Stop the Genocide in Northern Uganda sign now

September 9, 2003

We the undersigned Ugandans and friends of Uganda, in tandem with Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI: http://www.acholipeace.org), Human Rights Watch (http://hrw.org/campaigns/uganda/), Amnesty International (http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/uga-summary-eng), local Human Rights groups, the civil society and all peace loving members of the international community, are extremely concerned about the continuing genocide (e.g. at http://www.acholitoday.worldbreak.com) that is ravaging the Acoli, Lango and Teso sub-regions of Uganda. We further note, with deep concern, the maturation of militarism in the country as manifest by the growth of Tribal Militias.

For 17 years now and counting, the Acoli sub-region of northern Uganda especially has experienced systematic and gross human rights violations. The Ugandan military (UPDF) and the rebel group Lords Resistance Army (LRA) are both responsible for violations in the Acoli sub-region and other parts of the country. Together, they have killed, tortured, raped, abducted, and displaced thousands of innocent civilians. Since 1986, more than 500,000 civilians have been killed in northern Uganda alonemost of them children. Yet they have not been held accountable.

In October 1996, your government violently removed all of the Acoli people from their land and forced them into protected villages. Currently, over 800,000 Acholi people are internally displaced and live in concentration camp-like villages where both groups orchestrate systematic sexual abuse, abductions, and other forms of torture with military precision. Your government put the Acholi people in protected villages ostensibly to provide better security against LRA incursions, but it refused from the beginning to provide food, water, sanitation, or health care. Almost two thirds of those in the concentration camps are women and children under 5 years of age. Infant mortality is extremely high: for example, in June 2003, an average of 20 children died every single day from curable diseases in Padibe Concentration camp alone. This figure is representative of the high infant mortality rate of every camp in the sub-region.

Lack of protection or security in the camps is exacerbating the ongoing humanitarian disaster in northern Uganda. Because military detachments are located in the middle of the camps, civilians are protecting the soldiers instead of vice versa. The camps have become a target by the insurgents. The LRA rebels and government soldiers abduct and rape women, children and young men from the camps constantly. There is overwhelming evidence to highlight the fact that HIV-positive and AIDS-infected UPDF soldiers have raped both men and women in Acoli sub-region. Although the perpetrators are known, they never are brought to justice. Mr. Museveni, your government excluded northern Uganda during the successful fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda in the 90s. Incidences of HIV/AIDS in northern Uganda have therefore not come down since the fight began.

The civil war and all other abuses of fundamental rights in Uganda are being carried out right under the very noses of the international community. They have turned deaf ears to the constant pleas of the Acoli and peace-loving Ugandans.

We wish to express our disapproval of your (Uganda) governments endorsement and facilitation of tribal militia groups to perform a role that is constitutionally prescribed for the UPDF or the Police Force that is being flagged up as we write. As a military policy, the so called Arrow Brigade tribal militia was first instituted in Acoli sub-region way back in 1994. The tribal militia groups, as a UPDF counterinsurgency measure, share similar characteristics of failure with Operation Iron Fistthe final push to destroy the LRA whose publicity was matched only by its colossal failure. In the last four or five years, every time the UPDF engages the LRA in a final push to destroy it, the LRA comes out of it stronger and more brutal. Continuing to prepare for a military victory over the LRA makes YOU personally responsible under international laws for maintaining and intensifying the vicious circle of death and destruction in Northern Uganda, particularly Acoli sub-region.

We generally view your government as deliberately choosing not to provide security in parts of Uganda, particularly Acoli, Lango and Teso sub-regions. We also view Uganda governments failure to come up with a comprehensive policy to contain the civil war in northern Uganda as gross incompetence and negligence.

We therefore hereby resolve to call upon all the West European countries, the United State of America, Canada, Australia, Russia, Japan, and all peace-loving countries of the world, as well as the United Nations, European Union, Africa Union and all other local, national and international organizations to help Uganda and its citizens establish democracy and good governance by:

Insisting that the your government abandons its preferred military approach to ending the 17-year war that is now spreading to other parts of the country, and instead seek a genuine peaceful political resolution through direct negotiation with the LRA.

Unequivocally condemning the counter productive policy of tribal militias being instituted by your government in Acoli, Lango and Teso sub-regions. This will save the country from slipping into a Somalia-type state. Contemporary history has it that failed states become conduits for terrorists.

Calling upon you, Mr. Museveni to free forthwith the civilian population that you have forcibly kept in concentration camps, and to ensure that the UPDF owns up to its constitutional responsibility for protecting life and property in the regions.

Supporting calls for independent human rights monitors with unlimited access to all areas of Acoliland to investigate the scale of genocide committed by the warring factions, including the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

Supporting calls by Acoli civil society, Acoli Religious Leaders Peace Initiatives, local and International Human Right groups through the Commission Jurist to investigate and institute court proceedings against the perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed in Northern and Eastern Uganda.

Playing more assertive roles in promoting conflict resolution, democratic pluralism, and respect for human rights in Uganda.

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Steve ConwayBy:
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President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

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