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Human Rights, Makerere University, Uganda

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First Lady

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 25, 1998

Remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton
at Makerere University

Kampala, Uganda
March 25, 1998

MRS. CLINTON: Bana' Uganda. Muli mutyano. (Applause.) It is such agreathonor and pleasure for me to be here on the campus of this greatuniversity.(Applause.) Before I begin, I want to thank President and Mrs. Museveniforthe warm hospitality that they have extended to us during our visit. And Iparticularly want to thank Mrs. Museveni, not only for that kindintroduction,but I want to acknowledge her leadership on so many fronts, especially hercreation of the Uganda Women's Effort to Save the Orphans. (Applause.) Ialsowant to congratulate her on her recent graduation from the university.(Applause.)

Thank you for your warm welcome, Mr. Vice Chancellor. And, no, I do notmindat all, for you're asking that the needs of the students and faculty herebemet, and I will carry your message back to the United States. (Applause.)

It is a pleasure once again to be with your Vice President, whom I admiresomuch and who told me that she, too, was a student and a teacher here at theUniversity. (Applause.) I am also delighted to be joined by the Speakerofthe Parliament, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, the Minister ofJusticeand Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and DeputyChiefJustice, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Gender and CommunityDevelopment, and so many of you distinguished guests and faculty andstudents.

It is wonderful for me to have been able to return to Uganda. Last yearwhenI visited with my daughter I made the promise that I would return with myhusband. And I'm very pleased I could keep that promise. (Applause.) Ilearned a lot about your country, your struggles and challenges, last year.

Since then I have followed your development with great interest and verygreatadmiration, because I have some small sense from the conversations I havehadwith many men and women here in Uganda and Ugandans in the United Statesaboutwhat you have had to overcome.

As the choir sang the Uganda National Anthem a few minutes ago, I thoughtabout how appropriate it is for these words to fill Freedom Square today --united, free for liberty. For 75 years, Makerere University has stood forthose principles. And, yet, I know that that forces of evil stole the life ofMakerere's first Ugandan Vice Chancellor. I know that the forces of evilarrested, tortured and vilified students. They pushed faculty out of thecountry and tried to demean those who stayed. They wanted to destroy thisworld-class university. (Applause.)

People like Idi Amin and his ilk are not comfortable in the light offreedomand education -- they prefer ignorance and backwardness. And you did notletthem succeed. (Applause.) Instead you healed the wounds of the past andyouare now building this university for the future, just as Uganda is doing,justas Africa is doing.

Out of the hard soil of the Cold War, democracies, free market economiesandcivil societies are all taking root. Students who once fought oppressionunderground re-emerged as liberators and now as leaders of a free Uganda.Andvoices for freedom and dignity and human rights once silenced are now againechoing through the halls of this university and across this country.

Many such voices are here with us today. I could call the names of manyfaculty and students, government and academic leaders, members of theprofessions and the businesses here in Uganda -- people who stood up forfreedom when it really counted. We can hear the voices of freedom fromSisterRachele Frassera, the Deputy Head Mistress of St. Mary's College in Aboke.

When the Lord's Resistance Army kidnapped 139 girls, 75 percent of thestudentbody, she chased down the terrorists, convinced them to release 109 girlsandis working day and night to make sure all of them return safely.(Applause.)

We can hear the voice of freedom from Dr. Joy Kwesiga, the former Chair ofAction and Development, the former Chair of the Women's Studies Department, andnow Dean of Social Sciences here at Makerere. (Applause.) She has workedhardto ensure that the victims of domestic violence are heard, that theiraccusations are treated seriously and that the crimes are punished.

We can hear the voice of freedom from Sarah Bagalaliwo. As a founder andChair of the NGO FIDA, Sarah instituted a legal aid clinic, which over thelast10 years has helped thousands of vulnerable women understand and exercisetheirfundamental legal rights. (Applause.)

Just a few hours ago my husband and I were in Rwanda, where we spoke withsurvivors of the 1994 genocide. It is still hard to imagine that in thespaceof three months, one million people were murdered. Nowhere has that number ofpeople ever been murdered in such a short period of time in history. Welistened to a delegation of six Rwandans who spoke of their experiences.Onemember was a woman whom I met exactly a year ago here in Kampala. I couldnotmyself go to Rwanda, but several women came to see me and we met here totalkabout their experiences.

