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Thursday, March 16, 2017

VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN CAN BE REDUCED STARTING RIGHT AT FAMILY LEVEL



These were words of Mr Paul Mukokoma who was a facilitator at the training of child rights activists in Kitholhu Sub County on 15th March 2017 at Kitholhu sub county head quarters who  urged the child rights activists to center their work of protecting children’s rights at family level because  change begins at house hold level and if the communities are to change in regard to promoting and protecting children’s rights they should start with the families and the whole community will change. He further urged them to keep the spirit of voluntarism in protecting children’s rights and that they shouldn’t give up even though they face challenges sometimes such as sabotage during protection and promotion of children’s rights. 
 The training that was organized by RIC-NET under the project of community driven approaches to prevent violence against children and adolescents in Kasese District aimed at refreshing the activist’s knowledge on the concept of violence against children, understanding common causes of violence against children and equipping them with knowledge about national, regional and international legal frame works governing violence against children which they can use as tools for defending their work.
Participants during a group exercise
The parish chief of Kitholhu Mr. Kato Stephen who also attended the training encouraged the activists to work together as a team and always seek guidance from each other and refer complicated cases of child rights violations in their areas to relevant officials like the Police, probation office and the office of the CDO if they are to achieve the aims of their voluntary work of protecting and promoting children’s rights.
one of the participants presenting  group work

Monday, March 6, 2017

Oiling the engine, fireproofing the wood



I was honoured to attend a meeting last week of community stakeholders, where peace and conflict were discussed at length. The meeting was attended by 26 members, from RIC-NET, Bundibugyo district local government, the intelligence and security services, the OBB and OBR cultural institute, and religious institutions, as well as LCIII's and Foot Peace Ambassadors from various CBOs.

Since the education range in the room was broad, many speakers realized how important it was to express their ideas with clarity. Therefore, the discussion touched on various metaphors to understand approaches to peace-building and conflict management. A warning was made that when ridding fields of a virulent weed, one should not only remove the leaves, not only the stem, but also the roots. A similar argument was made that strategies should address diseases entirely, not merely their symptoms. These are all useful to frame ideas, but do not make long term strategy any clearer. ‘Conflict’, just like ‘peace’ is not an object or a single set of behaviors. It is the outcome of sets of other human behavior. People are not diseases or weeds, and though some parts of their actions might be seen as such, they can’t be poisoned, yanked from the soil, or otherwise without the threat of damage.

Discussions of bottom-up and top-down methods caught my attention, approaching the problem either through political power-centers or the broader population. How can this be expanded to a broader idea that is simple to understand?

One struck me during the meeting: of fire, fuel, and sparks. Violent conflict is fire. Sparks come from friction and collisions between hard materials: stone, wood, metal. These are manifest as instigation by groups and individuals who have specific disputes with other individuals. If the sparks fall on flammable material, all goes up in flames. Yet just like a great machine, Ugandan society is constantly in motion, and increasingly so. Traditional societies are like elegant wooden chairs, or wooden hand-carts. 

The machinery was not complex, the movement limited. Kings ruled ethnic constituencies, people farmed for their livelihoods, government was face-to-face and life generally predictable. The colonial and post-colonial states arrived with their organised economies, highly regulated legal systems, large armies, roads, vehicles, science. They are like their engines and machines, forged of metal, with many moving parts, though unlike real engines, constantly in a process of being built. But still, traditionalism remains in the fringes, and there are more sparks emerging from the machine: electoral politics, cultural institutions, patronage for state integration, and struggles for economic opportunity. These sparks fall on flammable material, and can burst into flames. Of course even the best-tuned engines can catch fire: violence occurs in all sorts of circumstances. Yet here we have two ways of governing life interacting and coexisting, and occasionally burning itself.

