The latest reports from restive Kasese district indicate that more than one hundred people have so far died in the violence that engulfed the area last weekend.
This death toll is by all standards unacceptable and thus calls for national mourning, investigation and reflection. It is inconceivable that this carnage was inevitable. Professional security forces across the world take pride in containing dangerous situations with minimum or no loss of life.
In our case, we had the police gloating about putting 40 or so royal guards “out of action” as if there was a state of real war in Kasese. This is unfortunate because all lives matter, including those of security officers and misguided insurgents.
Just as nothing justifies innocent police officers being killed in their line of duty, in the same vein no amount of provocation justifies indiscriminate killing of citizens by security forces.
To end his cycle of violence once and for all, the truth must first be established. That is critical because what the police have told the country doesn’t exactly match what some eyewitnesses, including area MPs, have said. Unfortunately, independent information is hard to come by, partly because the security officers involved made it a point to restrict journalists’ access to the areas where these killings unfolded.
The arrest of a journalist whose only crime was to record the day’s events shows just how determined the security officers are to control information. As a result, Ugandans have been fed on the one narrative dictated by the police, which is hardly reliable.
The law should take its course with regard to the Omusinga and his subjects now under arrest. In addition, the government must convincingly explain the circumstances under which so many Ugandans, including police officers, were killed.
We should not just bury the dead and return to business as usual. Sweeping things under the carpet could explain why 50 years after the 1966 crisis when the state attacked the Kabaka’s palace; seven years after the September 2009 riots; and two years after the 2014 violence in Kasese and Bundibugyo, we have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.
Ugandans deserve to know the whole truth. Only then can we establish who and what was responsible for this bloodshed and, on that basis, declare: never again!