AN END OF YEAR PEACE MESSAGE FROM THE ACHOLI RELIGIOUS LEADERS PEACE INITIATIVE
31ST DECEMBER 2009
THEME: “Peace Has No Limits, Choose Non-Violence”
“Kuc agiki-ne peke, ti ki mwolo”
Dear Brother and Sisters, Children of God,
Throughout 2009, much has happened for which we must rejoice to our Sovereign God. Over the last year we have witnessed the decommissioning of numerous IDP camps as many have returned home, the return of former LRA who made the brave step to come back from the bush, signs of renewed development and investment, and the continued silence of the gun throughout northern Uganda.
The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) would like to take this opportunity to thank the government of Uganda, Cultural Leaders, NGO’s/CSO’s, and all others who have labored so hard to realize these goals. We also welcome the new Shepard to the ARLPI family, Bishop Gakumba Johnson. Most of all we would like to thank the people of northern Uganda who have worked so very hard to rebuild their lives after decades of conflict. May God bless you all.
While much has been accomplished, we acknowledge that various challenges still persist throughout the region which continues to threaten the relative calm.
Conflict over land continues to challenge the new-found calm throughout the region. Women and orphans have been denied access to land, while greed and inflammatory statements have caused neighbors and even family members to turn on each other. To overcome such an obstacle we must put our selfishness aside and find ways to live harmoniously. When conflicts arise, let us use dialogue and mediation to bring a swift end to them and avoid all forms of violence which only make the situation worse for all involved.
DOMESTIC & GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
The high prevalence of both domestic and gender based violence continues to erode our beautiful culture which has always sought to take care of others. While men can also be victims of violence, women and children are often the most affected. It has been said that the integrity of a nation is based upon how we treat those perceived to be powerless. Cases of defilement, child sacrifice, and child trafficking are all signs that we have failed to protect the innocent. May our light shine strong as a witness to others by finding ways to continually uplift our mothers, sisters, and daughters, and children who are integral pillars of both our families and communities. Let us also desist from excessive alcoholic drinking and drug abuse which one of the major factors of violence. As the theme of the 16 days of activism against Sexual and Gender Based Violence stated, it is through the choice of using non-violence where we will have happy families and happy lives.
JUBA PEACE TALKS
It was also just over a year ago when ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’ began resulting in the end of the peace talks and cutting off all communication with the LRA command. Once again the military option has not brought an end to the conflict and we are devastated by the continued loss of innocent life and mass displacement in the Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central Africa Republic. Our prayers are with the people of the region. We also ask the LRA to desist from all forms of violence and for dialogue to continue with the Government of Uganda. As the relative calm in northern Uganda can attest to, it is only through talking and not the gun where sustainable peace can be achieved.
The theme of our message, “Peace Has No Limits, Choose Non-Violence”, celebrates the fruits of peace we are now starting to reap, but also places the responsibility on all of us to sustain it. Brothers and Sisters, as we move into 2010 let us continually seek non-violent ways to solve our conflicts and place importance on the restoration of relationships so that generations to come will experience the bountiful harvest of peace. The bible says, “the workers are few, but the harvest is plentiful.” May we all continue to work together create a new legacy for Uganda; one of peace, unity, and brotherly love.
May the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding be with you throughout 2010 and beyond. Blessings be upon you all.
Together for Peace,
+ Archbishop John Baptist - ARLPI Chairperson
+All Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil-ARLPI Vice Chairperson
+ Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng - ARLPI Chairman, Finance Committee
+ Father Julius Orach - ARLPI Chairman, Welfare Committee
+ Bishop Sabino Odoki - ARLPI Treasurer
+ Bishop Benjamin Ojwang - ARLPI Core Team Member
+ Rtd. Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola - ARLPI Core Team Member
+Bishop Gakumba Johnson - ARLPI Core Team Member