It looks like gruesome killing of people in Uganda is a “new normal”. Year in year out cases of killing of people with lethal weapons are recorded and painful as it is for the victims and those left behind, some leaders seem to say “all is well” and those who carry out the acts are glorified and even protected from the hand of the law.
There is nothing as painful as insensitive statements made by the national leaders over the death, the torture and the sufferings of the people of this country. The reading from their utterances is that the lives of the ordinary people don’t matter and it is of no consequence how many are killed. It is only the lives of the “who is who” that matter.
Listening to a leader say that some people have a right to kill and that he had no apologies for anyone who was killed is devastating and very inhuman. Is this a statement that comes out of the lips of a normal person? Does he understand the pain inflicted on to those who were killed, those who saw the killing take place and the families, relatives and friends that have to grapple with the loss? Is it because none of his close associates was a victim? If I may ask, are our leaders qualified to provide leadership? Are we having lesser human in those leadership positions? It is commonly said that leaders are anointed by God, I might be arriving at a conclusion the leaders in Uganda are not from God.
While there may be celebrations over the victory of shushing the progressive voices and peaceful demonstrations, which I believe become violent when confronted and provoked by some factors, it should be noted that it may not be over yet until workable solutions to the impasse are found. There is no doubt that the actions by the citizens are sparked off by the highly sensitive and volatile political situation caused by inadequate levels of transparency in the political and electoral process in particular.
The excessive curtailment of freedoms for some contestants especially the opposition candidates for the various political offices could be one of the reasons why citizens are expressing themselves in this manner. In my view, let a leveled ground for all candidates be provided if a meaningful competition is to be realized. The candidates who are also incumbents in the respective positions should not be given special treatment save for some whose offices so require but who should not abuse them either.
If you are an incumbent and you subject yourself to a status of a candidate and open yourself to being assessed, ridiculed, judged or measured etc, let it be. Accept to go by the rules of the game and be ready for the consequences. Suffocating alternative voices is not the answer.
The reading on the wall currently seems to indicate that incumbents must be in the lead at all times and anything that threatens the status quo must be quashed. My understanding is that where democracy prevails, open competition is the norm and it should be left to prevail. If the threat to keeping the positions of incumbency is reason for the unethical behavior of the security forces and those in leadership, it is time reflections are made on how to deal with this matter. It is also time we all realize that being a holder of a certain position, does not make you the alpha and omega, know it all and irreplaceable. Change is normal and okay and when it comes, it should be embraced with grace.
In the strongest terms, the killing of innocent citizens, maiming others, traumatizing and causing untold psychological suffering to many people that occurred on the 18th and 19th November is condemned. This is uncalled for and I wish to remind all those that conducted and were involved in this ugly exercise that the arm of the law is not far and the truth will always manifest. For you who torture people under orders be reminded that the Prevention and Prohibition of torture Act 2012 protects you from being punished for disobeying an order to undertake actions amounting to torture, cruel or inhuman treatment and that whoever is found guilty of doing so, can be imprisoned up to 15 years.
Also be reminded that the right to life is not given by the state or by people who order you to shoot to kill or by yourself. It is inherent and no one born alive should be deprived of it.
The killing of over 30 people is not a matter to be taken lightly. It is time for leaders to know that every life in this country matters and the death of those people and the suffering subjected to many people is their sole responsibility. The catastrophe that has taken place under their leadership signifies failure, the only honorable act the country expects from them is to resign from their positions.
John Mary Odoy
Senior Citizen and Promoter of Human Rights, democracy and good governance
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