by Zack Pelta-Heller
Every night in northern Uganda, thousands of children trek from their bush
villages to cities in search of refuge. If they stay at home, they risk
being kidnapped, abused and forced to fight in the Lord's Resistance Army
(LRA), a rebel group led by Joseph Kony that has abducted more than 30,000
children and displaced 1.6 million people in the past 20 years.
Most of the world has failed to notice this harrowing situation. Now it's
the subject of a powerful new documentary called "Journey Into Sunset", which
recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Rick Wilkinson
and starring Don Cheadle, the film chronicles the plight of these brave
children, also known as "night commuters."
Since 1987, the Lord's Resistance Army has terrorized the Acholi people of
northern Uganda in an attempt to create an "ethnically pure" state, based on
Kony's distorted interpretation of the Old Testament. Despite the Ugandan
military's best counter-efforts -- and an investigation by the International
Criminal Court -- the LRA's brutality has recently spread into eastern Congo
and southern Sudan, where Kony moved his training camps. . . .
"Lord's Resistance Army Terrorizes Northern
Uganda," Agence France-Presse, November 9, 2003
"Darfur, Sudan: African Muslim vs.
African Muslim," The Wisdom Fund, April 3, 2004
[The International Criminal Court has said it expects Uganda to meet its
obligation to arrest the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army rebels.
. . . The LRA has been weakened by a military offensive, but in recent
months, the rebels have spread across southern Sudan and into DR Congo.--"Uganda 'must arrest'
rebel leader," BBC News, May 18, 2006]
[The world's most neglected emergency, according to the UN Emergency Relief
Coordinator, is the ongoing tragedy of the Congo, where six to seven
million have died since 1996 as a consequence of invasions and wars
sponsored by western powers trying to gain control of the region's mineral
wealth. At stake is control of natural resources that are sought by U.S.
corporations - diamonds, tin, copper, gold, and more significantly, coltan
and niobium, two minerals necessary for production of cell phones and other
high-tech electronics; and cobalt, an element essential to nuclear,
chemical, aerospace, and defense industries.--"High-Tech
Genocide in Congo," Project Censored, 2006]
[A campaign launched in the 1980s claiming to defend the rights of the
Acholi people in northern Uganda had become a byword for sadism. Years of
abductions where children were forced to kill their own parents in a brutal
initiation had left them feared but hated. Their leader and self-styled
messiah Joseph Kony was supposed to be on the point of surrender, with his
diminishing band of fighters contained in a transit camp awaiting the
signing of a peace plan.
Instead the terror has been transplanted, this time to the remote north of
Congo. The bewildered victims of this campaign know nothing of the cause
espoused by those that are hunting them - they have never been to
neighbouring Uganda.--"The deadly cult of Joseph Kony," Independent,
November 8, 2008
[Human Rights Watch says the group has brutally abducted at least 697 adults
and children over the past 18 months.
Civilians were said to have been taken in remote regions of the Central
African Republic (CAR) and the north of the Democratic Republic of
Congo.--Martin Plaut, "Uganda LRA rebels
'forcing civilians to join them'," BBC News, August 11, 2010]
Daniel Howden, "The Lord's
Resistance Army's new reign of terror," BBC News, August 13, 2010