SUDAN WATCH: Govts of Uganda, Sudan and DR Congo today launch joint offensive against Uganda LRA rebels in DRC, Uganda says

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Govts of Uganda, Sudan and DR Congo today launch joint offensive against Uganda LRA rebels in DRC, Uganda says

Today, the governments of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan launched a joint military offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) bases in Garamba, eastern Congo, an army spokesman said.

Let's hope this news is of a genuine effort to eradicate the LRA who have been on the rampage for more than 20 years, committing unspeakable crimes and atrocities that are far worse than anything that has happened in Darfur.

Further details are here below in a report just in from the BBC and in a Factbox from Reuters giving some details about leader Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels, along with a profile by the Telegraph's David Blair and a recent photo of Kony who is estimated to have abducted more than 20,000 children to fight as footsoldiers in the LRA.

Also, here below is a blog post and extract from an article on the LRA by freelance journalist Rob Crilly. The whole 2000 word article is up for sale. Rob does not mention a price but in the comments at his post at From The Frontline blog he says that he is open to offers. If anyone reading this is able to sponsor Rob's article for publication here at Sudan Watch (and its sister sites Congo Watch and Uganda Watch) please email me. I have spent over four years raising awareness of the LRA and would appreciate Rob's article being published asap in the hope of it being helpful to the poor forgotten people of Northern Uganda. No doubt Rob's article is very good. It needs to be shared as widely as possible. Here are just a few of the reasons why, in pictures:

See Sudan Watch, February 06, 2006: One of the world's most wanted men: Ugandan LRA terrorist group chief Joseph Kony flees Southern Sudan into DR Congo - UN calls NGOs into Kony hunt

Gulu victim

Photo: Gulu victim. The LRA use torture to instil fear. Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has become synonymous with torture, abductions and killings. (BBC photo) from Sudan Watch archives.

Uganda1

Photo: Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, Feb 23, 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo) from Sudan Watch archives.

Northern Uganda

Photo: Ochola John was deformed by rebels from Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (BBC) Read the victim's heartbreaking testimony: June 30 2006 Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch - LRA victim: 'I cannot forget and forgive'

ARMIES 'ATTACK UGANDA REBELS'
From the BBC Sunday, 14 December 2008 7:36 PM GMT:
Three African armies have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo, military officials say in Uganda.

Uganda, DR Congo and the government of South Sudan reportedly moved against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Garamba region of DR Congo.

LRA leader Joseph Kony, wanted by the International Criminal Court, has recently stalled on a peace deal.

The LRA has led a rebellion for more than 20 years in northern Uganda.

The fighting has displaced some two million people.

Uganda's government has been involved in lengthy peace negotiations with the LRA, but the rebels' leader has demanded that arrest warrants for him and his associates are dropped before any agreement can be struck.

A statement announcing the operation was released in the Ugandan capiital Kampala by the intelligence chiefs of all three armed forces.

The statement said the attack targeted the "terrorists" at their bases in the forested area of Garamba, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, AFP news agency said.

"The three armed forces successfully attacked the main body and destroyed the main camp of Kony, code-named camp Swahili, setting it on fire," the statement said.
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FOR SALE: LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY FEATURE
December 10, 2008 blog post by Rob Crilly:
Earlier this year photographer Kate Holt and I chartered a plane to fly from Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the tiny village of Doruma which was recovering from repeated attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army. We found people living in fear of the next assault, as LRA raiding parties roamed the jungle looking for sex slaves, porters and fighters.

We uncovered evidence that Joseph Kony was cynically using a halt in hostilities - called to allow peace talks - in order to rearm, recruit and reorganise. With food distributed by aid agencies and satphones delivered by the Ugandan diaspora, his fighting force was more efficient that ever. And one his key aides, a recent defector, told us that Kony would never sign up to peace.

FOR eight days Raymond Kpiolebeyo was marched at gunpoint through the steaming Congolese jungle, not knowing whether he would live or die. For six nights he slept with eight other prisoners pinned under a plastic sheet weighted down with bags and stones to prevent escape. Their sweat condensed on the sheeting inches above their faces before dripping back and turning their plastic prison into a stinking, choking sauna.

He was a prisoner of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a cult-like band of brutal commanders and their brutalised child soldiers.

