Joseph Kony (Invisible Children)
Humanity is not just a word that people pass to each other in their conversation, but instead it is a profound notion that all people should embrace in order to live in a peaceful world. Yet, living in a peaceful world seems to be impossible. In this world, there are good and bad things. So, as humans, there are good and bad people. However, the world has witnessed many bad people in history, but above all of them there is one man who is the worst. He has been listed the worst international murderer in the world by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and that man is Joseph Kony. He is an international criminal and the leader of the Lord’s Resistance army in Uganda. In this instance, United Nations must take action to stop him.
Kony has been accused by government entities in Africa and abroad of being the mastermind behind the abduction of children to become sex slaves and soldiers in his illegitimate force (ICC warrant of arrest). It is estimated that almost 66,000 children were forced to become soldiers (Drakard). His acts have also caused internal displacement and suffering. From 1986 up until about 2009, there were at least 2 million people internally displaced. Since he does not have faith in the Ugandan government, Kony has developed radical beliefs coupled up with the military extremism of Acholi with a key goal of cleansing Northern Uganda belonging to the old Acholi generation then rebuilding the same culture in accordance to his desired ideologies and policies. It is due to the need to achieve this objective that Kony decides to seek and radicalize an army made up of young children who he later uses in addition to his acts of force and violence in the extermination of the Acholi population.
The situation children faced in Uganda all through the civil war period took various forms. During that time there emerged an aspect known as ‘night commuters’ among the children who lived in and around unprotected villages and Internally Displaced Persons camps. It so happened that a large population of children living in these areas opted to run away from their unsafe homes at late hours of each night to seek safety at the protected regions and city centers. The genesis of this night commuting is precisely the fear of being abducted by the LRA troops who at the time committed numerous abductions in the unprotected areas and homes. The worst part of this situation is these innocent children getting exposed to extremely inhuman situations in search of safer places free from abduction. From sleeping in bus parks, hospital verandas, church grounds and local factories on a nightly basis, to lacking vital items like water and food, these children felt the uttermost hard times thanks to Kony’s inhumanity and deadly ideologies (Drakard 144). Even though most of them had yet to meet the fate of being converted to child soldiers, these poor night-time commuters are staying in an awful reality, in never-ending fear of death and abduction, having only themselves to protect their own lives. A part from posing serious threats to the Ugandan children’s life stability, this commute drags the advancement of good educational programs and even increases the chances of unprotected sexual activities amongst children especially during their early ages. This is because most of them as a result may not have had enough information regarding safe methods of practicing sex.
Children persist to be the key victims of conflicts. Their suffering takes different forms. They are killed, orphaned, maimed, abducted, deprived of education and health care, and left with intense emotional scars and trauma. In other situations, they are forced to flee from their homes. Indeed, refugees and internally displaced children are especially vulnerable to violence, recruitment, sexual exploitation, disease, malnutrition and death (IBCR 12). They are being recruited and used as child soldiers on a huge scale. Female face additional risks, particularly and most common is sexual violence. These egregious violations of children’s rights take place in a persistent climate of impunity. In recent history, no person has carried the foregoing heinous activities like Joseph Kony. Despite numerous international commitments through treaties and protocol, persistent suffering of children has not stopped hitting the world hard (Machel 7) especially in the Northern Uganda by Joseph Kony. States have either shown lack of commitment or total disregard to the legal structure in place. The execution of his plans is indiscriminate; he targets boys as recruits in his illegitimate force and steal the innocence of young girls through rape and molestation. The right to education and all other rights coming with childhood is a myth in Northern Uganda because of the man who does not care ut children.
The right to life is sacred in any community; so sacred that when one causes the death of another he is condemned to face the death. In fact, the enjoyment of many fundamental rights and freedom depends greatly on the right to life. This sanctity is so strong that not even one is allowed to take own life. More grave is when one plans and perfectly executes a mission to end the lives of innocent people. This is exactly what Kony has been doing. The precious nature of life is not under the care of Kony. To him it does not matter because he doesn’t understand the value of life in humanity. People may think that the killing going on in Northern Uganda perpetrated by Kony is the only killing; this is not only the case. This is because young children and community dreams are killed. When a whole community of people cannot access basic health care services; that is a condemnation to death. Indeed, when children are not having balanced diet and the social and economic rights are submerged in a dictatorial regime the right to life is jeopardized indirectly (Machel 29). No true religion robs people the right to life. To the contrary, most religions talk about respect for life and planning to have a long life in future. The statements by Kony states that his war is inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is a misconception of the teachings of this sacred book, and in fact an insult to this religion that he claims to preach. His war that has led to the death of many people is inspired by Holy Spirit is misconceived and an insult to the many religions which hold dear to their hearts the right to life. In addition to the foregoing, the very fact that Kony has been charged with crimes against humanity is a clear exhibition that the right to life has been trampled upon by the powers of Kony.
