|Born||Joseph Kony |
|Known for||Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Title||Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army|
|Spouse||Thought to have over 60 wives|
|Children||Thought to have 42 children|
Joseph Kony (born 1961 in Odek, Uganda) is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a group engaged in a violent campaign to establish theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments throughout Uganda. The LRA say that God has sent spirits to communicate this mission directly to Kony.
Directed by Kony, the LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, theDemocratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. It has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986. As a result, in 2005 Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, but has succeeded in evading capture since.
Joseph Kony was born in 1961 in Odek, a village east of Gulu in northern Uganda. A member of the Acholi, Kony was the son of farmers. He had a good relationship with his siblings, but if he was betrayed he would not hesitate to retaliate. When confronted, he often resorted to his fists rather than parrying verbally. He was teased in school about his size and the teachers gave him a hard time for his low grades. His father was a lay catechist of the Catholic Church and his mother was an Anglican. Kony was an altar boy for several years, but he stopped attending church at about the age of 15. As a teenager, Kony apprenticed as the village witch doctor under his older brother, Jamie Brow, and when his older brother died, he took over full responsibility. He did not graduate high school. Kony first came to prominence in January 1986. His group was one of many premillennialist groups that sprang up in Acholiland in the wake of the wildly popular Holy Spirit Movement of Alice Auma (aka Lakwena), to whom Kony is thought to be related. However, their relative loss of influence after the overthrow of Acholi President Tito Okello by Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) during the Ugandan Bush War (1981–1986) spurred resentment among the Acholi.
Lord's Resistance Army
Originally Kony's group was named the United Holy Salvation Army (UHSA) and was not perceived as a threat by the NRA. By 1988, with the accord between NRA and the Uganda People's Democratic Army and addition of its remnant troops as well as forced recruitment of children the United Holy Salvation Army was becoming a formidable resistance army. The bulk of his foot soldiers were children. Whilst estimates of the number of children conscripted since 1986 vary, some put the figure as high as 104,000. He often killed their family and neighbors when abducting these children, forcing them to fight for him. With these remnants of UPDA was commander Odong Latek, who convinced Kony to use standard military tactics as opposed to its previous attempts which involved attacking in cross-shaped formations and the use of holy water. The new tactics proved successful and the UHSA delivered several small but stinging defeats against the NRA. After these victories the NRA responded by significantly weakening Kony's group with political actions and a military campaign namedOperation North. The operation was devastating to what would become the Lord's Resistance Army and with their number reduced from thousands to hundreds still engaged in retaliatory attacks on civilians and NRA collaborators.
Betty Bigombe remembered that the first time she met Kony, his followers used oil to ward-off bullets and evil spirits. In a letter regarding future talks, Kony stated that he must consult the Holy Spirit. When the talks did occur they insisted on participation of religious leaders and opened the proceedings with prayers led by LRA's Director of Religious Affairs Jenaro Bongomi. Finally, during the 1994 peace talks Kony appeared preceded by men in robes sprinkling holy water.
Joseph Kony was thought among followers and detractors alike to have been possessed by spirits; he has been portrayed as either the Messiah or the Devil. He reportedly made annual trips to the Ato Hills in Uganda. He would allegedly ascend to the highest of the hills and lie down in the hot sun for days. He would be covered by a blanket of red termites that slashed deeply into his skin. Oil from the Yao plant was spread over his body. Then he would enter a cave and stay in seclusion for weeks. Kony believes in the literal protection provided by a cross symbol and tells his child soldiers a cross on their chest drawn in oil would protect them from bullets. Kony insists that he and the Lord's Resistance Army are fighting for the Ten Commandments, defending his actions: "Is it bad? It is not against human rights. And that commandment was not given by Joseph. It was not given by LRA. No, those commandments were given by God."
The Ugandan military has attempted to kill Kony for most of the insurgency. Uganda's latest attempt towards tracking down Kony has been to enlist the help of former LRA combatants to search remote areas of the Central African Republic, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he was last seen.
|Lord's Resistance Army |
After the September 11th attacks, the United States declared the Lord's Resistance Army a terrorist group. On October 6, 2005, it was announced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that arrest warrants had been issued for five members of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanityfollowing a sealed indictment. On the next day Ugandan defense minister Amama Mbabazi revealed that the warrants include Joseph Kony, his deputyVincent Otti, and LRA commanders Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ongwen. According to spokesmen for the military, the Ugandan army killed Lukwiya on August 12, 2006.
A week later, on October 13, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo released details on Kony's indictment. There are 33 charges, 12 counts are crimes against humanity, which include murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement and rape. There are another 21 counts of war crimes which include murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlisting of children into the rebel ranks. Ocampo said that "Kony was abducting girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders."
On July 31, 2006, Kony met with several cultural, political, and religious leaders from northern Uganda at his hideout in the Congolese forests to discuss the war. The following day, August 1, he crossed the border into Sudan to speak with Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar. Kony later told reporters that he would not be willing to stand trial at the ICC because he had not done anything wrong.
