Congo Carnage: When Bandits Fight Bandits


[Black Star News Editorial: Africa]

Now the Uganda government and the Lord’s Resistance Army have exported their bloody conflict to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with reports of massacres after Christmas Day of hundreds of Congolese, including by hackings to death.

Death estimates range from 100 to 145, including some reported victims being pursued inside churches.

The United Nations reports that the LRA rebels are responsible for the killings; an LRA spokesman has denied the charges and claim Uganda’s U.S.-backed army committed the massacres.

Uganda government critics point out that earlier this year after the LRA was blamed for killings in Southern Sudan, government officials in the Sudan later said Uganda soldiers stationed in Sudan had been responsible.

In any event the United Nations must immediately investigate these Congolese massacres reported to have been committed by the LRA, whose leadership has already been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on earlier war crimes charges in Uganda.

The United Nations ineptly acquiesced to Uganda’s December 14 Congo invasion. The logic was that the intervention would neutralize the LRA which had reneged several times on signing a peace deal with the Uganda government. How can an army of bandits neutralize another army of bandits?

Human rights groups have for years documented the LRA’s killings of civilians in Uganda. Equally, Uganda’s national army’s vicious killing of civilians was well documented; in addition to inside Uganda, ironically, also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Uganda’s Congo crimes occurred when Uganda’s army occupied eastern Congo between 2003-2005. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for massacres of Congo civilians, mass rapes, burnings of homes, and plunder of resources.

The Court assessed Uganda’s government $10 billion. It’s a wonder that Congo’s government has not yet sought a lien against Uganda assets, including embassies in foreign lands. Separately, since at least 2004, according to The Wall Street Journal, the International Criminal Court has also been investigating Uganda’s army and its commanders for the same crimes committed in Congo on which the ICJ found Uganda liable in the civil case.

The ICC’s briefs are in on the LRA’s crimes, and its top leaders including Joseph Kony have already been indicted on war crimes charges. The world awaits the ICC’s briefs on Uganda’s army, and its commander in chief, president Lt. General Yoweri Museveni.

For years the people of Uganda, especially in the Acholi region in the north have suffered the consequences of 22 years of warfare between the brutal LRA and the equally vicious national army, Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF).

Both armies have acronyms that are completely at odds with what they represent in reality. The LRA is hardly “Lordly” or “Godly” in its aspirations or conduct, having brutalized the citizens of Uganda, in Acholi region, mutilated civilians, and having abducted young daughters and sons in the region. Uganda’s army also has not been known to defend civilians, especially not against LRA attacks; on the contrary, human rights groups have documented widespread abuses against civilians.

There can be no impunity for the LRA or for the UPDF.

For as long as the Uganda conflict remains unresolved the entire East Africa region will remain engulfed in warfare. Congo is already reeling from another conflict, in its border region as Rwanda-backed terrorist Laurent Nkunda seeks to annex mineral rich territory through massacres and depopulations.

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