The cause of the crisis in the Great Lakes Region
Letter to the Paris Club from A. Milton Obote, Uganda Peoples Congress, 28 August 1999
Uganda Peoples Congress
To: Members Of International Crisis Group.
The letter bellow by UPC Party President, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, was initially addressed to members of the Paris Club. We members of UPC Washington, DC Bureau wish to forward the some letter to members of International Crisis Group. We are also copying the letter to the persons mentioned bellow.
It is our believe that this letter will enlighten your organizations further with regard to the causes of Conflict in the Great Lakes Region. As such, we hope you will read the contents very carefully and digest it fully.
cc: Senator Jesse Helm ( Chairman Senate Foreign Relations commuttee)
Just in case you were unable to open up the intial postings UPC washington Bureau sent you earlier today, August 29,1999, here is one
<< UGANDA PEOPLES CONGRESS (Office of the President)
A LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE PARIS CLUB, UGANDA'S DONOR COUNTRIES
BY THE UGANDA PEOPLES CONGRESS
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS AND MULTIPARTY SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE IN UGANDA.
1. The heart of this LETTER is the policy of the community of Donor Governments and Institutions towards the people of Uganda as opposed and distinct from their policy towards the regime of the National Resistance Army (NRA).
2. The purpose of the LETTER is three-fold:
i) To present in one document what officials of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) have, on various occasions, presented to the diplomats from the donor governments accredited to Uganda.
ii) To implore Uganda's donor community, even at this late hour, to gear their policy towards friendly relations with the people of Uganda as a whole and not to finance or assist the NRA regime in any manner or form to carry out the devices of tyranny contained in the Constituent Assembly Statute, 1993 and the draft Constitution and
iii) To request the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Kampala, Uganda to facilitate the submission of this LETTER to the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights to be held in Vienna, Austria from 14th June to 25th June, 1993.
3. Uganda has been subjected to much bloodshed, gruesome massacres and extensive destructions of private property and infrastructures for now over twelve years. In addition to the internal wars, Uganda, contrary to denials and pretences, is actively involved in war on Uganda/Rwanda border which was launched in October 1990. There is only one army under one leader which has been a constant factor in all the internal wars since 1981 and the invasion of Rwanda. That army is the National Resistance Army (NRA) and its leader, since its formation in 1980 has been Yoweri Museveni who has been the President of Uganda since January, 1986.
4. In all parts of Uganda where the NRA has operated or waged wars as well as in Rwanda, the nature of the atrocities - massacres, devastations and despoliations - have been the same. Also the same has been the claim and propaganda that the atrocities were not committed by the NRA but by the opponents of the NRA. In rare cases the international press and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have identified the NRA as the cause of atrocities. However even in those rare cases, the press and the organisations have been fond of employing forms of words which seek to play down the blood-thirsty characteristic of the NRA and words which detract attention from the mission of the NRA. Such words include: "the NRA is very disciplined"; "the atrocities were committed by other armies which had been incorporated into the NRA", "the government has promised investigation", "the rebels committed more atrocities than the NRA"; "cattle rustlers caused much havoc".
5. The exonerations of the NRA of much of the massacres and devastations in Uganda since 1981 is the root of Museveni's present boldness to defy world opinion and trend where in all continents militarist one Party and one-man rules are giving way to multiparty systems of governance. Having been exonerated of all or much of the horrendous atrocities committed by his army which enabled him to become President, Museveni has been wittingly or unwittingly encouraged and is being encouraged by the international community, the donor governments in particular, to believe that the serious and traumatic events leashed onto the people by his army since he became President, constitute a proper and acceptable base for him to entrench his one-man atrocious and repressive rule.
6. The NRA was raised by Museveni as an instrument of rebellion against multiparty parliamentary rule. From the very first day when he launched his war against the people and the Constitution on February 5, 1981 it was clear that Museveni's chosen route to the seat of government was to be bloodshed - much of it - devastation and despoliation. The mission of the NRA was to use maximum violence to conquer Uganda and then to establish a form of rule where the ballot gives the voter no choice of policies or programmes presented by different political Parties. The road to conquest was strewn with gruesome atrocities which in turn Museveni, leaders of the NRA and their adulators blamed on opponents. A most violent army, raised for conquest and against multiparty parliamentary rule was therefore never seen abroad, thanks to propaganda mounted by the adulators.
7. Since 1986 with Museveni as President, vast areas, once inhabited by 5 million people, in the North and East have been laid to waste and entire villages destroyed. In 1989 Museveni told diplomats that as at June, that year, there were 2.7 million of displaced people who had lost everything including their homes and cattle and were being herded, by the NRA in makeshift camps. He did not accuse either rebels of rustlers for the traumatic havoc but acknowledged and gave the cause as "military operations" which he said had brought peace to much of the North and East. He promised that the remaining pockets of insurgency would be "pacified one way or another" but gave no figure as to how many people had perished in the "military operations".
8. With such admissions, more to come, the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) has observed, with much concern and horror the progressive and deepening blessing by the donor Governments of Museveni's every scheme, device and military operations. In the midst of much death and very violent devastations and despoliations, the situation was described and propagated abroad as "much improvement in the observance of human rights" and Museveni as "very committed to human rights observance". The fact is that never in the past have the people of Uganda known so much death, bloodshed, plunder and the most degrading treatment and destitution by millions of Ugandans as during Museveni's rule. If that much represents "improvement in human rights observance", then the total extermination of some ethnic groups will probably be described as very excellent performance.
9. Diplomats in Kampala and their ministers, some of whom have visited Uganda, who credit Museveni with commitment to observance of human rights do not in fact have anything concrete on which to base their view. This LETTER will quote Museveni's own words in which he rejects all and any of such credentials. In fact, if Museveni's Constituent Assembly Bill, 1993 is not an embarrassment at the very least, to those who have been giving him fake credentials, it will, particularly should the donor Governments finance its implementation, go along way to show that Museveni's various victims of vilification, beginning with the 2nd UPC Administration (1981-85), have been falsely and maliciously accused for ulterior motives.
10. The Bill attacks, and condemns and rejects the very heart of good governance namely, free and conscientious right of the voter to elect his representative from amongst candidates belonging to different political Parties and each with its own programmes. Museveni's derision of human rights far from commitment to them, according to the Bill, is explicit in the provisions which remove that free and conscientious right of the voter and debars the political Parties from fielding their own candidates. Those are deliberate designs and devices to ensure that all candidates shall be Museveni's supporters whilst the rights of his opponents are to be expunged from the Constitution either by the Constituent Assembly packed by his supporters or by a referendum which his regime will conduct in a situation which bans opponents from putting their case to the electorate.
11. Those who support Museveni or have done so since 1981 when he launched a war against the people and the Constitution claim to have based that support on the allegation that the 1980 elections was rigged in favour of the UPC. This LETTER will deal with the allegation later. However that support and the original reason for it somehow, perhaps due to hatred of the UPC, have now made the same supporters not only to abandon their alleged opposition to the rigging of the elections as a principle but also to condone the traumatic and despicable atrocities committed by the NRA. The result is that the very same supporters of Museveni now endorse and are encouraging him to rig the Constituent Assembly elections even before the constituencies are demarcated and registration of voters started and further to debar opponents from putting their case to the electorate. The scenario, by any standard of view, is a very curious commitment to human rights.
12. The war was launched in 1981 to oust the UPC Administration. The rigging of the Constituent Assembly elections as already provided in the Bill and will be further discussed herein is, in effect, directed also against the UPC, the only major Party which stood against the NRA during the LUWERO was (1981-85) and since 1986, the opposition Party outside the NRA system and regime.
13. There is no doubt at all that had the UPC joined Museveni's regime and system of governance in 1986 and remained therein as the other Parties have done, the issue of Human Rights and Multi-Party System of governance would have been long smothered. Much as the members of the UPC may want their Party to be or form the government of Uganda, the Party's opposition to Museveni's schemes, designs and devices is a principled assertion and stand in the defence of the liberty of the citizen.
14. The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), despite what its detractors may say, has an impressive locus standi some of which we list, to speak on behalf of its members, the people of Uganda and the youth who are not yet of voting age and those yet to be born. Members of the Party took the leading role both in the Independence movement and struggle and in opposition to and removal of Amin's regime of murder and terror. The UPC is the only Party in Uganda to have provided Independent Uganda, twice, with an elected government. All other Administrations including the present were not elected but imposed.
15. In the face of Museveni's record, how he became President, schemes, designs and devices to rob the citizen of his liberty, part of the issue now being put to the international community by the UPC is a moral issue. That aspect of the Issue namely; wholesale condemnation of this or that Party and support for this or that man on grounds of arbitrary apportionment of blames for the atrocities can only be resolved definitively and finally by the High Court of the electorate, that is to say, a free and fair multiparty elections. Any support or the financing of Museveni's schemes, designs and devices as contained in the Constituent Assembly Bill will be tantamount to the donor Governments or whichever does so appointing rulers for Uganda. It would also be the height of insult to the Ugandan electorate for any donor Government to hold that the electorate in the donor countries know good from bad but the electorate in Uganda is composed overwhelmingly by dunces and Museveni must therefore be assisted and financed to kill the liberty of the citizen.
