RDC Wants Radio Maria Closed for Promoting Hate Speech

3309 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Gulu RDC Captain Santos Lapolo accuses Radio Maria-Gulu of using Sunday masses to blackmail the government, campaign national development programs and attack other faith-based organizations.

Gulu Resident District Commissioner Captain Santos Okot Lapolo is seeking suspension of a broadcasting license of Radio Maria, a Catholic Radio Station in Gulu district.

He accuses the station of using Sunday masses to blackmail the government, campaign national development programs and attack other faith-based organizations.

Lapolo cites the broadcast of Sunday, February 11 in which Father Charles Onen, a priest at Holy Rosary Catholic Parish and director of Radio Maria falsely accused the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda, Johnson Gakumba of burning Catholic rosaries and several articles of worship during a crusade at Kaunda Ground in Gulu town.

During the sermon, Father Onen stated that Bishop Gakumba had connived with Born Again Christians to insult mother Mary and Crucifix of Jesus Christ. The priest also accused politicians of spying on the Catholic Church and the pastors of invading the privacy of people with fertility problems by anointing their private parts with oil.

"The preaching has revived the old conflicts between the churches and the followers, inciting the followers in a hate speech which was likely to cause violence…" he stated in a letter dated February 13 to the Minister of ICT, Information and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze.

In the letter, Lapolo petitioned the Minister to cause the license of the Radio to be revoked as their activities over the last six months are investigated. 

The letter states that believers are living in fear due to the public criticism and attacks directed at government through the Radio Station. He says the decision to have the station switch off was reached by the district security committee in a meeting held early this week.

The sermon led to the suspension of the crusade which had been planned to last for a month. The organizers have also been placed under investigation.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.