Uganda and the Weaponization of HIV/AIDS
KPFA Weekend News, 07.24.2011
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: Today London Observer published a report and photo essay on the use of male on male rape as a weapon in East/Central Africa. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Ugandan American Milton Allimadi, Editor of the New York City-based Black Star News. Allimadi was one of the first to write not only about male on male rape as a weapon, but also about male on male rape by HIV-infected soldiers to intentionally infect targeted communities.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Milton Allimadi, in 2008, you published, in the Black Star News, " Targeted Rapes to Spread HIV Began in Uganda," a shocking story that you had been unable to persuade the New York Times to carry in the 1990s. You said then that you had spoken to a doctor who told you he was convinced there was a policy to spread HIV because, for the first time, men were also being raped by Ugandan government soldiers. Could you explain the conflict situation in which this occurred?
Milton Allimadi: Well, it occurred in the period after Yoweri Museveni's insurgency prevailed in Uganda, and he became president in 1986. Now when his soldiers reached the northern part of Uganda, initially, they were actually welcomed. But then after some time, some of his soldiers became abusive and it inspired or sparked resistance in that part of the country, particularly from the Acholi. And then Museveni's army, the National Resistance Army, mounted several very brutal, anti-insurgency campaigns, and during one of these campaigns, among some of the acts of brutality that the leaders from the northern part of Uganda alleged, was that soldiers were for the first time raping men as well as women. And this was something that had never been heard of, or even imagined, in Uganda. Certainly not in Acholi.
KPFA: Why has no one in Uganda challenged ruling NRM Party MP David Bahati about this, given that he is the author of this Anti-Homosexuality bill which, in its first version at least, allowed the death penalty for serial acts of homosexuality or homosexual acts while HIV positive, regardless of consent or precaution?
Milton Allimadi: Well, there are a number of things. First of all, he would not admit that such acts were being perpetrated by soldiers in the national army. He would most likely demand that whoever raised that question to him should produce one of the perpetrators that happens to be a member of the Ugandan army. And that is a challenge that would not be easily surmountable, since it is unlikely that the government of Uganda would arrest its own soldiers or identify soldiers that might have been deployed for this diabolical act.
KPFA: Milton Allimadi, thank you for speaking to KPFA.
Milton Allimadi: Thank you for having me again.