We first became involved after I (Nick) was part of launching a new Health Center in Pwunu Dyang, a remote region of Apaa. The farthest reaches of Apaa are over 5 hours travel by motorbike from Gulu, and are among the most remote places in Northern Uganda. Early this year, the health center was going well but we heard stories of government soldiers intimidating people, stealing livestock and burning huts. We didn’t know how seriously to take these rumours, until our courageous nurse insisted that the situation was really bad. “I can see the smoke…”
During the last 6 months, the Apaa people have led an astonishing fight against these violent attacks, that are an illegal attempt to forcibly drive them off their land. Tessa has published some amazing articles (see below), which outline the so-far successful struggle of a people, who continue to fight for the only land they have.
I’ve outlined 3 levels of engagement below, depending on your level of interest/laziness. I’d advise reading Tessa’s articles, they are far better than my brief bullet points 😀
Level 1 – The rapid summary
– The Ugandan government plans to evict 10,000 – 26,000 Acholi people from an area of land the government claims is a ‘game reserve’, despite the area having no large animals which would count as ‘game’, and a resident, settled local community.
– There is an active court injunction against any evictions. The army ignores this injunction.
– Until recently, government soldiers and Uganda Wildlife Authority staff regularly came to brutally abuse the local citizens. They steal goats and chickens, intimidate and sometimes physically abuse people, and burn their huts.
– Amnesty international published a report, and put out a call to action about the issue.
– A research team took geolocated photos which documented 840 huts burned in the last 6 months.
– Religious leaders and local politicians have travelled multiple times over 4 hours from Gulu to directly confront the Army camp in the area. After each confrontation the army crossed the Nile and fled.
– Over 200 people from Apaa staged an occupation inside the Gulu UN human rights compound for over a month, and achieved incredible support from the Gulu public, religious leaders and politicians. Since this effective direct action,the army has remained in the Apaa area, but has stopped burning huts.
– Apaa citizens have met with the American, Danish and German Embassies, asking for their help.
– The struggle continues
Level 2 – An exciting, easy to read piece focused on the UN occupation (co-written by Tessa)
Level 3 – A 2-part blog series written for the London School of Economics, very well written and engaging, which goes into more depth, and includes historical background. (co-written by Tessa)
If you’ve got any questions about the situation, message us through the blog contact page, facebook or e-mail.