JUSTICE AND PEACE NEWS

 

 

The Monthly Newsletter of the Justice And Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese

Vol. 6. No 11/12 Nov. Dec. 2004.

Content

 

 

Editorial

REGULAR HUMAN RIGHTS AWARENESS WORKSHOPS GOOD

Peace Building in Secondary Schools is one of the main programs of the Justice and Peace Commission. it has been running since December 2002 . It equips students and teachers alike with the necessary knowledge and skills to address conflicts within their schools, families and the communities in a non violent and constructive way.

At the same time it shapes their attitudes and prepares them for a future in which violence is not the order of the day. So this project is an investment in the youth by showing alternatives to violence and by this, it is contributing towards a positive outlook for Acholi and Uganda. This project is now implemented in seventeen schools in Gulu district.

The activities that are being taken in the schools at the moment include dance, drama, essay writings, drawing pictures (fine arts), community sensitization, debates and charity work.

The objectives of the Human Rights Awareness is to sensitize the peace club members and their patrons/matrons about basic human rights, to make members aware of the link between rights, Justice and Peace, to identify and agree on practical activities of the peace club members and then to cumulate strong partnership between United Nation Volunteers Project, Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Justice and Peace Commission. The facilitators of these workshops usually come from the Human rights Commission, Legal Aids Project, United Nation’s Volunteers and Justice and Peace Commission It is the concern and the wish of the Justice and Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese

That these kind of trainings and workshops will shape our youth into good future leaders and parents.    

 

NGO/CSO IN GULU PRESENTS A MEMORANDUM.

The Non- Governmental Organization and the Civil Society Organization in Gulu presented a memorandum to the Catholic Bishops, who visited Northern Uganda from November 30 to December 2nd 2004.

The paper says, the Civil Society Organizations though would like to request the bishops to emulate their counterparts in Northern Uganda and the cultural leaders i.e. by a single and strong voice for the peace process in Northern Uganda. The Bishops were also asked to use their status and influence to join the Government and the Acholi Community to support the current peace initiative in place.

The Civil Society Organizations would love to encourage the Bishops to always stand their ground and lead the society/population in the search for peace especially during this transition period in the politics of Uganda. Whatever contribution by the different churches towards education in Uganda is highly appreciated and welcomed. The Organizations request for more interventions in Northern Uganda since there is a new phenomenon of vulnerable children born in captivity. The organization appealed to the bishops to lobby and intervene in any possible way to make these desperate children see a better future.

The Organization appreciates very much the efforts being put forwards by Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative in the peace process and they are requesting their neighboring districts i.e. the Bishops and the Cultural leaders to always work together to remove the bad sentiments that was coming towards the Acholi Community because of the war. They highly appreciate and give thanks to the Archbishop of Gulu Diocese John Baptist Odama together with his team and the Cultural leaders for having taken the lead in the search for a peaceful end to the conflict in Northern Uganda and were asked to continue with that spirit

 

THE BISHOPS’ FINDINGS ON THE SITUATION IN NORTHERN AND EASTERN UGANDA

Following the recent two days visit by the Catholic Bishops of Uganda to the Northern and Eastern parts of Uganda from 30th November to 2nd December 2004 it was possible for them to gather some facts and problems faced by the people living in the IDP camps. In the Eastern Region Soroti Diocese, there was a team of six Bishops who visited the places of Magoro, Opeuru Aodot, Obalang, Alito, Agonga Aeket, Lwala, Morugantuny and Ngariam Camps.

The interaction they had with the people brought out some concerns the people living in these camps have. Insecurity a result of Karimojong raids and the LRA activities leading to loss of properties. There is a very low standard of education. There is inadequate medical care in the camps. The little that is there sometime is vandalized by the LRA. Land use is very minimal people fear being killed when they venture out. No source of clean water leading to the spread of diseases. The roads are not maintained

The appeal of the people of those areas are that the security situation be improved so that the Karimojong do not come to rustle their cattle and even the LRA insurgency should come to an end so that they can go back to their homes.  The mobility of the Karimojong be addressed. On the whole, the cleanliness of the camps be improved and the restocking of the cattle in Teso-land be done since that was the source of their living and wealth.

In the Northern Region Gulu Archdiocese there was a team of eight bishops including His Grace the Archbishop John Baptist Odama. They visited Muchwini in Kitgum district and Unyama IDP camps Gulu district. Their findings were: Because of the inadequate security around the camps, it has led to LRA atrocities against civilians. The concern of possibly loss of land congestion in the camp leading to loss of privacy, inadequate education, night commuting by children trying to avoid abductions by the LRA and then the inadequate international attention to the conflict and its perpetrators.

