“…I was young by then but I could clearly understand that I needed to be a human rights defender in order to save my people as they recover from the 21-year-decade war.”
Lira – 23, July 2021: On Friday, 23 July, we bring to you the second edition of the program, TNDQuestions and our Guest today is Jane Frances Oling. She’s a human rights defender; an advocate for women and girls rights and the Executive Director, Women in Development.
Today I, Frank Oyugi had a conversation with the “fearless woman” and below are what we shared:
FO: I am sure, many people hear the name Jane Oling (JO) but know little about you. How would you describe yourself?
JO: I’m a very calm, understanding, hardworking, brave and very fearless person. In brief, I’m a fearless defender of human rights.
FO: You had a brief stint on the electronic media before joining the civil society space, tell us?
JO: I was just partnering with the electronic media in order to spread the human rights messages across the Lango sub region.
FO: What and who inspired you to join and actively engage in acts of Human Rights activism?
JO: Situations surrounding the recovery process of the post conflict in Northern Uganda where most of the communities had a sad story to tell especially about rape, child abduction, massacre of the people of Barlonyo, locking of people’s lips by the LRA rebels and many more. I was young by then but I could clearly understand that I needed to be a human rights defender in order to save my people as they recover from the 21-year-decade war.
My father, Mr Vincent Oling, too inspired me a lot because he fearlessly started a radio campaign during the war; asking the LRA rebels to release all captives, especially the women, children, girls and pregnant women. I then learnt from daddy that northern Uganda and the country at large needed human rights defenders to put things right and bring to an end gross violations of human rights.
FO: Human Rights activists and defenders face several hurdles and occupational hazards, you have any experience to share?
JO: Yes. In 2017, I led a group of civil society members to Parliament of Uganda demanding for accountability because of the gruesome killings of women around Entebbe, Katabi, Wakiso and Kampala. Later that evening, NBS TV invited me together with Hon Anna Adeke to talk about this very gruesome murder. Immediately after the talk show, I started receiving anonymous phone calls threatening me not to discuss the matter on TV. Fearless as I’m, I again appeared on NTV’s Talk of the Nation but unknown gunmen whose identity remained undisclosed later surrounded my residence; both the police and the sister security agents did not know those men and only the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) gave me security and all was okay.
FO: Would you say you are making strides/ success in your quest to defend the rights of the oppressed?
JO: Yes. I’m making great strides. Apparently there are low cases of violence against women and girls across the country and in Lango sub region.
FO: Lango sub-region has recently experienced a surge in murder cases linked to land wrangles and domestic violence, share with us your thoughts on how you think we can address this?
JO: I think the rampant killings in Lango due to land wrangles can only be addressed by promoting peaceful community dialogues, psycho-social support for all communities as a recovery process from the war; preaching of peace and reconciliation by the religious leaders, then the police should also continue to interact with communities and educate them on lawful conducts.
FO: In a recent interview with this publication you accused the cultural institution in Lango of losing focus, a justification for some ramifications in the land? Why hold this school of thought?
JO: I hold a school of thought that the Lango cultural foundation isn’t doing enough to curb down violence in homes and communities because the people of Lango are the subjects under their leadership and it’s their mandate to hold both cultural and domestic mediation services in order to restore both peace and sanity within the population, and also to preach peace and healthy coexistence within their loyal subjects, both the cultural leadership and the Lango cultural foundation hadn’t undertaken the above steps.
FO: In your opinion, what do you think should be done to resuscitate the cultural institution?
JO: They [leaders or Owitong] should come together, preach peace, love, and they will unite those they lead and make them prosperous. A cultural institution is an enormous home for the natives, and everybody must respect it.
FO: As an activist, what have you identified has human rights issue that calls for advocacy?
JO: Gender based violence is a human rights issue, child marriage, lack of drugs in health facilities, unlawful arrests and detention, child labor, and the act of denying widows property rights.
FO. Finally, any thoughts you would want to share with our readers?
JO: Uganda as a country should embrace human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Our Members of Parliament should bring back the domestic relations bill on the table for discussion; it should be enacted into law so that every woman, man and child at home is be catered for.