What It Means to Be An Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Rebel Captivity

Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Rebel Captivity

Ravages of war are indelible trails of misery in society. If we were all sensible to the well-being of society we would shun anything to do with war. There are many effects and defects of war that one would not want to recount, yet they remain vivid and cause ill feelings that provoke reactions.

In 1996, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at Mpondwe border post in Kasese. They retreated with a huge number of civilians when they met resistance from the Ugandan forces.

Many of these abductees have been seen again because they are or are still in captivity.

How we ended up in captivity

On August 16, 1997, 19 minor seminarians and two employees were abducted; three vehicles of the seminary burnt and other property destroyed, in a night raid at our school, St John’s Minor Seminary, by ADF combatants.

This was the very first act by the ADF to abduct young school children before they proceeded to Kichwamba Technical College seven months later.

Some of the boys have since died. It is clear that ADF resorted to abductions to beef up their ranks.

The seminarians were a big asset to the force because of the level of education and fluency in English language. This made them vulnerable to strict surveillance and indoctrination lest they escaped.

Whoever showed signs of resistance was tortured and eventually killed. When the 11 seminarian students managed to return home, they were drained, physically, emotionally, economically, and socially. Whoever saw them or listened to their testimony was moved with pity.

The aftermath

The last person returned in 2008 after spending 12 and a half years in captivity. Since our return, we have been left to fend for ourselves. We still need a lot of help to fit in society.

Jamil Mukulu, the master of our misery, has been captured, but still there is no mention about the St John’s Seminarians.

We have been left out of Mukulu’s crimes; instead the media is putting a strong emphasis on the Kichwamba massacre

No one among the ADF abductees can tell the story of the Kichwamba Technical students than the seminarians, since the plan to go and attack Kichwamba Technical College was done when we were already in captivity.

Most Kichwamba students were beheaded for being too exhausted. None of them survived past 2004.

The last person among them was put on firing squad in Buhira for trying to rape the national political commissar’s wife. He was shot thrice in the head and the left side of his chest. There were other killings that took place I guess to instil fear in the remaining abductees.

We need answers

As we recall the St John’s massacre, there are still more questions than answers. Why was the seminary attacked, is a question that may not be adequately answered by both victims and perpetrators. It only points to the darkness in men’s hearts that can only be conquered by love.

Who will ever heal the wounds and the trauma inflicted on the surviving victims and their families? Who will make up for their lost educational opportunities?

Who will adequately console the families that lost their dear ones and later on make an effort to exhume their bodies and accord them a decent burial?

Why should the perpetrators of this conflict be granted amnesty, be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society while the surviving victims languish without adequate education or gainful employment?

These enduring questions can only be tackled by a combined effort of the government, the victims themselves, and the perpetrators who renounced rebellion, the religious bodies and the civil society organisations.

In the final analysis we are all called to be peacemakers. “Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of faith”.

Our plight

When we finally got back home, returnees from St John’s Seminary formed a community-based organisation called Foundation of Rwenzori Abductees and Returnees Organisation (FORARO). It was registered by the community service department of Kasese District local government.

Since it started in 2010, it has not got any assistance from any stakeholder; in spite of the many proposals to different institutions for funding.

We were even left out of the Luweero-Rwenzori development programme yet there are people within Kasese benefiting from it.

We still wonder who qualifies to benefit from the Luweero-Rwenzori development programme. As an association, we have tried to reach out to the victims of war in Kasese and their plight is the same.

Victims of a series of crimes and violations are struggling to cope with suffering.

The untreated war-related injuries are a painful reminder of the horrors we have lived through. FORARO feels that the stakeholders of peace ought to do more for ADF war-victims.

Written by Baluku Moses on behalf of ADF victims.

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Source: The Monitor

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