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Lord’s Resistance Army

The first group of Lord’s Resistance Army rebels has arrived in a neutral camp in southern Sudan following the recent truce ending 19 years of conflict. The LRA says it is willing to release women and children seized in the war, during which it kidnapped an estimated 20,000 young people and turned them into soldiers and sex slaves. A permanent peace will likely depend on whether or not LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top lieutenants are granted amnesty. The victims are so desperate for an end to war that they want to forgive and forget, which is said to be the way local culture treats even ordinary murderers if crimes are admitted and compensation is given. [csr 5.3 2006]

How Abductees Were Conditioned to Become Killers
Forcing them to kill other abducted children, or be killed themselves, served effectively to gain the loyalty of thousands of young people kidnapped during the last 18 years by the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony, in northern Uganda. The results of the LRA experience [detailed here through interviews with the victims and first hand observations] have been psychologically devastating and often physically ruinous. (Melanie Thernstrom, New York Times Magazine, Internet, 5/8/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Escapees Recount Life in Group
Ten young women abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda eight years ago have returned to St. Mary’s School to tell their stories at the annual school ceremony memorializing the raid. They tell how they were each assigned to be wives of rebel commanders, beaten, tortured, taught to kill, and made to believe that leader Joseph Kony was a disciple of God, with supernatural power.[csr 4.1 2005]

Returnees undergo army debriefing and counseling at the Rachele Rehabilitation Center, where they draw pictures of their horrible memories and become aware that they have been victims despite the atrocities they were forced to commit. (Marc Lacey, New York Times, Internet, 10/10/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Cease Fire
Representatives of the Uganda Government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) [known for kidnapping children and indoctrinating them to become soldiers who kill], have agreed to sign a cease fire to end the 18-year-old conflict. (Alfred Waskie, New Vision, Uganda, Internet, 12/31/04) [csr 4.1 2005]

Ritual Indoctrination
The international Christian relief organization World Vision says the Lord’s Resistance Army, of Northern Uganda, subjects abducted children [who form an important part of its military wing] to repeated “spiritual rituals” that “make many of them believe in [leader Joseph] Kony’s power, including his ability to find them if they escape.” (New Vision, Internet, 6/1/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

UN Appeal to Rebel Group
The UN and humanitarian organizations working in Northern Uganda have asked the Lord’s Resistance Army to stop abducting children to serve in its forces and to enter into a dialogue with the government. (F. Ahimbisibwe, New Vision, Internet, 6/16/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

337 Massacred
The Lord’s Resistance Army massacred 337 people last month, mostly civilians living in a displaced persons camp. Led by self-proclaimed mystic Joseph Kony, “LRA rebels have abducted and brainwashed hundreds of children and forced them to fight for it, spreading fear throughout northern Uganda, paralyzing economic activity, and defying attempts to crush them.” (Reuters, Internet, 3/16/04) [csr 3.1 2004]

Former Child Rebels “Haunted”
It has been difficult for former child members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to adjust to normal society since they escaped to freedom after being indoctrinated to kill or be killed by the anti-government rebel group in Northern Uganda. Charles Ojok, now training to be an auto mechanic, says: “I feel frightened, I feel very afraid. I have returned only once to my real home [in the district where the LRA raids for recruits].”[csr 2.3 2003]

The newly freed are assisted at special government centers, but they distrust aid workers and give false names. They find healing, however, in contact with others who were also forced to kill and abduct. Some even meet their own abductors at the centers. Many returnees have nightmares and flashbacks while some are aggressive. But these symptoms subside by the time they return home, where some are nonetheless stigmatized and discriminated against.[csr 2.3 2003]

Psycho-social program manager Michael Oruni says: “A child that has been abducted needs to be taken away from the situation of war. But the guns are still being shot, and that complicates the situation.” (Orla Ryan, BBC Monday, Internet, 1/5/04) [csr 2.3 2003]

Rebels Reportedly Withdrawing
Uganda security forces report that the majority of Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, led by Vice-chairman Brig. Vincent Otti, have fled to Sudan to join leader Joseph Kony. They say the LRA has suffered major defeats in recent months. Sudan has been working with Uganda to defeat the rebels, and the impending peace between the Sudan government and its own rebels “will mark the death of the LRA,” according to a Ugandan source. (Emmy Allio, New Vision, Internet, 1/14/04) [csr 2.3 2003]

Spirit Beliefs Aid “Brainwashing”
According to aid workers counseling children freed from the Lord’s Resistance Army, leader Joseph Kony uses “brainwashing” and [the traditional] belief in spirits to enhance his power over individuals. Within hours of a kidnapping, LRA leaders select for death a child who has tried to escape and order the others to kill him or her, on pain of death for not following the order.[csr 2.3 2003]

Aid worker Els de Temmerman, from Belgium, says Kony “sees himself as the Acholi [ethnic group’s] savior. . . He [Kony] says: ‘We have to cleanse out people so only the good, faithful ones remain. So we are not killing our people, we are cleansing them.’ It’s a cult pure and simple,” Temmerman concludes.[csr 2.3 2003]

Even after they have escaped, according to Temmerman, the children believe that Kony can read their minds and will track them down and kill them. They continue to believe that Kony has the Holy Spirit and supernatural powers. Many former fighters, especially those who spent years with him, think he is good but misunderstood. “He is nice to children,” said one, adding: “His only problem is the hard orders he gives to his commanders to kill. It’s them who kill and torture children. They do it behind his back.” (William McLean, Reuters, Internet, 1/15/04) [csr 2.3 2003]

Captives Freed
The Ugandan army reports it liberated in December 374 people being held by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), killed 46 of the rebels, and took the surrender of eight more. [The anti-government LRA rebels, with bases in nearby Sudan, kidnap children from their home villages in the north of the country and turn them into soldiers, meanwhile sexually abusing and mutilating many of them.] (New Vision, Internet, 12/31/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Child Victims of Cult-like Group
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an anti-government group in Northern Uganda, kidnaps children from villages in the region, virtually enslaves them, and then throws out the badly damaged who do not die in the service of leader Joseph Kony. He is a former altar boy who reportedly has 60 wives, wears women’s dresses, proclaims a connection with the angels, and believes that God has chosen him to overthrow the Ugandan government and make the Ten Commandments the law of the land.[csr 2.3 2003]

A 14-year-old in a hospital in Gulu that cares for LRA victims told how he was ordered to join others in killing, with clubs, another child who had disobeyed a random order not to eat at 4pm. The children were told the order was a message from the angels. [csr 2.3 2003]

Hospital patients injured by the LRA included a girl with a steel pin in her leg, one with spinal damage who may not walk again, and a girl terribly disfigured when other children were ordered to cut off her nose, ears, and lips as a warning to the Ugandan community not to fight the rebels. One result of the LRA terror is that thousands of Ugandan children are flooding into the towns to avoid kidnapping. (Hilary Andersson, BBC News, Internet, 7/5/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

LRA forces in mid-June attacked Adjumani Catholic Parish and abducted 15 children from the Redeemer Orphanage Centre. A previous attack on Adjumani took place in 1991. (Patrick Alioni and Dennis Ojwee, New Vision, Internet, 6/19/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

Children Rescued
Following hard fighting, government forces freed over 100 children who had been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. (Ali Mao, New Vision, Internet, 7/15/03) [csr 2.3 2003]

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