On Wednesday, June 24, 1981, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) attacked civilians who had taken refuge at Ombaci College, four kilometres from Arua town in Uganda’s West Nile sub-region. The “Ombaci Massacre” eventually claimed the lives of close to 100 people and left countless wounded.
In 2013, the Justice and Reconciliation Project be- gan conducting research for a report which would document the events of that day, its aftermath and the recommendations of the survivors and their descendants. It Was Only the Gun Speaking, With a Pool of Blood Flowing (see an excerpt on page 18), JRP’s 20th Field Note, details how today the remnants of this massacre still exist for many of the survivors of the massacre: the children that were orphaned on that day live with lost opportunities for education, financial and emotional support, while survivors who lost property continue to seek compensation.
Many survivors also suffer from health complications and injures. As such, it is evident that reparations form a significant part of the call for redress for survivors of the Ombaci massacre, however a recurring theme that surfaced among them was the call for reconciliation and dialogue among the different peoples of northern Uganda.
Many witnesses of the massacre have expressed the belief that the massacre was an act of revenge by the majority Acholi UNLA for the treatment the Acholi people had received at the hands of Idi Amin’s soldiers when he was in power. This was also reflected during a dialogue held at the Ombaci Catholic Mission, as part of the annual com- memoration of the massacre in June this year, many speeches by survivors, community members and political leaders called for reconciliation and dialogue between the people of Acholi and West Nile. This issue of Voices magazine examines the importance, role and implementation of regional reconciliation in the vein of that which was called for in Ombaci in northern Uganda’s transitional justice.
Read the entire issue here: Voices Issue 8.