On November 12, 2006, Kony met Jan Egeland, the United Nations Undersecretary-General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief. Kony toldReuters: "We don't have any children. We only have combatants."
U.S. action against Kony
On August 28, 2008, the United States Treasury Department placed Kony on its list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists," a designation that carries financial and other penalties. It is not known whether Kony has any assets that are affected by this designation.
In May 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, legislation aimed at stopping Kony and the LRA. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on March 11, 2010 with 65 senators as cosponsors, then passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on May 13, 2010 with 202 representatives as cosponsors.
In October 2011, Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to central Africa. They will help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” Joseph Kony and senior LRA leaders. "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," Obama said in a letter to Congress.
In March 2012, U.S.-based campaign group and not-for-profit Invisible Children Inc released a short film promoting awareness of Kony and his actions and encouraging supporters to donate to their cause. Intended to go viral on social networks, particularly Facebook, within 48 hours news media had described it as having succeeded in that aim; on Facebook, it has received over 3 million shares, exceeding Invisible Children's target of 500,000. The film, Kony 2012, currently has over 1.3 million views on Vimeo, and 100 thousand views on social media site YouTube, with other viewing emanating from a central "Kony2012" website operated by Invisible Children.
- ^ a b c d e f Daniel Howden (November 8, 2008). "The deadly cult of Joseph Kony". The Independent. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ a b c "Profile: Joseph Kony". BBC News. October 7, 2005. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ Beatrice Debut Gulu (February 10, 2006). "Portrait of Uganda's rebel prophet, painted by wives". Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ "Joseph Kony". The New York Times. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2011. "Mr. Kony has presented himself over the years as the channel through which these lingering voices communicate from the beyond."
- ^ "Read The Bill: H.R. 2478". GovTrack.us. 2009-05-19. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- ^ a b "Ugandan army 'kills senior rebel'". BBC News. August 13, 2006. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ a b c d e f Jimmie Briggs (2005). Innocents Lost: When Child soldiers Go to war.
- ^ Peter Eichstaedt, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, p. 206
- ^ "Crises in Sudan and Northern Uganda". Subcommittee on Africa. U.S. House of Representatives. July 29, 1998. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
- ^ Boustany, Nora (July 11, 2007). "The Woman Behind Uganda's Peace Hopes". The Washington Post. p. 3. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
- ^ "I will use the Ten Commandments to liberate Uganda". Times Online. (subscription required)
- ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2010-04-10). "Uganda Enlists Former Rebels to End a War". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2011-07-11.
- ^ Philip T. Reeker (December 6, 2001). "Statement on the Designation of 39 Organizations on the USA PATRIOT Act's Terrorist Exclusion List". U.S. Department of State.
- ^ "[AlertNet"]. (subscription required)
- ^ Capaccio, Tony (October 14, 2011). "Obama Sends Troops Against Uganda Rebels". Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
- ^ "LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009". Resolve Uganda. May 24, 2010.
- ^ Kavanagh, Michael J. (November 25, 2010). "Obama Administration Asks for Funds to Boost Uganda's Fight Against Rebels". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- ^ Gerson, Michael (January 26, 2011). "Joseph Kony and the international effort to bring him to justice". Washington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- ^ a b "News Hour - Trending Now: Kony 2012". GlobalTVBC. March 6, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ Lees, Philippa (March 7, 201). "Kony 2012 sheds light on Uganda conflict". Ninemsn. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ "Kony 2012". Vimeo.
- ^ "Kony 2012". YouTube. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
| ||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. Please improve this article by removingexcessive or inappropriate external links, and converting useful links where appropriate into footnote references. (October 2011)|
- "Wanted": Joseph Kony on Interpol`s list of wanted persons
- The Rescue of Joseph Kony's Child Soldiers
- Girl Soldiers - The cost of survival in Northern Uganda Women News Network - WNN
- "I want peace talks to resume" Audio interview with Kony on Radio France Internationale English Service 22 June 2008
- I want peace, but Museveni is the problem, says Kony, transcript of Joseph Kony's call in to a political talk show on the Mega FM radio station broadcasting from Gulu on 28 December 2002
- Kony's eldest son killed, New Vision, 8 July 2005
- Hague Justice Portal: Joseph Kony
- J. Carter Johnson, Deliver Us from Kony, Christianity Today, January 2006
- Sam Farmar, Uganda rebel leader breaks silence (interview with downloadable audio in MP3 format), BBC Newsnight, 28 June 2006, also on Google Video
- Ruud Elmendorp's video interview with Joseph Kony on Rocketboom 16 August 2006
- Ochola John, LRA victim: 'I cannot forget and forgive', BBC, 29 June 2006
- Julia Spiegel of the Enough Project discusses efforts to kill Joseph Kony Bloggingheads TV diavlog Sunday, 11 January 2009
- Most Wanted Slideshow
- Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson's article on Kony, January 26, 2012.