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Sunday, March 28, 2010

HELL IS TOLERATED ON EARTH BY YOU AND ME

AN IN-DEPT LOOK AT THE LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY

Rarely in human history has such a small group of people caused so much suffering for so many as is the case with the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in central Africa—for over two decades in northern Uganda and southern Sudan, and now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

An NBC Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode that aired on Tuesday, March 31st, dramatically portrayed the experience of several (fictional) survivors of LRA-related violence in northern Uganda. Enough's Co-founder John Prendergast worked closely with Dr. Neal Baer, executive producer of NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the SVU writing team on the episode called “Hell." Click here to read a press release about the episode.

On this special page, Enough has created a collection of resources on the Lord’s Resistance Army which we hope you will find useful. We also profiled several survivors of LRA-related violence whose stories we found inspiring. We hope you will TAKE ACTION and join Enough in calling for the Obama administration to immediately appoint a special envoy to central Africa’s Great Lakes region to end the cycle of violence against civilians perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Source: enoughproject.org/special-topics/in-depth-look-LRA


Invisible Children video


In the spring of 2003, three young Americans traveled to Africa in search of such as story. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them. A story where children are weapons and children are the victims. The "Invisible Children: rough cut" film exposes the effects of a 20 year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. These children live in fear of abduction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as a part of violent army. This wonderfully reckless documentary is fast paced, with an MTV beat, and is something truly unique. To see Africa through young eyes is humorous and heart breaking, quick and informative - all in the very same breath. See this film, you will be forever changed.Duration: 55:08

At 12:50 the story that they went to hear and relay begins.

HUMAN RIGHTS, HUMANITARIAN AND FAITH-BASED GROUPS BACK LANDMARK U.S. LEGISLATION TO HELP PROTECT CIVILIANS FROM THE LRA

Date: May 21, 2009

LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS BACK LRA LEGISLATION

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives earlier this week to commit the United States to comprehensive efforts to help civilians threatened by one of the world’s longest-running and brutal insurgencies is a crucial step forward for U.S. policy in the region, a coalition of twenty-two human rights, humanitarian, and faith-based groups said today.

If passed, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act would require the Obama Administration to develop a regional strategy to protect civilians in central Africa from attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and enforce the rule of law and ensure full humanitarian access in LRA-affected areas. The Act additionally commits the United States to increase support to economic recovery and transitional justice efforts in Uganda. The coalition of supporting organizations includes groups in Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Uganda, where communities are currently threatened by the LRA.

“We continue to live in fear of LRA attacks and of our children being abducted,” said Father Benoît Kinalegu of the Dungu/Doruma Justice and Peace Commission in DR Congo. “We are praying for help and protection and hope U.S. lawmakers will hear our cries.”

Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Brad Miller (D-NC), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the bill. It affirms the need for U.S. leadership to help bring an end to atrocities by the Lord’s Resistance Army and to advance long-term recovery in the region.

“The LRA has long posed a terrible threat to civilians,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch. “This bill will help the US government support for comprehensive multilateral efforts to protect civilians in LRA-affected areas and to apprehend or otherwise remove the group’s leader, Joseph Kony, and his top commanders from the battlefield.”

For more than twenty years, northern Ugandans were caught in a war between the Ugandan military and the rebel group. The violence killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly two million people. Kony and his top commanders sustain their ranks by abducting civilians, including children, to use as soldiers and sexual slaves. Though the rebel group ended attacks in northern Uganda in 2006, it moved its bases to the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo and has committed acts of violence against civilians in Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. In December 2008, Sudan, Uganda, and Congo began a joint military offensive, “Operation Lightening Thunder,” against the rebel group, with backing from the United States. As a result, the Lord’s Resistance Army has dispersed into multiple smaller groups and has brutally murdered more than 1,000 civilians and abducted over 400 people, mostly children.

“Given the catalytic involvement of the U.S. military in Operation Lightning Thunder—and the horrific aftermath of this operation—the U.S. government now has a responsibility to help end the threat posed by Joseph Kony once and for all,” said John Prendergast, Co-founder of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress. “One man should not be allowed to terrorize millions of people in four Central African countries. The bill is a crucial first step in galvanizing immediate and effective U.S. action.”

The legislation also aims to help secure a lasting peace in Uganda by supporting measures to assist war-affected communities in northern Uganda and to help resolve longstanding divisions between communities in Uganda’s north and south. It authorizes increased funding for recovery efforts in northern Uganda, with a particular focus on supporting transitional justice and reconciliation. It also calls on the Ugandan government to reinvigorate its commitment to a transparent and accountable reconstruction process in war-affected areas.

