Soldiers in time and space including those in Uganda have a responsibility to defend the nation against external aggression and to protect the people against internal regime oppression. In protecting the people against regime oppression, soldiers can either remain neutral or join the people against the regime.
Since 1966, the people of Uganda have suffered various degrees of regime oppression. It’s time that Uganda soldiers do something about it by peaceful means in the first instance. Soldiers everywhere have exercised their responsibility to protect the people by either standing neutral while the people battled against an authoritarian regime or joining the people when the government used force to silence the people. For easy reference here are some examples.
1. During the French Revolution of 1789, some sections of the army (the French Guards) joined the Parisian demonstrators because they sympathized with their suffering made worse by unemployment, food shortages, rising prices. When the Third Estate that had converted itself into the National Assembly refused to obey the king’s orders, the king was reluctant to call on soldiers because he suspected they would refuse to carry out his orders. They were on the side of the people. The Bourbon dynasty was removed from power.
2. In 1911, Porfirio Diaz who had ruled Mexico for over thirty years during which time the conditions of peasants and workers deteriorated and triggered a revolution, the president was forced to resign and fled into exile. The regime collapsed.
3. During the Russian Revolution of February 1917, Czar Nicholas II ordered his troops to disperse demonstrators. Instead soldiers joined the demonstrators and the Romanov dynasty was removed from power.
4. During Stalin collectivization program which was resisted by some farmers (the kulaks), some Red Army soldiers refused to shoot the peasants.
5. During the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution soldiers joined civilian demonstrators and pressed their demands. Meanwhile the Imperial Guards remained neutral and the Ethiopian Empire was brought to an end.
6. In 1986, some soldiers in the Philippines led by the minister of defense and deputy army commander joined the people and prevented President Ferdinand Marcos from stealing the presidential elections results which he lost. He was sent into exile.
7. In 1989, the anti-Ceausescu (Romanian communist leader) forces in the army joined the demonstrators against pro-Ceausescu secret police. Ceausescu and his wife Elena were captured as they tried to flee the country and the regime collapsed.
8. In 1989, the East Germany leader Erich Honecker was faced with serious demonstrations calling for reforms. Honecker seriously considered unleashing troops to disperse demonstrators. He didn’t take the decision because he suspected the soldiers would refuse to act against the people. His was forced to resign and his regime collapsed.
9. In the Soviet Union conservative hardliners resisted the pace of political and economic change. In 1991 they attempted a military coup led by some ministers and military officers. The public resisted and most military units withdrew their support and the coup failed.
10. During the Arab Spring Revolution, the Egyptian soldiers took a neutral stand and Mubarak and his regime were swept out of power.
Fellow Uganda soldiers you have a patriotic and professional duty to protect the people against NRM regime oppression and decadence that has descended on the Pearl of Africa. There is no crime but praise in either joining the people or remaining neutral for peaceful regime change. Uganda is tired of shading innocent blood since the attack on Mengo in 1966. We all want to re-establish liberty, justice, equality and dignity for all Ugandans and strictly observe political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms. We want Ugandans to determine a system of governance call it what you will (federal or unitary) and to participate in decisions and programs that affect their lives. Uganda is at a cross roads and the decision you make will either save or sink Uganda deeper into the hole of misery and decadence. The choice is yours.