Kichwamba massacre: Govt compensation still in limbo

Some survivors and students of Kichwamba Technical College lay a wreath on the mass grave at the college on June 8 in remembrance of students who were killed by the ADF rebels in 1998. PHOTO | ALEX ASHABA

June 8 marked 24 years since the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked Kicwamba Technical College in Kabarole District, burning 80 students to death and abducting more than 100.

 The ADF rebels allegedly commanded by Jamil Mukulu massacred the innocent students.

Mukulu has since been arrested and detained by the Ugandan government.

Following the attack, the government promised to compensate the victims of the attack, but 24 years later, the parents and caretakers of the victims are yet to get their compensation.

Speaking to Daily Monitor at the weekend, the victims claim they have been neglected by the government.

 Ms Annet Ssempiira of Binanata Village in Kutumba Ward in Fort Portal City, said her son, Muyomba James Hannington, was among those burnt to death.

She suffers trauma, but has never received any psycho-social support. “My dreams were shuttered. It has gone through a troubling experience and the government hasn’t helped,” Ms Ssempiira narrates.

“We have seen many people being compensated for smaller incidents, but nobody has come to our rescue,” she says.

 Ms Ssempiira recalls being contacted by people claiming to be from the Office of the President one week after the incident, but they have never returned.

“They left behind their contacts, but efforts to call them haven’t yielded any fruits,” she adds.

She laments that their children were innocent and had a great future ahead, but government has not thought about the parents.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, President Museveni promised to compensate victims of the rebel attacks, but in vain.

Ms Joyce Kabaloodi, says her son was killed after being abducted by ADF rebels. She wants the government to recognise all parents who lost their children and mark June 8 as a public holiday.

 Mr Julius Katuramu, who narrowly-survived the incident, said President Museveni visited the scene and assured them of the government’s support.

Mr Chris Alimanya, another parent, said: “We have moved to many offices seeking compensation, but we haven’t been helped. Some parents have passed on without this compensation.” 

 Mr Alimanya said some of the survivors dropped out of school due to the trauma, but are willing to continue with studies if the government offers bursaries.

Last year in August, the Fort Portal Woman MP, Ms Irene Linda, wrote to the Attorney General and the Justice ministry demanding the government compensation for the victims.

“The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to request your office to consider making provisions and arrangements for compensation of our people/communities who were grossly affected by the ADF insurgency,” Ms Linda’s letter reads.

She is yet to receive a response from the government.

The government has since renovated the college with new infrastructures and new courses and also beefed up UPDF soldiers to guard the institution.

Students attack

The rebels locked students in their dormitories and set them on fire. Twenty-seven students who were burnt beyond recognition were buried in a mass grave inside the college and the grave bears all their names. Although some students escaped and survived the attack, more than 100 were abducted by the rebels.