their donor UNICEF. The construction of the temporary structure was given to Caritas with the aim of creating a conducive learning atmosphere for the displaced children in Pader district.
The 13 constructed learning centers were approved by the Pader Town Council engineer. This made Caritas Gulu through Caritas Pader hand it to UNICEF who then handed to Pader district leaders through the Assistant CAO, Mr. Ambrose.
The Deputy director Caritas Gulu appreciated UNICEF and thanked them for the trust awarded to Caritas as a Charity organization operating in Pader district. While handing over the premises, Sr. Kermundu Margaret urges UNICEF to next time increase on the amount for such projects. She made this statement while expressing the reason for the school construction delay.
On receiving and witnessing the premises, the UNICEF representative Alfred Mutiti appreciated and thanked Caritas for having been able to finish the project within the time limit. He acknowledged the problem of financial constraints and requested Caritas to increase this in their next proposal. Despite that he showed gratitude and told the mass that his concern is the children. Who ever does well for the children should be appreciated.
In his last remarks he requested the people in Pader district to train children in the proper use of latrines and proposed that in the next construction project, the constructors and contractor should as well build pit latrines for the children. This will help reduce the spread of disease like diarrhea, which is rampant in some of the camps due to poor hygiene and sanitation
[From Social Communication Gulu Archdiocese]
OVER 60 PEOPLE ATTEND A PEACE ANIMATION WORKSHOP IN PURANGA PARISH- PADER DISTRICT.
“ There is a smell of Peace in the Northern part of Uganda”. This is a song from one of the local artists (musician) from northern Uganda. For the last four five months back, there has been some bit of stability in the northern part of the country though some killings and abduction has been going on. Should that mean that there is already peace, should we therefore relax and say, thanks be to God things are in the pipeline? Definitely not. It is high time we double or triple our efforts in doing peace animation even though peace is here tomorrow.
The process of getting total peace is slow and gradual. What holds in the future, is greater than what we are fighting now. We still have a lot to do after the “Post War.”
Rev. Fr. Peter Olum of Puranga Parish in Pader district together with his parishioners organized a two days animation workshop from 17th to 18th September 2004 at the parish. This brought participants from Awere/ Rackoko Puranga, Kilak and Omot all from Pader district. The categories of those who attended the workshop were Catechists, Clan leaders (elders), lay apostolate, teachers, Justice and Peace Committees of Puranga and the civil leaders.
The objectives of the workshop were to make the participants understand conflict and Peace, and then the Post Conflict. What are the root causes of conflict and their effect and then the way we can solve them peacefully, to say, study the situation analysis and the tools of analysis.
Secondly how we can go about, from the Long Crisis to a Long term Vision whereby a plan to way forward can be possible
The facilitators who came from the Justice and Peace Commission of Gulu Archdiocese advised the participants to put into practice whatever they learned to the people who did not attend to the workshop.
CARITAS AMECEA/UGANDA DELEGATION VISITS CARITAS GULU ARCHDIOCESE
A delegation of 16 members from All Members of the Episcopal Conference of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) visited the members of the Caritas of Gulu Archdiocese. The delegation led by Ms. Margaret Waniki paid the visit on the 12/8/2004 at the Caritas Board room.
Reverend Sr. Margaret Rose Kermundu who is also the Deputy Director of Caritas and the Human Resource Manager Caritas, received the visitors and presented to the a memorandum regarding Gulu Archdiocese and the work Caritas Gulu is engaged in.
Sr. Kermundu gave a brief introduction about Gulu Archdiocese. “The inhabitants are the Nilotics and they are the Luo speaking group. The eighteen years of the armed conflict has really affected the values of the Acholi people. The most affected are the women and the children who are constantly abducted, and they form the 80% of the rebel soldiers” Sr. Kermundu explained to her visitors.
Caritas Gulu Archdiocese is an emergency relief and socio-economic development agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu and the operational areas are Gulu Kitgum and Pader. The major core of Caritas Gulu is to make the suffering people live in Love and Harmony and its vision is a peaceful and prosperous society where self reliance and care for the vulnerable prevails
The major challenge Caritas faces is the lack of fund to cater for the overwhelming emergency situation and of course the HIV/AIDS disease.
Before leaving Gulu, the delegation visited one of the projects CRS has given Caritas to implement, the Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) in Bobi Camp. The leader of the delegation Ms Waniki revealed that Caritas Uganda has given 70 million for the assistance in Gulu Archdiocese, she also added that she would voice the concern with Caritas International so that it can be forwarded to the United Nation in order to get a solution to the unending problems of the North
Sr. Kermundu the Deputy Director Caritas Gulu Archdiocese received the visitors at Bobi.
CHRONOLOGY AUGUST 2004.
4th – LRA Maj. Ochan Nono surrendered in Puranga
9th –LRA killed four in an ambush in Paiula Pader District
11th – Military authorities said that Kony had sent a force of 70 in Acholi to loot food and money
- a UPDF soldier shot and injured a man together with his wife while rivaling over a woman in Amuru IDP camp Gulu. The two are being hospitalized.
12th 40, ex- LRA officers, including Brig. Banya, received Amnesty certificates. Another 27 LRA led by a Captain surrendered in Pader
15th 32 LRA led by a Captain and a second lieutenant surrendered in Kilak corner and Lacekocot.