ISSUE AT STAKE
16. The momentous issue, in Uganda, since the establishment of the regime of the National Resistance Army (NRA) in January, 1986 has been and continues to be the regime's violent and direct as well as indirect onslaughts against rights and freedoms of the individual. The NRA was raised and trained to fight against and destroy parliamentary multi-party system of governance. It has remained most dedicated to its mission and in the process, both as an insurgent force and as the army of the regime, wrought the most horrific and despicable atrocities extensively and on a scale that has never been, at any time in the past, the misfortune of the people of Uganda to suffer.
17. Opposed to the above, there is a body of opinion held by foreign adulators of the Uganda regime and also by Ugandan collaborators of the regime and military rule. That opinion is to the effect that there has been, since 1986, "much improvement" in human rights observance in Uganda. This LETTER will show that there is no scintilla of truth in that opinion, that it is held and propagated only by detractors of the UPC and that it is used to falsely condemn the UPC and also as a convenient means for the concealment of the holocaustic atrocities committed by the NRA.
18. As for the collaborators of the regime and supporters of military rule, their opinion is of no value where human rights are at stake. In Uganda's short history as an Independent State, the collaborators have sold their bodies and souls to the gun-men three times. First in 1971 when they collaborated with and supported Idi Amin. Second, they were thick in the short-lived military Junta which ruled for six months until it was overthrown by the NRA in January, 1986. Third, with the advent of the NRA regime, the collaborators of the militarist rule saw and still see the advent not only as an event which affords them the opportunity to loot the country blind and to enrich themselves - a repeat of what Amin afforded to them - but also as a third dispensation.
19. Support for the NRA regime by the community of donor governments has compounded the issues of human rights in Uganda. There are now three major aspects of the matter at stake:-
i) The legacy of the holocaustic atrocities committed by the NRA in violations of the right to life accompanied by widespread destructions of homes and property and looting of millions of livestock;
ii) The declared programme of the regime to expunge from the Constitution the rights of the citizen to hold opinion and impart ideas; to form and belong to a political Party for the protection of his interests and to associate and assemble freely; and to expunge the constitutional provision which prohibits promulgation of any law which affords different treatment to different persons attributable wholly to their political opinions; and
iii) The financing by the donor governments of (ii) and the concealment by the same of (i) and (ii) above.
The objective of the programme is to obliterate from the Constitution the right of the citizen to take a direct part in the conduct of the public affairs through his freely chosen representatives and through his political Party.
20. That, under the NRA regime, there have been much bloodshed, widespread and gruesome massacres and devastations and despoliations of holocaustic proportions in a vast territory once inhabited by some five million people are not is dispute. Also not in dispute is the fact that only the NRA was the constant factor in the entire territory allegedly fighting disparate groups who never operated together nor ventured out of their respective ethnic zones. It is also not in dispute that the nature of the devastations and despoliations is uniformly the same throughout the vast territory. The fact that the NRA had orders which befit the description of "crimes against humanity" will be shown herein. They were orders allegedly to deny succour to rebels but in reality orders to starve to death millions of rural people. In carrying out the orders, the NRA destroyed entire food stuff, homes, water sources and looted the entire livestock in hundreds of villages. Never, in the past had any Uganda regime or government ordered and spread so much death destitution and despair which engulfed so many millions of people in such a vast territory as the NRA regime did in those military operations.
21. Many agonising questions arise from the above. Were there traumatic atrocities of holocaustic proportions or crimes against humanity, committed in the North and East by the NRA between 1986 and 1990 or not? If they were committed why did the donor community and Amnesty International, for example, credit the horrendous situation with "much improvement in the observance of the human rights"? Why is it that the situation was not reported and publicised widely in countries of the donor community? Why is it that in Uganda, Museveni's Interim parliament which is much regarded by the donor governments as sovereign and free never debated the situation even once?
22. The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) has no definite answers to the questions but can throw light on some of them. The basis of the views and position of the adulators of the NRA regime has not been human rights as such but are politically and ethnically oriented with the objective of wholesale condemnation of the past and wholesale acceptance of the present. The past was represented by what the NRA regime terms "past regime" and the present is represented by the NRA regime. Emphasis is put by the regime, collaborators and adulators on condemning the two past UPC administrations and rarely on Amin's reign because many who served Amin are leaders in the NRA regime. Amnesty International, for instance, produced a report in 1989 which asserted falsely that the NRA rule was the first time, since the Independence of Uganda, that "Southerners" and not "Northerners" became rulers of Uganda. It was a new twist and a patently false and biased assertion which gave the impression that Party governments which Uganda has had twice, were Regional or ethnically based. Uganda's two main Parties, the UPC and the Democratic Party (DP) are neither regional nor ethnic in support or character and where their respective leaders may have been born does not and cannot make either of them the Party of the Region in which the leader was born.
23. Without being factual or even attempting to do so, the report of the Amnesty gave the impression that until Museveni assumed office in 1986, all previous Presidents of Uganda had been Northerners and said nothing about the type of government or regime which those Presidents led or that Uganda's first Head of State, at Independence in 1962 was Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England. She is and was not even a Ugandan and could not therefore be a Northerner. The second Head of State was Sir Edward Mutesa who was also the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, the Southern Region - nothing makes or made him a Northerner. Both Queen Elizabeth and Sir Edward were non-executive Heads of State under whom the country was governed by a cabinet responsible to an elected National Assembly elected through a multiparty system. That cabinet, both in the period of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Edward was headed by Milton Obote, the leader of the UPC, but the cabinet was also composed of two Parties, the UPC and the Kabaka Yekka (KY), a Regionally based (Buganda/Southern) political Party.
24. The third Head of State and the first executive President Milton Obote, assumed office when his Party, the UPC, had in the National Assembly 12 seats out of 16 from the North; 17 seats out of 24 seats from the East; 6 seats out of 18 from the West and 2 seats out of 3 in Kampala City a total of 37 seats out of 61 in the North, East, West and Kampala. In addition Milton Obote had the support of twelve members of the National Assembly who had originally been elected on KY tickets and nine members specially elected by the National Assembly sitting as an electoral college making a grand total of 58 in a House of 91 members. Milton Obote, born in the North, could never have been President nor ensured support for him in the National Assembly had his regional origin been a factor or base.
25. The fourth Head of State and second executive President, Idi Amin, was an aberration whose advent was fought by the UPC and the recrudesce of his advent in the form of the NRA regime has been opposed by the UPC and is subject of this LETTER. Amin's parents may have been Northerners but his regime was certainly not Northern as proved by the slaughters by his regime of Northerners such as Acholi and Langi. Amnesty International was also grossly wrong and malicious to insinuate and then lump the qualities and characteristic of the two UPC Administrations headed by Milton Obote (the leader of a national Party but born in the North) with those of a military regime which banned Party politics and ruled without an elected National Assembly. The proper lumping, if it was necessary, should have been one of putting together militarist regimes of Amin, Okello and Museveni since such regimes are by definition and character violations of human rights and are imposed and not elected.
26. Besides Sir Edward Mutesa and Museveni, there have actually been two other Heads of State - executive Presidents - and both were born in the South. What should have been of concern or interest to Amnesty International in 1989 namely the characteristics of the NRA regime (elected or imposed; militarist or civil) was side stepped. The community of donor Governments have taken the same line and have by doing so failed to sufficiently appreciate that the NRA regime itself by its very militarist base was and still is the leading agent in violations of human rights since 1986. That is why even the regime's own parliament has not been able to debate in over seven years the horrendous massacres, devastations and despoliations. If it was the rebels and cattle rustlers who did the greatest havoc, as the adulators of the NRA regime claim and want everyone to accept, why then has the parliament not condemned the rebels and the rustlers! Amin did not have a parliament and there was no forum to debate the murders and terror of his regime. During the 2nd UPC Administration (1980-85) there was a parliament and there were debates and questions asked therein about the Luwero war which was launched by the NRA in February, 1981.
27. The Luwero war received much publicity precisely because there was freedom of expression, an elected and sovereign National Assembly and the political Parties were active in the Assembly and outside it. The NRA regime however banned in March, 1986 all activities by the political Parties, thus at the very height of the horrendous atrocities in the North and East and when the donor Governments were crediting the NRA regime with "much improvement in the observance of human rights" only members of the regime and collaborators were free to speak. In addition, a law was promulgated in 1988 which made it a very serious criminal offence to "criticise the NRA". It was the first time, since Independence, that criticising the army was made a criminal offence. Since the law removes the NRA from being cited as the cause of the atrocities and primarily responsible for them, a false scenario condemning the rebels and rustlers has been formulated and widely propagated.
28. As seen by the UPC, the history of how the donor Governments and even human rights organisations came to credit the NRA regime, at the height of the NRA atrocities in the North and East with "much improvement in human rights observance", is very involved. That history may, however, for the purposes and only purposes of this LETTER be traced to 1971 when Idi Amin, through a military coup d'etat, established his regime or murder and terror. Amin's regime was quickly and some have said indecently recognised, despite its murders and terror, by some of today's major donors to Uganda. It was left to the media in the donor countries to sell Amin as a "gentle giant". No major donor Government accepted, until much later, the groans of the people of Uganda. Even Amnesty International, by its admission in a 1989 report, produced no report on human rights during the entire period of Amin of just over 8 years. Amnesty gave the lame excuse that it produced no report in order to protect Amin's victims or intended victims.
