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Day April 11, 2015

ARE THE DIASPORAS UTILIZING THE UAH FORUMS?


BY HANNAH OGWAPITI VIA THE UAH FORUM
The African immigrant has been acclaimed as the most educated in the U.S., but we appear uneducated in our actions when compared to other immigrant groups. No doubt, there are individual accomplishments, but what is it that the African Diaspora can point to as its collective achievement in America? We are more interested in our ethnic and village groups, not even our countries as we observe attempts at national organizations always devolve back to ethnic bickering. Hence our failure to organize ourselves in the mode of the Jewish, Asian or Latino groups, who have used their collective power to bring pressure to bear on those who make decisions concerning their areas and concerns.

Last year, for example, when President Obama invited African Heads of State for a Summit in Washington, DC, some of us believed that it was an opportune time for these Presidents/Prime Ministers to meet with their most important constituency. The African Diaspora contribute about $80 billion annually to the African economy, resulting in the resilience of the continent’s incredible impressive economic growth rate. But what ended up happening: they not only disappointed the African Diaspora but they met as usual organizations such as the Corporate Council on Africa, an organization run by Caucasians. But were the Presidents to blame – well not really. And why, because the African community was not and still not organized. We have all kinds of ineffective African organizations headed by individuals who are more treated in promoting themselves.

Corruption in Uganda, as it is in other African countries, derives, in part, from the failure of post-independence institutions to adequately constrain the State and hence, those who serve in it. Until and unless the country is provided with institutional arrangements that adequately constrain state custodians (i.e., political elites and civil servants), corruption, in all its manifestations, will remain a pervasive part of political economy in the country.

As I have said before on UAH and elsewhere, leadership is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good governance. Sufficiency requires laws and institutions that adequately constrain the State (and hence, those who serve in it. This is the essence of the rule of law). The first step of the new president after Museveni, should be to form a government of national unity(GNU), and use that GNU to spearhead the country’s institutional reconstruction.

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STOP LABELING MUSLIMS AS ‘TERRORISTS’ BECAUSE OF AL-SHABAB


BY RAHIMU JABENDO VIA THE UAH FACEBOOK GROUP
It is sad when some people who claim to be intellectuals are being easily led to draw conclusions that all Muslims are terrorists as if they aren’t non-muslim terrorists around. What happened to our ability to think critically— To critically examine situations? To nuance and contextualize instead of simplifying and de-contextualizing our analyses? Are we even intellectuals anymore? By the way, Al Shabab kills Muslims in Somalia too. When they do that, they do not ask those Muslims to cite shahada, they just kill them.

I know you will say that it is our fault as Muslims that we have allowed a misconstrued meaning of Jihad becoming dominant out there instead of the true meaning of Jihad that we uphold.

Non-radical Muslims like myself at a dilemma. We neither have the resources of CNN/BBC and other propaganda machinery to enlighten people on the Jihad truth, nor do we have the resources and determination of fanatic/radical Muslims whose terrorist actions provide justification for CNN/BBC and the like in spreading and cementing the narrative that all Muslims are either already terrorists or terrorists in the making. Of course, you will vehemently disagree with this and paint all Muslims as being alike. I am terrified because on side I am attacked by radical Muslims and on the side I am attacked by non-Muslim community, And I am easy target because I am not a radical Muslim.

It is a big mistake to think that only the lives of Christians in the world are at stake. The likes of Al Shabaab kill more Muslims that Christians.The reason they singled out Christians in the Garissa attack is that they want to divide Kenyans. That way, the aim is to make Christians look at Muslims and Somalis as their enemy and once that is done, the terrorists’ mission will have come to fruition.

Often forgotten is that terrorist groups like Al Shabab are looking out for mainstream Muslim support (needless to say they do not have any). By creating animosity between Muslims and non-Muslims, they aim to attract those Muslims who, out of this animosity, will look at Christians as enemies. They want fellow Muslims to take them for custodians of their religion, that they are fighting for them, and that they want to protect them from resulting attacks by Christians, if at all they come through.

