MUFF18-Catalogue-front

We’re opening the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in Melbourne this Saturday might! There’s only one showing so don’t miss your chance to see the full feature cut!

Venue:     Alex Theatre, Fitzroy St, St Kilda (The George)

Time:       7pm for drinks and director meet & greet / media

                  Screening at 8pm sharp. (Duration 75 minutes)

Post Screening Drinks to celebrate our Aus Premiere

Tickets on sale now via Ticketek http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=MUFF17

Melbourne Underground Film Festival selects A Brilliant Genocide to open the controversial festival, now in it’s 18th year of operation. 

See: http://www.muff.com.au/opening-night/

In 2012 small time African leader Joseph Kony was deemed a terrorist by the US government and became the world’s most wanted man thanks to Youtube. Like pieces of shrapnel, shards of reportage on his activities barely pierced mainstream Western media other than providing images of child soldiers.

TV news services and especially daily newspapers were useless in following the story of Kony and in fact the entire dire political situation in Uganda has remained wholly under-reported since. In fact, perhaps due to vested interests Uganda’s Wikipedia page has barely been updated since then.

Enter Melbourne based filmmaker Ebony Butler and the creation over a period of years of the documentary A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE. Sharp visuals, editing and consistent tone provide a picture of clarity with serious global consequences that deftly demonstrates the reality of its own title.

A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE is AFRICA BLOOD AND GUTS on another level that should create sadness and anger amongst all viewers but motivate those who are not simply numbed by it all. Of greatest importance is its exposure of world leaders both symbolic (the Queen & the Pope) and those in charge of military budgets (U.S presidents Clinton, Bush & Obama) and their continual support of Uganda’s President Museveni who as of 2016 was elected for a fifth term and remains the go to guy in Africa for arms purchases and is still upheld as a universal role model for how to run a third world country that apparently only needs its health services upgraded.

Museveni’s own monster squad has allowed the emergence of another monster Kony and in between these opposing forces the general population continues to suffer. A BRILLIANT GENOCIDE is a taut and timely documentary that positively radiates with its own brilliance. A very serious opening night film.

Richard Wolstencroft

Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) Director

 

 

A Brilliant Genocide director Ebony Butler and her London based collaborator Belinda Atim spoke with Joseph Ochieno on Talking Africa (Resonance 104.4fm) yesterday afternoon about our documentary, the conspiracy of silence around the war in Uganda and the largely untold story of state sponsored atrocities in the north and east of the country. Belinda starts off the interview discussing the recent news of Uganda and the U.S stopping the six year man hunt for rebel leader and supposed most wanted man in Africa, and top 10 most wanted in the world, Joseph Kony. The question of whether or not A Brilliant Genocide had anything to do with the decision did come up, as many people seem to believe our film was a cause for the unexpected change of heart regarding the massive man hunt for Joseph Kony which has to date cost close to if not over one billion US dollars. I bet the US taxpayers aren’t aware of that – nor that the money was largely looted and used for other purposes, oppression, invasions and to help build one of the strongest armies in East Africa…. to essentially help entrench the dictator in power for longer. (31 years years is a long time in power, but it seems Museveni can’t get enough)

One other thing that was stressed in the interview was the importance of the petition that is attached to our documentary, primarily calling for US to stop funding and military support to the Ugandan regime. You can help end the silence by signing and sharing the petition here: www.bit.ly/STOPM7  Thank you!

#EndTheSilence 

How to Tune in Next Time:

If you have the internet  you can tune in live from anywhere in the world on Resonance 104.4FM in London – but best to come back the same time next week (Thursday, pm-2pm GMT) for the Talking Africa program… I’m sure we will be back for a few more shows as there is so much to cover and we only scratched the very tip pf the iceberg yesterday!

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ 

Finally, worldwide TV broadcast of our film A Brilliant Genocide! THIS WEEKEND for those who have missed the 5o+ film festival screenings we have had in 2016!
 