29. The UPC does not know and is not aware of any other country which has experienced the kind of trauma the Amin regime wrought in Uganda where Amnesty International decided to say nothing about the trauma for some 8 years when even some of the original collaborators and friends of such a regime, like in Amin's Uganda, abandoned the regime to consequently speak of horrific murders and terror. Considering that the Newspapers published, for instance, the murders of the vice-chancellor of the University of Makerere and the Chief Justice who had been appointed by Amin himself and late in 1976, the murders of the Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda and three of Amin's ministers, it is hard to see who Amnesty International was protecting by its silence - the dead, the relatives or who! The organisation did not even publish a report on the expulsion by Amin of over 30,000 (probably more) persons of Asian origin including those who are citizens of Uganda; they left no relatives in Uganda for Amnesty to protect by its silence.
30. The date of the expulsion of persons of Asian origin - 1972 - is of some significance. It followed twenty months of much build-up of Amin by his adulators, in the donor countries as a "gentle giant". When Amin ordered the expulsion, condemnation of him or his action was muted in the donor countries, much so in official circles, suggesting that in those circles, violations of human rights or the traumatic murders and terror in Amin's Uganda at that time and for a few more years were officially condoned.
31. As for Amnesty International, whatever reason it had for its long silence of eight years, in a situation of the gravest violations of human rights, the reason could not have been for the protection of Amin's victims, many of whom were either dead people or maimed or expelled or indeed anybody. The International Commission of Jurists did, for instance, publish a report and it is not known or true that more killings and terror than would have been otherwise followed the publication of the report. What is known is that throughout his reign of murder and terror Amin's die-hard friends and collaborators did everything possible to sell him to governments, human rights groups and to the press as a "gentle giant". Whether any such activity on behalf of Amin had any effect on Amnesty International is not known and is not suggested here.
32. The regime of murder and terror fell in April, 1979. The people of Uganda went to the polls in a multiparty elections in December, 1980 which the UPC won and formed a government. Three months later, in March, 1981 Amnesty International published a report on human rights in Uganda. The tenor of the report was hostile, falsely accusative and adversarial. The report accused the three months old UPC government of having had a hand in the deaths of persons who were listed in the report when, in fact, the said persons died either of natural causes or in motor accidents or had died long before the UPC government took office. The report listed persons who had fled during Amin's rule and were still out of Uganda and persons who were living and working in Uganda as having been arrested. The report requested the UPC government to find the whereabouts of a long list of persons described only as John, Peter, Mukasa, Wilson, Andrew, Joseph etc etc and with no known address and alleged they had been arrested.
33. The UPC government responded by inviting Amnesty International Headquarters to send a delegation to Uganda which was done. It was probably the first time that an African government had invited Amnesty International. Under Museveni, a delegate sent by the organisation who went to the war zone in the North was booted out, deep at night, from his hotel and driven under military escort, to Kampala. The two delegates who went to Uganda in 1981 declined to interview the people who were living and working normally and had never been arrested but whose names had been listed in the March, 1981 Amnesty report as persons who had been arrested and had not been charged with any offence. In a subsequent report by Amnesty International, the falsities in the March, 1981 report were described as "typographical" errors.
34. The clear signal and message which the March 1981 report carried was that there was a conspiracy to feed Amnesty International with false reports for the purpose of tarnishing the image of the UPC government. In subsequent reports and while the NRA increased its atrocities in Luwero District which it started only six weeks before Amnesty's report of March, 1981, the image of the UPC government was tarnished increasingly until the government was overthrown in July, 1985 by a military rebellion. The last report by Amnesty, before the military rebellion, was about six persons who had allegedly been seriously tortured in a military barracks but when such treatment was meted to the victims or in which barracks or the names of the torturers were not given, Amnesty International also did not provide the UPC government with a confidential information regarding in which barracks and when the tortures were committed and thus denied the UPC government vital evidence which could have led to the identity of the culprits.
35. Although the case of the six victims of alleged tortures seriously tarnished the image of the UPC government, it has remained just that. Because it was connived to hurt the UPC government, it has raised doubts as to who may have tortured the six - was it government agents or the NRA? This doubt has been raised because of the fact that the six never appeared, in six years, before the Human Rights Commission appointed by the NRA regime to investigate and report on cases such as what they alleged had been done to them in a government military barracks. The six had certainly been very badly tortured. The question is, was the deed committed in a government barracks or in the NRA make-shift prisons and if the former why is it that none of them appeared before the Commission. They were all out of Uganda when the UPC government fell in July, 1985. Despite what they told Amnesty International when they were under the care of the NRA men in Nairobi, it is a probability that they chose not to go to the Commission because their torturers were now the rulers of the country and that probability should not be easily discarded. Many people, as will be shown, avoided the Commission on that ground.
36. As already stated, the 2nd UPC government invited Amnesty International to send a delegation to Uganda. The idea was to work closely and in consonance with Amnesty on the matter of human rights. Amnesty International, however, for some undisclosed reason declined to accept the clean hand of friendship extended by the UPC government. Soon, Amnesty International was joined by International Alert in what became increasingly a campaign for the success of the NRA insurgency. Gun-men who were committing very ghastly atrocities in Luwero District were therefore and thereby being supported by organisations with considerable influence on policies of the donor governments and media. Meanwhile on the ground, in Uganda, the correct government policy and observance of human rights blocked the expansion of insurgency or war.
37. In 1984 Lord Young, acting in his capacity as Chairman of International Alert, campaigned in writing and in person to persuade the donor governments and Institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the European Communities to totally cut-off aid to Uganda. When the UPC government fell in July, 1985 officials of International Alert were not only hilarious but even went as far as to go to BBC to broadcast the intention of their organisation to finance and host, in London, a conference of Ugandans but without the UPC representatives. Thus, International Alert ceased, in the case of Uganda, to be an organisation concerned with human rights but a front for exploiters of the wealth of Third World Countries who prefer to deal with dictators and not elected governments. Since 1986 International Alert. like another human rights organisation, the Minority Rights Group has never published a single violation of human rights by the NRA.
38. The long discussion on Amnesty International and the pretentious posture of International Alert as a human rights organisation show, in the case of Uganda:-
* That even leading human rights organisations have been wanting in reporting on human rights when consumers of their reports deserved to read and study the organisations' definitive reports - for instance, Uganda under Amin when there was total silence.
* That insufficient appreciation was given to raw material supplied to the organisations by persons with ulterior motives in a volatile and fluid political situation which led the human rights organisations to take positions which wittingly or unwittingly undermined development of multiparty parliamentary system of governance and assisted the gunmen - for instance, the March, 1981 report of Amnesty International and the campaigns of Lord Young of International Alert.
* That political propaganda by friends and collaborators of militarist regimes were accepted and allowed to conceal gross violations of human rights and to produce situations where, in Uganda, there was much death and terror (Amin rule) or much death, destruction and despoliation (Museveni rule) but outside Uganda Amin was a "gentle giant" and Museveni a person "committed to human rights observance."
* Since 1986, it was never appreciated nor seen that the nature of massacres, destructions and despoliations in the North and East was the same as what had occurred in Luwero District (1981-85) and that only one army, the NRA, operated or was a constant factor in all those wars and therefore unrealistic to have heaped or to heap the blame onto the opponents of the NRA as has been the case, in particular, as there is a law against showing definite crime committed by the NRA.
* That the human rights organisations and the donor governments ignored statements by leaders of the NRA which describe the NRA operations in the North and East as "massacres"; they also ignored the orders to starve millions to death and the effect of these orders on the people where there was total destruction of food in hundreds of villages and instead credited the holocaustic situation which at one time, June 1989, produced destitutes to the very staggering figure of 2.7 million people as "much improvement in human rights observance."
* That the ban imposed by the NRA in March, 1986 on the activities of the political Parties which was a return to the days of Amin, has never been questioned by either the human rights organisations or the donor governments nor condemned and appears to be regarded as part of what the collaborators of the regime propagate as the "peace we are enjoying" and which President Museveni emphasised in early May, 1993 by giving orders to the police and the NRA that citizens who should go to any public, peaceful meeting or rally convened by a political Party be shot.
39. The order to shoot citizens attending any peaceful public meeting called by a political party sits most incongruously with every accolade of approval which the human rights organisations and donor governments have bestowed on Museveni, his army, the NRA and on his regime. The order exposes and shows:-
* That the claim of the "peace we are enjoying" is humbug and a fraudulent chorus to conceal a very serious state of repression where thought control and denials of the right to hold opinions and freedom to seek, receive and impart ideas and information has reigned supreme since March, 1986.
* That all along, since 1981, Museveni and his army and his regime since 1986 have, all been repressive and that if orders can be issued to the same army to shoot to kill in a situation of no war, the nature of such orders in the Luwero war and the wars waged by the NRA in the North and East fits the extensive massacres, devastations and despoliations which have been the hallmark of every operation in which the NRA was involved to be indictments on crimes against humanity.
