Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Northern Uganda Update: Kony and the Bishops.

Date: Wednesday 2 July 2003
Subj: Northern Uganda Update: Kony and the Bishops.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator


BACKGROUND

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a blasphemous, terrorist cult militia that has been waging a campaign of terror amongst the predominantly Christian populations of Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan for the past 17 years. The signature trademark of the LRA is unrivalled cruelty and barbarity. The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, is a spirit medium. In late May and early June, peace talks led by the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI), resulted in the defection of several senior LRA commanders.

On Saturday 14 June, Joseph Kony ordered his LRA soldiers to target the Church. "Catholic missions must be destroyed," he ordered, "priests and missionaries killed in cold blood and nuns beaten black and blue." The WEA RL Prayer ministry issued an urgent call to prayer on 17 June. For further background and details see the WEA RLC E-mail Conference posting of 19 June, entitled, "Northern Uganda: Kony orders the LRA to target the Church", (contains a link to the WEA RL Prayer posting of 17 June).

--------------------------------
KONY AND THE BISHOPS
--------------------------------


BISHOPS -- KONY'S "MOST WANTED"

Joseph Kony has now placed Anglican Bishop John Charles Odurkami and Tom Okello of the Elim Pentecostal Mission on his "most wanted" list and issued an order for their heads (link 1). Urgent prayer is needed.

BISHOPS -- CHILDREN'S MOST LOVED

In May, the WEA RL Prayer ministry raised awareness of the plight of children in Northern Uganda and issued a call for prayer (link 2), as another signature trademark of the LRA is their use of abducted child soldiers. These children are brutalised and traumatised - and 5,000 children have been abducted by the LRA for use as expendable child soldiers and sex-slaves in the past 12 months.

To reduce the risk of abduction, the children walk from their home villages to the regional centre of Gulu each evening and sleep under the watchful eyes of aid and mission workers. These days, some 20,000 children are sleeping in the streets of Gulu each night

In an act of solidarity, some of Gulu's bishops have taken to sleeping on the streets with them.

----------------------------------------------------------------
"Bishops Sleep On Streets, Seek UN Support Against Rebels"
By Dennis Ojwee, for New Vision (Kampala) 24 June 2003
----------------------------------------------------------------

Three bishops, John Baptist Odama of Gulu Archdiocese, Retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, Marcleord Baker Ochola II and Rev. Nelson Onono-Onweng, on Sunday night slept out on the streets of Gulu Taxi Park with thousands of children displaced by the LRA.

This is to share the pain that the children are persevering in the cold along verandas in fear of being abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. The children come from villages around Gulu, Pader and Kitgum towns.

The bishops gathered one-by-one at the sleeping centres by 7:00pm. Thousands of children thronged them with surprise and overwhelming respect to them.

The children, who looked humble and courageous, carried torn sacks and rags over their shoulders as beddings. They gathered around the spiritual parents (bishops) to listen to the Lord's words.

"Thousands of children have been abducted, butchered, battered or shot to death by the LRA. The UN should try to put the war in the north top of its agenda on its high level secretary meetings in order to intervene and save the children and the people of northern Uganda from the flame of murder by the rebels led by Joseph Kony," the three bishops, Anglican, Catholic and Muslim leaders under the Acholi Religious Leader's Peace Initiative (ARLPI) based in Gulu town said on Sunday. (22 June)

They appealed to the UN to intervene in the bloody rebellion.

--------------(see also link 3)--------------

Writer David Ouma Balikowa noted in an Opinion piece in The Monitor (Kampala) on 20 June: "Mr Kony, as the commander of the LRA, has outlived an entire line of army commanders President Yoweri Museveni has had during this war. The list includes Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo and Maj. Gen. James Kazini. Mr Kony has lived to see all these able generals come and go while he himself has remained intact."

Many are praying that he will not remain in tact for much longer.

- Elizabeth Kendal

Links

1) Bishops On Kony Rebels' List
New Vision (Kampala) 30 June 2003
http://allafrica.com/stories/200306300569.html

2) RLP 219, 14 May, Uganda: The Children, the Church and the LRA.
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/s03050055.htm

3) CNN Thousands of children seek refuge in N. Ugandan town
23 June 2003 Kampala
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/africa/06/23/uganda.frightened.ap/