Ugandan forces killed scores including kids: Rights group

Ugandan forces killed scores including kids: Rights group

KAMPALA, Uganda — More than 155 people died in deadly encounters last year between Ugandan forces and people loyal to a tribal king who has since been charged with treason, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday, urging an independent investigation into the killings that shocked this East African country.

At least 140 of the November deaths are attributable to Uganda’s security forces while 15 of the victims were security personnel, Maria Burnett, an associate director in charge of Africa at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press. Children as young as 4 or 5 were among those killed, with at least 15 still missing.

The killings peaked on Nov. 27 when the military and police used force to enter the king’s palace in the border town of Kasese in western Uganda. Smoke billowed as the palace burned amid gunfire.

Kasese is about 340 kilometres (211 miles) west of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The area is a hotbed of opposition to President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986, and people in Kasese often complain of marginalization by the central government.

The clashes followed tensions between Museveni’s government and Charles Wesley Mumbere, the leader of a tiny mountain kingdom known as the Rwenzururu. Tribal monarchs in Uganda have only ceremonial powers but are influential among their subjects.

“The assault on the palace in Kasese, which killed more people than any single event since the height of the war in Northern Uganda over a decade ago, should not be swept under the carpet,” Burnett said. “People in Kasese are still looking for their family members, including children, and they deserve answers and justice for these gruesome killings.”

That account differs from the government’s version of events— that fewer than 100 were killed — and will put pressure on the military and the police to investigate.

The government says Mumbere led armed tribesmen who threatened state security in a series of violent encounters near Uganda’s border with Congo. The government has arrested and charged scores with murder, treason and terrorism. None of the security personnel involved in the clashes has been charged.

Military spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire said Wednesday that Human Rights Watch had not supplied evidence to back up its allegations.

“Let them present the evidence to us, not just writing a report and you think it is fact,” he said.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed more than 95 people in Kasese, including many families of those killed, and reviewed video and photographs of the events.

The rights group said the king’s men, armed with tools like machetes, would not constitute an armed group under international humanitarian law. It said Uganda’s international partners should demand accountability and an independent investigation into whether the “massacre on Nov. 27 should be characterized as a crime against humanity.”

Rodney Muhumuza, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Climate change event coming to Kelowna next Wednesday

Panel experts will discuss how the Okanagan can adapt to climate change in the years ahead

Police search for owner of another icy sailboat on Okanagan Lake

The frozen vessel was spotted near the 800 block of Manhattan Drive in Kelowna

Chilliwack on the map for Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Canadian music legends confirmed for 28th annual music festival

Central Okanagan film “Love in Winterland” released on demand

The movie was produced up at Big White late last year

Kelowna author Irwin Wislesky to release science-fiction novel on time travel

Invisible Footprints in Time follows Maxine Samuels and her quest back in time to save the future

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

North Okanagan woman pleas for return of stolen scooter

‘It’s been another kick in the teeth… how do you get ahead and keep your head above water?’

Volunteer spends hundreds of hours restoring piece of railway history

Revelstoke Railway Museum now home to an authentic Kalamazzo No. 2 Section Handcar

Future of Penticton francophone school secured following funding announcement

$11.5M in funding means École Entre-lacs now independently owned and operated

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

City of Vernon to redirect reclaimed water into Okanagan Lake

MacKay Reservoir nears capacity; city to reflow water into lake near Kin Beach

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Most Read