What therefore is to be done? Some want the furniture to be kept away from the engine: a separate kingdom state. Some want the furniture gone altogether: full modernisation and integration. The former will leave the furniture without motion. The latter is only possible piece by piece, the slow transformation from a wooden frame to a steel one. It is long term, and any conflagrations only set back the changes: the wooden pieces burn, some metal breaks, and the whole is left damaged.   

This metaphor gives us some key guiding principles for community peacebuilding efforts. First, they should make the components less flammable. Peace narratives, the erosion of ethnic narratives and realisation of the consequences of violence make the people less likely to burst into flames when sparks arrive from above. The ideal goal is a fully fireproofed population, who will not respond violently either to their peers or their leaders. Second, interventions should reduce friction: engine oil is necessary between moving metal parts, and legal, peaceful dispute resolution and dialogue are essential for power holders not to clash. Third, some moving parts may need to be realigned. This is a careful and difficult process, like resetting a cog in motion. Movement in engines, just as interests in politics, is inevitable and desirable. But sometimes a part moves against others, and needs realignment. It will resist shifting back, but once in alignment should stay there, as its own motion will be smoother. It cannot be removed, nor should it. It cannot be stopped, nor should it. But shifting its movement back into alignment is essential for the running of the machine. Troublesome leaders will gain more from legal engagement, but must be allowed to do so, not blocked within legitimate channels. Fourth, neither metal nor wood is ‘wrong’. What is important is their means of interaction. I have often heard the argument that the traditional, magical or cultural elements in the equation should catch up with the 21st century. But this is a slow process, as I mentioned. One does not tear down a wooden house after placing a generator inside for fear of fire: you still need somewhere to live and sleep. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

BELONGING TO CULTURE AND SUBSCRIBING TO CULTURE.



District leaders of Bundibugyo held an interface/reflection meeting on community action to prevent and manage conflicts and human rights violations in the District. The meeting was conducted by Rwenzori information centers network with support from Hivos. The meeting was attended by security personnel (DPC, DISO and CO of Kanyamwirima army Barracks); the political leaders led by the District chairperson and members from the CBOs and LCIII chairperson from the project sub counties; 27 members attended this meeting held at the District community hall under community development department.
leaders in the meeting reflection on community driven mechanism.
The meeting was a reflection on the community led mechanism to manage conflicts and human rights violation in Rwenzori region and Bundibugyo District in particular. The community approach look at the bottom up solution to challenges facing the community. During the reflection, leaders from the CBOs shared their experiences from the interventions taken.  Among the intervention were holding community meeting at village level where members were able to analysis of the Key players by identifying those with influence and power, cause of occurrence of incidences and how such can be handled.

According to the DPC, issues that trigger conflicts were clearly seen as lack of knowledge and understanding, land tenure system, revenge on past actions and generalization of issues and above all mixing matters of cultural institution into politics of the land. There are individual person who stay at the periphery but contribute greatly to the actions.

Members shared that we have moved from violent situation to negotiation,” we can’t run away from culture but we have to adapt to other peoples culture and leave peacefully”. Cultural leaders have failed to understand the difference between belonging to culture and subscribing to a cultural institution.Bundibugyo is not for only a single community; there people who have come who belong to different cultures and do not subscribe to Obundingya bwa Bwamba and they need to be respected and accommodated in their diversity. It was agreed that we must increase internal mobilization for community sensitization meetings, encourage good approach to solve conflicts, support psycho-social counseling for people affected by trauma, encourage youth to participate in farming, improve internal communication among the leaders of the cultural institutions, rehabilitate the landless/homeless and ensure people understand the basic principles in the laws governing land and belonging to cultural institutions.

BAMBA AND BAKONZO FORM YOUTH

On 24th August  2016, the community members of Nyasoro village, in Ntotoro sub county bundibugyo district held a meeting to share views on their involvement in the post election conflicts and how as community can prevent and manage further occurrences. The meeting was attended by 87 community members, the LCI chair person Mr. Friday Alex, the CDO Ms Margret and the LCIII chairperson Mr. Monday Hannington. Others who attended the meeting were the foot peace Ambassadors from Yesu Atubalye group of Ntotoro Sub County.

