Leaders call for withdrawal of UPDF as accusations of brutality on Lake Kyoga continue

Leaders call for withdrawal of UPDF as accusations of brutality on Lake Kyoga continue
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In a bid to address the escalating tension surrounding the presence of the UPDF fisheries protection unit on Lake Kyoga and Lake Kwania, local leaders in Lango Sub-region have intensified their calls for the withdrawal of the military personnel.

The continuous presence of the UPDF on the lakeshores has been met with growing discontent from the local communities, who accuse the force of engaging in brutal acts, including torture, resulting in the loss of lives.

The tragic case of Denis Opio, a young fisherman whose life was cut short in a harrowing encounter with the UPDF, epitomizes the grim reality faced by many in the region.

Despite warnings of patrols, Opio ventured into Lake Kyoga with hopes of a successful fishing expedition, only to meet a tragic fate at the hands of the military.

His mother, Sarah Anyango, recounts the heart-wrenching ordeal, stating,

"Sebuga, a UPDF informer, called my husband and said Opio was lying on the papyrus , but we checked immediately and he was not there. We went to Bangala police station."

Opio's body was later discovered, adding to the grim tally of 45 victims who have allegedly suffered at the hands of the UPDF brutality on the lake.

Local leaders, including Moses Okot, Member of Parliament for Kyoga County, have raised concerns over the detrimental impact of the military presence on the livelihoods of the communities dependent on fishing.

"The presence of soldiers is barring the local communities living along the shores of the lakes from carrying out fishing activities, which is the main source of income for the households," asserted Okot.

Moreover, accusations of the fisheries protection unit impounding fishing gear and reselling it to the communities have further fueled resentment.

Jimmy Akena, Member of Parliament for Lira City East, voiced his dismay.

"The leaders also accuse the fisheries protection unit of impounding fishing gear and reselling it to the communities and being involved in cases of death," Akena said.

In response to these allegations, Lieutenant Lauben Ndifula, spokesperson for the Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU),  reiterated the commitment of the UPDF to upholding law and order on the lakes.

However, amidst mounting pressure, local leaders have submitted a list of 45 victims of crimes, including rape, murder, and torture allegedly committed by the UPDF, urging for swift action to address the grievances of the affected communities.

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