Last year and again today, I will forever see the faces of the people Ispokewith as they described the human toll of Rwanda's violence and what theyweredoing to rebuild their lives and communities. As my husband said in hisremarks today, genocide destroys not only individuals, but our humanity.Wemust continue to bring healing to the victims, and we must bring theperpetrators of genocide to justice. (Applause.) We must continue to bevigilant about the dangers that still exist and do everything we can tomakesure that nothing like what happened in Uganda in the '70s and whathappened inRwanda in 1994 happen again.

That means every one of us must act. Not just our leaders -- we must hold ourleaders accountable -- it is for all of us to stand up for the rights ofallpeople. We must work to end atrocities around the world, not just the onesthat grab headlines, but the indignities that people suffer quietly, whentheyare denied the chance to speak or learn, to work or eat; when they'redeniedthe chance to live free from fear or want. In other words, we should stand upfor the rights of all persons to be fully human.

You have made many steps toward that goal here at this university. Icouldnot name them all, but I want particularly to commend the University forcreating the Department of Women's Studies, and now for creating the HumanRights and Peace Center. (Applause.) There is no better time than for all ofus now to reaffirm our commitment to human rights and peace, for it was 50years ago that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born and theworldacknowledged a common standard for human dignity. The document puts itverydirectly: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Allhuman beings -- not just men, not just adults, not just people ofparticularcultures or nations, races or religions.This declaration means that we must expand the circle of human dignity toallhuman beings.

And just think how much wider that circle has grown in Africa in just afewshort years. Only a decade ago who would have imagined that Nelson Mandelawould move triumphantly from prisoner to President in South Africa.(Applause.) Or that more than 30 years of turmoil would give way tohealingand unity in Mozambique. And who would have imagined that it would havebeenyour brave President, President Museveni, that would have taken on thescourgeof AIDS with his public health campaign, and that he would and you would,working together, stem the rise of AIDS in Uganda. That is also standingupfor human rights. (Applause.)

And who would have imagined that Uganda would produce your Vice President, thehighest ranking woman in any African government. (Applause.) I could add, thehighest ranking woman in many governments around the world, not just inAfrica. (Applause.)

And yet, despite the steady march of progress, the commitment here touniversal primary education, for example, there are still who will claimthathuman rights are a luxury of the West; that they have nothing to do withAfrica, or Asia; that they are just the province of people like Americans. Butthe beliefs inscribed in the Universal Declaration were not invented 50yearsago; they are not the work of any single culture of country. They areuniversal and timeless.

Sophocles wrote about universal human rights 25 years ago, when he hadAntigone declare that there were ethical laws higher than those of evenkings.Confucius articulated them in ancient China. And we can look throughoutthiscontinent and find examples of ancient leaders of Africa who also said that allpeople walk the same way, all people must be treated with dignity. Thesearethe core teachings of all major faiths in the world. They are thefoundationof what it means to be a respected human being -- in Africa, in Asia, inAmerica -- because they live in the human soul.

Around the globe, I have seen many women and men pushed to the margins oftheir societies. They may know nothing of the Universal Declaration ofHumanRights, but they are eloquent in their beliefs that they were born withGod-given rights just as surely as they were born into the human family.

It is absolutely untrue that individual human rights and community rightscannot co-exist. The truth is, they are indispensable to each other.Democratic progress is possible when all citizens can be heard. Economicprogress is possible when all citizens have the tools of opportunity, suchaseducation and health care, that will enable them to support their families.

Yesterday, President and Mrs. Museveni went with my husband and me tovisit avillage -- the Jinja Village. We saw women who are working togetherthrough avillage bank to make their lives better, increasing their income, helpingtheirhusbands support their families better, taking care of the children thatwereorphaned that they have taken in from brothers or sisters or otherrelatives.And they are doing it because they've been given access to credit; they'vebeengiven tools to enable them to make economic progress.

Real security is only possible when we learn to live together and torespecteach other's fundamental differences. I found a quote I particularly likefroma Dinka Chief, who put it like this: "If you see a man walking on his twolegs, do not despise him; he is a human being. Bring him close to you andtreat him like a human being. This is how you will secure your own life."

But yet, it is not an easy task, in my own country, or any country, tomakehuman rights a reality. The work is not done when a law is passed or aconstitution is drafted. Securing human rights for all people is anever-ending struggle. In my own country, it has taken most of our 222years-- some of them bloody and few of them easy -- to extend the benefits ofcitizenship to all Americans.

We went from a very small group of white, property-owning men havingcitizenship, and gradually expanded it to include black men, and then toinclude women. But then we had to work to make sure that the words in aconstitution meant what they said. One of my predecessors, EleanorRoosevelt,who helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was 35 years oldbefore she could vote. My own mother was born before women were allowed tovote in the United States. And yet, if we do not secure human rights forall,none of us is secure in our own rights.