* That the donor community and the human rights organisations have done much to put the lid on violations of human rights by the NRA. They even went as far as to describe NRA operations which made 2.7 million people destitutes; operations which were described by President Museveni himself as "massacres" by the NRA and orders to the NRA to starve millions to death as "much improvement in the observance of human rights". The comparative phrase "much improvement" cannot fit into any time before the rule of the NRA regime because never in the past, had a war situation or military situation resulted in 2.7 million destitutes; never in the past, had any previous government or regime ordered the total destruction of food stuff and homes in hundreds and hundreds of villages; never in the past, had any government or regime presided over violent looting of millions of livestock with very serious debilitating consequences on the economy and culture of the of the area and the people affected.
41. In the case of Uganda's neighbour, Kenya, press reports gave it that in November, 1991 the donor community suspended their aid to Kenya and demanded that the Kenya government should release the people of Kenya from the shackles of the one-Party rule. The Kenya government, though then ruling in a one-Party State, was not, like the regime in Uganda, militarist but when the militarist regime of Uganda sent a delegation to the Paris Club in May, 1992, the Uganda militarist regime was rewarded with a whopping ($830m) eight hundred and thirty million US dollars!
42. The donor community, in that way, saw no militarist shackles which had been tightening since 1986 and did not and has not seen the assassination in every respect of personal, civil and political rights of the people of Uganda. The Uganda regime celebrated the reward of the large sum, in August, 1992, with a new proposal: to curb even further and on top of the March, 1986 ban, the mere existence of political Parties; to outlaw the existence of their branches, recruitment of new members and collection of payments of membership dues; and no one, being in a public place may speak of being a member of this or that political Party.
43. While the new shackles were making the political Parties more and more paraplegic, the donor community extended another $23 million (twenty three million US dollars) to the regime. This sum was said to be for the purpose of enabling the regime to reduce, through demobilisation, the size of its army. What has happened since and without any known budgetary allocation is the massive recruitment and training, everywhere, in rural areas in particular, of what is known as Local Defence Unit - (LDU) which is an auxiliary of the NRA. There has been increased number of seminars lasting a week or more at which political Parties are berated and denounced; no opinion in favour of competitive Party politics is allowed to be expressed at these seminars. The most surprising and worrying development is that soldiers said to have been demobilised under the scheme have, in several Districts, demonstrated in public and demanded that they be paid their terminal dues. The demonstrations and demands suggest that either the $23 million have not yet been paid by the donors to the NRA regime or that if already received by the regime, the money was not passed to the demobilised soldiers.
44. The huge subventions which the donor community has been paying to the NRA regime are loans which the people of Uganda will have to repay. The people of Uganda, as a whole, are however, not free since 1986 to express views on how the money is spent. The regime's parliament is the only forum where some courageous members have been able to speak but every member of the parliament is by law a member of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) which is the political wing of the NRA - the military. The result is rampant corruption in high places which is officially acknowledged. In a press conference in July, 1989 President Museveni enunciated the definitive policy of his regime on corruption with the following enigmatic (tongue in cheek) words:-
"I don't think I have seen somebody who is corrupt and I leave him. But I have got a different way of looking at things. For instance, I don't think personally it is good for leaders to get lots of property. I wouldn't do that myself. But at the same time I cannot stop others. I have got more important thing to do, other than battle with that (corruption). It would cause problems. I have got my ally here Abu Mayanja (Minister of Justice). He likes to have lots of property (Mayanja interjects: "I amass it.") I am not going to fight Mayanja over that, because I have bigger points to work on with him like economy, peace etc."
(Weekly Topic - Week ending Wednesday July 26, 1989).
45. The donor community may be happy with the rampant corruption and with leaders of the NRA regime "amassing" ill-gotten wealth but financing the system with loans which the people of Uganda will have to repay is a cruel and immoral policy.
46. The huge subventions which oil and fuel the rampant corruption have also enabled the regime to allocate and divert to military purposes very large portion of annual revenue. The basic characteristic nature of the regime's military operations was stated in January, 1987. The occasion was a particularly ghastly massacre in the North, Kitgum District, at a place called Corner Kilak. Able-bodied men of 18 years and above were summoned by the NRA Commander to a meeting allegedly to discuss agricultural production. When the men assembled in the forenoon on a Saturday, they were arrested and taken to a nearby bushy area where they spent the night under military guard and were given no food or water. Early next morning, two helicopters from Kampala, with some journalists, on board, arrived at Corner Kilak. After dropping the journalists, the helicopters flew off followed immediately by much gunfire from the bushy area. The NRA Commander ordered the journalists to run to the opposite direction because allegedly "rebels" were attacking his position. A while later, the journalists were called back and this is what they were told by the Commander:
"We killed about 350 and these are the bodies we have counted. There are many more bodies laying in the field. These are the ones we have counted so far. The number of the dead could be more than six hundred (600).... We were surprised to see the rebels coming at us without taking cover. We kept massacring them but they kept coming and we killed so many."
(The Standard - Nairobi - January 21, 1987).
47. In Mbale town, Eastern region, after a visit to the scene on the Monday, President Museveni confirmed on Tuesday 20 January, 1987 the massacre by his army at Corner Kilak. He said:-
"The rebels attacked us (NRA Soldiers) at a place called Corner Kilak 20 miles South of Kitgum (Town). They came in while singing and shouting; our people (NRA) massacred those chaps. They approached us frontally. This gave us a very good chance because they exposed themselves; so on Sunday we surrounded them and massacred them. We massacred them very badly."
(The Standard - Nairobi - January 21, 1987).
48. As stated by Museveni in the above statement, the basic and characteristic nature of the NRA operations in the North and East was to "surround" an area. In the case of the Corner Kilak operation, like in many others, not a single "rebel" was taken alive or taken wounded or was forced to surrender - but all were massacred and the NRA suffered no casualties. The heartlessness of having journalists at the scene of the massacres was repeated, in a different format in August, 1987 at Soroti airport in the East. After several months of atrocities and atrocious operations in Acholiland and Lango (North) and in Teso (East) in which homes and granaries were burnt down, cattle looted and many people died, the harassed and traumatised people in Lango and Teso were lured, in their thousands, to go to the airport. They were made to believe, by the agents of the regime, that a source abroad would send by air arms to enable them defend themselves against the marauding NRA. Thousand upon thousands of people went to the airport. They were "surrounded" by the NRA and a heinous massacre was committed. Those who managed to escape give the figure at not less than 30,000 killed in cold blood; others give a much higher figure. The NRA regime arranged for Military attaches in Kampala to go to Soroti where Museveni and the diplomats reportedly viewed "piles and piles of dead rebels" but as in all NRA operations there were no rebels who had either surrendered or wounded - all had been killed except those who escaped during the massacres.
49. In the short statement quoted in para 47 above, Museveni, the President and Head of the NRA used the word "massacre" three times. His Commander (para 46) used the same word. Both men described no battle or engagement between the alleged rebels and the NRA. One said: "We were surprised to see the rebels coming to us without taking cover.... We kept massacring them but they kept coming and we killed so many." Except for the massacre, on which the accounts of both the men agree, the two accounts do not agree on most vital points. One account says the rebels "kept coming" to be massacred whereas the second account speaks of "So on Sunday we surrounded them and massacred them." "Kept coming" and "We surrounded them" can only describe two different circumstances. No journalist who had been flown especially to observe the connived "battle" did observe the "battle" nor the rebels keeping on coming but only heard furious gun fire and later saw dead bodies. The words "so on Sunday", in Museveni's account also give the impression that there was a battle a day or so before the Sunday but his Commander said nothing of the kind; the helicopters and the journalists also arrived and found no battle in progress all of which go to show that the captives were "massacred ...... very badly" in cold blood. Although the helicopters landed when there was no battle and although none of the journalists reported a battle in progress when they landed, the flimsy cover of a cold blooded massacre of innocent peasants as a rebel attack was accepted by the governments of the donor community and the human rights organisations.
50. The Corner Kilak type of operation and massacre was to be refined and repeated again and again in different places in the North and East but the core, surrounding an area, remained throughout. Thus on June 11, 1989 Museveni met Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of the International Organisations. He told the diplomats, according to New Vision, the NRA regime's daily, of June 13, "that Government had taken a decisive political initiative to bring lasting peace in the war affected areas. He added that peace had been brought about by both military and political measures". It was on this occasion that Museveni disclosed that as a "direct result of the military and political measures", there were, as at the time, 2.7 million displaced people who had lost everything including homes, food and personal effects. He left it to the imagination of his audience, the diplomats, the number of people who may have lost their lives in the operations which created such a very staggering number of destitutes the like of which had never been known in Uganda. It is hard to see how any of the donors came to exalt and support a man whose army and regime could through "military and political measure" make millions of people the dregs of the earth or how those "measures" came to be interpreted and regarded as "commitment to human rights" deserving of huge annual subventions by the donor governments.
51. A glimpse of the nature of the operations which had created the 2.7 million destitutes was later given by Museveni to a reporter of the New Vision and published by the paper on June 27, 1989. It was a question and answer interview between the reporter and Museveni and went as follows.
People have criticised what they call, "scorched earth policy", that is, civilians being moved from areas of rebel sanctuaries to camps in towns and make-shift camps, and then the burning of houses and granaries etc, to deny rebels food. Is this policy still in force?
That is a misnomer. There was no policy of scorched earth. There was a policy of destroying food-stuff being used by the rebels. The population was warned in advance through the dropping of leaflets by helicopters written in vernacular.