The bishops had this to say: There should be increased collaboration among the stakeholders, provision of adequate security so that people can return to their land, search for peace be pursued,, extension of the cease-fire be continued, the living conditions be improved and then the problem of the land act be changed and the people of Acholi should be consulted first.

In Lira Diocese, there was a team of six bishops including his the Archbishop of Mbarara Paul Bakyenya. In the camps they visited, they had contact with the people and they found out that the outstanding insufficient health services are looked at, the congestion and the poor sanitary system in the camps be revised, the poor educational system be looked at, people are not accessing from the NUSAF grants, the local government still continue collecting taxes from the already impoverished population, some families are being headed by children since their parents have been victims of war. People cannot venture to the villages and till their lands due to the poor security situations with their neighbors, the problem of integrating the returnee children, whose parents have been killed. There is also the bad relationship between the Acholi and the Lango as a result of the LRA into Lango land.

Similar recommendations were passed by the bishops that the government should work hard to end the war, the conditions of the camps be improved, the camps should be well protected. The same recommendation as stated above in the other camps be applied in the other camps, but of all, the government should study and address root causes of the conflict in the North and in the country as a whole as a way of achieving sustainable peace in the whole country.

 

Peace Animation workshop done in Pabo

The third animation workshop done by the Justice and Peace Commission of Gulu Archdiocese was done in Pabbo from the 11th to the12th of November 2004.

Participants came from various sub-counties of Awer, Parabongo, Pawel and Pabbo.

As far as the facilitators have assessed the impact of this workshops is of great help to the participants who in turn go and sensitize the rest who have not attended as their objectives are; deepening their knowledge in the peace building activities, responding to questions asked by the people and organize mobilization of peace activities amongst the people.

Pabbo is one of the biggest camps in Gulu district, and it is one of the most affected because of congestion, the mysterious burning of the huts, intimidation and brutal murders of the civilians, and the most recent, the Cholera epidemics amongst others which claimed the lives of many people. Is the right time to devout some time and spend with these kinds of people who need consolation and sensitization.

The three JPC staff currently undertaking this kind of workshop had time to spend in Pabbo and share the strength, weakness opportunity and the threats these people are facing. Lack of cooperation, the problem of stopping the war, heavy alcoholism drinking of alcohol and young boys and girls getting involved in early marriages, leading to high rates of transmission HIV/AIDS disease.

The team also learned that there are things like; threatening the lives of the civilians, raping women, killing of innocent civilians, false arrest by the soldiers and the most notorious happenings of burning huts which has become a common happening in Pabbo camp.

 

THE PROFILE OF A PEACE MAKER

WEI JINGSHENG.

He was an electrician. He first came to performance through articles critical of his government’s modernization program in the late 1970s for focusing on economic reforms to the exclusion of democratic reforms. A week after posting his article on Beijing’s Democracy wall in March Wei was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. When he was freed unexpectedly in September 1993, he immediately took up his old work. In early 1994, Wei was again detained, and on December 13, 1995 he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for as government charges stated, seeking “to develop a plan of action that included establishing an organization to raise funds to support democratic movement activities”

….What is true democracy? It means the right of the people to choose their own representatives to work according to their will and their interest. Only this can be called democracy. Further more, the people must also have the power to replace their representatives any time so that these representatives cannot go on deceiving others in the name of the people….

Will there be great disorder across the land and defiance laws human divine once people enjoy democracy?

Do not the recent periodicals show that just because of the absence of democracy, dictators, big and small were defying laws human and divine? How to maintain domestic order is the domestic problem requiring solution by the people themselves, and there is no need for the privileged overlords to worry about it. Therefore judging from past history, a democratic social system is the major premise or the prerequisite for all developments-or modernizations. Without this major premise or prerequisite, it would be impossible not only to continue further development but also to preserve the fruits of the present state of development. The experiences of our great motherland over the past 30 years have provided the best evidence.

Why must human history take the road towards prosperity and modernization? The reason is that human beings need a prosperous society to produce realistic fruits and to provide them with maximum opportunity to pursue their first goal of happiness, namely freedom. Democracy means the maximum attainable freedom so far known by human beings. It is quite obvious that democracy has become the goal in a contemporary human struggle.

