Joseph Kony Was Here

Satellite image of likely LRA camp in Kafia Kingi. Click to see full image . (Photo Credit: Digitial Globe 2013).

Satellite image of likely LRA camp in Kafia Kingi. Click to see full image . (Photo Credit: Digitial Globe 2013).

Now where will the US go on the ICC?
While international justice has seen many milestones over the last months, including the surrender of “The Terminator” Bosco Ntaganda, one of the most well known fugitives from the International Criminal Court (ICC) remains on the loose. Joseph Kony, the Lord Resistance Army’s (LRA) notorious leader, has so far evaded arrest. However, as of today, attempts to locate his whereabouts have gotten a considerable boost. In fact, thanks to satellite imagery, we might know the exact coordinates of his recent location.

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Kony Campaign: How Can We Turn Awareness Into Action?

Joseph Kony Uganda LRA

Joseph Kony (STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

In the span of just a few days, Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign has generated an avalanche of attention on Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony.

The world should know who Kony is. But Kony is but one fugitive from justice among many, operating in a region faced with systemic human rights challenges requiring effective and transformative action.

Awareness is an important first step. But we need to stop all the Konys of the world.

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#Kony2012 and the Warping Logic of Atrocity

Joseph Kony Uganda LRA

Joseph Kony (STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

In the past 48 hours, there has been a flood of criticism of Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign—much of it fair, some of it less so.

My first exposure to IC’s work was some time ago when—with Resolve—they launched the LRA Crisis Tracker. In stark contrast to the criticisms of implicit disempowerment of affected people by the Kony2012 campaign, this tool empowers communities through radio and digital communications to effectively form an overlapping system of neighborhood watch in LRA-affected areas. It is—in short—good work, and represents the promise of access to the benefits of science and technology, whether for underprivileged people in the US, or communities facing security threats in Uganda and elsewhere.

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Human Rights Flashpoint – September 15, 2009

AFGHANISTAN – Election Recount
The United Nations Electoral Complaints Commission has ordered a recount of about 10 percent of votes from Afghanistan’s recent president election. The recount could reduce President Hamid Karzai’s lead to below the 50 percent threshold, which would in turn force a second-round runoff. The recount will involve polling stations throughout Afghanistan and not only in the south, where Karzai finds his strongest ethnic support and where the worst of the cheating is alleged to have happened.

Second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah has welcomed the move but believes that a higher percentage of votes should be recounted, claiming the fraud is much more extensive.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, predicts the US may require many more troops in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban, despite a doubling of the force this year. Mullen was speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing for his second term as President Barack Obama’s senior military adviser. US Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is expected to make a request for more troops in the next couple weeks.

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Overheard

We will press for an investigation of all fraud allegations. It is important that the elected president is recognized and respected by the entire population of Afghanistan – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, September 15, 2009

A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces. And, without question, more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance - Admiral Mike Mullen, September 15, 2009

UGANDA – Still Chasing the LRA
As the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to terrorize civilians throughout the region, the Ugandan army is stepping up efforts to put an end to their rebellion. On Friday, the UN reported an increasing number of “brutal” attacks in South Sudan, which have included burning villages, killing civilians and abducting children. There have already been seven attacks leading to civilian displacement in September alone.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan military has captured Okot Atiak, a feared senior rebel of the LRA, while pursuing a military campaign in southeast Central African Republic (CAR). Although Atiak is not one of the 3 LRA commanders indicted by the ICC, his arrest is proving useful to the Ugandan military as he is providing intelligence to troops in the field.

In a separate development, at least 15 people were killed and hundreds arrested following pro-monarchy protests in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Reuters reports that the police had barred the Buganda monarch, the “Kabaka,” from visiting a town claimed by his kingdom, which triggered riots in Kampala and other central towns. This is part of a long-simmering row over land and power between the Ugandan government and Buganda. Ugandan President Museveni accuses the King of Baganda of overstepping his authority and trying to meddle in politics. Human Rights Watch has accused the Ugandan police of having used unnecessary lethal force during the protests.

