Kichwamba Massacre: Survivors Accuse Government Of Neglect

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The mass grave at Kichwamba Technical college
The mass grave at Kichwamba Technical college

Survivors of the 1998 Kichwamba Massacre are accusing the government for failing to fulfill its promise of compensating them.

On June 8, 1998, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels raided Uganda Technical College Kichwamba in Kabarole district and burnt 80 students alive in three dormitories.

The rebels also abducted more than 100 students. After the incident, President Museveni visited the school and promised compensation for the survivors and their families. The students were also promised to be taken back to school.

However 15 years down the road, some of the survivors are accuse the government of neglect.

One of the survivors, James Burolerwo who spent six months in rebel captivity says that after he was rescued by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) he was promised material compensation and return to school. None of this has happened.

Burolerwo says that the survivors have been sidelined by the government, which is instead compensating the rebels who have been granted amnesty. He says that follwoing faliure by the government to compensate the survivors, he was forced into casual employment to raise money and return to school.

George Bagonza, another survivor says that it’s unfortunate that some of his colleagues who were survivors have died before being compensated. Bagonza says that after the President pledged to support the survivors, he appealed to the Ministry of Education and the President’s Office for a scholarship, but in vain.

In a telephone interview, Major John Sabiti, who is in-charge of compensation claims in the Rwenzori region says that he isn’t aware of the claims by the survivors, but says that they are free to apply and benefit from the Luweero-Rwenzori development programme, which is aimed at helping survivors and families who were affected by the NRA and ADF insurgency in the region.

Since the attack, security at the school has been beefed up. A permanent army detach has been set up at the school and a permanent perimeter fence was also erected. Every visitor to the school is subjected to thoroughly checking by UPDF soldiers who man the gate.

The three dormitories that were burnt during the ADF attack have since been renovated. There is also a mass grave at the college, bearing the names of the burnt students. There are also plans by the government to upgrade the College to an Institute of Technology.

The Kichwamba massacre is one of the worst rebel attacks in the country.

In 2003, Sarah Nabakooza, suspected to be an Allied Democratic Front  (ADF) rebel commander who led the Kichwamba attack was charged with the murder of the college students.

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