Some of you may recall the words of the Protestant minister living in NaziGermany who said: "In Germany, first they came for the Communists, but Ididn'tspeak out because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and Ididn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the tradeunionists and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Thentheycame for the Catholics and I didn't speak out because I was a Protestant.Thenthey came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak out."

At the dawn of the millennium, those of us who have the power to speak,andall of you here associated with this great university, by virtue of youbeinghere and attaining this education, not only have the power to speak, buttheobligation. We must speak up wherever we see injustice and inequality.

And particularly today, I want to speak up and ask you to speak up for thewomen in Africa and all over the globe. Too many of them every day do theworkthat needs to be done -- managing the home; feeding, schooling, and caringforchildren; providing water and fuel. But every day, too many women are alsobeing fed less and last; too many are trafficked like drugs and sold intoprostitution; too many are left out when important decisions are made abouttheir lives and their families and in their communities.

I want to commend Uganda for your new Local Government Act, which willhelpmore women be part of the decisions that affect their lives. (Applause.)I ampleased to announce today that the United States government will provide $2million to help train these elected official women as they assume their newroles and responsibilities. (Applause.)

Because, yes, women's rights are human rights. And everywhere I travel, Imeet women who are struggling to make sure that occurs. We have to speakoutwhen either law or customs treat women like children or second-classcitizens,when women are blocked from owning land, receiving inheritances, securingcredit, or participating in the political process. We also have to speakoutfor more countries like Uganda to make sure that girls are educated.

Two-thirds of the 130 million children out of school worldwide are girls. Iwish that some of the people in those countries that still prevent girlsfrombeing educated would come and visit the classrooms I have seen here inUganda-- the bright faces of young boys and girls ready to learn so that they canbecome better citizens. I am so pleased that universal primary educationis acritical part of Uganda's future.

There is much else we must speak up against: violence against women; thepractice of genital mutilation; women and children who are brutalized byconflict wherever it occurs.

In Uganda, a pilot program here has reduced the number of women who enduregenital mutilation by more than one-third. And when I go to Senegal in afewdays, I will meet with a group of women who over the last year have votedintheir villages to end this practice and are helping others to do the same.

We must also speak up for women and children caught up in war and conflictaround the world. It used to be that women, children, and civilians wereto beprotected during a war. Today, they are increasing the targets of war.Sincethe turn of this century, civilian fatalities during war have increasedfrom 5percent to 90 percent, and 80 percent of war's refugees are women andchildren.

You have seen this here in your country, because nothing so offends anydefinition of human rights than the use of children as pawns of war and themistreatment and abuse of women as a tactic of war. The war in Rwanda waswaged against the lives and dignity of women. Rape and sexual assault werecommitted on a mass scale. Here, according to a U.N. report, the childrenofnorthern Uganda like children throughout the world, are also at risk.

Last year when I spoke with President Museveni, he talked to me about themorethan 10,000 Ugandan children who have been abducted by the Lords ResistanceArmy. One of those children is Charlotte, and she is one of the girl'sthatSister Rachele tried to save. I met with her mother, Angelina, at theWhiteHouse a few weeks ago before we came on this trip. She told me what hadhappened the night that the LRA kidnapped Charlotte and the other girlsfromSt. Mary's school; how they broke the windows, tied up the girls, beat them ifthey cried; took them away into a life of unspeakable horrors. Thankfully,many have been rescued or escaped, or their freedom has been purchased.Butmany others, like Angelina's daughter, have not returned.

Like terrorists and dictators throughout history, the LRA claims to bedoingthe Lord's work. But there is no greater sin than forcing children tomurdereach other, family members, and even the parents who brought them intoexistence. There is no greater sin than raping young girls and sendingtheminto slave labor. And there is no greater sin than using children as humanshields in battle.

The LRA call themselves soldiers, but they are cowards, for only cowardswouldhide behind children in battle. (Applause.) Through a group calledConcernedParents Association, Sister Rachelle, Angelina and other parents areworking tosave their children and all children.

One of Charlotte's classmates who escaped talked about what happened whenanother girl tried to escape. Listen to her words: The girl who isbrought infront of us and the rebels told us to stomp her to death. We killed thepoorinnocent girl. If we did not kill the girl, we were going to be shot byguns.We prayed for that girl in our hearts, silently, and asked God to pardon us andforgive us because it was not our will to kill her.

Another girl who was rescued wrote: I'm pleading with you to find a wayofstopping this rebel activity, so they we children of northern Uganda couldalsoshare in the peace that other children around the world are sharing in. Weneed peace.

