Terrorismin Uganda primarilyoccurs in the north, where the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militant religious cult that seeks to overthrowthe Ugandan government, has attacked villages and forcibly conscripted childreninto the organization since 1988. The Al-Shabbab militant group has also staged attacks in thecountry in response to Ugandan support for Somalia.From 1997 the Allied Democratic Front, a terrorist organization based in the Democratic Republicof the Congo, threw bombs into popularUgandan areas. More than 50 people were killed and more than 160 were injured.Suspects were held in safe houses and theninvestigated.

 On 11 July 2010, suicide bombings were carried outagainst crowds watching a 2010 FIFA World Cup Final matchduring the World Cup at two locations in Kampala.The attacks resulted in 74 people dead and 70 people hurt. On 5 July 2014, several gunmen armed with swords and lancesattacked in Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts.

This attack led to the loss of 93 citizens and property worth millions ofshillings.Uganda issued The Anti-Terrorism Act 2002 which makes terrorism,and supporting or promoting terrorism, crimes punishable by capital punishment. It defines terrorismas, “the use of violence or threat of violence withintent to promote or achieve religious, economic and cultural or social ends inan unlawful manner, and includes the use, or threat to use, violence to put thepublic in fear or alarm.

“Defence Ministers Amama Mbabazi of Uganda, Kivutha Kibwana ofKenya and  Philemon Sarungi of Tanzaniahad a meeting with other military officials in Kampala,Uganda from 21 to 23 November 2003 in a U.S.-sponsored anti-terrorismconference. Ugandan Military Intelligence Chief Colonel Nobel Mayombo toldreporters in Kampala thatterrorism is “one of the items high on the agenda of the meeting andhow East African resources could be put in place tocreate security. The meeting will assess the three countries’ readiness todefense challenges and increase information-sharing including issue ontraining.

As for Uganda… we also have targets that have to be protected”because some of the countries near Uganda are “incubators ofterrorism.

” Representatives from the governments signed anagreement on tracking terrorist suspects in East Africa.There have been two main wars in Uganda, TheLiberation War between Uganda and Tanzania from 1978 to 1979; and The UgandanBush war also known as the Ugandan Civil War from 1981 to 1986.LiberationWar:The relations between Tanzania and Uganda hadbeen strained for several years before the war started. After Idi Amin seizedpower in a military coup in 1971, the Tanzanianleader Julius Nyerere offered sanctuaryto Uganda’s ousted president, Milton Obote.

Obote was joined by 20,000 refugees fleeing Amin’s attempts to wipe outopposition. A year later, a group of exiles based in Tanzania attempted,unsuccessfully, to invade Uganda and remove Amin. Amin blamed Nyerere forbacking and arming his enemies. After this Amin declared a war againstTanzania and the UNLA (Uganda National Liberation Army) the armed wing of apolitical group formed by exiled anti-Amin Ugandans under the leadership of Obote,which he later lost and got thrown from his power position.In the aftermath Yusuf Lulahad been installed as president by Tanzania. In June 1979, following a disputeover the extent of presidential powers, the NationalConsultative Commission(NCC), which was then the supremegoverning body of the UNLF, replaced Lule with Godfrey Binaisa.Binaisa was himself removed on 12 May 1980 by the Military Commission, A Presidential Commission withthree members, Saulo Musoke, Polycarp Nyamuchoncho,and Joel Hunter Wacha-Olwol werethen appointed to lead the country.

They governed Uganda until the December1980 general elections, which were won by Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress. The electionswere bitterly disputed. Yoweri Museveni alleged electoral fraud anddeclared an armed rebellion against Obote’s government, plunging the countryinto the Ugandan Bush War.

