General Idi Amin overthrew the Uganda government of Milton Obote in 1971. His regime lasted for eight years and during that period he ordered the deaths of about 300,000 people. He targeted the Acholi and Lango tribes that he viewed as political enemies that were loyal to Obote. He also organized security forces to eliminate civilians. The Asian populations in Uganda were also targeted, which resulted in the economy collapsing.
Reverend George Lukwiya is a survivor of the Uganda genocide from Idi Amin's regime. He recalls being picked up by secret police on the grounds that he attempted to assassinate Amin. He was taken to the State Research Bureau (SRB) where offices were turned into torture chambers. They tried to get a confession out of him but there was nothing to confess so he was continuously tortured. At the SRB people were strangled, shot, and beheaded. Sometimes dead bodies would be left in the cells for more than a week and prisoners would go up to two weeks without any water.
In December 1980 Milton Obote returned to office. Yoweri Museveni who opposed the government of Obote formed the National Resistance Army (NRA). Museveni launched a war against Obote's Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). The guerrilla wars between the two and by 1983 about 200,000 people were killed, 150,000 people were in UNLA camps, and 150,000 people were displaced. During Obote's regime homes were destroyed, parents were separated from their children, people suffered from malnutrition and starvation, and many kids were made to be children soldiers. The children soldiers were motivated to kill to seek revenge for their families and friends.
Kassim Kiggundu was abducted from his boarding school in May 1981 along with 44 of his peers to become child soldiers. Museveni and his rebels led them on a forced march and whoever couldn't walk anymore was killed. Kiggundu witnessed a teacher trying to save one of the children by carrying them on her back, but she grew exhausted and they shot both her and the child in the back of the head. It was after that moment that Kiggundu made the decision he was going to obey orders and do what he needed to do to survive. He was taught how to use a gun; he was told not to harm any wild animals but if their mothers and fathers were brought to their location and they told them to kill them they were to do it. Kiggundu trusted Museveni and because of that he was treated better than others. He fought in the jungle for him during most of his teenage years. In 1987 Kiggundu and the other child soldiers were told their parents were coming to see them. His mother died on the way to see him. 18 months later Kiggundu was sent to prison for 5 years; his senior officers opposed Museveni. After he was released in 1991 he joined the army and got married trying to put his past behind him. In 2002 Museveni called Kiggundu over to the State House and threatened him, then three weeks later had him arrested. He was able to escape to the UK by secret helpers. Since then his brother has been killed by Museveni's henchman for protesting for the rights of Ugandan people.
Like many of the other tyrants who have escaped by living in exile, Idi Amin and Milton Obote were able to live freely after their reigns of terror. Amin lived a comfortable and luxurious life in Saudi Arabia while Obote stayed in Zambia. Both Amin and Obote died before ever having justice properly served for the hundreds of thousands of deaths from their regimes.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a Ugandan rebel group that started in 1987 within the Acholi groups. Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, campaigned against the government and his group became violent against civilians. The rebels burned schools and houses, raped civilians, and also mutilated many. They abducted thousands of people, murdered at least 100,000, and turned 30,000 children into soldiers and sex slaves. Children that protested, tried to escape, or couldn't keep up with the group were killed.
Grace Achara was one of the children abducted from Joseph Kony's rebel army. She was taken from her family in 1999 at 14 years old. She woke up to soldiers pointing a torch to her face; her parents had already fled their home. They tied a sack of grain to her back and she was forced to march all the way to Sudan where the LRA training camps were. She spent over half her life with the LRA and in that time frame she was raped and forced to kill; she thought about escaping and committing suicide. Achara finally returned to Uganda after 16 years. She was sent to the Gulu Support the Children Organisation (GUSCO) but had to leave after a week due to financial constraints. Like the other children soldiers, Achara still struggles with day-to-day life. She didn't get a proper education or learn a trade and she also needs psycho-social support.
Evelyn Amony was almost 12 years old when she was taken by the LRA from her village in Northern Uganda in 1994. She spent 11 years with them and had a forced marriage with the LRA leader, Joseph Kony. During her time there she had three children with Kony. In 2005 government forces returned Amony to her family; it took her years to recover from her life as a child soldier and as Kony's wife. In Amony's village her children are not welcome there; the community is still upset that the LRA took their children and they won't want any LRA children there. She's also had issues with people asking why it was so hard to escape and not understanding her relationship with Kony. On one side he was the reason she was abducted but on another side he was also the key to her survival. It's been a long road to recovery, but Amony has adjusted and has even written a book about her life, "I Am Evelyn Amony." She is also the chairperson of the Women's Advocacy Network and helps other women in conflict.
In early 2017 both the U.S. and Uganda said Joseph Kony was no longer a threat and they called off the search for him and his followers. General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of U.S. Africa Command said that Kony is irrelevant and his regime is coming to an end. The U.S. said four of the five LRA leaders were captured, but Kony is still hiding. Major General Donald Bolduc, the commander of U.S. Special Operations in Africa, views this as a success story because when they first brought in troops there were 3,000 LRA members and now they have less than 100.