You can bet your life that the masterminds of the Garissa attack will be praying that the Christian community avenges by attacking Muslims in any form or shape, be it Xenophobic attitudes against Muslims and Somalis in Kenya, internet bullying by our keyboard warriors, or the knee-jerk military reaction against Somalis in Somalia as it is already happening. These moves will make mainstream Muslims rethink their perceptions of non-Muslisms (Christians in this case), at least so the terrorists wish.

It is a lame and foolish logic but so is terror.

STOP ASKING MUSLIMS TO EXPLAIN THEMSELVES WHEN TERROR OCCURS


BY KASIMU KIBERU VIA UAH FACEBOOK

We have reached a point in interpersonal relations, where we, are expected to be apologetic or, defensive for being Muslim.This happens to me not only when I travel abroad, but it happens right here, in my own country UGANDA, where I, am put in a position of having to ‘defend’ Islam by having to explain that “Islam is a religion of peace”.

The criminals, who use Islam to legitimize their crimes are similar to the Nazi criminals who exterminated Jewish people, or to the Inquisition criminals who tortured so called heretics on the rack and then tore off their limbs.Crimes committed against people behind the mask of religion/faith come in a long list.

From the inquisition, to Reverend Jones to the ‘prophet’ Koresh.Making use of religion to mind bend and to legitimize crimes against humanity have happened as long as recorded history.From the time of the deluge where we are told “and God punished wrong doers by bringing up the floods, and there was one son of Nuhu, who was cursed to be Black……….”

To the Dalits in India, Bengal, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan who are born “untouchable” because the Hindu caste system has defined the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the ‘others’ who include Kisan and Crafts people. Then come the Dalits, the untouchables, the ‘cursed’ people, whose lives are proscribed in detail in the Vedic scriptures as “being cursed, and are closely defined as vermin”.

I should insist that Islam, the Islam that I know and practice, is a religion of peace and tolerance.It is a religion of patience- Inna Allah Yuhibbu’l Swa’abirina- Allah favors the patient and that taking the life of a human, of whatever creed is a sin in the eyes of Allah.

I have made a conscious decision not to be ashamed of having to admit that I, am a practicing Muslim, nor do I become defensive when some people, Ugandans unfortunately, disparage my faith without making the effort to understand the real Islam.

UAH IS THE BEST FORUM EVER FOR UGANDANS


By MAYIMUNA NABAGEREKA

Fellow Citizens, My People:I am addicted to reading all the posts, comments, arguments and counter-arguments. As they are archived, they represent the intellectual voices of this generation. UAH is the best forum online for Ugandans and im addicted to it—even in cinema, restaurants, office, class, church, plane, car, etc. I check and post. I even check and post when my car stops at the red light!

Arguments matter. Style and substance matter.What we need to eliminate is not passion, not emotions, not even the intensity of passion.

What we need to eliminate is rude language, insults, and personal attacks.To abuse someone does not elevate an argument.I plead that great arguments should not be compromised by the silliness of personal insults.

I plead that we remain sensitive to a site that has become the intellectual resources for scholars, students and others.I plead that we remain committed to our arguments but do not behave as if the purpose of an argument is to win, but to expand spaces of conversations.

UGANDA’S LIBERAL REFUGEE POLICY FROM A SECURITY PERSPECTIVE


By Robukui

The 1960 Control of Alien Refugee Act

This Act required refugees to reside in gazetted settlement camps.They would only be allowed to leave the camp with permits for specified purpose and duration. Only a few were allowed to live in urban settings i.e those with security concerns, health care, pending resettlement to third countries and those with proven self sufficiency. At the time and throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, Uganda was host to mainly Rwandese, Congolese and Sudanese refugees. However, despite that restriction of movements policy, many Rwandese Tutsi refugees left the camps and settled among the locals, acquired local names, property, and jobs both in government and the private sector. This way they went as far as enlisting into the host country’s security services and participated both in the defence and overthrow of the Iddi Amin regime. During the post Iddi Amin governments, Rwandese refugees played a key role in fighting the UPC government alongside Museveni’s NRA and brought him to power. Having been at the helm of the country’s military and political power base, they organised/planned the invasion of Rwanda that culminated into the 1994 Genocide. After taking over government in Rwanda, those who wished to return to Rwanda did so and those who wished to stay remained. However, RPF combatants who opted to desert the army would flee and settle with their relatives in Uganda and the government could not identify them. The inclusion in the 1995 Constitution of the Banyarwanda as one of the indigenous tribes of Uganda automatically cancelled their refugee status. The Congolese refugees who had earlier fled the political turmoils of the 60s and 70s had long returned to their country. Its the Southern Sudanese refugees fleeing the then SPLA war against Khartoum that dominated the refugee situation in Uganda during the 90s.

