Survivors and relatives of those who perished in 1986 Namukora massacre in Kitgum district have presented a position paper demanding that government recognizes them and offer them support.
On 19th August 1986, soldiers of the 35th battalion of the National Resistance Army (NRA) under the command of Major Matovu bundled several people from Namukora, Omia Anyima, Orom and Wol in Kitgum district onto a truck and opened fire, killing about 76 on spot.
The incident happened in the home area of General Tito Okello Lutwa, just seven months after he had been deposed as president by the then NRA rebels led by Yoweri Museveni.
Since that time, the government has never acknowledged the killings and offered to help the relatives of the victims and survivors. Now the relatives and survivors have put up their demands to the government in writing, tasking it to respond to the demands.
According to the position paper, the residents have also agreed to take responsibility to provide materials that will be used to construct a monument and other necessities in the area.
Among the things the locals have pledged to contribute are bricks, sand, gravel and labour for construction of the monument.
Namukora sub-county chairperson, Alred Onen says the locals have been crying for the last 27 years to the government seeking support. Onen says seeing the helplessness of the situation; the locals have decided to mobilize resources to start the construction of the monument. Onen says the sub-county will also contribute money towards construction of the monument, adding that a committee to organize a memorial prayer event slated for August 19 this year has been set.
The chairperson says as the community embarks on self-driven initiative, they have also presented a position paper to the government outlining their demands. Onen says among the issues presented, the community has agreed that they will not drag government to court to seek compensation. He says he has already delivered the position paper to the president through the Member of Parliament for Cwa County, Henry Oryem Okello. Oryem, the son of former President Tito Okello Lutwa, is also minister of state for international affairs.
Minister Oryem has not yet commented on the matter and whether he has delivered the paper to the president. His known mobile number could not go through when called.
Ben Okidi, a survivor of the massacre says on the day of the massacre, the army bundled them onto a lorry. He says when they reached the spot where so many were killed, the army opened fire on them, claiming that they were rebels. He says he and a few others jumped down and ran into the bush while several of his colleagues were killed. Okidi says he will be happy if the government responds to their pleas.
The Office of the President has not yet commented on whether the president has received the position paper or not. During the visit by Kitgum leaders to the State House two months ago, the president acknowledged the deaths and said he would have time to visit the massacre site to commiserate with those who had lost their dear ones. Museveni also agreed to the idea of a technical institute and a monument in memory of the dead.
However it remains to be seen whether the pledges will be fulfilled. Three years ago, the president made similar pledges to the people of Mucwini Sub County whose relatives were murdered by Joseph Kony’s LRA rebels in July 2002, but to date the relatives are still waiting.