In a meeting held at the compound of Mr. Mukirania Gideon who is also living in hiding, About 20 houses were burnt down in Nyasoro village alone, over 50 household were displaced, the Bamba moved in the camps set by UNICEF while the Bakonzo moved in the mountains to seek sanctuary, children no longer go to school, some lives were lost. The villages and cocoa garden have turned into park.


The community members shared that, the post election conflicts had an origin in the past and cannot be blamed to the political situation moreover all who contested was candidates from the NRM party. It was agreed that members who had been displaced should come back. Members from all tribes agreed to provide security to each other’s incase of attack. They also agreed that conflicts were results of issues they could not understand themselves and found themselves in the fight. A team of 20 youth was formed that will support the security team in guarding the cocoa garden. These volunteer youth comprising of all tribes shall be moving around the village with a police officer. Similarly the community agreed to support each other in putting up temporally shelters in the village.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NGOs support over 120 families in Kasese.




A month after the unrest ravaged Kasese district, the wounds of those directly and indirectly affected are yet to heal. Several families lost loved ones, women were widowed and children orphaned. Efforts are underway restore peace to the region. 


On 31st December 2016, the well wishers and NGOs under Rwenzori Fraternity Associations and  inter-religious Council of Uganda held prayers with the grieving families and shared with them relief items. 
 


 The package included: RICE, Oil, Salt, Sugar, small bucket and funds to help families of the people who died during  the 25-27 November 2016 Kasese Clashes by some meat to celebrate the New Year 2017.
RIC-NET documented over 120 families that lost the dear ones in this conflict and over 830 Orphans that needs further material support, Scholastic material for the children(orphans) as schools begins in February 2017.
video

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

RIC NET joins other organisation to call for peacefull coexistence in Kasese and Rwenzori region

video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRrPfVrGtno&feature=youtu.be

Though NGOs are pressing for dialogue, speedy and just got process, the investigation into kasese killings is becoming complex leading to an appeal to ICC intervention.

video




video



Friday, December 16, 2016

CSOs demand for a fair and speedy trial for Mumbere

"The legal process should take its course but with fairness, openness and justice such that a lasting solution is reached..."
Left to right:  Executive director Rwenzori Centres Network (RIC-NET) John Silco, Chief executive officer of Foundation Urban and Rural Advancement (FURA) Reuben Mbauta and Country Manager of International Alert Richard Businge
 CSOs leaders discussing about the Violence in the Rwenzori region during CSO leaders Crisis meeting at Sliver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi on December 14, 2016. Photos by Mary Kansiime

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) operating in the Rwenzori region are demanding for a speedy, transparent and fair trial of the Omusinga of the Rwenzururu Kingdom, Charles Wesley Mumbere and his royal guards who were arrested, charged and detained over the Kasese clashes.

"The legal process should take its course but with fairness, openness and justice such that a lasting solution is reached. The process should aim at promoting meaningful dialogue and reconciliation based on the truth," said Reuben Mbauta, the Chief Executive Officer Foundation for Rural and Urban Advancement (FRUA).

He said that it is only when the truth has been revealed that government will be able to make strategic investments and action plans to uproot the real cause of the conflict in the region.

Violent clashes between the Omusinga's palace guards and security officers broke out two weeks ago leaving over 100 people dead, several injured, property destroyed and scores arrested including Mumbere. He is currently in Luzira prison on charges of Murder, terrorism and robbery.

Speaking at Silver Springs hotel, Bugolobi, on Wednesday, the CSOs condemned the continued arrest of the royal guards, stating that it does not aim at resolving the conflict but instead escalates it.

They said that most of the guards have now run into hiding and there is worry that they might reconvene into a bigger group and become a threat to the peaceful co-existence of the people in the Rwenzori Region.

Published by: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1442112/csos-demand-fair-speedy-trial-mumbere