TV broadcast currently scheduled in the U.K. and Australia this weekend on the 9th, 10th and the 11th of December on RT / Russia Today TV (Foxtel channel 658 in Australia and Channel 135 in the U.K)
 
If you don’t have Foxtel/Cable it will also be streamed on RT.com !
 
If you are outside of the UK and Australia please check with RT to see what dates it will be screened in your country.
 
Follow us for regular updates and to join the conversation on Facebook at ABRILLIANTGENOCIDETwitter or Instagram!
#EndTheSilence #ABrilliantGenocide

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Cut Off U.S. Weapons To Gen Museveni Uganda’s Murderous Dictator:

Dear President Obama,

As you know on Feb. 18 Uganda held elections that were universally condemned by credible observers including by the U.S. as flawed and having not been free, fair or credible; they were also marred by violence against opposition leaders and their supporters by state security agents.

The Ugandan military has since escalated its human rights abuses by inflicting brutal repression against civilians.

The U.S., which is a major security partner of the Ugandan regime, providing arms and training for its army – in addition to $700 million in financial support — must at the very least suspend this relationship as required by the Leahy Amendment which “prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.”

With respect to the Feb. 18 vote, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo condemned the Ugandan regimes’ vote suppression in opposition strongholds; he said the delays in delivery of election material were “inexcusable.”

Yoweri_Museveni_with_Obamas_2014
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

(more…)

 

Yesterday Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a new 50 page report on Uganda documenting an influx of government attacks on organizations whose focus includes oil revenue transparency, land acquisition compensation, legal & governance reform, and protection of human rights.

Excerpt: ‘If your research raises a flag about people in power in this country, and how they are getting money out of this country, you are at serious risk. If you preach human rights, you are anti-development, an economic saboteur. You are not going to talk about land, oil, and good governance.’

Comment from our Child Troopers Facebook Post:

Doka Oringtho Musa: When Museveni wants to use the Army to steal elections, he does not need the Civil Society monitoring his activities.

Uphold Rights of Freedom of Expression and Association

AUGUST 21, 2012
  • © 2011 Human Rights Watch
Uganda’s government is putting serious pressure on civil society, particularly on organizations that might be seen as infringing upon the officials’ political and financial interests. Civil society should have space to conduct research and take part in policy debates without fear of government reprisals.
Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch

(Nairobi) – Research and advocacy organizations inUganda that deal with controversial topics are facing increasing harassment by Uganda’s government, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Groups have recently faced forced closure of meetings, threats, harassment, arrest, and punitive bureaucratic interference. The Ugandan government should end its hostile rhetoric and repeated obstructions of nongovernmental organizations, Human Rights Watch said.

The 50-page report, “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda,”documents increasing government attacks on organizations whose focus includes oil revenue transparency, land acquisition compensation, legal and governance reform, and protection of human rights, particularly the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Both government ministers and district-level officials have engaged in obstruction, Human Rights Watch said.

“Uganda’s government is putting serious pressure on civil society, particularly on organizations that might be seen as infringing upon the officials’ political and financial interests,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Civil society should have space to conduct research and take part in policy debates without fear of government reprisals.”

President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, is widely believed to be gearing up for yet another term. Since his re-election in 2011, political tensions have been running high and public criticism of government has escalated. To better control this environment the ruling party’s high-ranking government officials are increasingly scrutinizing nongovernmental organizations and the impact they might have on public perceptions of governance and management of public funds, Human Rights Watch found.

This report is based on research carried out by Human Rights Watch staff throughout 2011, as well as in-country research from May to July 2012, and a review of Uganda’s nongovernmental regulations and other relevant laws. Human Rights Watch interviewed 41 people, including 25 representatives of organizations working on a broad range of thematic work and from around the country, as well as donors, police, and government actors.

The operations of nongovernmental organizations in Uganda are regulated by the country’s NGO Act, which requires organizations to register with the government’s NGO Board, managed by the minister of internal affairs. Members of Uganda’s intelligence services sit on the board to monitor civil society activity. In this way, organizations are treated as possible national security threats.