UgandanBush War:Yoweri Museveni, a former UNLA commanderduring the Uganda-Tanzania War and leader of the rival Uganda Patriotic Movement party,claimed electoral fraud and declared anarmed rebellion against Obote’s government. Museveni and his supportersassembled in the south-west of Uganda and formed the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), whichlater merged with former president Yusuf Lule’sgroup, the Uganda Freedom Fighters, to createthe National Resistance Army and itspolitical wing, the National Resistance Movement.7 Atthe time, UNLA was still fighting remnants of Idi Amin’ssupporters that had formed as the Uganda National Rescue Front andthe Former Uganda National Army in Uganda’s northern West Nile sub-region. In July 1985,the UNLA military commanders General Tito Okello andLieutenant General Bazilio Olara-Okello stageda coup d’état that ousted Milton Obote from thepresidency, who then fled to Kenya andlater to Zambia.By 22 January, 1986, government troops in the capital Kampala hadbegun to abandon their posts en masse as the rebels gained ground from thesouth and south-west.

Okello ruled as president for six months until he fled toKenya in exile when the government was eventually defeated by the NRA on 25January 1986. Yoweri Museveni was subsequently sworn in as president on 29January, and the NRA became the new regular army ofUganda, which was renamed the Uganda People’s Defence Force in1995. The Ugandan Bush War has been estimated that approximately 100,000 to500,000 people, including combatants and civilians, died across Uganda as aresult of war.Milton Obote never returned to Uganda following hissecond overthrow and exile, despite repeated rumors he planned to return toUgandan politics. Obote resigned as leader of the Ugandan People’s Congress andwas succeeded by his wife, Maria Obote, shortly before his death on 10 October2005 in South Africa. Tito Okello remained in exile in Kenyauntil 1993, when he was granted an amnesty byMuseveni and returned to Uganda, where he died in Kampala in 1996.ReligiousPersecution of Refugees:Uganda is known as the world’s second mostpopulous landlocked country with about 84% of this population being Christians.

The Muslims, who are primarily Sunni, represent 12% of the population. However,despite the statistics, it is rather unfortunate to learn that there are casesof persecution in this country. There have been threats from terrorist groupslike the Al-Shabab who according to reports, threatened churches that theywould be attacked. This happening in Uganda came after situation in neighboringcountries for instance in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, and even in Tanzania,where there had been repeated attacks on churches.

In Uganda there have been reports of Christian converts being killed and othersex-communicated by their loved ones.  For instance, a 15-year-old girl isreported to have been murdered after being beaten by her Muslim father who isalso a known Imam of Bwita mosque in Kaliro District. The man is reported tohave reacted to the news that his two daughters had converted to Christianity.The second daughter who is 12 years old is said to be in hospital recuperatingafter surviving the ordeal. Even though the father, Abdullah Ali was arrested andcharged with murder, he was later released bail after denying the chargeclaiming that his daughter died in a motorcycle accident. Another report showsthat a group of Muslim extremists tried to break into a church service outsideKampala City, armed with machetes and clubs, leaving a member with injuries anddamages to the church building. Other reports show that some other Muslimextremists attacked and killed a 12-year-old girl in Katira areas in easternUganda. The girl, whose father was a former Muslim and later converted toChristianity, was strangled to death while the father was hit unconscious bythe attackers.

These are just among many more of such cases in Uganda. However, it isimportant to note that it’s not just the Christians who have suffered thisreligious persecution. Recent reports show that some sheikhs were detained overmurder and terror charges. They are accused of killing two prominent MuslimSheikhs; Abdul Muwaya and Mustapha Bahiiga. Arrests have been made of severalpeople in connection with murders, including a brother to one of the deceasedand also a close friend of the deceased.

This wave of insecurity has resulted in heightened tension both amongChristians and Muslims, mostly because the police have not yet identified theroot cause of the rampant murders especially among the sheikhs. Most of thesuspects arrested have charges that include murder, terrorism and crimesagainst humanity. Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rightsstates; ‘…everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience andreligion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, andfreedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, tomanifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

So this means that obviously the citizens of Uganda have the right to choosewhichever religion they like without having a fear of being killed or tortured.To solve these stir ups between religion, UgandanGovernment has been investigating and has solved some out of the vast varietyof these cases. Justice is being done and if people can not stand the diversityof religion in Uganda, it would be best if they migrated and left theseinnocent refugees alone.             Muneeb Alvi9-D

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