Barely a month after three people were shot dead by the military police in Gulu, witnesses say the killing was methodically orchestrated.
Mao was arrested by the district Police Criminal Investigative Chief Moses Bwebagye and the District Police Commander Moses Muluya (promoted after the incident) after he launched his walk to work campaign on the main street in Gulu town.
The witnesses say while trying to quell protest, the soldiers went inside villages kicking doors, beating, looting and shooting at random on unarmed civilians.
Mulem Hassan a brother to late Daniel Musa Wasaga killed by soldiers told Acholi Times that while on their way home at the main electricity station, a group of three soldiers questioned them and without thorough explanation opened fire at them killing his brother instantly.
“They asked us in Swahili that ‘where are you going?’ and we replied that we are going home, and they lifted up their guns and pulled the trigger at us, while escaping Wasaga fell down,” Hassan said
Adding “I thought he slid and fell and while I continued for my life, seeing no one behind me, I called his phone but it could not go through.”
Mr Hassan said “government has never offered any apology to the family or apprehended the perpetrators other than say that what we have heard over the radio that they have offered compensation which has not even come.”
The community in Gulu is still living in fear and as usual, Hassan believes that another riot may yet disorganize his business.
Hassan said Mr Wasaga had shs400, 000 on him and a mobile phone but all were removed and the phone Sim-card dropped on the victim’s blood stain body at the scene.
Wasaga was later buried at his home village in Mbale district east of the country. He is survived by four siblings and two widows.
One of the widow, Ms Foni Jane 29, a Madi by tribe said that life had since become downward spiral since the death of her husband, who was the bread winner.
Ms Foni said she that she cannot afford legal battle with the government over the death of her husband instead preferred compensation.
“Well, if the abusers can be got then they should be taken for justice in Court but I don’t belief the will to investigate the incident can ever take place in this regime,” Foni said in tears.
One other person who was shot and killed at his garage was Charles Odur, another welder in Layibi Industrial zone in Gulu Municipality.
Patrick Oryem who was inside the container shop with the deceased said he breathed his last when a soldier deliberately fired live ammunitions inside the house.
“We were not part of riot and they were far away from our location, government hurried to bury his body in Lukodi,” he said.
Shs5m will not silent family
The Minister for Presidency Beatrice Wabudeya gave the bereaved family 5million shillings in condolence.
While the rush to give money can be taken for an admission of guilt and remorse, Oryem said “such condolence should be a tactic to shut the family from talking about the state killings.”
Odur’s widow and her four children are left disgruntled, the government, according to Oryem should take responsibility for their education and wellbeing.
Human Rights accuses army with rape
In areas of Cereleno, Custom Corner and Nakasero, all in the suburbs of Gulu town; at least five women have so far come forward to human rights bodies complaining that they were raped.
Other people were arrested inside their houses and on the streets and forced to carry burning tyres while being beaten.
“As I was going home along the way at custom corner, two soldiers approached me, one grabbed my child and another pushed me down the roadside and had forceful sexual intercourse with me,” a woman only identified as Acen told Acholi Times.
She said after they raped her, the soldiers left her to go but the following day she reported the matter to the police and sought treatment at Gulu Independent hospital.
But Police spokesman Johnson Kilama denied any case of that nature was reported at the station. However, this paper was denied access to the police registry to ascertain and verify what Kilama’s denial.
“It was a terrible thing for me, the day I will never forget in my life. Sometimes I think death should strike me,” Acen said.
Acen said that the experience brought back painful memories of what she witnessed in the late 80s during her teens when “the NRA (National Resistance Army now UPDF) raped Acholi men in front of their families, suicide was the only alternative left to them”, she said.
Another woman, Sarah Akullu survived being raped by soldiers that day while inside her house at Cereleno in Tegwana parish.
“When the riot intensified in town; we closed the market and ran home, six soldiers got inside the house by kicking the door open and started beating me with batons,” she said.
Sarah was only rescued by another soldier whom she suspected to be their commander, who told them that I had received enough beating.
“If the commander did not rescued me, I would have been a victim of rape,” she said.
In the neighbourhood, several people were tortured and their property looted by the soldiers during the undeclared curfew.
“The night of April 14 was like a dark nightmare that brought brutality and extra judicial killings, and inhuman treatments” she said
Another victim who is also a driver of Gulu Local government community service Mr Patrick Odonga said he was forced to carry burning tyre on the street.
“Look at my hand, it was terribly swollen with blister and I had to urinate in it to prevent it from worsening, this is the local treatment which we use for burns,” Odonga said.
Human Rights bodies call for investigation and prosecution.
On April 21, Gulu district Human Rights Protection and Promotion Sub-Committee accused the Police and the Army of orchestrating planned human rights abuses.
The Chairman of the Human Rights Committee James Otto accused the army of allegedly raping women, clubbing innocent civilians, extorting money, beating people and forcing others to carry burning tyre on the streets.
“…wanton and indiscriminately clubbing of people, allege rape of women in Cereleno and Nakasero, extortions are unconstitutional and a violation of fundamental human rights,” Otto wrote in the body’s April 21st press release.
He said the government must institute an immediate investigation into the matter to bring those abusers to book.
Five women now claim to be victims of rape and Otto said his organization will follow up with a legal suit against the government on the matter.
Normalcy has since returned to Gulu though there remains minimal tension and fear due to military police’s continued patrol in the outskirts of town.
Responding to these series of allegation against the military, the spokesman for the 4th Division UPDF based in Gulu Captain Peter Mugisha said the killings were committed by former LRA fighters who were in the public.
“Our men are disciplined and when they go for operation they know the rule of the game; may be former rebels sneaked into the bush and got guns which were used to kill the unarmed civilians,” Mugisha said.
“It’s absolutely a lie if you say our soldiers raped women, it’s not possible for a soldier firing bullets to also get erect because he will be busy,” Captain Mugisha said.
Capt Mugisha forgets that the day after the killings, flanged by the regional Police Spokesman Johnson Kilama and the Resident District Commissioner Charles Owor, he apologized to the public for the deaths.
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