The NGO Act as amended in 2006 restricts operations of nongovernmental organizations through lengthy and convoluted registration requirements and confusing procedures that groups are expected to comply with in order to receive permission to conduct research. In April 2009 eight organizations filed a challenge to the act before the Constitutional court, arguing that some provisions are inconsistent with the constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the East African Community Treaty. The case is yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

A large number – perhaps thousands – of nongovernmental organizations operate in Uganda. The government allows some groups, particularly those involved in service delivery, significant latitude. But oil transparency, land, governance, and human rights groups have had an increasingly difficult time both carrying out their work and advocating for change in public forums, Human Rights Watch found.

In 2010, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the leadership of the nongovernmental organization sector negotiated an NGO Policy, a generally positive document that is an important step in addressing civil society concerns. But the government has not formally put the policy into operation and it holds no legal weight. Recent actions of the government’s NGO Board betray the aspirations of the policy. For example, in June 2012 the board told one organization working in governance and oil revenue transparency to desist from participating in “loose unregistered coalitions.” The NGO Policy specifically states that “clusters, networks or umbrella organizations” should be strengthened. The nongovernmental organization laws are silent on how or if coalitions must register as a legal entity.

In May 2012, the government ordered the NGO Board to carry out an investigation into the research of a group that documents unlawful land acquisitions. The board, acting outside its legal mandate, recommended that the organization should apologize for a report it issued about the subject and withdraw it, or face deregistration.

Another group working to help local communities receive fair compensation for land used in a large-scale electricity project was said to be “bordering on sabotage of government programs” by the government agency involved in the project. The government requires any organization to seek written permission from the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development each time they seek to visit the oil region, even though no law or publicly available policy requires them to seek such permission for the visits. These policies and practices obstruct access to affected communities and inhibit research and advocacy on oil accountability and transparency.

One representative of a nongovernmental group told Human Rights Watch that, “If your research raises a flag about people in power in this country, and how they are getting money out of this country, you are at serious risk. If you preach human rights, you are anti-development, an economic saboteur. You are not going to talk about land, oil, and good governance. This is just the beginning, but the tensions have been accumulating.”

At the same time, the government’s hostility to, and harassment of, Uganda’s LGBT community and its leadership is unabated. Government officials demonizing homosexuality are targeting a vulnerable community and deliberately misinforming the public, stirring hatred, and diverting donor attention. LGBT organizations are forced to operate on the margins because criminal laws on homosexuality prevent them from legally registering with the NGO Board. In the last few months two workshops focused on advocacy for the rights of LGBT people have been forcibly shut down by police at the behest of the minister of state for ethics and integrity, though there is no basis in law for such actions. In one instance activists were temporarily detained. The minister has stated unequivocally that organizations supporting the rights of LGBT people will be deregistered.

With the public’s frustrations with the ruling party leadership since the February 2011 elections, many see the government’s relentless focus on the alleged threat of homosexuality as a facile populist strategy to gain support. The LGBT community in Uganda remains deeply vulnerable to public harassment and violence. Organizations told Human Rights Watch that they fear that the hostility toward the LGBT community will be used to slander human rights organizations and undercut their work in all areas.

“It is not illegal in Uganda to discuss homosexuality or advocate for legal reform to decriminalize homosexuality, and government officials should not behave like it is,” Burnett said. “Government officials should remember they have a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, not only citizens they agree with.”

Given the increasingly challenging operating environment, staff and representatives of nongovernmental groups expressed serious concerns about their ability to maintain their research, advocate positions on controversial issues, and protect their employees. Representatives of these groups told Human Rights Watch that they fear they will not be able to carry out their mandates due to the hostile environment, and some acknowledged that they have begun to censor their own work to maintain some level of operations.

The government of Uganda should change its approach to all nongovernmental organizations, especially those working on sensitive or controversial subjects, and improve the operating space for all civil society, Human Rights Watch said. The government should rein in hostile rhetoric, amend laws that treat nongovernmental organizations as possible threats to national security, and publicly support the essential role of civil society. In turn, Uganda’s international partners, especially those considering funding the NGO Board, should actively voice their concerns about the need to end unjustifiable interference in civil society operations.