I repeat this: There was no policy of scorched earth. There has never been such a policy. What there was, was a policy to destroy food stocks that were assisting the rebels to continue disturbing the peace of the ordinary people. That was done after due notice was given to the population through dropping of leaflets in the disturbed areas well in advance, by helicopters. These leaflets in vernacular were telling the people to vacate the fire areas where the security forces would clash with rebels, to safe zones. It was only food found in such areas that were destroyed. But not food belonging to the people.
Now whether that policy is still continuing or not is no longer a major issue because we have already cleared the rebels out in most areas. In the few remaining areas, there isn't any food any more. So there is nothing more to destroy.
52. Had anything close or similar to the nature of the NRA operations in the North and East against some 5 million people which Museveni disclosed, been the modus operandi of any previous regime, the governments in the donor countries and human rights organisations would have had no hesitation in marking and regarding such operations as "crimes against humanity" and as genocide. However, because the operations were carried out by Museveni's army, the NRA, the same donor community and the human rights organisations credited them with "much improvement in human rights observance."
53. It will be observed that the question put to Museveni by the reporter specifically cites "the burning of houses and granaries etc." and that Museveni, in his answer avoided to say anything about that aspect of the operations. It is left to the concerned and to the compassionate to imagine the scene of burning homes and granaries etc. in hundreds of villages where at the end, according to Museveni, there was "nothing more to destroy" and according to international community the result was "much improvement in human rights observance."
54. The account given by Museveni, in his answer, also discloses a main trait in his character which is well known in Uganda. He asserts, in the answer, that "only food found in such areas..... were destroyed; but not food belonging to people." That assertion is a conundrum meant to conceal what actually happened. In an area (village) where the inhabitants had allegedly been warned by leaflets to go away and had allegedly fled, how possibly could the NRA soldiers identify "food granaries assisting rebels" to destroy and those "belonging to the people" to be spared! The only logical answer to the conundrum is that there were no warnings, no leaflets and that everyone, even children, in an area of operation was regarded as a rebel and that is how "only food found in the area" was destroyed "but not food belonging to the people" because to the regime, the area had only rebels and not people. In other words all the food stuff which could be destroyed was indeed destroyed but some food items such as livestock, sesame and sunflower seeds were seized and looted by soldiers. During the Luwero war, the form of the conundrum was always presented as atrocities by the government army and as if the NRA was not even engaged in the war, that is, the NRA was always a paragon of virtue and compassion.
55. The NRA as a paragon of virtue and compassion or as a disciplined army exist only in the realm of propaganda. The leaflets which allegedly preceded the NRA operations in which homes and granaries were burnt down, all food stuff in hundreds of villages destroyed and entire livestock, in millions, looted never existed and were never written nor dropped anywhere. The leaflets came in Museveni's accounts to paint the scorched-earth operations as having been humane. The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) had, in the areas of operations, a very large membership. Not a single member of the UPC saw or read, at the time or since, a single copy of any such leaflet. Indeed if the leaflets were meant to be advance warnings to the law-abiding citizens to, as Museveni put it, "vacate the fire areas where the security forces would clash with the rebels", no better warnings could also have been given to the rebels to move away from the same areas. The inescapable conclusion can and must, therefore, be that the operations were to starve millions of people to death and that if there were rebels in some of or even all the areas, they were not the primary objectives. In the former Yugoslavia such operations, in the eyes of the international community, would have qualified as "crimes against humanity". In Uganda, they became "commitment to human rights observance."
56. There is a side of the NRA which has deceived even Ugandans including some of its victims. This is its overdeveloped tactics to be thoroughly brutal in one place while being accommodating and civil in another place. During the Luwero war (1981-85), the NRA frequently used those two faces, one after another on the same day, in attacking and "rescuing" inhabitants of a village from alleged brutalities of the UNLA. One of its units would attack a village pretending to be government troops and cause much havoc including massacres. A second unit would suddenly emerge pretending to have come to rescue the villagers. While the first unit would flee the village, the villagers would then be cajoled or forced and marched by the second unit to areas controlled by the NRA. It was a means of recruitment into the NRA and since the attackers and the "rescuers" were both NRA units the two faces and the sinister and cynical reason behind the tactics may be seen by the reader.
57. Also during the Luwero war, there were continuous attacks and shootings in Kampala City. Many homes, night clubs, gatherings and night commuters were attacked and there were deaths. The majority of the victims were supporters of the UPC and foreigners - mostly Europeans. A member of parliament, his friends and patrons of a night club were attacked and killed at the club on the eve of the member going to his constituency to explain why he had resigned from the DP, the opposition Party. There are a range of such cases which could not have been the deeds of the government troops precisely because the victims were mainly supporters of the government. However when the NRA formed its regime, all attacks stopped and gun-fire in Kampala at night went silent. The perceived conclusion by the residents of Kampala was and is still that the army which had allegedly mounted attacks, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), had been driven and sent out of Kampala. However precisely at that period when the residents of the city were having peaceful nights, Ugandans whose ancestral homes were in the North or East but who had settled in various parts of Buganda (Southern region) were having a hell of a time. They were hunted, harassed, persecuted and driven out of Buganda and many left with only the clothes they were wearing. That was when the NRA propaganda on radio, TV and newspapers saturated the atmosphere with the chorus that it was the Northern soldiers who killed the Baganda in Luwero and devastated the District. However, in the case of massacres in the North and East, the New Vision of June 27, 1989 said Museveni told a reporter that "when people are fighting, it is not easy to know who has done what."
58. At the very beginning of the Luwero war in 1981, the targets of the NRA were the Northerners who had settled, for decades, in the District. Within two weeks from the beginning of the war, there were no Northerners in Luwero; they were attacked incessantly, day and night, and their homes and granaries burnt or ransacked. Justification for launching the Luwero war was given by the NRA leaders as the alleged rigging of the 1980 elections in favour of the UPC but in Luwero the NRA's targets for extreme punishment were the Northerners, the majority of whom had not even voted for the UPC but for the Democratic Party (DP).
59. The reason for the atrocious attacks on Northerners in Luwero were two fold:-
* First the Northerners to Museveni, were "expendable" targets to enable him exhibit to the inhabitants of the District what he would do to those who would not submit to his will.
* Second through the atrocious exhibitions, to instil fear into the minds of the many wealthy Baganda who were the employers of the many Banyarwanda (Tutsi) refugees to accept or learn to accept that the Banyarwanda (Tutsi) were to be the overlords, at least in Luwero of that time. Museveni himself is a Munyarwanda - Tutsi. Soon all able-bodied Banyarwanda (Tutsi) refugees left their employment's and joined the NRA en masse. As members of the NRA, these former farm-hands, herdsmen and house servants roamed the District ordering their former employers to provide food and other necessities to the insurgents. The ignominy of being so ordered and obeying the orders which were accompanied by terror from such men led many of the land owners, farmers, traders and ranchers to flee from the NRA terror. Their accounts made it difficult for Museveni to expand the war into other parts of Buganda or elsewhere.
60. The most telling point against any belief that the NRA is a disciplined force is encapsulated in the last sentence above. Neither the donor community, human rights organisations nor the most zealous hater of the UPC and not even Museveni himself can produce any valid and credible evidence as to why in 4 1/2 years, the NRA failed to expand the war into other parts of Buganda other than the brutalities of the NRA in Luwero. If, on the other hand, it was the government troops who were most brutal, as claimed by the supporters of the NRA regime, then it stands without emphasis that the whole of Buganda would have gone to the NRA and Buganda (Southern Region) as a whole would have been the battle field. Nothing of the kind happened precisely because the many Baganda who fled from Luwero to other parts of Buganda recounted in those parts details of the brutalities of the NRA. It was those accounts, given by eye witnesses which produced and ensured peace in Buganda other than Luwero District.
61. Two other points are also pertinent. First, when the NRA formed its regime in January, 1986 the top echelons of both the NRA and its political wing, the NRM, were distinguished by the absence of Luwero men and women in them. The NRA propaganda is that it launched the Luwero war with only 27 men and that the inhabitants of Luwero, in their thousands, flocked willingly to join in the insurgency. Why the Luwero multitudes who allegedly joined the NRA willingly and presumably remained in it for 5 years were not the commanders of the army which formed the regime has never been explained. The multitudes appeared cursed and became "dirty multitudes".
62. The second point is the large number of national and Luwero leaders and others who, for six years, never appeared and gave evidence before the Human Rights Commission. The Commission, chaired by a Judge, was appointed by the NRA regime to inquire, amongst other matters, into abuses of human rights from Independence Day to the assumption of power by the NRA. Abuses of the human rights under NRA rule were excluded from the Commission's terms of reference, a matter which in itself is a telling point against the NRA and its regime and stands in opposition to all and any white-washing of the regime as being committed to human rights observance. Considering that the Commission was appointed and sat throughout a period when there was (and still is) much propaganda to blame the Luwero atrocities onto the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) which disintegrated in 1986 and onto the 2nd UPC Administration, the decisions by national and Luwero leaders with the best evidence not to give that evidence before the Commission suggest, most strongly, that they did not agree with the exoneration of the NRA.
