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It's Not a Political Issue... It's a Human Issue
Imagine a generation that has never known peace – this generation has no clue what it’s like to have only seen dead bodies on television. Children live with the fear that at any moment, soldiers their age will invade their village and steal them to transform their innocent minds. If they resist joining the ranks of the infamous army of Central Africa, The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – by not killing, mutilating, or raping their family, friends or teachers – they are killed themselves. This generation lives under the terror of a brainwashing and evil man – whether they’re being killed or they’re old and strong enough to carry a gun. Attacks by the terrorists can take weeks or months to reach the surface, leaving the wounded and killed neglected of help and hope. Imagine a generation that is screaming – their minds riddled with post-traumatic stress and fear – and nobody can hear them. As for myself, I won’t stop putting all of my effort into helping their pleas be heard until the violence and injustice halts.
It is safe to say that even after twenty-six horrifically long years of murder, rape, child abduction and war, there is still and immense portion of the world’s population that is ignorant to the desperate cries from the innocent of Central Africa. Hope still radiates from the American youth that has been taking action – making sure this human issue doesn’t get pushed aside by the rest of the world any longer.
The Lord’s Resistance Army is also commonly known as the Holy Spirit Movement, National Resistance Army, Lakwena Part II, and several other names. Many people appoint the rebel group with other titles; an article in Foreign Policy magazine accurately names the LRA “ludicrously barbaric.” The author continues to describe the leader of the heinous movement as a “well-armed lunatic megalomaniac wreaking havoc in states too failed to protect themselves.” This man, Joseph Kony, turned a movement to overthrow the Northern Ugandan government started by Alice Lakwena into nothing but a murderous organization with flawed objectives. Lakwena was told by her Holy Spirit to overthrow the government, run by Yoweri Museveni, for still treating her people, the Acholi of Northern Uganda, unfairly. She began the Holy Spirit Movement with many followers but was soon after exiled to Kenya. In 1988, Kony took over.
October 14th, 2011: a date in modern history that is and will be marked as a celebration. The celebration of “a huge victory for the hundreds of thousands of young Americans who have been lobbying Washington to take action against this brutal rebel group, said ever so proudly by Invisible Children. After more than twenty years, it’s high time that all the effort anti-LRA lobbyists have put into convincing Washington to take action to actually make a difference.
For over two decades, the Central African countries of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan have suffered from the horror brought upon by the rebel group deemed as a terrorist organization by the US Patriot Act of 2001. Although the United States and several other countries have taken humanitarian action in stopping the Lord’s Resistance Army, why is it that this crisis is still the longest and most severely disregarded humanitarian emergency in African history? The United States has responded to this issue – but is the effort enough to stop Joseph Kony? To begin with, people who are aware of the crisis need to spread that awareness. When more people know that their fellow human beings are being taken of their rights to life, no one with be able to resist – right? As supporters in ending the crisis, American youth – myself included – have been and are still campaigning and fundraising to rehabilitate health, education, and overall, life.
In President Barack Obama’s letter to Congress concerning the “goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA,” he informs the speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate of his intentions and appreciation of their support. Some, including myself, question the President’s decision to send one hundred United States troops to Africa while also dealing with a national economic crisis and many cuts in defense budgets.
I am slightly skeptical over the statement that President Obama makes in his letter: “…although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.” In the previously stated article in Foreign Policy magazine, it is clearly noted that Obama made a similar claim when discussing providing aid to Libya – resulting in a war. Skeptics in this issue predict the United States spending one billion dollars a year in Uganda.
I agree that in a state of economic crisis in our country, the last thing we should be doing is giving aid to another country. However, I can’t help but support the President’s decision, though, after having followed the crisis a majority of my life. Virtuous mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, churchgoers, and teachers are being killed; their noses, lips and ears hacked off by children. These children were abducted and brain-washed into thinking the way that they were told to think.
The governments of Uganda, DRC, Central African Republic and South Sudan established Internally Displaced Persons camps in order to provide safety for a majority of the population. Although the intentions are hopeful, the camps are less than safe. The sanitation is repugnant, clean water is out of reach, education is unfathomable, and health is an issue for the one million who have yet to return home since their displacement. The Displaced wish to go home – if their home still stands.
Obama signed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act on May 24th, 2010 with the aim to stop Joseph Kony’s rampage. The bill passed without any trouble in both the Senate, with 65 cosponsors, and the House of Representatives, with 202 cosponsors. Senator James Inhofe, while lobbying the bill, confessed, “I don’t always stand behind the President, but right now… I do.” In 2007, the United Kingdom began providing seventy million pounds in aid. Uganda was aided later by Canada, a supporter and facilitator of the peace talks with the Ugandan government and the LRA. Germany followed in 2010 with a quarter increase in aid. When someone recognizes the destruction of lives, villages and an entire country that comes from an arm that isn’t very threatening in size, one can only imagine what these brain-washed monsters are capable of.
The LRA’s objectives are, without a doubt, contradictory to their actions. The movement is unsuccessful in disguising their obvious terrorist tactics into Christian fundamentalism. Joseph Kony’s motive is to sink Museveni and the government of Uganda, replacing it with a strictly Ten Commandments-based government. The day that Obama announced the troop deployment, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s astounded me with his ignorance. He tells his audience that Obama sent troops into Africa to deliberately kill Christians with good intentions – a perfect example of the utter twenty-six years of pure neglect over the crisis.
I can account for the hundreds of thousands of people who care about this crisis and the lack of sleep we suffer over thinking about the atrocities committed by the formerly innocent soldiers of the LRA. We, the youth with heart to share, join together with Invisible Children, the Enough Project, the Resolve, War Child, and many more, struggling to see an end to Joseph Kony’s army. This man has continued his savage tactics for twenty-six years – nobody thinks that he’s going to stop any time soon. Until the end of the violence and suffering, people like me aren’t going to stop either.
The truth is overwhelming – but everyone is capable of helping the distressed victims of the LRA. Tell a friend; tell ten friends. No matter the person’s religious or political views, people need to know and take actions. Invisible Children is quoted declaring that this is “not a political issue… It’s a human issue.”