Lukodi Memorial Prayers-2009

 March 27th, 2009

 

 

Religious Leaders’ Speech-Archbishop John Baptist Odama 
 
Introduction

 

Brothers and sisters in God and in humanity.

 

Greetings of love and peace in the name of the Almighty God.

 

The religious leaders of Acholi want to appreciate Invisible Children and Gulu District Local Government in organising this Global Event and inviting ARLPI to participate especially in leading the Peace Memorial Prayer.

 

We would also like to acknowledge the concerns raised in regard to bringing back those still in captivity.

 
Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI)

 

Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative is an interfaith peace building and conflict transformation organization that came into existence in 1998 to provide a proactive response to the conflict in northern Uganda. ARLPI brings together the religious leaders of the four different religious denominations and their respective constituencies (Anglican, the Catholic, the Orthodox and the Muslim) to participate effectively in transforming conflict non-violently. Inspired by their faith, the religious leaders came together for the common cause of advocating for and to lead their followers (flocks) out of the violent conflict in the region.

 

ARLPI’s vision is to have a peaceful and prosperous country where people strive to co-exist harmoniously and work together to forge in the spirit of national unity. Her goal is to create a conducive environment for sustainable peace and development throughout Uganda.

 

Our mission is realised through an interfaith strategy which works for peace and development by transforming violent conflict through dialogue, negotiation, mediation and reconciliation in order to promote sustainable peace building and development in Northern Uganda.

 

ARLPI’S Role in Advocating for Children
 

ARLPI’s goal for advocacy is to make community voices heard and issues affecting peace addressed. The issues include; making the northern conflict a national and international issue other than Acholi war, use of non-violent approach to end the conflict with emphasis on dialogue and reconciliation at all levels other than the anguish of military means.

 

To focus on this day and its theme, some of the activities we engaged in were bringing the plight of the Night Commuters in the eyes of the world during the peak of the conflict by a show of solidarity. Religious leaders (ARLPI) slept with the children for four nights at the Gulu Bus Park. This attracted international attention evident by the visit of the Under Secretary of United Nations Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland.  The summary of all this led to the founding of the Gulu Walk in Toronto and the birth of the organisation, Invisible Children in the U.S.A.

 

We give tribute to the children who had been victims that capture our (ARLPI) attention to advocate on their behalf.

 

Apart from this, ARLPI articulated the voice of the population which then was framed as Amnesty. Here, ARLPI made significant contributions during the draft of the Amnesty Bill and the Act resulted into many defections of Formally Abducted Persons making children beneficiaries.

 

Our Messages:
 
1)      We want to re-echo our appreciation to the Invisible Children for their contributions in supporting scholarship fund, reconstruction works in secondary schools and supporting Internally Displaced Persons in camps with Income Generating Activities. Special tribute goes to those in the USA for their generous contribution and support to all these projects.
 
2)      To our leaders, the last twenty two years have given us enough lessons of the evil effects of war. As we enter the process of return and resettlement, all stakeholders should join hands to work and promote dialogue and reconciliation in resolving conflict situations amid us. Let us observe the IDP policy which advocates/directs for free and voluntary return of the displaced. Therefore, the symbolic demolition of IDP camps should not give signals of forcing the displaced to return to their former homes.     
 
3)      To the Governments of Uganda and Lords Resistance Army, we request for the formal and logical conclusion of the Juba Peace Process. Let us give the support and encouragement to Chief Mediator, his Team together with UN Special Envoy for LRA affected areas President Joachim Chissano to carry out what has been mandated.
 
4)      To us Ugandans, we have to read what is happening in our neighbouring countries especially in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan. Peace in Northern Uganda should mean peace in the neighbourhood.
 

5)      To the International community and world bodies, we request for your support in protecting human lives during conflict, to inculcate a culture of peace the world over, and to help in rebuilding the regions reemerging from violent conflict. Support our Peace, Recovery and Development Plan to help overcome some of its existing challenges and keep a close eye on the management of resources being channeled so that common man at the grass root level benefits.

 

Thank you and God bless you and all humanity.

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Jul 10, 2009, 1:23 AM
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