“Smart investment in long-term recovery is essential if the people of northern Uganda are to live with peace and dignity,” said Annalise Romoser, Lutheran World Relief Associate Director for Advocacy. “Transitional justice initiatives and the development of basic infrastructure such as food and water systems are crucial elements to lasting peace and reconciliation in Uganda. Such investment from the United States will support the inspiring efforts of northern Ugandans to return home and rebuild after decades of war and displacement.”

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Supporting organizations include:

Human Rights Watch
Enough Project
Resolve Uganda
International Rescue Committee
Invisible Children
Refugees International
AVSI
Global Action for Children
Lutheran World Relief
United States Fund for UNICEF
Women's Refugee Commission
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Genocide Intervention Network
Refugee Law Project, Uganda
Dungu/Doruma Justice and Peace Commission, Democratic Republic of Congo
Azande Community World-wide Organisation, UK-South Sudan
Mbomu Charitable Organization, Sudan
Ibba Charitable Organization, South Sudan
Azande Women Organization, South Sudan
Hope Sudan Organization, South Sudan
Eso Development Organization, South Sudan
Nabanga Development Agency, South Sudan
Dungu/Doruma Justice and Peace Commission, Democratic Republic of Congo
Azande Community World-wide Organisation, UK-South Sudan
Mbomu Charitable Organization, Sudan
Ibba Charitable Organization, South Sudan
Azande Women Organization, South Sudan
Hope Sudan Organization, South Sudan
Eso Development Organization, South Sudan
Nabanga Development Agency, South Sudan


The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. Source:
www.enoughproject___

U.S. Senate Takes on the LRA

A new bill released in the U.S. Senate yesterday would recommit the United States to helping bring about a conclusive end to the more than 20-year reign of terror by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and to supporting northern Ugandans rebuild their communities.

Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced the much-anticipated legislation, which calls on the United States to support a multi-pronged regional strategy to end the massacres, and to stabilize and rebuild the communities long-affected by the marauding LRA. In his statement to the Senate chamber, Senator Feingold recognized the efforts of young activists in the United States, who he credited for keeping this issue in public view.

And as a result [of their activism], the United States has made increased efforts to help end this horror. Those efforts have yielded some success, but if we are now to finally see this conflict to its end, we need to commit to a proactive strategy to help end the threat posed by the LRA and support reconstruction, justice, and reconciliation in northern Uganda. This bill seeks to do just that.

Feingold highlighted the support provided by the United States in Operation Lightning Thunder, the recent joint operation between the armies of Uganda, southern Sudan, and Congo aimed at halting the LRA leadership and stabilizing the region. As Feingold reported:

The operation failed to apprehend Kony and over the following two months, his forces retaliated against civilians in the region, leaving over 900 people dead. It’s tragically clear that insufficient attention and resources were devoted to ensuring the protection of civilians during the operation. Before launching any operation against the rebels, the regional militaries should have ensured that their plan had a high probability of success, anticipated contingencies, and made precautions to minimize dangers to civilians.

But Feingold was quick to point out that it is because of the complicated nature of operations against the LRA – and the U.S. role in the most recent one – that the United States has “a responsibility to help see this rebel war to its end.”

As Feingold explained, the bill also recognizes the importance of rebuilding the communities devastated by the ongoing conflict and addressing the grievances that helped pave the way for the LRA to gain a footing, many years ago, in northern Uganda. The bill calls on the United States to provide additional support and resources to the Ugandan government’s Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) that has struggled under the weight of “a lack of strategic coordination, weak leadership and the government’s limited capacity.”

In sum, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 calls on the Obama administration to develop a strategy for dealing with the LRA and comprehensively addressing the instability and destruction left in the rebels’ wake. The administration will lay out the details of the strategy, but through this bill, Congress can ensure that, as Sen. Feingold emphasized, “this issue will not get put on the back burner and that we will not continue to rely on a piecemeal approach.”

Enough’s most recent strategy paper – Finishing the Fight Against the LRA – provides a detailed review of the hard lessons of Operation Lightning Thunder and recommendations for the U.S. leadership moving forward. An accompanying Activist Brief outlines ways that citizens can advocate for increased U.S. attention to the scourge of the LRA. The June Lobby Days on Capitol Hill are coming up, so click here for details on how to sign up.

http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/senate-takes-lra

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The story of Jebel Marra was out there; but the influential people charged with following the conflict, whose condemnation of the government’s actions would have made news, willfully overlooked it.

Click here to continue reading.

Human Rights blog


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