The Lord’s Resistance Army’s Continual Human Rights Violations

by Joanna Maltbaek

Back in November 2006, United Nations humanitarian chief Jan Egeland described the 20-year political conflict in Northern Uganda as “the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world” (CNN). And now, nearly four years later, there still seems to be no end in sight.

The Ugandan government continues to battle the insurgencies of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. The LRA was originally founded by Joseph Kony to overthrow the Ugandan government and replace it with one based off the Ten Commandments. While previously the LRA recruited rebel male adults to build their resistance, the group is now distinguished by its conspicuous brutality, namely the abduction of young boys for training as child soldiers and of young girls for the use of sex slaves.

One such young victim includes 15 year-old Moses Clement, a resident of a Sudanese farming community. Moses is the subject of a Times Magazine video documentary that describes his firsthand experiences with LRA cruelty. Kidnapped from his home in the middle of the night, he was taken away from his family for months to train with guerilla fighters. He suffered countless beatings and also witnessed the murder of his young cousin. Moses recounts with difficulty the details of the LRA’s nonstop plundering, including a story of how he was forced to kill an 8 year-old girl. Miraculously Moses escaped and was reunited with his family, but will arguably never be without pain from the instances of physical violence and harsh injustices through which he suffered (Times).

According to a recent article from CNN World, the LRA has seemingly abandoned anygroup ideology or political agenda. Their baseless violence and crimes against humanity continue despite the fact that a truce was signed back in August 2006. According to CNN, “hopes of a lasting peace are complicated by the fact that LRA leaders, including Kony, are wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court.”

There is great difficulty in pinpointing the LRA’s target regions, as they have sporadically spread their operations to the neighboring nations of Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and Sudan. Members of the LRA have adapted exceptionally to surviving the African bush and are thus able to commit abominable brutalities:

“Although forced to adjust to life on the run, little else about [the LRA’s] tactics have changed. Known for hacking off the lips or ears of victims, the LRA kills without remorse, leaving behind a scattered trail of missing children, looted villages, and burned huts” (CNN).

The number of victims of the group’s violence is rising, and those fortunate to survive attacks are in dire need of humanitarian support. According to CNN:

“Those who cross the area’s porous international borders are fortunate enough to receive some help from the United Nations as refugees, but a loophole in international humanitarian law means that the 25,000 southern Sudanese internally displaced by the LRA this year are left mostly to fend for themselves” (CNN).

The situation has gained increasing attention from the international community. The main challenge in developing a solution to the problem, however, seems to lie in the issue of protecting the sovereignty of the involved African nations. To what extent should the United States, the UN, and the International Criminal Court be involved?

In May of this year, President Obama signed a law that gives his administration 180 days to develop a new strategy on how to combat the LRA and properly provide civilian protection (CNN). Advisors in Southern Sudan’s Western Equatoria disagree on whether money or a military response is what they need most from the international community at this time. What does it take to stop Joseph Kony and restore peace to the region? Consider, for the example, the plight of Albert Abuda, whose village was recently destroyed by the LRA:

[Abuda’s] son is now likely training as a ruthless guerrilla warrior, and his 13-year-old daughter might be forced into commanders’ harems. Meanwhile, Abuda wastes away in a makeshift camp with others telling similar tales and living on the generosity of nearby villagers… ‘Since I arrived here, life has become miserable to me. As you can see, my body keeps shrinking because there is no proper food’” (CNN).

While the appropriate course of action is being debated, one thing remains clear: the innocent civilians of these African nations are in desperate need of a solution, and quickly.

Sources:

Boswell, Alan. “Lord’s Resistance Army Terrorizing People of Southern Sudan – CNN.”Featured Articles From The CNN. 27 Aug. 2010. Accessed on 25 Oct. 2010.http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-27/world/sudan.lra.brutality_1_villagers-joseph-kony-lra?_s=PM:WORLD

Hooper, Simon. “Africa’s Forgotten Conflicts.” CNN International – Breaking, World, Business, Sports, Entertainment and Video News. 13 Nov. 2006. Accessed on 24 Oct. 2010. http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/africa/11/13/africa.conflicts/index.html

The Lord’s Resistance Army Hunts Children in Sudan. YouTube. Time Magazine, 4 Nov. 2009. Accessed on 24 Oct. 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ip08pjKngI

Africa in Pictures. BBC News. 1 Aug. 2010. Accessed on 25 Oct. 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/5306056.stm

Leave a Comment

Let us know your thoughts on this post but remember to place nicely folks!