63. Here are some of the leaders who did not appear before the Commission:-
* Mr. Paul Ssemogerere the leader of the Democratic Party (DP), (second Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the NRA regime.) During the Luwero war, Ssemogerere was the leader of opposition in parliament. Both in Parliament and outside it Mr. Ssemogerere repeatedly stated that he had a "Black Book" in which he was recording incidents of atrocities and abuses of human rights. Mr. Ssemogerere has not appeared before the Human Rights Commission to give evidence on oath and to present his Black Book to the Commission.
* Luwero District had four members in parliament and all were members of the DP, one died before the NRA regime. None of the remaining three members of Parliament has appeared before the Commission to give evidence.
* The Bishops - Catholic and Church of Uganda - whose dioceses included Luwero District have not appeared before the Commission.
* The many clerics - Catholic, Church of Uganda and Muslim did not flock to give evidence before the Commission.
* The Headmasters and Headmistresses of the many Primary and Secondary Schools in Luwero many of which were attacked and ransacked did not flock to give evidence before the Commission.
* The Luwero landowners, farmers, ranchers and traders whose properties were attacked and ransacked have not flocked to the Commission to give evidence.
* None of the NRA Commanders and soldiers and none of the Political Commissars of the NRA gave evidence before the Commission.
* None of the NRA child soldiers who, according to propaganda, were "rescued" by the NRA from the brutalities of the government troops, never appeared to give evidence before the Commission.
64. May be after reading this LETTER, the leaders of the regime will order the Commission whose sittings - hearing of evidence have ended, to resume sitting and hear evidence from those listed in the paragraph above. The after-thought, should it be decided and ordered, would be most illuminating and significant in exposing the NRA as an instrument of repression whose gross allegations against its opponents are, in fact, screens behind which the NRA conceals its atrocities and brutalities.
65. Like their counter-parts during the days of Idi Amin, "the gentle giant", supporters and adulators of the NRA regime have excelled in creating fictions and therefore screens to conceal havocs committed by the NRA. A good example is in the disappearance of millions of livestock from Teso, Lango and Acholi which those supporters and adulators ascribe wholly to the Karamojong. Writing in Report No. 66 the Minority Rights Group in 1989 one such person who had lived in Uganda, had written a book about the Country and knew the country well, sought to conceal the disappearance of the livestock through a screen which is very offensive by a shallow attempt to exonerate the NRA. This is what was sold to the consumers of Report No. 66 of Minority Rights Group:-
"The NRA was engaged in combating serious insurgency in Acholi and lacked the strength as well as, perhaps, the will to protect the Teso who became somewhat embittered towards the NRA. Not until the last quarter of 1986 was a major operation mounted against the Karamojong, who by that time were raiding not only the Teso but many others peoples of Eastern and Northern Uganda. Although considerable force was used against the Karamojong, the NRA was able to do little to contain them. They have raided as far as Nebbi in West Nile, destroying homes and causing havoc."
66. The placing of Karamojong raiders in Nebbi District in West Nile where homes were, as correctly stated by the author of the report, destroyed, livestock rustled and much havoc done is most illuminating. This is because the screen disappears when it is realised and seen that to get to and out of Nebbi District a bridge on the Nile has to be crossed and that since April, 1986 the bridge has been heavily guarded by the NRA. There is no other route to or out of Nebbi District. Secondly, for the Karamojong to have raided Nebbi would have meant their traversing the vast Acholiland on their way to and from Nebbi the very zone where "the NRA was engaged in combating serious insurgency" and which since March, 1986 has been thickly dotted with NRA garrisons. It is fiction and a screen to ascribe to the Karamojong raiders the havoc which was wrought in Nebbi District; the distance from Karamoja to Nebbi is vast; the zone to be traversed was and is still heavily covered by the NRA garrisons and a bridge under a heavy NRA guard had to be crossed. These impediments on the other hand, constituted facilities which enabled the NRA to mount raids at will because of their control of Acholiland, mobility and garrisons.
67. The crediting of the disappearance of millions of livestock from Teso, Lango and Acholi to the Karamojong raiders and not to the NRA is also disapproved by the following:-
* The raids were mounted even into peninsulas at whose entrances the NRA had garrisons and not a single Karamojong was either killed or apprehended and no cattle was recovered.
* In the past, before the NRA rule, raids by Karamojong did not include the burning of homes and granaries such as had happened in Luwero District when the NRA operated there.
* There has been not a single operations, let alone a "major" operation, mounted by the NRA in Karamoja to recover the rustled cattle.
* Had the livestock been rustled by the Karamojong, their area where there has been no cattle epidemic and people do not trade in cattle would today be teeming with millions of livestock which is not the case.
68. The gross accusations and allegations by the NRA against opponents and scapegoats, stretching from the days of the Luwero war to date, appear to have been accepted in total by the governments of the donor community. That and the apparent belief by the same governments that the NRA regime is most popular and brought peace through the means outlined herein, have now resulted into the adoption by the regime, in communion with the donor governments, of a Programme to entrench the regime within a political straitjacket and set-up which is the height of insult to the people of Uganda and to Africans as a whole.
69. The Constituent Assembly Statute, 1993 which is the base of the Programme, provides for elections to the Assembly - elections which are to be financed by the governments of the donor community. It is this financing of a device to entrench not only the regime but also to plant in the minds of the young Ugandans the obnoxious seed or idea that crime does pay that is most hurtful to the UPC. It is most dangerous for the future of Uganda to teach the young people that the manner in which the NRA came to power and ruled are worthy of support, praise and entrenchment.
70. There is to be, in fact, no elections to the Constituent Assembly, only motions of an election. The Statute provides for the arbitrary allocations of 2 seats to each of the four political Parties which contested the 1980 elections. It also debars the political Parties from fielding their own candidates in constituencies, called counties, numbering 200 where "elections" are to be held. The candidates to stand for elections in those counties are therefore to be supporters of the NRA/NRM. A situation which makes the said elections both bogus and an internal exercise of the NRA/NRM alone and therefore does not deserve to be financed by loans from abroad to be repaid by the people of Uganda as a whole. That the donor governments appear desirous to finance this bogus exercise is predicated by the misconceptions they held for years about the true colour of the NRA and its regime and which led them stage by stage to the present policy to pursue a different and an inimical course, designed only for Uganda, in matters of human rights and democratic systems of governance.
71. Everywhere in Africa and elsewhere, the governments of the donor community are pursuing the highly commendable policy to promote the development of Multiparty System of Governance. In Uganda, the Programme which they have financed - Constitutional Commission - and now the Constituent Assembly elections is designed to promote the expunction from the Constitution the political and civic rights of the citizen and to promote the removal of the political Parties from Uganda's body politic. They are to be replaced by what is called "Movement System" which is a euphemism for an undiluted militarist rule. The new Constitutional position will also do away with the current NRA regime which, since January 1986 has been officially called and propagated as "Broadbased government" in which all Parties, although the UPC is out of it, are said to be members. Now the Parties are to be discarded either through the vote in the Constituent Assembly or a referendum which will be conducted by the regime; the people will be asked whether Parties should or should not exist. The regime will campaign for the demise of the Parties but the Parties themselves will not be permitted to defend themselves or to campaign for a positive vote in their favour. The governments of the donor community are happy to finance, with loans to Uganda or rather to the regime but repayable by all the people of Uganda, this inimical aspect of the programme.
72. The political and civic rights of the citizen which will be expunged from the present Constitution and excluded from the regime's new Constitution following the removal of the political Parties from Uganda's body politic include the following:-
* Freedom of expression, to oppose or criticise or condemn the NRA/NRM,
* Freedom to hold opinion contrary to that of the NRA/NRM,
* Freedom to receive and impart ideas and information not in line with those of the NRA/NRM,
* Freedom of assembly and association except under the auspices of the NRA/NRM,
* Freedom to form or belong to a political Party other than the NRA/NRM; and also to be expunged from the Constitution is the constitutional provision which prohibits the promulgation of any law which affords "different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by ............. political opinions,.........."
73. Even without amending the existing Constitution or the coming into effect of the regime's new Constitution, the Constituent Assembly Statute already provides for affording different treatment to members of the political Parties attributable wholly to their opinions and to support for a Multiparty System of Governance. Members of the political Parties, as already stated, are not to stand as candidates of their respective Parties in the elections to the Constituent Assembly but supporters of the regime whose opinions are against political Parties and Multiparty System of Governance are to be afforded the different treatment of standing as candidates of their Party, the NRM. The governments of the donor community are therefore going to finance and in so doing openly support an illegality to pave the road for the formal entrenchment of repression and tyranny.
74. The young and old having been denied any outlet to elect or to remove the entire regime through the ballot are being told that the only way, to remove a regime is to emulate and pursue the road blazed by the National Resistance Army. It is a singularly very costly road in terms of loss of lives, devastations and despoliations. Governments in the donor countries are therefore financing and promoting carnage in Uganda.
THE ROAD TO REPRESSION AND TYRANNY
75. The Proclamation made on the 26th day of January, 1986 states that the "National Resistance Army ...... took over the powers of the Government of the Republic of Uganda" on that day "and vested those powers in the National Resistance Council". The said National Resistance Council (NRC) is the legislative Wing of the NRM which, in turn, is the political Wing of the army, the NRA and it is the NRA which calls the shots even on political matters. That is provided for in the Proclamation where, the Legislature, National Resistance Council (NRC) "have the supreme authority of the Government" but still subordinate to the NRA. The supremacy of the NRA over the NRC, the legislature, and over the regime is provided in article 10 (ii) and 10 (iii) of the Proclamation as follows:-
"10 (ii) The National Resistance Council shall seek the views of the National Resistance Army Council on all matters that the National Resistance Council considers important.