Despite the fact that LRA started to withdraw its troops from Uganda back in the year 2007, there are so much of unforgettable implications of this Kony’s source of deadly war in the country, most of it felt by the children in the Northern Uganda. It is true that Uganda is currently enjoying a state of peace with LRA having moved out of the areas of Northern Uganda, but what still remains in our minds forever are the adverse effects of the crazy events of the war, especially as we look at the children who posed as the most vulnerable victims of the same. Some of the most visible results of this war between the rebel armies propelled by Kony and the existing Ugandan government we witness to date are low quality of education and lack of sustainable health care experienced by children of Northern Uganda.
There are a lot impacts suffered by the invisible after they returned from the bush, both psychological and physical in nature. The Invisible Children documentary shows physical casualties bearing bullet and knife wounds, amputated limbs, blinded eyes and all of them revealed signs of serious starvation. The psychological side of these implications are more common but not easy to identify. Addressing them therefore is difficult arising from the fact that the resources of the children’s environment are somehow limited (Ilona 17). However, if these psychological aspects are not properly addressed, the terrifying memories experienced by these children during captivity will be retained in their minds, which in return will hinder their social reintegration and overall mental development.
Any country in the world is knitted together in the spirit of humanity. The greater good for the majority of the people is, indeed, what motivates leaders to fight for their people. Thus a leader who seeks to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people is the ultimate motivator of the people in such a regime. In light of the foregoing, the critical position is that a true leader is one who works for the better good of the people and for the national cause. Sadly, the foregoing is not the position in northern Uganda where the basic human rights are trample upon every single day. When young ladies are raped and made slaves; when children cannot access education; when people have no access to proper health care facilities; and most importantly when the right to life is at the mercies of a leader who pretends to protect the people, no one can assume this to be a national good. The world is yet to see a situation where the civilians have endorsed the acts of Kony because such acts are not only detested by local citizen people but by the entire international community. No credible institution like the International Criminal Court can indict a leader whose conduct has been accepted on the platform of human rights. Indeed, no leader who claims to work in the best interest of the people can confine him in the hiding. The protection and respect of the fundamental rights and freedom of the citizens is the ultimate concern of the national political figures, not the breach of the rights by a tyrannical regime and power that is selfishly canvassed (Hanse LR, pg. 53). It is therefore certain that the activities carried on by Kony and his forces are not legitimate and contrary to the benefit of the larger community.
In conclusion it is not doubtful the kind of suffering this man has caused the face of humanity. However, there is a great need to dig deep into the controversies facing Kony. The international community should ask itself whether he is working alone or getting support from other powers. The alarm being raised about the plight of people in Kony’s territory is not carried on by the Ugandan government. Few or no policy framework is in place by the government of Uganda to ensure that he is arrested. The above mentioned notwithstanding, the underlining concern is that children are being robbed of their rights, women’s dignity is not of concern to Kony, and sadly still is that is the right to life for those who stay in the Northern Uganda is under the mercies of human right abuser, Joseph Kony. It is also critical to put across that when the fundamental principles of humanity are breached by an individual, that entire international community has the right and obligation to ensure such acts are not achieved. In the case of Kony, it is important to note that every state which is a member of the Rome Statute has the noble of obligation of effecting the indictment and warrant of arrest so as to bring normalcy.
Children and Armed Conflict, A guide to international Humanitarian and international human right law, Ilona Topa “Prohibition of child soldiering – international legislation and prosecution of perpetrators” 2007 Hanse Law Review (Hanse LR) [Vol. 3 No. 1], 4
Drakard, M. Congo: Atrocities in the name of the Lord. (March 29, 2010). Retrieved from http://www.speroforum.com/a/29893/Congo-Atrocities-in-the-name-of-the-Lord#.V3iat6MrJn4
International Bureau for Children’s Rights (IBCR) 2010, 2
International Criminal Court (14 October 2005). Warrant of Arrest unsealed against five LRA Commanders. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
Machel Graça, The Impact of War on Children: a review of progress since the 1996. United Nations Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (Hurst & Company, London, 2001), 7