 

 

“ KICA BER” GROUP GETS PEACE TRAINING

A group of returnees, who have come together in an association called“ Kica Ber” (“forgiveness is good”, in Acholi) organized a one day peace workshop at St Monica’s Girls tailoring school on Friday 17th December 2004.

Over 40 participants attended. The JPC staff Fr. Carlos Rodriguez, Lam Cosmas, and Cherobin Kerto facilitated the workshop.

These are the youth who were formerly abducted and have returned. They have been reintegrated into the community. It was out of their own initiative that projects like carpentry, tailoring and many others were started

This group got training in understanding conflict and its management. This training is expected to help these returnees understand how to manage conflict amongst themselves and the people they are living with. Amongst them were child mothers who have also engaged themselves in different activities.

At the end of the workshop, the participants asked that the kind of workshop should not only be once but from time to time so that they understand better on conflict.

 

CHRONOLOGY

 NOVEMBER 2004.

1ST – Army and Police surrounded Christ the King church in Kitgum and arrested Msgr. Matthew Ojara on charges of collaborating with the rebels.

2nd – Brig. Sam Kolo spoke on BBC expressing LRA willingness to end the conflict by dialogue and appealing to Government to respond.

4th – State Minister for Defence said that Government welcomed Kolo’s announcement.

5th – Msgr. Ojara was released in Gulu without charges.

8th – Rebels abducted 8 persons who had gone to dig their gardens near Kalongo. They released five, killed one and injured two.

12th – Rebels ambushed a vehicle between Agoro and Madi-Opei and killed two.

14th – President Museveni ordered a seven-day suspension of UPDF operations in a limited area of Acholi to allow the leadership of the LRA to meet and “accept his offer to come out of the bush”.

16th – Rebels killed a UPDF 2ndLt., the IO officer of Anaka camp.

17th – Betty Bigombe met with Sam Kolo near Koc Goma and delivered ceasefire map. She was accompanied by Lars Eric, of UN, and two diplomats from the British and Dutch Embassies.

18th – Rebels ambushed and injured four civilians near Atyak.

           Rebels attemped to attack Lukung camp but were repulsed.

21st – Rebels attacked Bobi camp, injured one soldier and abducted a girl.

22nd – Acholi MPs Michael Ochula, Ogenga-Latigo, Reagan Okumu and Adonga Otto were beaten by soldiers as they tried to address a consultative rally at Acholibur.

23rd – Museveni extended ceasefire for a further seven-day period.

28th – Rebels killed two men in Patiko

29th – Rebel officer Lt. Col. Okelo Lagulu surrendered to the UPDF.

30th – Catholic bishops of Uganda initiated three-day visit to Soroti, Lira and Gulu.

DECEMBER 2004

1ST – Betty Bigombe and Chris Wilton, military attaché to the British Embassy, met with Sam Kolo in ceasefire area.

4th – Ceasefire was extended another week.

        Bigombe met with district leadership of Pader and Kitgum. She said that the LRA was seeking meeting with traditional leaders and elders to seek reconciliation.

7th – Twenty Acholi cultural leaders, led by Rwot Acana and Betty Bigombe, met with LRA commanders Sam Kolo, Odomi, Raska and Bwonne, among others, West of Palabek.

Museveni met with UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland in Kampala.

          The ceasefire was extended up to the 15th December.

9th – 10th – NUPI held Reconciliation planning meeting in Gulu. Betty Bigombe attended and gave a brief on progress made in peace process.

12th – LRA hacked to death seven villagers in South Sudan.

13th – UPDF said it had killed 15 LRA, including a Colonel, in Lajeng, Pader district.

14th – Museveni gave LRA a 36-hour ceasefire in a corridor in Sudan to allow Ottii reach Kony for consultations.

15th – Government ended the ceasefire after the UPDF and the LRA accused each other of violating the truce.

16th – Government extended ceasefire until December 31.

            Minister of State for Security Betty Akech said the Government was ready to go for peace talks abroad if the LRA chose so.

20th – Rebels ambushed two vehicles near Rackoko and killed two people. Fr. John Peter Olum was injured.

25th thousands of christians celebtate peace-full x-mass in Northern part of Uganda.

28th local leaders from the Acholi region travelled to the Uganda Sudan border to meet a delegation of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel chief Joseph Kony

- wild fire broke out in Awer Interanally displaced peoples’ camp in Lamogi sub county, Kilak county in Gulu district leaving alomost 2000 people homeless.

30th  a governament delegation led by Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda met with the rebel commanders headed by Sam Kolo at Paloda in Kitgum district to discuss the signing of the  cease fire agreement.