Rwenzururu Palace Raid Anniversary: Youth Plant Trees, Ask Government to Pardon the Victims

Youth in Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu-OBR cultural institution planted trees and staged a climate change walk in commemoration of the Sunday 27th November 2016 Rwenzururu palace attack.  They asked the government to pardon all those who were arrested in connection to the attack.

Sunday marked six years since the raid on the palace, which climaxed with the arrest of Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere and 203 others. The raid, on November 26 and 27, was carried out by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces- UPDF under the command of the then Second Division Commander, Brigadier Peter Elwelu.

The attack came after the Rwenzururu King refused to hand over the guards whom the army accused of engaging in clandestine activities. More than 100 people lost their lives in this raid. The group was later arraigned before a court in Jinja on 41 counts of treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, robbery, and malicious damage to property.

Although Mumbere and some of the accused Royal Guards were granted bail in previous applications, 84 members of the initial group of suspects have remained on remand. The youth argued that even in the absence of the King, they must own the responsibility to conserve, protect and defend the development of the institution.

Kameli Zepha Bwambale, the leader of the campaign told URN that as they anticipate the return of their king, they are also mobilizing themselves into actions that are supposed to protect the environment such that when he comes, he is able to find a well-conserved environment. He reiterated that everyone in the cultural institution should endeavor to protect and conserve the environment as one way of preserving the cultural institution even when the king is away. 

Joel Kyanjiruka, the Director of Mbuga Community for Girl Child Development believes that if the trees are maintained, they can promote environmental conservation and mitigate climate change. He adds that as young people, they have the responsibility for the progress of the OBR institution by voluntarily engaging in activities that promote, peace, unity, and social transformation of all. 

Isaac Sinamakosa said he joined hands with other organizations to send a message to OBR subjects and leaders in Kasese to jointly work toward environmental conservation and peace. He said that there is a strong relationship between environment and culture and believes that some of the ongoing environmental destructions could have been averted by the voice of the cultural leader if he was present. 

Fred Marule, another youth said he participated in the Sunday drive to raise awareness about the value of natural ecosystems for sustainable social-economic development. 

He hopes this campaign will breed a new generation that is passionate about ecosystem restoration and the protection of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu from natural disasters. 

Maureen Biira from South Rwenzori Diocese Messiah Radio said that journalists need to be concerned about the deteriorating biodiversity and biodiversity habitats in the region. 

Wesley Bwambale is encouraging young people in the institution to come out and conserve the cultural norms of the kingdoms including protecting the environment.

He adds that it’s unfortunate that many people have died as a result on natural disasters in the last six years and there have not been voluntary actions taken to avert the same in the future.

Margrete Kabugho, whose husband, Johnson Kahungu is still in jail asked the government to pardon the victims, saying their families are going through tough challenges in the absence of house heads. “My prayer is that the president forgives our people, we are suffering with children, we don’t have food and fees for them,” Kabugho noted

Lucas Buhaka,  a peace actor locally known as “the voice of the voiceless” says that without a deliberate effort to improve household incomes, a decent education for the children and serve justice to the victims of the conflicts in the Rwenzori, this community will never heal. The kingdom’s prime minister, Joseph Kule Muranga maintains that there are positive discussions between the government and the institution to pave way for the release of Mumbere and the remaining royal guards. 

Recent research conducted by Creations Forum Afrika (CAF), a local NGO on human rights in the Rwenzori Sub-region, indicated that on average, every royal guard had two wives.

Six years today, both the palace and administration offices are still crime scenes and remain a no-go area for people.   

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