I'm hoping that every government around the world and every citizen joinsyourgovernment and people in Uganda in your fight for peace and in your efforts tosave these children. Already Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Internationalareshining a spotlight on this tragedy. UNICEF is helping to get assistancetogroups working at the local level. And non-governmental organizations likeWorld Vision and Gulu Save the Children Organization are caring forchildrenwho escape.

There are three of those children here with us that I just had a chance tomeet before I came out to see you. Their names are Isaac and Janet andBetty.They were kidnapped by the LRA in the north. They managed to escape,eventually finding refuge. As I looked into their faces and their eyes, Isawthe faces and eyes of children the world over. And I thought to myself asIlooked at these young men and women of Uganda that we owe them and thethousands more like them everything we can do to make sure that they, too,havea chance, like the children I saw yesterday, to grow up in peace, to beeducated, and to look forward to their own families and futures.

There are no easy answers, but I want Janet and Betty and Isaac to know,and Ihope that someday Angelina will be able to tell her daughter, Charlotte, aswell, that America cares about your children, and we want to work with youtotry to stop this tragedy and to care for the children who are its victims.


That's why I am very pleased to announce new steps our government istakingthrough the United States Agency for International Development. First, wewillprovide $500,000 directly to local groups like the Concerned ParentsAssociation and GUSCO, to help them find abducted children and give themthemedical care they need to heal. (Applause.)

Second, we will provide $2 million over the next three years for a newNorthern Uganda Initiative that will help the people living there plaguedbyrebel activity get jobs rebuilding roads, dams, schools, health clinics andtheir own communities. (Applause.) I am very pleased that other donors,including the World Bank, have agreed to support these efforts.

Third, we will provide $10 million to local African NGOs who are workingtoimprove food security and to prevent, ease and respond to conflict in theregion. (Applause.)

And, finally, my husband and our government will increase their efforts topressure Sudan to end its support for the LRA and their cowardly abductions ofchildren. (Applause.) We will work with you to end this terror, and wewillwork with you to continue your rebuilding of your country.

But I want to add just one more thought, because when we talk aboutdemocracyand human rights we know how important laws and institutions are. We knowthatstrong and free markets are also important because they unleash so muchcreative entrepreneurial energy from people like the women I saw in Jinjayesterday. But, ultimately, the struggle to protect human rights dependsuponthe millions of decisions and actions that are taken every day by ordinarypeople like us.

It is what Alexis de Tocqueville called, the habits of the heart. It iswhatwe tell our children. Do we continue to tell them to hate those who ourgrandparents hated, or do we try to help them give up that hatred? It iswhatwe tell each other in our neighborhoods, our villages, our workplaces whenwehear someone making disparaging comments about someone of another ethnicity ortribal or racial or religious background. Do we say: Why do you say thatabout a person's group? Do you know the person? Can you make a judgmentaboutthat person as an individual? If you cannot, don't engage in stereotypes.

There have been too many stereotypes between us. (Applause.)

In so many ways every day each of us can stand up for human rights. Wedon'thave to be as brave as Sister Rachele rescuing girls. We don't have to beasbrave as these three young children who have endured so much, but have comeback to build their own lives. We can in so many ways stand up for humanrights every day.

That is why I'm pleased that the Human Rights and Peace Center isdeveloping acurriculum to be used throughout the campus, so that the lessons taught andlearned here will stay with everyone forever. Because, ultimately, all thework that the President or Mrs. Museveni, or the Vice President or the ViceChancellor, any of those who are currently leaders in Uganda can do willnot besuccessful unless the students at this University and the children in theschools today understand how important it is to stand up for democracy andfreedom and human rights.

No one understands better the importance of human rights than Ugandans.Youunderstand the nightmares that come when they are abused. No one is in abetter position to honor the past generations by passing these lessons ontothe next generations. I hope that you will accept this challenge, not only nowas you are doing, but for many years in the future. Many of us will looktoUganda as an example; as a country that is putting the past behind it inwaysthat the rest of us not only can admire, but follow. You have a historicopportunity to build a future that is not only one that you are proud topasson to your children, but one that stands as a beacon not only for Africa,butfor the world.

Many of us know what you suffered. Today we stand in admiration of whatyouare doing now to build a better future. And we will look to you as we movetoward this new century and new millennium to show us how people developnewhabits of the heart, to make it clear that every person is worthy ofdignityand respect, and that peace and freedom, democracy and human rights willalwaysbe part of Uganda's life.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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