Lest We Forget: The Mukura Massacre in Teso Region on the 11th July 1989
“Mukura is in Kumi District which is in Teso and Teso is in the North-East which Museveni told the diplomats as having been pacified. Why was it that some three hundred young men were imprisoned and locked by the NRA in Railway wagons at Mukura, a pacified area, and then MASSACRED by setting fire under the wagons! The answer can only be that the destruction of the foodstuff of millions of people, the destruction of their homes, the MASSACRES of some three million people and at Mukura were all a deliberate policy to depopulate Uganda so as to provide land for foreigners to farm” (Dr. Milton Obote – ‘THE MUKURA MASSACRE’ 07.07.1999).
This here is a sad story of something that happen early in the National Resistance Movement regime, this was just three years into the NRM regime and after the coup of 1986. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his rebels was “new” in office. Still, this crimes shall not be forgotten, as the innocent lives taken. Should always be a stain on the legacy of the regime. Which never really have taken account or responsibility. The President shows up with military fatigue after the NRA have killed the locals. It is just wrong and doesn’t show any redeeming factor, but showing force instead of humility and willingness to lead.
Even at this point, he had to spring out fear, instead of building the republic. The same he does to this day, as he can have a budget speech in the military fatigue. It is not to long ago since the killings and massacres of Kasese, this here is just an older tale of the murders that is rightfully pinned on Museveni. As he and his Bush-War Generals haven’t taken accountability for.
The Preparation for the Massacre:
“After setting up their detach at Okungulo Railway Station, soldiers of the Pili-Pili battalion embarked on an operation to round up suspected rebels and rebel collaborators. The operation was planned to cover villages and parishes in the sub counties of Kapir, Mukura and Ngora (all located in Ngora county) in which rebels were believed to be hiding. The date chosen for the main operation was July 8, 1989. According to survivors and other eyewitnesses, the operation by the Pili-Pili battalion of the NRA started a few days prior to the massacre with the arrival of many soldiers to back up those already stationed at Okungulo Railway Station in Mukura trading centre. The soldiers were then divided up into several units and sent to different locations to begin rounding up suspected rebel collaborators” (JRP Field Note XII, March 2011 – ‘The Mukura Massacre of 1989’ P: 7-8).
The Massacre itself:
“This paradox of double standard was captured by a reader in a recent letter to the New Vision comparing the action taken against the Inspector General of the Police and his deputy on account of a shooting incident at the Makerere University campus and the notorious “Mukura Massacre” where over 60 innocent and defenseless people were suffocated to death in a train cabin by officers and men of the NRA. We quote from the letter in extenso:” Even more seriously, 69 youths were suffocated to death in train wagons by some NRA solders in Kumi in 1989. More recently some civilians were reportedly burnt to death in a hut in Serere, while others were clubbed to death near Soroti, allegedly by some NRA soldiers. These naked atrocities have practically been swept under the carpet by the authorities. But the Army Chief of Staff did not lose his job because of what his soldiers, who were miles away from him at the time, did. Are these not double standards?” (New Vision, January 3, 1991 :5). It is also useful to remember that none of the soldiers involved in the Mukura incident were arrested, as were those at Makerere. This then is the concrete reality of Uganda today” (OLOKA-ONYANGO, Joe – ‘Governance, Democracy and Development in Uganda Today: A Socio-Legal Examination’ 1992, P: 102-103, Kyoto University).
President Museveni false apologies:
“President Yoweri Museveni visited Mukura a few months after the massacre. Eyewitnesses testified that he addressed the crowd in full military fatigues. He apologized for what had happened and promised a decent burial for the dead plus compensation for the families of the people who had died. He also promised to construct a secondary school in memory of the victims and promised accountability for the soldiers who perpetrated the massacre. According to respondents: He addressed the people at a rally. He was dressed in his military attire. He apologised and said the Government was prepared and ready to give the dead a decent burial. … then he said action would be taken against those who [committed the massacre] and that decent burials for the dead would be organized. He promised compensation for the families [of the dead] and asked our MP [for Kumi], Fiona Egunyu, to follow up the issue” (…) “It appears, however, that the President’s apologies, on both occasions, were not well received by the people. As one of the survivors remarked: The President’s apology was just to appease us, but it was not from the bottom of his heart. This is a man who came with armoured vehicles, a full uniform [of army fatigues] and started talking to us civilians. What could a civilian say in return? We kept quiet throughout. He came in that military attire with his [bodyguards]. So psychologically the civilians kept quiet, and then he started talking and said that “I am sorry for this.” But people just kept quiet. And when he promised compensation for the victims some people faintly clapped, but nobody knew what was going on in the civilians’ hearts and whether they had really accepted that apology. And then he drove off. That was when people began to murmur among each other and that meant there was already a discontent” (JRP Field Note XII, March 2011 – ‘The Mukura Massacre of 1989’, P: 13, 17).
All of these words is signs that this massacre should not be forgotten, as the people who was killed innocently deserves justice. They don’t deserve to be pawns used by Museveni in Campaign Rallies. They deserve that the relatives and the people of Teso/Kumi get what is righteous.
This actions will not be forgotten, the people will remember what Museveni’s troops did in 1989. How they rounded up civilians, claiming to be rebels and killing them in rail-wagons. This shall not be forgotten, also that the President visiting the area came as General and not as a man of Peace. He came for battle and not to damage the hurt. Just came because he had to, but not because he wanted to. Museveni knew what his soldiers did on his command. They did act with impunity and killed the innocent. The President should answer for the battalion attack in 1989 in Kumi District of Teso Region.
These actions done by the NRA deserves to be remembered. Not because it is an event of grandeur or betterment of the Republic. But because it shows the ill-intent of the NRM. This here show the ills of this government and how it will not be accountable for its crimes against humanity.
The ones ordering it, the ones who has been apart of it should answer for it and the leadership today. Should also answer for it, as they are repeating it. They did it recently in Kasese, who knows if they will do it again. Just to answer the public, because they can and the people will not have the power or will to answer back. Peace.