Landlord moves to evict Lukodi mass grave site

The massacre memorial site in Lukodi Village, Bungatira Sub-county in Gulu District . PHOTO / TAIBOT MARKO

What you need to know:

  • The owner of the one-acre piece of land on which the massacre site sits, argues that he now wants to develop his natural resource

Victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in Lukodi Village, Bungatira Sub-county in Gulu District are currently at a crossroads after the landlord last week issued an eviction notice, seeking to relocate the mass grave in the area.

 Mr Thomas Okello, the owner of the one-acre piece of land on which the massacre site sits, says he now wants to develop his land and that the grave must be relocated.

 “I have issued them with instructions to relocate the mass grave site from my land because I now want to make good use of it; the land has become prime due to rapid development at Lukodi Village here,” Mr Okello said last week.

 In November 2004, Mr Okello reportedly offered the land to build the monument under which lays the remains of more than 60 civilians brutally killed by the LRA rebels are buried.

 But Mr Okello said four years ago, he notified the local authorities about removing the site from his land and his need to develop it.

 Whereas Mr Okello says he is offering an alternative one and half acre piece of land to relocate the mass grave, local authorities say they do not have capacity to undertake the relocation exercise.

 On June 29, during a community engagement between the victims and the Uganda Human Rights Commission  officials in the village, the victims said besides lack of resources to relocate the remains, the exercise is traumatic.

 Mr Mohamad Olanya, one of the survivors of the 2004 massacre and also the secretary for the Lukodi Survivors and Victims Association, said they received the notice from Mr Okello but said they do not have capacity and resources to conduct the relocation.

 “We recognise his rights of ownership of the land and indeed we received his notice recently but we are unable to do that due to resource constraints,” Mr Olanya said.

  Mr Wilfred Lalobo, another survivor of the massacre, said they now want about Shs75 million to buy an alternative piece of land for the relocation.

 “As leaders of the victims association, we are requesting individuals of good will, and the Gulu District local government to help us raise the Shs75 million to buy another two acres of land elsewhere  to relocate the site,” Mr Lalobo said.

 Mr Lutoda Ojara, the Bungatira Sub-county chairperson, is now pleading with landowners in the area to donate alternative land for the exercise.

Background

The 2004 Lukodi massacre, which left some 65 people dead, was the deadliest of many LRA attacks on the village. Around six o’clock in the evening, the LRA entered the village and began their attack. One group attacked and overpowered Ugandan soldiers and a second group looted, stole animals, food and other valuables while the third targeted, killed, abducted civilians and burnt homes.

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