The total number of LRA officers (from second lieutenant to brigadier) who came out since April reached the number of 46, of a total of 316 combatants who have surrendered.
16th- UPDF said it had hit a big LRA group led by Matia Lakati in Katire valley inside Sudan.
-LRA rebels ambushed a vehicle in Odek in Gulu district and killed two people
17th Blanket Amnesty Law was extended (for the twelfth time since 2000) for a further three-month period.
Rebels ambushed a vehicle in Olim-lim (Lira) killing two and injering four people
18th LRA Lt. Col. Anywar, who was Kony’s chief signaler, surrendered to the UPDF
22nd An angry mob took the law into their hands by destroying a pick up Reg. No. UAB 328M from Amuru with reasons that the driver knocked a young boy who was crossing the road. The ringleaders are being held at Gulu Central Police Station.
- LRA rebels abducted 3 children while they were going to the field this happened at Anaka Camp.
- Museveni came to Gulu and started tour of Acholi districts. He said that the Amnesty still included top LRA leaders.
23rd rebels attacked Namokora in Kitgum district and killed two people
25th LRA rebels attacked Olwiyo Camp in Anaka sub-county Gulu district and killed one person, they looted some properties.
-A nine- strong team of ICC arrived in Uganda to start investigations against the LRA
-UPDF repulsed a rebel attack on Awere camp in Gulu district
27th 43 rescued children and women were flown from Juba (Sudan) to Gulu Air-field.
29th A man was killed in a rebel ambush in Palabek Kitgum district
30th- Ugandan ambassador to the African Union Joseph Ecwet, a lawyer, Monitor journalist Frank Nyakairu and contact person Bosco Lapat said they had met LRA commanders Lt. Col Kapere, Lt, Col. Dominique Ongwen and Capt. Opiyo in Abuga Primary school, near Gulu
-LRA Capt. Okello Oryang came out of the bush with 13 fighters in Lapul sub-county in (Pader district)
-Rebels ambushed a vehicle in Namokora in Kitgum District and killed three people and eight were injured
31st LRA rebels attacked Agung Camp in Anaka Sub County where they abducted 5 people.
2nd the army cautioned the public that the meeting with the LRA could have been a scam
3rd LRA abducted seven cyclists between Kitgum Matidi and Wol and hacked them to death.
-the rebels abducted and killed three women who had gone to fetch firewood outside Madi Opei in Kitgum district
4th UPDF hit Otti’s rebel group in Kilak hills killed three LRA captains and captured communication equipment.
-LRA rebels ambushed a vehicle at Pawidi (Kitgum- Namokora road) and injured one.
- a soldier was hit by an antipersonnel landmine as they were pursuing rebels near Kitgum Matidi
5th A woman called Josephine Akeny who was being taken to hospital in labour pain by her husband died together with the child after they were stopped at a UPDF road block between Madi Opei and Kitgum. The husband was forced to slash grass and the woman was left alone on the hot sun for hours.
6th Ambassador Ecwet said the peace meeting with the LRA flopped after they accused government of killing Capt. Opio.
-LRA abducted 16 who had gone to work in their fields few kilometers outside Purongo
-three civilians were found dead in their village of Okwanango (Lira)
7th LRA led by Odomi, attacked Atwoli camp (Apac and killed 6 people.
-LRA killed 7 people in Abuga near Ogur (Lira)
-A group of seven rebels abducted and killed a man at Ocetoke (Kitgum)
-Government of Uganda signed an agree ment with the ICC, giving the later jurisdiction to issue arrest warrants and pursue individuals suspected of crimes against humanity.
8th LRA political commissar Brig. Sam Kolo declared to the BBC that the people Ambassador Ecwet met in Abuga did not represent the LRA
9th –10th Donor group representing 15 countries visited Gulu and met religious leaders, local council and UPDF.
11th Rebels attacked Kitgum High School during morning hours and tried to loot food. A teacher and two rebels were killed.
14th UPDF said Kony fled Imatong mountains in Sudan after heavy shelling and air raids against the LRA
15th Brig. Sam Kolo spoke on Radio Rhino International and said he was offering a truce
16th a man was abducted and killed by the LRA along Padibe –Paluga road.
18th UPDF fought against Kony inside Sudan (Kit) and killed 25 rebels. Kony’s IO, a captain and Kony’s personal doctor were captured.
-An LRA captain surrendered in Acholibur with six rebels.
19th In a press conference, Museveni said that the rebels could still talk to Betty Bigombe and write to the government through mediators, then they could get a one week ceasefire to move to assembly areas.
20th rebels sent a letter to Patongo health center asking to surrender through UN
21st rebels ambushed and burnt a vehicle at Padibe. Three people were killed.
-rebels ambushed a vehicle at Paicho and killed two soldiers.
-a Frontier Guard soldier was hit by an antipersonnel landmine at Pajimo
25th The World Peace Day was celebrated in Gulu
28th a UPDF spokesman said Kony with some 30 fighters have sneaked into Uganda trying to run from the fierce battle launched on him by the government soldiers in Sudan.
LRA Lt. Onencan reported in Pajule with 11 fighters. Six others reported at Alim
29th the UPDF said they killed 12 rebels of the LRA at Okidi in Attiak sub-county and captured a son of Kony whose name could not be identified at that moment.