Since Uganda’s independence in 1962, its numerous ethnic groups have been vying for adequate representation within the emerging political system. When current president Yoweri Museveni first took power in 1986, this competition spawned the Holy Spirit Movement, an armed resistance of Acholi in the north seeking to topple the national government. Led by Alice Lakwena, this movement fostered many of the methods later adopted by one of its prominent followers – Joseph Kony.
Kony differed with Lakwena on the extent of acceptable means for waging war against Museveni, asserting civilians, women, and children were not off limits for sending a message. His tactics ostracized him by the more popular Holy Spirit Movement, until Lakwena’s failed attempt of capturing the capital Kampala left a power vacuum among the militia’s ranks. Joseph Kony assembled the movement’s remnants and other like-minded factions into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which continues to terrorize Uganda’s northern states and border regions to this day.
According to its spokesman, James Obita, the LRA’s mission is fivefold; it seeks multi-party democracy, an end to Museveni’s human rights violations, nationwide peace, economic prosperity, and the elimination of ethnically marginalizing policies. Their seemingly noble claims have been discredited by tactics that include mass murder, rape, sexual slavery, and recruiting child soldiers. The war crimes perpetrated by Kony and his deputies Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen earned them all arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court in 2005. Otti and Lukwiya have since been killed, but the enduring three remain at large, and face mounting international pressure for their capture. However, not every government is willing to take a firm stand. The two Sudans have, at one time or another, been allies for the LRA. Both the Bashir and Kiir administrations understood the tactical benefits this insurgency can offer through its destabilization of neighboring countries.
Kony’s forces today amount to no more than a few hundred, but have included thousands of women and children abductees over the LRA’s lifespan. In the fall of 2011, President Barack Obama sought to aid Museveni in ultimately disarming the militia and facilitate the recovery of northern Uganda through the deployment of 100 military advisors. The pursuit of Kony, Odhiambo, and Ongwen continues as these criminals branch out into the Central African Republic and the Congo. Yet, the plight of the LRA’s victims has become a point of international attention. Impunity may soon be a pipe dream for Joseph Kony’s militia.
- Where Are They Now?: Dominic Ongwen (11/28/2011) – Of the five members of the Lord’s Resistance Army indicted by the ICC, three remain. We’ve covered Kony and Odhiambo. Otti and Lukwiya were killed.
- Where Are They Now?: Okot Odhiambo (11/23/2011) – End Impunity’s “Where Are They Now?” series is almost at a close. Let’s end at the beginning, with some of the first indictments ever issued by the ICC in 2005 for five members of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. We’ve discussed their leader, Joseph Kony – but Kony has cronies. One of them is Otok Odhiambo. It should […]
- Where Are They Now?: Joseph Kony (10/19/2011) – Joseph Kony is no stranger to international attention. No mere one-hit wonder, Kony is wanted by the ICC on 33 counts, including charges for rape, murder, enslavement, and forced enlisting of child soldiers. Since the late 1980s, his Lord’s Resistance Army has massacred thousands – without any known political agenda. A member of the elite […]
- Who is the LRA? (10/11/2011) – Do you really want to know? If you want the horrible crimes it’s been committing for twenty five years to stop, you and all of us need to know, and we need to push the international community to act. Indicted war criminal Joseph Kony leads this army, but it is more than one maniacal man. […]
- End Impunity in Utah (10/5/2011) – End Impunity Brigade member McKenna Powell distributed EI materials and spoke about the LRA at her art installation: “I was pretty quick to choose my topic, which was mostly sprouted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a religious group that rebelled against the government of Uganda starting in 1987. Joseph Kony, a leader of the LRA, is still […]