Refugee Management in Uganda

The Refugee Act of 2006 that repealed the 1960 Control of Alien Refugee Act created a Department of Refugees (DOR) under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and a Ministry of Refugees. There are in place a number of traditional refugee camps like Nakivale and Oruchinga in Isingiro district, Kyaka II and Rwamwanja in Tooro, Kyangwali in Hoima, Kiryandongo in Masindi, and then in West Nile and Nothern regions there is Paralonyo, Rhino Camp, Mvebi, Madi Okollo and the integrated camps of Adjuman district. Unlike the usual overcrowded refugee camps, settlement camps are designed in such a way that each house hold is allocated a plot of land sufficient enough to cultivate and sustain it food requirements and even sell the surplus. Refugees in the settlement camps share with the locals the same social services provided by by the government. The government provides civil servants, drugs, health workers, teachers and security officers to the camps. A good number of local and international NGOs supplement government in providing for these refugees.

Currently Uganda has about 400,000 registered refugees originating from DRC, South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia. South Sudan provides the highest number followed by DRC and Somalia. Majority of these refugees live in settlement camps about 50,000 registered refugees live in urban settings more especially in the capital Kampala. There are about 5000 so called returnees who were expelled from Tanzania in 2013 that are accommodated at an ungazetted camp at Sango Bay. Their status is not clear but government is planning to resettle and issue them with national IDs. There are former Congolese M23 combatants who are accommodated at the Bihanga military camp and whose status in Uganda is not clear. These are foreigners inside a military camp where a citizen is restricted from accessing!! While majority of refugees in Uganda are registered, there are thousands out there settled among the locals without the knowledge of the authorities.

Refugee status determination process in Uganda

For those who upon entry into the country are received by the authorities and taken to the settlement camps, it is the Settlement Commandant who carries out their registration. For the asylum seekers who upon entry into the country they proceed to the capital Kampala, they are required to report to the Crime Intelligence unit at Old Kampala Police Station for registration. At the Police station they are issued with a Registration Card and instructed to proceed to the DOR in the Prime Ministers office. At the Prime Minister’s office they are registered and given an appointment for an interview. Each registered house hold is issued with an Asylum Seekers Attestation renewable after three months till a decision is made by the Refugee Eligibility Committee. The asylum seeker returns to the Police station for another interview. Successful applicants are issued with Refugee IDs by the OPM and given the option of either staying in the city or proceeding to the settlement camp. For those whose applications are not successful, they have the option of appealing and the appeal interview is conducted by the Police’s Crime Intelligence Unit. For majority of refugees in Uganda, they do not go through this process but simply qualify under the Prima facier (on the face of it) arrangement or automatic recognition. Imagine with the outspoken corrupt tendencies by the Uganda Police, such sweeping powers are prone to abuse thus serious security breach.