Calm has now returned to Kampala, but some analysts say that this is just one of several incidents which point to increasing turmoil ahead of the 2011 elections.

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Overheard

Many innocent people are losing their lives every week, and the United Nations is very concerned about the killing, abduction, maiming and displacement of innocent civilians – Ameerah Haq, UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, September 11, 2009

It was agreed that since (LRA leader Joseph) Kony is a regional problem, he should be pursued into Central African Republic where he had gone - Uganda military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye, September 7, 2009

Upcoming
September 14-October 2: 12th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
September 14: US Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell starts trip to Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

Juliette Rousselot contributed to this post.

Human Rights Flashpoints is a weekly column about countries at risk of escalating human rights violations and is brought to you by AIUSA’s Crisis Prevention and Response team.

Human Rights Flashpoints–September 9, 2009

Sudan – Deadly Attacks in the South
Recent ethnic clashes in southern Sudan have killed at least 25 people and displaced dozens of civilians in Upper Nile State since Friday. Violence has been escalating recently, as women and children are increasingly targeted by both tribal militias and the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned today that conflict-affected areas of southern Sudan, including Ezo County in Western Equatoria State where the LRA has been active recently, are facing a high risk of epidemics. WHO cites damaged health facilities, displaced health workers and the difficulty of accessing health facilities as contributing factors to this increasing risk for epidemics. Attacks in recent weeks have caused forced around 80,000 people to flee their homes.

In a separate development, Reuters reports that the NGO Global Witness claims that they have found serious discrepancies in reports of Sudan’s oil revenues, meaning that the Sudanese government may been underpaying the south by hundreds of millions of dollars.  However, government officials denied all accusations made in the report and claimed to the BCC that the south was represented in all state bodies that dealt with oil.

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Overheard

The violent clashes are different to the traditional  ‘cattle rustling’ that normally occurs each year. Women and children, usually spared in this fighting, are now deliberately targeted and the number of deaths are higher than the number of wounded… The intention is to attack a village and to kill. The result is a population living in total fear, with significant humanitarian and medical needs – Jonathan Whittall, MSF Head of Mission in southern Sudan, September 3, 2009.

Abatement of violence and intertribal reconciliation in the south are vital to the forthcoming elections in 2010 and the subsequent referendum in 2011 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, September 6, 2009.  

Yemen – No End to the Violence
Clashes between government troops and rebel groups in Northern Yemen are ongoing and putting the lives of many civilians at risk. Displaced people in and around the city of Saada are trapped in the war zone, unable to leave and without access to humanitarian aid. Those who are able to leave the area have no choice but to use mined roads.

According to the BBC, a truce between the government and rebels which was agreed to on Friday, primarily to allow civilians to flee from the war zone, collapsed just a few hours later. Both sides blame the other for the continuing violence.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is waiting for security clearances in order to open a humanitarian corridor that would allow them to gain access through Saudi Arabia to displaced people in need of tents and other aid. The UN estimates that about 35,000 have been displaced by the fighting in the past three weeks alone.

Must Reads

Overheard

Heavy fighting between Al Houthi forces and government troops in and around Saada city in northern Yemen continues with utter disregard for the safety and well being of the civilian population – Andrej Mahecic, spokesman of the UNHCR, September 8, 2009 

The children of Yemen need urgent assistance. We cannot fail them – Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, September 8, 2009

Coming Up

  • September 7-8: Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Kinshasa, DRC.
  • September 8: Amnesty International releases new briefing on Chad, which uses satellite images to document housing demolitions in N’Djamena. 
  • September 8: Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya meets with members of the OAS in Washington, DC.
  • September 8: Head of UNHCR begins five-day trip to North Africa to visit refugees from Western Sahara.
  • September 8: Inauguration of President-elect Malam Bacai Sanha in Guinea Bissau.
  • September 10: Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders due to resume UN-sponsored peace talks.
  • Week of September 14: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
  • September 15: 64th session of the UN General Assembly opens.

Juliette Rousselot contributed to this post.

Human Rights Flashpoints is a weekly column about countries at risk of escalating human rights violations and is brought to you by AIUSA’s Crisis Prevention and Response team.