By Charles Brookby, III Form
Ugandan Human Rights
Editor’s Note: In The Global Seminar classes, each student wrote a research paper in February and March that was used as the foundation for a 4-5 minute speech presenting an argument (direction and specificity) relating to the following question: How does the global community respond to the abuse of human rights? And how should the global community respond? This speech won the Ely Speech Prize (founded in 1890): an annual competition for Third Formers.
In 1961, a man by the name of Joseph Kony was born. As a child, Kony grew up in Odek, Uganda where he was well educated, and in his adult life became a healer in his ethnic tribe of the Acholi people. As he grew up, Kony was exposed to horrific terror on his people conducted by the Ugandan government at the time. Kony joined an organization known as The Holy Spirit Movement in 1986. He quickly climbed the ranks, and became one the leaders, then ultimately took control and changed the party’s name to The Lord’s Resistance Army. For over 25 years, countries and the UN have been, frankly, oblivious to the horrendous actions of Joseph Kony and the LRA. Ugandan children have been taken, used, and killed at the hands of Kony and his men. Eventually, the International Criminal Court and UN peacekeeping programs have gotten involved in an attempt to stop the LRA. Though progress has been made, the LRA is still active and in power near northern Uganda and neighboring countries, and justice towards their actions has not been dealt.
To give a better idea of the terror that Kony and the LRA have caused, I believe that it is crucial for one to understand the actions that have been piloted by this organization. The LRA is responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people in Uganda alone. The organization has been credited by the ICC with the responsibility of the displacement of nearly 500,000 people. Kony and his men have forced young boys into becoming child soldiers to fight for their cause and sold young girls to become the sex slaves or wives of men for money. With the intentions of forming a new Ugandan government supposedly based on Kony’s idea of the ten commandments, the LRA is a ruthless organization that has been left untreated for years. After all of these actions, one might think that someone would have attempted to do something about the LRA, or at least try to stop Kony.
It was not until 2005 that the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony and 7 of his top leaders. Though the warrant was public, no actions or attempts were taken in trying to abduct Kony for over a year.
In 2006, the LRA had moved to Northern Uganda and began fighting in Congo and South Sudan. The number of recorded deaths began to hit all-time highs, and the situation became worse…
On December 14th of 2008, the governments of Uganda, The Congo, and South Sudan came together to finally make an attempt to stop Kony. This project was known as Operation Lightning Thunder. The operation was terminated in early March of the next year. While the LRA had to combat these governments, Kony found ways to buy off officials, use guerilla warfare tactics, and eventually defeat this operation.
Joseph Kony was indicted and listed on the 8th July in 2005 to the ICC most wanted list where he has since remained with 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes with regards to the Uganda situation. This is simply a brief overview of the terror and the facts… where are the answers?
The global community should have acted in a combined, more united manner before more victims got hurt the moment an arrest warrant was issued.
Kony was violating a number of human rights laws every time he took, killed, sold, or forced a child or anyone to do anything. It seems as though the UN was well aware of the Ugandan situation, yet they did nothing for years. It is truly a mystery why the Security Council TO THIS DAY has hardly done a thing about the LRA. The process of sending peacekeepers or using super power forces can take a very long time from drafting a working paper to deployment especially at “UN speed.” The moment that Operation Lightning Thunder failed, the moment that the world was able to recognize that the LRA had gotten strong enough to combat a joint operation, that was when decisive action should have been initiated.
And yet the fight is not over…
The whereabouts of Joseph Kony are unknown to this day. However the LRA is still terrorizing the people of Central African Republic, South Sudan, The Congo, and Northern Uganda. There is still time for the global community to take action and defeat Kony before the situation becomes any worse. The LRA is deteriorating, but not defeated. It is only the hope of any conscious human that their actions are stopped, and the innocent people are safely returned to their homes and regular lives.
Charles Brookby is a III Form boarding student from Sudbury, MA.