(iii) The National Resistance Army Council may forward its views on any matter it considers important to the National Resistance Council and the National Resistance Council shall take such views into account when making a decision on such matter."
76. That is the nature of control by the military over the legislature or Parliament which the governments of the donor community have been praising as free and sovereign. It is the same legislature which, now for over seven years, never debated even once a substantive motion on the holocaustic massacres, devastations and despoliations in the North and East or the invasion of Rwanda in October, 1990 by regiments of the NRA. The Constituent Assembly Statute and the regime's draft Constitution both provide for the NRA representation in the Constituent Assembly and in the future National Assembly. The Statute and the draft Constitution also provide for the continuance (entrenchment) of the "Movement System of governance" established by the NRA since 1986 but with the important difference that the political Parties and the freedom of the citizen to form and belong to a political Party are to be removed entirely from the body politic of Uganda. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) is to be the conscience of all the citizens of Uganda and the irremovable ruler except by violence and bloodshed.
77. Since 1986, the NRM which has not been affected by the ban on the activities of the political Parties and has been free to operate and to hold meetings, has not met in a Conference to elect its leaders. It has a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman but no-one knows how the two posts are filled or the tenures of the two officials. The Chairman is also the over-all commander of the NRA; in fact, the NRA is his personal army although its officers and men have, since1986, been paid and provided for from public funds. The subtle but basic reason, the first of two which seems to have escaped the appreciation of the governments of the donor community, for the vehement opposition to Multiparty System of Governance by the NRA regime is the fear of the leader of the regime to lose in a Multiparty free and fair elections.
78. The second reason for the regime's opposition to Multiparty System of Governance is the mental preference by the leader of the regime for militarist rule. All the regime's arguments against Multiparty System of Governance are screens to conceal the two reasons which constitute the true position of the leader of the NRA regime.
79. The continuance of the Movement System of Governance as imposed by the NRA in 1986 will therefore ensure that the records of the NRA regime and of its leader will not be raised during election campaigns or at any other time by opposition Parties - the Parties are to be murdered. In the absence of the political Parties, it is a futile and wishful thinking for anybody even to imagine that the servile agents of the NRA who will be in the Constituent Assembly or the National Assembly would dare question policies of the regime or the fact of tyranny. The ban on the activities of the political Parties was imposed in 1986 precisely to prevent them from raising matters and issues which the regime wants to be concealed and therefore to outlaw competitive politics.
80. The fear to lose in a multiparty free and fair elections and the predilection of the leader of the regime for militarist rule are already enshrined in the law for elections to be Constituent Assembly. The regime and particularly its leader want it to be believed that the elections shall be free and fair and that "people shall freely decide" whether they want the political Parties or not. But the election law provides that the people are not to be allowed to hear debates or arguments or points in favour of the political Parties. They are to hear only gross allegations against the Parties and vilification of the leaders of the Parties. The referendum, should it come, will also be conducted on the same basis. The core of a free and fair elections is the right of the voter to hear and weigh all sides of the argument on a particular issue in order to be able to vote for a candidate whose views are either identical or close to those of the voter. The hearing and weighing of all sides of arguments on an issue entails having in the election contest candidates of different political persuasions normally known as political Parties and excludes debarring the voter from receiving opinions or ideas unpalatable to the rulers. The NRA regime has, in the law for elections to the Constituent Assembly, outlawed and forbidden the hearing and weighing by the voter of all sides of arguments on the issue of its intention to murder political Parties. In any case, the matter whether or not there should be Parties is not a votable commodity to be determined by a majority. It is a matter for the individual citizen and presenting it otherwise is thought control. The prescription for thought control, repression and tyranny is being called free and fair elections by the NRA regime and its adulators.
81. Long before 1986, the leader of the NRA had been harbouring the idea of his ruling Uganda not through the ballot but through the gun. He made it in January, 1986 and he is determined that the gun and him must continue to rule. It was Museveni himself, the leader of the NRA regime and the over-all Commander of the NRA, who disclosed his long standing goal to rule by the gun. The New Vision, a daily published by the NRA regime, on 26 November, 1990 reported remarks made by Museveni the previous day at a funeral. In his remarks Museveni was reported to have disclosed that he had recruited the deceased and others, whom he listed, in a clandestine army with the objective of taking over the powers of the government of Uganda by force of arms. He gave the date for the recruitment as 1969. It was to take him 17 years to achieve his objective. It is therefore idle thinking for anyone to think or believe that a man who has conspired for so long, was prepared to commit massacres, devastations and despoliations to reach his goal and has ruled for over seven years during which there has been much bloodshed, devastations and despoliations, is able, on his own volition, to change his basic character or to adopt any other form of governance; but the people of Uganda who believe in Multiparty System of Governance can force him to choose between being an outcast in the community of nations or a member of it. The elections to the Constituent Assembly must be made to be the first step to curb Museveni's predilection and the key for the Parties to field their own candidates, but that depends on the donors with-holding their subventions to him. Any other course will mean endorsement of his long standing thirst for personal and militarist rule.
82. At the end of the war against Amin's regime in early 1979 Museveni, who was the Minister of Defence, ordered executions in Western Uganda without the knowledge of or Death Warrants signed by the then President, Yusuf Lule. Museveni disclosed the executions in June 1979 at a meeting which I attended as an observer in the Town of Mwanza, Tanzania. He committed other atrocities including burning down of a coffee factory on the outskirts of Mbarara Town in Western Uganda; the factory was owned by a Co-operative Union. He also tried to burn down a Senior Secondary School, Ntare, in Mbarara and that was his former School. His reasoning was that he was expressing the wrath of the people against the Amin regime.
83. In 1980, Museveni opposed, most vehemently, all ideas for holding a multiparty elections to the National Assembly. His argument was that Uganda was in a revolution which had to be consolidated first by the military. He had at that time a large army, the fore runner of the NRA, under his personal control but nominally part of the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) which was created at Moshi, Tanzania in March, 1979 at a Conference of some Ugandan exiles who also founded, at the Conference, the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). It was the UNLF which, until May, 1980 ran the government of Uganda. The Military Commission took over the government that same month but left intact, the Interim Parliament.
84. The UNLF government before it fell was working on holding an election. It was not to be a multiparty elections and all candidates were to be vetted and to stand under what was called "the UNLF Umbrella". The system was opposed by the political Parties particularly the UPC. Museveni favoured the system. His vehement opposition to multiparty elections came in late May, 1980 when the Military Commission and the Interim Parliament began to discuss multiparty elections. Museveni found himself with no appreciable support in the Interim Parliament and was alone in the Military Commission on his views against Multiparty Elections.
85. It was announced in June by the Military Commission that Multiparty Elections would be held in September, 1980. The date was later advanced to December, 1980 because arrangements could not be completed by September. It was during this period that Museveni founded his Party - he had no alternative - the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM).
86. During the elections campaign, Museveni whose Party produced no election Manifesto (in fact only the UPC of the four Parties published a Manifesto) had only one theme throughout the campaign. His theme was that if his Party did not win the elections, he would take up the gun and go to the bush. His Party won only one seat out of 126 seats and he himself, in his constituency, lost to the candidate of the Democratic Party (DP). Museveni lost and went to the bush in early 1981 with some 12,000 men and in January, 1986 became the President through the gun, massacres, devastations, despoliations and dissembling - hypocrisy and deception. He has used all the five means to the maximum since 1986. With his record, does anybody in the donor governments really think or believe seriously that Museveni can change or that he is different from what is outlined in this LETTER! Any such thought or belief in addition to subventions has no basis and will go to prolong the agony and misery of the people of Uganda. After the fall of Amin in April, 1979 Museveni plunged Uganda into war again in February, 1981 when he falsely alleged that the December, 1980 elections had been rigged in favour of the UPC.
87. Much was therefore propagated abroad that the 1980 elections were rigged. That was the allegations made by Museveni and also by the DP on which Museveni, with utter scorn to the Constitutional process, hanged his screen to cover his predilection to gun rule by making the allegation to be seen as the reason for his launching a civil war. His real reason for launching the war was to take-over the government by force of arms in a short war. He had the men - about the same size as the official army - but he lacked logistics. His choice to go to war, confirms his mental preference to gun rule. He rejected the non-violent course, which was available, because he could not prove that the elections were rigged in favour of the UPC. That non-violent course was to petition the High Court and seek for redress. The Judges of the High Court had not been appointed by the leader of the UPC or by the UPC administration but by the government of the UNLF and some of them had been appointed by Amin
88. The law under which the elections were held provided for a losing candidate or a voter in such a candidate's constituency to petition the High Court in the case of a dispute about how the elections was conducted, according to law or not. The High Court had very wide powers when a case of rigging, malpractice, cheating etc had been proved; it could order a fresh election or a recount of the votes, for each candidate in front of the Judges. Museveni scorned and avoided the High Court precisely because of what follows.