“They told us that if one of use tried to escape we would all be shot,” said Raymond, a 28-year-old teacher from the town of Doruma, close to the border with South Sudan.

In the end the story was commissioned but never ran. So, I am offering a 2000wd feature, an unparalleled insight into the bizarre world of Joseph Kony, for sale. Please contact me by the using the comments section below…

Moonlight in Dungu, N.E. DR Congo

Photo: Two young children stand outside their hut in the moonlight in Dungu, in North Eastern DR Congo, on 19 June, 2008. (Photo by Kate Holt kateholt.com)
Note, although Rob does not mention a price, in the comments at his blog post, he says he is open to offers. I would be most grateful for any ideas or suggestions that would help the article get published. If anyone reading this is able to sponsor the article (or knows someone who can) for publication here at Sudan Watch, Uganda Watch and Congo Watch, please email me. The plight of the poor people of Northern Uganda and LRA victims must not be forgotten. Please help in any way possible. Thank you.
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WHO ARE UGANDA'S LRA REBELS?
December 14, 2008 factbox from Reuters:
WHAT HAS HAPPENED:

Thousands of people have been killed and 2 million displaced during the 22 years of fighting between Kony's rebels and the Ugandan government. The conflict has destabilised parts of oil-producing south Sudan and mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last October LRA fighters carried out a series of raids near Congo's porous northern border with Sudan, looting homes and burning buildings in a pattern similar to months of violence. LRA fighters killed at least 52 people, and abducted another 159 children and 10 adults during attacks in northern Congo in September, that country's U.N. peacekeeping mission, MONUC, said.

A landmark truce was signed in August 2006 and was later renewed. But talks brokered by south Sudan collapsed last April after Kony failed to sign the pact as planned.

Mediators gave Kony until the end of November to give his final approval to the peace deal. However, he again failed to appear to sign a final peace deal and told traditional elders at the end of last month he would still not sign a final peace deal until an international arrest warrant for him is scrapped.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his role in a conflict that has destabilised a swathe of central Africa.

THE LRA AND A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS:

Self-proclaimed mystic Kony began one of a series of initially popular uprisings in northern Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986. But his tactics of kidnapping recruits and killing civilians alienated supporters.

The LRA was infamous for abducting children for use as soldiers, porters and "wives". Although there are no universally accepted figures, the children are believed to number many thousands. Some are freed after days, others never escape.

Kony's force was once backed by Khartoum as a proxy militia, although Sudan said it cut all ties with it. Kony quit his hideouts in south Sudan in 2005 for the Democratic Republic of Congo's remote Garamba forest.

Many northerners reviled the LRA for its atrocities, but also blamed Museveni for setting up camps for at least 2 million people as part of his counter-insurgency strategy, fuelling one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

WHAT DOES KONY WANT?

Kony has said he wants to rule Uganda by the Biblical Ten Commandments, but at peace talks his group also articulated a range of northern grievances, including the theft of cattle by Museveni's troops and demands for more political power.
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PROFILE: Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army

By David Blair
The Daily Telegraph
November 29, 2008
When Joseph Kony's minions began peace talks with Uganda's government in 2005, their first task was to think of some coherent aims on behalf of their psychotic leader.

Joseph Kony

Photo: Joseph Kony is estimated to have abducted more than 20,000 children to fight as footsoldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army (Reuters photo)

Kony, who is about 47 and holds the distinction of being the first man ever to be indicted by the International Criminal Court, has waged war with no purpose since 1988.

He began his campaign in Northern Uganda, posing as a messianic figure who communed with holy spirits. The nearest Kony ever came to a political goal was a pledge to rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments.

At the beginning, he won some followers largely because President Yoweri Museveni had ignored Northern Uganda and excluded Kony's Acholi people from power.

By 1992, Kony had staked his claim to be fighting in the name of the Lord by naming his movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). But his rebellion amounted to a vicious cult, not a classic insurgency, and had no purpose save rebellion itself.

Consequently, no-one would volunteer to fight for Kony's non-existent cause, leaving him with little choice but to abduct children and force them to become his footsoldiers. How many innocents have suffered this fate is unknown – but the official estimate of 20,000 is almost a decade out of date. The real total may be two or three times higher.

