“I suffered in the hands of the LRA for reasons that remain unknown. For long, I have heard some mutter about traditional justice. Implying that my suffering will be addressed by traditional justice mechanisms is nothing but an insult that can only be uttered by people who have never experienced this pain or are simply indifferent to my suffering. As I struggle with my pain day-to-day, I hope that one day those rebels who cut my lips, my ears and who killed my husband, will face me and tell me what I did to deserve their cruelty. The LRA did not have mercy on me when I cried the loudest in my life, imploring them to spare me. Now, who has the courage to ask me to forgive them? Justice is justice, there is no alternative to justice,”
“If any tribe in Northern Uganda has forgiven Ongwen or supports him because he is their son, they are free to forgive. But they cannot think of imposing forgiveness on others. Ongwen’s trial should send a strong message that Ugandans are determined to make sure that from today nobody can kill and abuse innocent civilians and walk free,” stressed Ssebi from Adjumani, West Nile.
“As a formerly abducted youth who served under Ongwen’s command, I can assure you that Ongwen was determined, ruthless. I don’t think that he decided to come back out of goodwill, but because he was cornered by the UPDF and US forces and had no choice but to surrender to Seleka rebels,” shared Peter Okot from Agago District, Northern Uganda.
“Ongwen must face justice even if he was abducted as a child. Any attempt to shield him from facing justice might cause further rifts in the LRA-affected societies. Ethnic tensions and finger pointing could escalate,” warned Sandra A. from Amuria District, Eastern Uganda.
“It is something difficult, you know. He was not human enough, he was and still is a bad commander. In the military you don’t gain ranks without having committed yourself to fulfilling the orders of your superiors. Ongwen was such a committed commander. Whatever people say, let them say it, it’s O.K. As for me, I say that Ongwen must answer for my three children who were abducted under his command. My children could have built me a house, bought me animals, clothes, or even just a pair of shoes, which I may never own again given how poor I am. To those advocating for his amnesty, please have a heart; know that victims want justice. Foregiveness comes from heart, not from you,” pleaded Omino Lawrence from Kabermaido, Teso.
“Our local religious and cultural leaders should have better things to do than to campaign against justice for victims and to defend and glorify perpetrators who need to face justice. They should lead reconciliation campaigns instead,” said Ms. Acaa B. from Lukodi, Gulu District.
“The arrest of Ongwen provides an opportunity for the ICC to restore the vital trust between them and their key partners, namely the victims, CSOs and other intermediaries. The trust was damaged by a lack of meaningful engagement. After years of voluntary engagement to support the Court out of goodwill and without any funding, intermediaries feel betrayed. They are afraid that the Court makes decisions without including them in the decision-making process or even consulting them,” said a representative of an intermediary organisation.
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© African Youth Initiative Network - Uganda 2017