“The government should publicly support the essential role of civil society in stimulating public debate, rather than attacking this essential element of a human rights-respecting democracy,” Burnett said. “Uganda’s international partners should actively voice their concerns regarding these threats to nongovernmental groups, particularly given the escalation in government hostility toward freedom of expression and association.”

My second trip to Uganda was vastly different from the first, back in 2009.

In 2009, I was researching the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), Joseph Kony and the topical issue of children in armed conflict. I spent most of my time with former child soldiers in Northern Uganda and also made a promise to a group of child soldiers that I had become close to. The promise was to send 2 bicycles, to help them in their lives and in their rehabilitation and re-integration into society.

In 2012, I returned with a container of 400 bicycles, a mission I had been on since my trip there in 2009. I also set up a bike workshop and vocational training centre at Friends of Orphans in Pader, to help victims of the conflict.

As as far as my research on the war in Northern Uganda goes, I had learnt a lot more in the three years since my first visit. During that period I also traveled to the United States, where I interviewed people at the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Black Star News, UNICEF, Resolve Uganda and many other organizations.

My knowledge of the conflict grew day by day, and when I returned to Uganda earlier this year, I had many new contacts to meet and learn from. These included notable and die-hard pro-democracy activists such as Barbara Allimadi, Shawn Mubiru, Anne Mugisha, opposition leaders Kizza Besigye, Nandala Mafabi and the honorable UPC President and former UN Under Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, Dr. Olara Otunnu. The experts and scholars I met with included Adam Branch from Makerere University, Leander Komakech, Okello Okello John Livingstone and Major General Pecas Kutesa – who all offered interesting and informative insights into the war and the state of democracy in Uganda. This really put a new spin on my take of the conflict, which had gradually been happening since the U.S trip in 2011. There were things that didn’t add up and it has taken a long time to work out the truth, as the media portrayal of the conflict is far from the facts I had uncovered. Uganda, I also discovered, was a democracy in disguise. On two occasions I was almost arrested, for no reason other than having a camera and having friends who are with the opposition. On my last day in Uganda, the day I was grabbed by the Police and threatened to be tear gassed, my friend Doreen was actually arrested and put into maximum security prison (Luzira), for voicing her opinion about the government and Museveni’s corrupt regime. I can tell you first hand, Uganda is not as free and democratic as it appears to be…

I still spend countless hours researching the conflict and the human rights situation in the country, as what has occurred in Northern Uganda has been so well concealed by the powers that be, and the international community at large, making it very difficult for the truth to be made visually transparent. The ‘Kony War‘, as it is often called, is not what it seems. That is not to say that Kony does not exist, nor that he has not committed the atrocities that are now well-known to the world, thanks to the viral video campaign from Invisible Children, Kony 2012. The perpetrator of this conflict is not Kony, as most would believe due to media and government deception and misinformation. Joseph Kony is sadly a product of the war, and should still however be made to face justice for his crimes. But, will that bring justice to the Acholi people of Northern Uganda, particularly if the other perpetrators are not also made to stand trial for their involvement in this human tragedy? How can justice prevail when impunity reigns?

This year I also spent much time in Uganda looking into how the conflict can be resolved and what is the best way forward. Is military intervention (which is what is currently happening) the correct road, or could truth and reconciliation through national dialogue and peace talks be a better and more effective option? There are many differing views on this subject, but on the ground, there seems to be only one. Invisible Children have called out loud and clear for U.S military intervention in the region, but where has that got them in the past, and for what reasons would they really be intervening? The fact of the matter is, why intervene now, when they really needed to intervene 10 years ago, when there was a serious humanitarian crisis going on. That’s when everyone was silent on what was going on. That’s when help was needed and voices needed to be heard. Now there is relative peace and the people in Uganda want to know, “WHY NOW?”.

‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’
Albert Einstein