The peace talks with Uganda's government have yielded a draft agreement, which Kony's representatives insist he will sign.

But a paper deal may not abate his murderous campaign.

Kony has been driven from Uganda, where no LRA attacks have occurred for almost three years. Instead, Congo's defenceless people are now his chosen victims.

Even if Kony makes peace with Uganda, his onslaught in Congo may continue.

Africa's children will only be safe when this mystical psychopath meets his well-deserved end.
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MAP OF SUDAN SHOWING JANUARY 1, 1956 LINE OF DEMARCATION

This is an interesting map. Click here for a larger view.

Sudan map showing January 1, 1956 Line of Demarcation

Source: US Government
U.S. Policy Toward Sudan
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
September 28, 2005

[Cross posted today at Sudan Watch's sister sites Congo Watch and Uganda Watch]
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UPDATE SUNDAY 14 DECEMBER 2008

December 14, 2008 Voice of America News report - excerpt:
A joint statement, signed by the three governments' chiefs of military intelligence, say the forces destroyed the main camp of LRA leader Joseph Kony and set it on fire. There was no immediate word on Kony's fate but the statement said the operation was still in progress.
Full story: AFRICAN NEIGHBORS ATTACK UGANDAN REBELS.

SNAPSHOT - GOOGLE'S NEWSREEL SUNDAY EVENING GMT 14 DECEMBER 2008

Regional forces launch offensive against Uganda's rebel group
Xinhua, China - 28 minutes ago
KAMPALA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Military forces from Uganda, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched an attack on Sunday morning on ...

UPDF attacks Kony
Daily Monitor, Uganda - 1 hour ago
The UPDF yesterday attacked the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, ending a 29-month ceasefire and signalling the complete failure of peace talks meant to end ...

UPDF planes attack Kony's Congo base
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By Henry Mukasa UGANDA, South Sudan and DR Congo yesterday morning jointly attacked Joseph Kony’s rebels hiding in Garamaba forest. ...

Congo war hurts cross-border trade
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By Samuel Balagadde THE political turmoil in DR Congo is frustrating cross-boarder trade between the with Uganda, a top businessman complained over the ...

Ministers want sanctions on LRA leader
New Vision, Uganda - 1 hour ago
By George Kalisa THE Foreign ministers of the member states of the Tripartite Plus Joint Commission have called on the UN Security council to impose travel ...

LRA base 'attacked' in Uganda
Aljazeera.net, Qatar - 3 hours ago
Troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan have attacked the bases of Uganda's Lord's
Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern Congo, ...

Joint operation against Ugandan rebels begins
Radio Netherlands, Netherlands - 3 hours ago
Military forces from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan have begun a joint operation against Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), ...

Ugandan rebels face joint offensive in DRCongo
ABC Online, Australia - 3 hours ago
By Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan Three central African countries have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels in the Democratic Republic ...

African neighbours in joint raid on Ugandan rebels
AFP - 4 hours ago
KAMPALA (AFP) — Forces from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan launched a joint military operation Sunday against Uganda's rebel ...

Governments launch military offensive on Uganda rebels
Reuters UK, UK - 4 hours ago
By Jack Kimball KAMPALA, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and south Sudan launched a joint military offensive on Sunday against ...

Armies 'attack Uganda rebels'
BBC News, UK - 5 hours ago
Three African armies have launched a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in eastern DR Congo, military officials say in Uganda. ...

FACTBOX-Who are Uganda's LRA rebels?
Reuters AlertNet, UK - 5 hours ago
Dec 14 (Reuters) - The governments of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan on Sunday launched a joint military offensive against the ...

African Neighbors Attack Ugandan Rebels
Voice of America - 1 hour ago
By VOA News Three central African governments say their armies have launched a joint offensive against Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army. ...

Nations launch offensive against Uganda LRA rebels
Reuters South Africa, South Africa - 2 hours ago
By Jack Kimball KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Sudan launched a joint military offensive on Sunday against Ugandan ...

African Armies Conduct Joint Offensive Against Ugandan
TransWorldNews (press release), GA - 2 hours ago
Armies from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan have reportedly engaged in a joint offensive against Ugandan rebels based in the eastern DR ...

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