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See Interview with Joseph Kony, Leader of the LRA
AFRICA'S UNTOLD GENOCIDE
MILITARY REPRESSION OF THE ACHOLI COMMUNITY
The community of Acholi (also Acoli, Atscholi, Shuli, Gang, Lwo, Lwoo, Akoli, Acooli, Log Acoli, Dok Acoli) has suffered the most brutal attempts at suppression in recent African history. Acholiland is located in northern Uganda and forms the substantive region that sits astride the Uganda/Sudan state frontiers in the African Union.
Several internationally cerebrated Acholi authors include Frank Anywar, and the late Okot p'Bitek who is best known for three verse novels, Song of Lawino (1966), Song of Ocol (1970), and Two Songs (1971).
Other leading members of the Acholi community include Paul Olweny, CIP coordinator for the Africa Demilitarization program, and Olara Otunnu the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The Acholi community consists of three major segments reflected by the three spoken dialects; Labwor, Nyakwai and Dhopaluo. The Acholi community was instrumental in the resistence against slavery and the colonial ambitions of the Ottomans, the Egyptians and the Arabs and British in Central Africa.
Beginning in 1971, General Idi Amin Dada purged the Uganda Army of Acholi troops by use of death squads. Hundreds of thousands of Acholi people escaped into exile and became instrumental in the struggle against Idi Amin. Acholi soldiers made up over 50% of the guerrila army that overthrew Amin in 1979 with the assistance of the Tanzanian People's Defence Force.
In July 1985 several Acholi officers led a military coup which overthrew Milton Obote. They installed General Tito Okello Lutwa, also an Acholi, as Head of State with a mandate to negotiate a truce with several guerilla armies that had been fighting Milton Obote. The Okello regime lasted until January 1986 when the coalition of guerilla armies and several factions of the Ugandan army that had mutinied captured Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, as well as several other major cities and towns.
Since 1986 the Acholi community has been subjected to the most brutal human rights atrocities by the government of Uganda. A scientific study of Gulu District in 2000 concluded that up to 90% of the Acholi males above the age of 35 were dead or missing.
Hundreds of thousands of Acholi people were forcefully relocated to concentration camps, while others were imprisoned and others confined in dungeons where they were tortured and killed. An NRA commander, Lt. Gen. David Tinyefuza, was instrumental in planning and implementing the torture and murder of thousands of members of the Acholi community.
The government issued media bans and enforced unofficial information blackouts on media coverage about Northern Uganda beginning in 1986. That blackout was temporarily lifted in 2000-2001 when the fighting subsided for 13 months. Reporters who travelled there for the first time in years were able to discover and confirm events that had only been rumours, including the fact that the UPDF was also abducting and mutilating children. Reports from members of the community confirm that hundreds of Acholi women were raped by the UPDF/NRM in various locations during the information blackout, including Pece Stadium where government soldiers sodomized and battered the women.
Over the course of the last 15 years Acholi's have been gradually eliminated from the political life of Uganda. President Yoweri Museveni revealed in August 2001 that while the level of absolute poverty has reduced from 56 to 35 percent in most parts of the country, in northern Uganda it has instead gone up from 60 percent to 66 in the last three years. Museveni attributed the mass poverty in northern Uganda to the continued insurgency and the aftermath of rebel activities, which have left in place dysfunctional families and ruined infrastructure.
In the current Museveni cabinet of 66 people, Northern Uganda that makes up 50% of the state has only nine representatives. Compared to the numbers from other regions. Museveni appointed a total of 19 ministers from Buganda and a whole 25 from western Uganda. Statistics show that this state of affairs is duplicated in other political appointments and jobs.
Among the disturbing statistics is the Makerere University 2001 admission list. (Makerere is Uganda's largest University). The number of students from five northern Uganda districts -- Gulu (78), Lira (50), Kitgum (44), Arua (76) and Nebbi (35) -- admitted on government sponsorship is lower than the total number of candidates from Kampala alone, which is 508, or Mukono's 415.
Some estimates put the number of Acholi dead since 1986 at a staggering one million (1,000,000). The current estimated population of Acholi in Uganda is 750,000. According to a 2001 census, the population of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu districts, which constitute Acholiland, is slightly over a million. However, an official government publication put the population of Acholis at a mere 350,000 in 1998. Given the state of war (with 271,000 people in internment camps in one district alone), and the confirmed fact that thousands of non-Acholi displaced also live in the region, the figures are inconclusive but alarming. Current estimates for Acholi's indegenous to Sudan is 30,000.
The rate of injury due to military violence is 700% higher in Acholi (Gulu and Kitgum Districts) than in Mukono District, a comparatively populated region in Central-South Uganda.