By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
ARUA. Security operatives were on Monday morning taken by surprise when hundreds of Arua Kony war victims stormed Arua City Mayor’s Garden to demonstrate over their delayed compensation.
The victims, mainly the business community in the West Nile region comprising of men and women, turned up with banners and placards with different writing, all in demand for their compensation.
A total of 1, 102 aggrieved victims are demanding for shs99,884,000,000 for the merchandise, money and lives they lost during the 20-year insurgency along Karuma – Pakwach highway in between 1988 to 2000.
But after all efforts to ensure that the money is paid yielded no tangible fruits, the victims under their umbrella association dubbed “Arua Kony war victims’ association ” stormed the Mayor’s Garden in style and threatened to camp there for one month’s hunger strike.
“We are ready to die here today. We are tired of waiting for our compensation. Even my members with diabetes and ulcers are ready to sleep here for 30 days without eating food. And even when they die, no one will pick their bodies from here,” Alex Matua, the association chairperson said.
“We have suffered for a long period of time. I have moved to all these offices, but nothing has been done for us. Last time, CMI officials came and verified us here and also went for good. Today we shall die here, we want our money,” Matua shouted as he rolled himself in mud.
Rashid Chiriga Alahai, another victim from Yumbe district who traveled all the way to Arua to take part in the demonstration kept on showing the bullet scars he sustained on both hands during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.
“You can see how Kony rebels shot me in the park, now I can not work because my hands are weak as a result of the bullets. As I talk now, one bullet is stuck in my right arm. So how can people joke with our lives?” Chiriga asked.
He said the government is currently compensating the people of Acholi, Lango and Teso for the cows they lost during the LRA war, forgetting the people of West Nile who lost their lives and goods along Karuma – Pakwach road.
“I am not working and instead of paying me, how can the government pay for cows in Lango, Teso, Acholi and in Karamoja yet we had been suffering together. Does it mean this government values cows more than human life?” Chriga wondered.
Jude Nasucha, the Arua City police commander attempted to engage the protesters to recall their strike, but all in vain.
It was until the arrival of Lt. Gen. Taban Amin, the Deputy Director of Internal Security Organization (ISO) that the striking victims calmed down.
Taban asked Matua to present their grievances and immediately took the victims’ chairperson to his office.
Reports indicate that Gen. Taban called President Museveni on phone in Matua’s presence and narrated the concern to him. The president later requested to speak to Matua whom he asked to call off the strike and instead work on their papers and send them to him through Taban so that the payment can be made in two weeks’ time.