Urban refugees

In 2009 the UNHCR released its urban refugees policy. In October 2009 while addressing the organising committee of the AU summit on Refugees, Museveni advocated for urban refugee settlement. He argued that: “…….. why cant we think of refugees outside camps because land will not always be there.” About 5000 urban refugees were registered in Kampala alone by the department of refugees. They have established residential zones i.e Kisenyi for Somalis, Katwe Kevina, Old Kampala and Massajja for Cogolese, etc. They come to the city either from escaping the hard life in the settlement camps or directly from their home countries and in some rare cases from third countries of transit. They form associations, set up own schools, establish own born again churches, initiate group projects etc. At Old Kampala Primary School, out of the 900 pupils, 400 are refugees. A good number of local and international NGOs work with urban refugees in Kampala city. The urban refugees are involved in all sorts of business enterprises to make ends meet and of course including crime.They have their own community leaders and well set out networks whereby they receive and help the new arrivals to access the refugee status process. In July 2012 a visiting top US diplomat commended Uganda’s policy on urban refugees but during the function the Mayor for Rubaga Division decried the behavior of some of these urban refugees describing them as a security threat thus: “some of them come with pistols and sharp objects. They are very uncooperative and do not respect hygine of the places they live.” The Refugee Department carried out a massive registration exercise in 2014 for urban refugees in the city before issuing them with one year renewable IDs. In the West Nile and some parts of northern Uganda, a good number of South Sudan refugees who fled the the recent insecurity simply rented houses in urban centers. In November 2014 Refugees Minister Hillary Onek directed local authorities to register all such urban refugees.

Refugee freedom of movement

Refugees have a right to travel documents, access to employment opportunities, freedom of movement and to own property. In return they have the obligation to abide by the laws, maintain public order measures, not to endanger state security, not to engage in political activities etc. The Uganda government relaxed rules to enable refugees make a living in the country; find work and settle. The government argued that refugees who contribute to the economy through generating wealth should be able to travel freely out of Uganda without being locked in one place. On top of issuing IDs, the government unveiled the Refugee Passport in 2014. It was aimed at assisting them seek , study, do business and access medical opportunities abroad. The 32 page Blue passport booklet is titled: “Republic of Uganda, Convention Travel Document. It is issued by the Passport Control Officer at the same cost like a normal citizens passport. Inside the front cover it is clearly printed that it is issued in the name of the President of the Republic of Uganda who is requesting and requiring all those to whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to affords the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.” It is valid for ten years as long as the refugee status still holds. The bearer enjoys visa free travel privileges extended by signatories to the 1951 refugee convention.

Whereas a normal UN Refugee Travel Document is issued in accordance with Article 28 of the UN Convention of July 1951, the Uganda design bears the July 1967 Convention. The Uganda model is a unique design to suit the sinister designs of the regime.

Refugees or immigrants

The Great Lakes, South Sudan and Horn of Africa regions have experienced conflicts that have left millions displaced. Refugees are identified by the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. For decades South Sudanese sought asylum in mainly Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Somalis have been dominant in Kenya with a few ending up in Uganda in recent times. Rwandese Tutsi refugees were dominant in Burundi, Tanzania, Congo and Uganda. Burundian Hutu refugees were prevalent in DRC and Tanzania. Following the take over of power by Tutsis in Rwanda, it was the turn of Hutus to flee to mainly DRC and Tanzania. Burundian Hutus who would flee the Tutsi dominated governments were initially hosted by the former Hutu dominated government of Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania. Following the take over of Tutsis in Rwanda and the subsequent invasion of , the Burundian Hutus relocated to Tanzania. Following the independence of South Sudan, its refugees repatriated in big numbers only to return following the recent conflict. Rwandese Hutu refugees were forcefully repatriated from Tanzania in 1996. Recently Tanzania granted citizenship to thousands of Burundian refugees of the 1972 lot and repatriated thousands of the 1993 lot.

