The peaceful occupancy of United Nations office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights by people from Apaa continues to yield more power
Today marks one month for #OccupyUN in Gulu, where 234 victims of brutal land grabs have camped in protest of continuous killings and other abuses at the hands of the Ugandan state. In the past week, leaders of the occupation have met with Parliament, embassies, UN officials, and land rights institutions in hopes of dismissing armed forces from their ancestral lands.
They overcame their individual and collective fear and took risks to publicly denounce the ongoing brutal massacres, beatings, torture and forceful evictions as well as burning of houses, destruction and looting of crops and livelihoods by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Uganda Police forces and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and sought international attention and response to the crisis.
Through the occupation of the UN OHCHR, the Apaa community not only proved their determination to resist land grabbing but also proved they have more experience with civil resistance and nonviolent action, staying united towards their objectives and goals. The direct action has leveraged them into a position of power that can inspire other communities to take similar subsequent actions throughout Uganda.
The Apaa community restrained themselves from using violence and stayed peaceful so that they are not discredited and limit propaganda that could be developed against them to justify any repression. Their inspiring persistence and nonviolent discipline continues to confuse and shame their opponents.
Many activists have joined hands and supported the community’s struggle though the occupiers have been denied movement outside the compound and interaction with their families and relatives in addition to media not having access to cover the action. This has not deterred different activists from standing in solidarity with the community. Last week, young people from Amuru walked to Gulu in to show their solidarity with the occupiers. On the same day, a team of activists from Soroti, Eastern region, drove to Gulu to join hands with occupiers, deliver some food items and encourage them in the struggle.
Despite the UN OHCHR’s silence and the tendency to push occupiers to vacate voluntarily or force them to accommodate with the reaction of their oppressor, the Apaa community resolutely decided to stay longer camping in the offices of the UN OHCHR until their demands are responded to and the abuse and atrocities they have faced at the hands of the Government are recognized. Nevertheless, the UN OHCHR’s current position does not offer excuse to try to continue supporting and protecting oppressors at the expense of human rights in Uganda.
You can support the occupation by donating at www.solidarityuganda.org/give-2.