To his excellency, Al-Haji Field Marshal Dr. Idi Amin Ada, VC, DSO, MC, life president of Uganda, President's Office, Kampala.
We, the archbishop and the bishops of the provinces of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire humbly beg to submit our most deeply felt concern for the church and the welfare of the people whom we serve under your care.
In presenting this statement, we are in no way questioning the right of the government in administering justice, to search and arrest offenders. We believe that the government has established structures and procedures for carrying out this kind of exercise. It is these established structures and procedures that give the citizens a sense of what to expect of their government. These structures and procedures give the police, the intelligence and the security forces a framework within which to work. When these procedures are followed in carrying out their day-to-day duties, this gives the ordinary citizen a sense of security. It creates mutual friendship and trust between such officers and the general public irrespective of uniform.
But when the police and security officers deviate from these established structures and procedures in carrying out their day-to-day duties, citizens become insecure, afraid and disturbed. They begin to distrust these officers.
We are deeply disturbed to learn of the incidents that occurred at the archbishop's official residence in the early hours of Saturday, 5 February 1977. In the history of our country such an incident in the church has never before occurred. Security officers broke through the fence and forced their way into the archbishop's compound. They used a man they had arrested and tortured as a decoy to entice the archbishop to open his door to help a man seemingly in distress.
The archbishop opened his door.At that point armed men who had been hiding sprang to attack, cocking their rifles and demanding "arms." When the archbishop asked, "What arms" the answer was the muzzle of a rifle pressed against his stomach and immediately he was pushed forcefully into his house with the demand, "Archbishop, show us the arms."
Your excellency, you have said publicly on many occasions that religious leaders have a special place in this country and that you treat them with respect for what they stand for and represent. You have on many occasions publicly demonstrated this and we are always grateful. But what happened to the archbishop is a direct contradiction of what you yourself, your excellency, have said in public and to the established structures and procedures in dealing with security matters.
Now that the security of the archbishop is at stake, the security of the bishops is even more in jeopardy. The night following the search of the archbishop's house, the bishop of Bukedi was both searched and arrested.It was only when nothing could be found at his personal and official residences that he was later released on the Sunday morning. This left the people in his diocese wondering, and the wondering is spreading quickly. The Christians are asking, if this is what is happening to our bishops, then where are we? The gun whose muzzle has been pressed against the archbishop's stomach the gun used to search the bishop of Bukedi's houses, is a gun pointed at every Christian in the church, unless your excellency can give us something new to change this situation.
The security of the ordinary Christian has been in jeopardy for quite a long time. It may be that what has happened to the archbishop and the bishop of Bukedi is a climax of what is consistently happening to our Christians. We have buried many who have died as a result of being shot and there are many more whose bodies have not been found. Their disappearance is connected with the activities of some members of the security forces, your excellency.
If it is required we can give concrete evidence of what is happening because widows and orphans are members of our church.
Furthermore, we are made sad by the increasing forces that are setting Ugandans one against another. While it is common in Uganda for members of one family to be members of different religious organizations, there is an increasing feeling that one particular religious organization is being favored more than any other. So much so that in some parts of Uganda members of Islam who are in leading positions are using these positions to coerce Christians into becoming Muslims . . .
There is also a war against the educated that is forcing many of our people to run away from this country in spite of what the country has paid to educate them. This brain drain, the fear and the mistrust, make development, progress and stability almost impossible.
The gun which was meant to protect Uganda as a nation, the Ugandan as a citizen and his property, is increasingly being used against the Ugandan to take away his life and his property. Many cars almost daily are being taken at gunpoint and their owners killed, and most of the culprits are never brought to justice. If required we can enumerate many cases. Too much power has been given to members of state research to arrest and kill at will innocent individuals . . .
We are also concerned about the developing gap between the leaders of the Christian churches, archbishops in particular, and your excellency. We had been assured by you of your read availability to religious leaders whenever they had serious matters to discuss with you. You had even gone to the extent of giving his grace, the archbishop, the surest means of contacting you in this country wherever you may be. But a situation has developed now where you have become more and more inaccessible to the archbishop and even when he tried to write he has not received any reply.
While you, your excellency, have stated on the national radio that your government is not under any foreign influence and that your decisions are guided by your defense council and cabinet, the general trend of things in Uganda has created a feeling that the affairs of our nation are being directed by outsiders who do not have the welfare of this country and the value of the lives and properties of Ugandans at their heart. . . .
A situation like this breeds unnecessary misunderstanding and mistrust. Indeed we were shocked to hear over the radio on Christmas day your excellency saving that some bishops had preached bloodshed. We waited anxiously to be called by your excellency to clarify such a serious situation, but all in vain. Your excellency, we want to say here again that we are ready to come to you whenever there are serious matters that concern the church and the nation. You have only got to call us. This used to be so, your excellency, when you freely moved amongst us and we freely came to you . . .
The archbishop is not only the archbishop of the church of Uganda but he is the archbishop of the church of Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire, so what happens to him here is also the concern of the Christians in Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire. In fact, it goes further than that because he is an archbishop in the Anglican communion, which is a worldwide community; so are the bishops.
An action such as this one damages the good image of our nation. It also threatens our preparations for the centenary celebrations. Christians everywhere have become very cautious about taking part in the fund-raising activities of the church for fear of being misrepresented and misinterpreted. The ban on sales of things donated to fund-raising in aid of the church is a case in point. This, too, could have been cleared if only your excellency had given the archbishop an opportunity to brief you in the matter.
In conclusion, your excellency, we are very grateful that you have kindly given us this opportunity to express our grievances and concerns to you.
For God and our country."