AUGUST 16, 2010: MP Accuses Muhoozi of Karamoja Killings

MP Accuses Muhoozi of Karamoja Killings

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Yasiin Mugerwa

A lawmaker has accused the army of committing atrocities against civilians in Karamoja and named President Museveni's son and commander of the elite Special Forces, Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, among perpetrators.

Addressing a news conference at Parliament on Friday, Pokot MP Francis Kiyonga said Lt. Col. Muhoozi's unit allegedly killed a dozen "innocent Pokot people" in Kosiroi and Loroo in Amudat District.

Culprits not punishe

"Our people think he (President Museveni) has failed to punish the (culprits) because most of the commanders are his relatives," he said.

"This includes his son Lt. Col. Muhoozi, who has been commanding the elite force on Mount Moroto, and whose unit is responsible for the killing of 12 innocent Pokot people between April and June 2010," Mr Kiyonga said on Friday.

Mr Kiyonga, who has had run-ins with the army leadership over his condemnation of the ongoing disarmament exercise in Karamoja, said the 12 people were killed while returning home from the limestone mining area of Kasiroi. The victims, he said, were delivering money for upkeep of their families.

The lawmaker also accused the military of scalding Karimojong they suspect to be rustlers with hot metals; plucking out their teeth forcibly and feasting on cows confiscated as exhibits during the disarmament operations.

But the army spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, yesterday said the allegations are "unfounded" and described MP Kiyonga as "a liar and former rustler and a rustlers' sympathiser".

"The army doesn't condone human rights abuses and those found guilty, we have taken action and they have been prosecuted. Kiyonga has always been against the disarmament process because he was a rustler and a collaborator," Lt. Col. Kulayigye said.

Earlier, MP Kiyonga paraded Mzee Atiakaluka Rimiti of Alapat in Nakapiripirit before journalists as one of the victims and accused President Museveni of looking the other way as soldiers torture civilians in Karamoja.

Last month, President Museveni dismissed "as falsehoods" allegations by former spy chief David Pulkol that his government had bungled the disarmament programme in Karamoja and let down the people in the region.

These latest allegations come three months after the Uganda Human Rights Commission said its investigators in Karamoja had found evidence of army culpability in human rights violations. The UPDF was on the spot at the time for allegedly killing unarmed Karimojong and looting their cattle.

"The investigations are still ongoing, but preliminary findings confirm that a number of people, including children and the elderly, were killed in various operations carried out by the UPDF in Kotido (district) between January and April 2010," Mr Med Kaggwa, the UHRC chairman,wrote in a May 24 advert in the New Vision.

Separately, Jie County MP Peter Lokii in a dossier told President Museveni, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, that soldiers killed anywhere between 28-43 civilians during an April 24 raid in Lokitelangilam in Rengen Sub-county to recover animals the Jie allegedly raided from the Dodoth in Kaabong.

Also in March, Mzee Losipole Aramutori Wuapale, a Karimojong elder from Amudat District, visited Daily Monitor head office to expose alleged army atrocities in his area after being blocked from meeting President Museveni who he called "my very good friend".

He said then that the UPDF had turned into another 'cattle-rustling tribe' in Karamoja.

President Museveni later met the Mzee and ordered he be compensated with 298 cows alongside 3, 500 animals for other complainants.

"He (Aromutori) surrendered more than 200 guns. Yet the army erroneously confiscated 298 of his cattle because thieves had passed near his kraal. This was unfair and wrong," the President wrote.

To date, only Mzee Aromutari has been compensated.

Torture methods

During Friday's press conference, MP Kiyonga said: "The soldiers have not stopped torture of civilians in the ongoing disarmament, besides extortions. Methods of torture include removing people's teeth, beating on the foot, burning (suspect) using hot metals (pangas) and hitting the muscles and veins of men between the anus and the testis (in Pokot called Ticktia Pturus)."

"This is direct castration because the kind of beatings is how the Pokot community castrates male monkeys." On removing people's teeth as a method of torture, Lt. Col. Kulayigye said: "Karimojong people have removed their teeth culturally."

On May 18, President Museveni reportedly promised Amudat District leaders that he was going to punish all the soldiers accused of committing atrocities during the disarmament exercise.

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