Following the armed conflicts in DRC following the overthrow of Mobutu, Congolese from the eastern region have sought asylum in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Although a number of Rwandese Hutus were repatriated from eastern DRC, thousands still remain there among them those bent of fighting the Kigali regime. When the going gets tough for these Hutus in Congo, they relocate to either Tanzania, Uganda but pose as being Congolese. Even Burundians who did not want to go home from Tanzania claim to be Congolese. The same applies to Rwandese Hutus who had earlier sought asylum in Tanzania claiming to be Burundian had to relocate to Uganda while claiming to be Congolese. Genocide suspects and other innocent Hutus haunted by the frequent threats from the government in Rwanda find safe heavens in Uganda. Those who have the means move further south in countries like Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. In Uganda some immigrants don’t even report to the authorities but simply settle among the communities. Lack of land in Burundi and Rwanda has also contributed to the migration of their citizens to Uganda by first claiming refugee status before melting into the communities and settling down, That way they acquire land and then arrange to have more of their friends and relatives to join them too. In Uganda, Rwandese and Burundians take advantage of their closeness to the Bafumbira of South Western Uganda by claiming and being viewed as Bafumbira while seeking to settle in other areas of the country including urban settings. This arrangement has been exploited by criminals who escape justice.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has an arrangement whereby it helps to resettle a small number of refugees from the country of first asylum to other countries overseas like the US, Canada, Australia and some European countries. Thousands of Rwandese, Congolese, Sudanese, Somalis etc refugees residing in the Great Lakes region have benefited from this arrangement. Like is happening in across the Sahara desert in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe by those from the horn of Africa, there are irregular movements withing the Great Lakes region in pursuit of the same. Those who are already refugees are reluctant to repatriate in anticipation of being resettled overseas while those seeking better economic prospects just pack their bags before crossing the frontier to claim asylum in order to try their luck on being relocated by the UNHCR. For the economically hard hit Rwandese Tutsis from inside Rwanda, the false claim of being Banyamulenge qualifies them for refugee status. That is how you find a particular refugees is registered in a number of countries in the region but under different names and nationalities. They have overtime mastered the art of articulating false claims that convince the authorities who handle refugee status eligibility. Owing to the above, there is a lucrative business involving human trafficking revolving around the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region and connecting to Southern Africa regions and the French Islands of Mauritius and Mayote. The other Somali youths rounded up in Kampala last year and indicted for terrorism including two girls could be victims of such irregular movement of the so called refugees. Also, that is how many of them are always visiting their home countries to check of families and friends, attend weddings and burials or get holidays when the school term ends. In so doing they manage cross-border illicit trade in precious minerals and other merchandise.

Israeli’s African refugees swap

In 2014 it started as a rumour that Israeli had reached a secret deal the Kampala regime to receive and keep Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese refugees repatriated from Israel. The deal was alleged to involve receiving and keeping them in the country or helping them to transit to their home countries. In return Israeli was to supply Uganda with arms and agricultural support. The regime in Kampala vehemently denied the existence of such a deal but shortly after an Israeli arms dealer was arrested at Entebbe over illegal importation of arms into Uganda. In court the suspected arms dealer claimed that it was the government of Uganda that was importing arms from the Israeli Weapons Industry. The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence of Uganda owned the arms but there was no trace of any payments for the arms made by Uganda nd the matter just ended there. Investigative Journalists traced two Ethiopians Barahawa Fransa and Jamal Nesredin Hassan as two Ethiopians residing in Kampala who had already been dumped in Uganda from Israeli under the arrangement. Earlier in 2011 Museveni had made frequent visits to Israeli and currently there is a big group of Ugandans undergoing training in Agriculture in Israeli. It is only last week that Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the presence of the arrangement thus: “….. this matter has been raised before us, and since it is getting serious, we should look into it.” This followed Israeli’s announcement that 2000 African refugees were ready to be dumped into Uganda and Rwanda. Under the arrangement, the government of Israel gives the affected refugees 7000 US$ to the affected refugees in return for accepting to leave Israeli voluntarily. The Kampala regime could be attracted by those few dollars that the refugees are bringing with them.

Crime
It is not by coincidence that the following incidents involving people who are not Ugandans have take place of recent:-
– The star state witness in the trial of the 2010 terror attack in Kampala,a one Mugisha Muhamad claims to be a Ugandan citizen born in Rwanda in 1983. That he relocated to Uganda in 1998 for fear of reprisal attacks by genocide perpetrators. That he stayed in Nakivale camp though he was not a registered refugee in Uganda and had no refugee status. That while at Nakivale camp he converted to Islam and left the camp later to South Africa, Kenya and Somalia where he trained with Al-Shaabab. His cross examination continues in court and we are yet to hear more shocking revelations.

