Twenty-six kilometres north of Lira town in northern Uganda, a quiet displaced person’s camp called Barlonyo lies inconspicuously next to the River Moroto. The tranquil setting belies its horrible distinction as the location of one of the largest single massacres committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army during its 23-year insurgency. In the space of less than three hours on the late afternoon of 21 February 2004, over 300 people were brutally murdered by LRA rebels and an unknown number were abducted.
Camp residents were burned alive inside their huts, hacked to death with machetes, stabbed with bayonets, clubbed with sticks and shot as they fled. The bellies of pregnant women were slit open, their not-yet-formed babies thrown into the fires. Others were abducted and marched north into Acholi-land. Many died in captivity of violence, sickness, or starvation. The ultimate fate of several abductees remains unknown.
This Field Note documents what happened in Barlonyo on that fateful day when LRA Commander Okot
Odhiambo ordered his soldiers to “kill every living thing.” The victims of Barlonyo beg for justice; not only for the unimaginable acts of the LRA, but the lack of protection afforded the civilian population that day, and in the absence of acknowledgment of what happened there. The Government of Uganda must forward a comprehensive justice strategy that addresses wrong doing and heals the wounds that continue to divide the country.
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