more about http://chompdigital.com/wp-includes/class.wp-includes.php sans-serif; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Residents allege that “tens of thousands of lives went down with innumerable possessions, and especially cattle during different turbulent times in the area, thanks to the rogue elements of NRA during the 1980s Liberation war, and later on the UPDF and other armed groups including defunct UPA rebels, LRA and Karamajong cattle thieves”.
Chimpreports caught up with Mr. Julius Ochen, the leader of Teso War and Cattle rustling Victims Association, which has been pushing for compensation of people’s lives and property.
Ochen told us that their Court case was faring well and that government would soon be paying for all its undoing.
Ochen, also former LC5 Chairman Amuria District in the interview, expressed astonishment that government, well aware of its contribution to the plight of the people of Teso, had not only remained unrepentant, but also determined to suppress their calls for compensation.
“In the last two years, we have discovered more mass graves bringing their total number so far to fifteen. Our people were buried in pit latrines years ago and we are discovering their remains today. How shall we ever heal our wounded hearts?” he quizzed.
“Of course government not only knew about all this, but it also had a direct hand in the killings. In some villages, UPDF helicopters bombed people’s homes, while on dozens of other instances it failed on its own responsibilities, administratively.”
Ochen revealed that most of these mass graves had been discovered earlier but people in these localities had no one to report to, because of fear until the Association came into existence in 2010, giving them a hope and a backing to have their voices projected.
The association filed a Case against government in the same year in High court before Judge Justine Elizabeth Ibanda; whose hearing started in April 2013.
Government through the Attorney General tried and failed twice to appeal against the case, and on the third occasion, their application was blocked by the Court, which maintained that the Teso victims indeed had a strong case that government has to respond to.
Apparently State’s logic had been to “kill off” this case on grounds that some of the crimes alleged in the case were committed in 1980s long before the 1995 National Constitution came into existence!
According to Mr Ochen, all that the 1.2 milion people of Teso expect from this court verdict is proper reparation as well as setting a good precedent for future perpetrators of conflict.
“We know that the President has been going around scattering money on people’s funerals in the name of Victims’ compensation. But this is not what we want to see. There must be a systematic way in which all victims of the conflict are compensated, in a scheme that government must officially adopt.”
He added: “This should not only serve the people of Teso region, but also Acholi, Karamoja, Kasese and other areas that for years were deprived of peace, stability and development, in the watch of government.”
“Once we have this, then we also believe that a clear signal will be sent to any other future perpetrators of instability, that their actions would come along with serious repercussions.”