89. Votes were counted at the polling stations in the presence of the agents of the respective candidates (Parties). Total votes for each candidate at a polling station was recorded in an official form by the Polling Assistant and counter-signed by each of the agents. A copy of the form signed by the Polling Assistant and counter-signed by each of the agents was retained by each of the agents. Forms from all the polling stations in a constituency were submitted by each of the Polling Assistant to the Returning Officer who had to total the votes of each of the candidates in the presence of additional agents of all candidates. The candidates or their supporters also, separately, did the same i.e. total the votes from the copies of the Form from the Polling Station submitted to them by their respective agents. In this way, where the arithmetic, totals, of the Returning Officer differed with those of any of the candidates, the Returning Officer was required to do his total again. If having done so three times, his figures still differed with those of any of the candidates, he was required to announce his figures and to declare the winner in that Constituency. Any of the losing candidates or a voter in the Constituency, who disputed the result as declared by the Returning Officer, was free to petition the High Court. If the dispute was only on the totals, the High Court Judges would do the totalling and declare the result which would be binding. In the case of riots or disappearance of ballot boxes before the counting of the votes or any event at a polling station which made the voting not to be seen to be free and fair, if proved, the High Court had the power to declare a fresh election but such events never occurred
90. It could therefore easily be proved if any Returning Officer had recorded more votes for a winning candidate when the figures in the Forms from the polling stations, in possession of his opponents, showed that he polled less votes and another candidate polled more votes. It was this simple proof which Museveni or the candidates of his Party could not produce in the High Court. They had the Forms from each of the polling stations signed by the Polling Assistants and counter-signed by the agents of each of the candidates. All that Museveni or the candidates of his Party had to show, in the High Court, was that from the Forms, their arithmetic showed that his Party, UPM, won in so many Constituencies and that the UPC candidate who had been declared winners, had in fact, lost. Since he knew the UPC won the elections, the allegations about election rigging were a screen to conceal the defeat his Party suffered and also to conceal the road he had travelled along since 1969 particularly now, in 1980, when he had under his control a sizeable army.
91. The Commonwealth Secretariat, London, assembled a Group drawn from nine Commonwealth Countries - 3 from Africa, 2 from Europe and one each from North America, the West Indies, Asia and Australia. The Commonwealth Observer Group was served by a large staff, all from out of Uganda. In their Interim Report, this is what the Group said:
"19 If this election has in a sense been a striving for the impossible, the degree to which it has succeeded must primarily be attributed to the people of Uganda. The remarkably high turnout of voters, their enthusiastic but orderly behaviour, and their palpable wish to be masters of their destiny constitute a great act of affirmation in the democratic process"
The "orderly behaviour" was the hallmark of the election. There were no riots or some thugs of any political Party stealing and running away, for instance, with ballot papers or boxes - something which could have led someone to make the allegations of the rigging. The Group concluded the Interim Report with the following assessment:-
"20 .... We believe this has been a valid electoral exercise which should broadly reflect the freely expressed choice of the people of Uganda".
92. The Commonwealth Observer Group expressed reservations regarding 17 constituencies which returned UPC candidates on nomination day, that is to say, candidates of the other Parties were not nominated to stand in those constituencies. The Democratic Party (DP) but not Museveni's UPM lodged complaints with the Group who gave the complaints much consideration and gave their conclusions in their Final Report as follows:-
"146 We have expressed at some length our reservations regarding nominations and a number of the unopposed returns: without question, this is the area most open to criticism, but it is one where the Courts have the power of provide redress. We would, however, add that about half of the seats involved are likely to have been captured by the UPC in any event, so that despite their effect on the arithmetic, they are unlikely to have affected the outcome."
The "outcome" referred to was the victory of the UPC.
93. The DP did file petitions to the High Court regarding the 17 seats. Seven of the petitions regarding seven of the 17 seats were filed by one voter who was not even a voter in any of the seven constituencies. As the law provided that a petition could only be filed by a losing candidate or candidates or a voter or voters in the constituency of the losing candidate, these seven petitions were not only defective but also invalid. It also meant, as predicted or suspected by the Commonwealth Observer Group, that the DP could not have won in all the 17seats had its candidates been nominated. This is indicated by the subterfuge to file seven spurious petitions: for it cannot be said that neither the DP leaders, their candidates nor their lawyers did not know the law.
94. The DP, in fact, filed a total of 26 petitions including the invalid seven. The Party and its candidates, however, with the exception of one, were singularly reluctant to prosecute the petitions. So in 1985 and with the exception of the one petition, the High Court threw out the rest of the petitions for lack prosecution.
95. The allegations about the elections having been rigged in favour of the UPC was actually started by the leaders of the Democratic Party (DP) and spread by journalists. The date was 12th December, 1980. By mid-day on that day, election returns from constituencies in Buganda (Southern Region) due mostly on account of good communications, showed the DP winning everywhere in Buganda. Elsewhere in the North, East and West, the votes were either still being counted or totalled in many constituencies. For some unknown reason, the DP Headquarters in Kampala issued a statement at mid-day on 12th December and proclaimed victory for the DP. The journalists fell into the trap and flashed the false claim near and far. This is what the Commonwealth Observer Group, in their Final Report, said about the claim by the DP:-
"142 The first results were announced over Radio Uganda shortly after 2:00 p.m. on 12 December. We were present in the Communication Centre at this time and while the results were coming to hand."
"143 Earlier in the day we had debriefed all our assistants who had returned to Kampala from various parts of the country and it had become apparent to us from the reports of their observations both during the poll and at the count that the DP was publicly claiming to have won seats which it had almost certainly lost. For instance, the claim was even made of a success in Gulu (North). Where we knew that the UPC was taking 90 percent of the vote. At no stage did we lend credence to the claims by the DP that they had won a clear majority. Rather we contacted the DP to advise it of the position as we understood it to be, and subsequently the DP confirmed to us that some of its information from outlying Districts had been incorrect."
96. Part of the tragedy of Uganda, since 1980, arises from the position of the leaders of the Democratic Party (DP) on important national matters:-
* On the 1980 elections, the DP leaders made claims of having won the elections but they then "confirmed" to the Observer Group that some of their "information .... had been incorrect" but still kept, to date, to make the very same claim; they filed, in the High Court, seven spurious, defective and invalid petitions and failed for over four years to prosecute the rest of their petitions.
* They have admitted publicly, since 1986, of having helped Museveni's insurgents during the Luwero war (1981-85) with "food and propaganda".
* The Okello Junta fell in 1986 January to the NRA and again the DP's topmost leaders and more than thirty others took office as ministers in the NRA regime.
* The ban on the activities of the political Parties, including the activities of the DP, was imposed by the NRA regime when the three topmost leaders of the DP and others were ministers in the regime. None of the DP ministers resigned in protest. Since then, March 1986, the President of the DP, Paul Ssemogerere, who is now 2nd deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, does not appear to see anything wrong with the ban. He appears also to support the Programme of the NRA regime by which political Parties will not be allowed to field their own candidates in the elections to the Constituent Assembly and yet he knows that that is the regime's first step to the removal of the political Parties from Uganda's body politic.
97. There have also been, in addition to the DP leaders, a range of leaders of opinion, including Bishops, who supported and still support the regime with much emotion. As regards the Bishops, a young Ugandan cleric has described the support as "an absurd situation where one Bishop speaks of the "peace we are enjoying" while another must, with virtually no resources, attend to destitute - orphans and widows mostly - and a third is begging churches abroad for resources to enable his diocese to take care of, at least, the orphans - the victims of the NRA operations".
98. The cause of the traumatic ordeal and much bloodshed in Uganda, since the1980 elections, was and remains Museveni. There was no war, massacres, devastations and despoliations before he launched the Luwero war on 5th February, 1981. The terror wrought by his army, in Luwero, made it impossible for him to expand the war into a wider area. In fact, by the middle of 1985, the Luwero war was virtually over and Museveni had fled to Sweden. The military Junta, called him back to join a "Broadbased Government". He, instead, subjected the Junta in a spurious negotiation for six months in Nairobi, Kenya; he was in fact, dissembling and gaining time to raise another army and making opportunistic alliances, all of which helped him to overthrow the Junta in January, 1986. Some of his then leading allies have been killed, some have fled abroad and the rest have been discarded and silenced. The Museveni rule has been distinctly brutal. The international community never appreciated that, in the Luwero war, it was in Museveni's interest to terrorise the District and blame it onto the UPC government who did everything possible and succeeded to prevent the war from expanding. However, when Museveni established his regime, the lack or the absence of clear appreciation by the international community, of his mental preference for violence and gun-rule, exemplified by atrocities of holocaustic proportions in the North and East made the atrocities to go virtually unnoticed. He banned Party activities in March, 1986 when there was not any militarist or even political opposition to his regime.
99. The situation is being compounded today by the posture of the governments of the donor community. It appears that the position of the donors is that since Museveni is vehemently opposed to any form of Multiparty Systems of Governance, he must be supported with finance and other resources and thereby help him to remove the political Parties from Uganda's body politic. The human rights issues involved in such a scheme do not appear to be of any importance to those who want to support Museveni.
100. The Uganda Peoples Congress, emphasises, in conclusion, that Uganda is composed by people who support Museveni and those who do not. The latter are also human beings and deserve to enjoy the protection of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual.
A. Milton Obote
15 May, 1993