– In June 2014 15 armed attackers on a Pentecostal Church in Kyegegwa left three dead including a Police Officer who had rushed to the scene to intervene, One of the victims Beata Mukashaka bears a Congolese Tutsi or Rwandese name but was found to be a resident of the area that has historically had no Rwandese. Three suspected attackers i.e Hakizimana Abdu Salim (the Imam of the local Mosque), Hassan Mubarak Awera alias Sazimana Silvester and Niyosenga Ibrahim Tulole mysteriously died in Police custody. They had been part of the 18 suspects rounded up by locals and security agents as they emerged from a sugar plantation where they had been hiding. Later on the army ambushed and killed a one Abdul Aziz and captured James Muhamad Kahungu. The army Spokesperson said: “These people are known in the area. Even the one killed was identified by the father. They are Islamic extremists and they have been telling people to convert to Islam.” Police also arrested and paraded the commanders of the group they had arrested from Ibambala Forest whom they claimed had revealed vital information in which the group had been recruiting and training under the guise of spreading the Muslim faith. Top leaders of the group were identified as Yahaya Sharif Kalemba from Kanungu and Abdurahim from Kabale. Some of the above names of the suspects sound Rwandese; could they be part of the groups who just sneak into Uganda, acquire land and settle?

– It is alleged that when Kagame’s former bodyguard Lt Joel Mutabazi fled Rwanda and sought asylum in Uganda, he sent for his firearm that he had left hidden in Rwanda. Once delivered in Kampala, he used it to stage manage an attack on himself so that the government could speed up the process of granting him refugee status and eventual relocation overseas by the UNHCR. Indeed following this incident, his personal security was enhanced by putting in place police guards and accommodation in a Hotel. It is said that that firearm was later thrown in a pit latrine in Kampala but maybe it is out there doing damage to Ugandans. How many arms are brought into the country by refugees?

– In 2011 dissident Rwandese Journalist was shot dead in Kampala and the following day is when an alleged stage managed attempt on the life of Lt Joel Mutabazi was made. Six months later another Rwandese refugee Jerome Ndagijimana had his throat split open in Kampala. In another incident a Rwandese refugee alleged to have been kidnapped by agents of the Rwanda government, tortured and dumped in the city council mortuary. While it is true that the Rwanda government sends hit squads to harm dissidents, it is also likely that some criminal refugees stage manage or carry out real harm against one another in order to enhance the much craved for relocation overseas by the UNHCR.

– In January 2015 three suspected government drugs thieves were arrested. The three, Ruisagara John, Ntale Sunday and Nyiringirimana Jean Piere confessed to stealing and selling the drugs and other medical equipments to neighbouring countries. Given the fact that all the suspects bear Rwandese names, it is also highly possible that their stay in Uganda and free movement to run their drug syndicate is under the guise of being refugees.

Conclusion
Uganda’s liberal refugee policy is healthy on humanitarian grounds. However there may not be in place sufficient safe guards to ensure that the system is not abused and exploited by criminals disguising as refugees. The regime is bent on tapping the huge donor community funding for refugees and improving its international image without minding much on national security. Museveni in particular is interested is managing a scheme of selective resettlement of certain communities in Uganda.

On 7th February 2013 Museveni chaired a cabinet meeting that passed the National Land Policy. Among the major highlights of the policy is a section dealing with CROSS-BORDER POPULATION MOVEMENTS. Under this section it is argued thus: “Cross-border population movements are frequent as a result of conflict,ecological and environmental stress or interactive accommodation among cross-border communities sharing common heritage and culture. A significant proportion of these populations sometimes end up being classified as either refugees or internally displaced persons. Settlement or resettlement of such populations often leads to severe strains on resources and/or serious environmental damage. Government will develop a framework to regulate, manage and mitigate the negative consequences and maximise the positive impacts of cross-border population movements. Government will respect the regional and international conventions governing the settlement and treatment of refugees and internally displaced persons. Negotiate protocols for the reciprocal treatment and settlement of mass cross-border movements and jointly implement with neighbouring countries, measures for effective border management, control and supervision.” From the above it can be said that according to Museveni, there are no refugees in Uganda but cross-border communities sharing common heritage and culture.

INFORMATION IS POWER

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