Dr. Adam Branch: The Legacy of Forced Displacement in Northern Uganda

>> Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dr. Adam Branch, a professor of political science at San Diego State University gave a presentation on "IDPs" (Internally displaced persons) in northern Uganda, at the Friends for Peace in Africa (FPA) annual conference recently held in San Diego, California.

Dr. Branch raised critical questions regarding usage of the term "IDP" and the erroneous attitudes commonly held regarding "IDPs." His report also details the daunting issues facing people as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives, after being forcibly displaced by the Ugandan government for over 10 years.

Branch also helped to author a Human Rights Focus Report, released September 2007, after living in an internment camp for one year.

An excerpt from Dr. Branch's presentation:

"When the US now toys with the idea of interning American citizens of Arab descent, do we prepare for an IDP influx, collecting jerry cans, tarps, and making food aid appeals to help IDPs? When the US drove native Americans from their land and forced them onto reservations, did we call them IDPs?

No. We condemn the government for its grave violations of human rights and constitutional rights, and demand that our fellow citizens and fellow humans be released from their illegal, humiliating, and often deadly forced detention.

So when it comes to northern Uganda, I think we need to have this same honesty about the origins and perpetuation of forced displacement and internment.

We Westerners have a tendency to ignore the politics that are involved in conflicts in Africa and to see those conflicts in purely humanitarian terms— helpless civilians who need our assistance.

The practice of terming the Acholi "IDPs" fits squarely within this pattern. By doing so, we hide the reasons for displacement, and make the so-called IDPs solely the responsibility of international aid organizations. We reduce mass forced displacement to a humanitarian issue, and hide its political and legal dimensions.

But mass forced displacement in northern Uganda is not primarily a humanitarian issue.

It is first and foremost a political issue and a legal issue, and by labeling the interned Acholi "IDPs" we hide the fact that they did not flee voluntarily for their safety, but were forcibly displaced and interned in prison camps by the Ugandan government though a campaign
of military terror. They have been forced for years to live in camps so wretched that the excess mortality rate reached 1,000 people a week. Indeed, the camps themselves produced the humanitarian crisis, not the other way around!

Displacement is a political issue because it was a political decision on the part of the Ugandan government that created the camps, where the humanitarian crisis exploded.

It is a legal issue because that mass forced displacement and internment was a war crime under the Geneva conventions and a crime against humanity. The humanitarian crisis, which is very real, was an entirely avoidable consequence of the Ugandan government's illegal and
unjustifiable counterinsurgency strategy."

Read the rest on FPA's Website

[Photo source: davidkilgore.com]


About This Blog

The X.U.G (Xpose Uganda's Genocide) Coalition was created to bring to light the truth about Yoweri Museveni's woefully undemocratic regime and the ongoing secret genocide in northern Uganda, with the aim of the restoration of human rights and peace.

The coalition's secondary goal is to ensure accountability for reconstruction and development funds slated for war-torn N. Uganda by the US and other donors.

A crisis of epic proportions, the genocide being carried out against the Acoli for the last two decades has produced devastating consequences.

For the sake of current and future generations in Uganda, the world must recognize and end the genocide in Uganda. All Ugandans have a right to basic human rights, including the right to health, protection and education.

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