Lord's Resistance Army

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Lord's Resistance Army
1200px-Flag of Lord's Resistance Army.svg.png
Full Name: Lord's Resistance Army
Alias: Lord's Resistance Movement
Holy Spirit Movement
Origin: Uganda
Foundation: 1987
Headquarters: Believed to be South Sudan or Central African Republic (as of 2014)
Commanders: Joseph Kony
Agents: Vincent Otti

Caesar Achellam
Raska Lukwiya
Okot Odhiambo
Dominic Ongwen
Odong Latek
Alphonse Lamola

Goals: Transform Uganda into a theocracy (failing)
Crimes: War crimes
Crimes against humanity
Terrorism
Mass murder
Kidnapping
Sexual slavery
Human rights violations
Misogyny
Type of Villain: Fanatical terrorist group


Lord’s Resistance Army is just the name of the movement, because we are fighting in the name of God. God is the one helping us in the bush. That’s why we created this name, Lord’s Resistance Army. And people always ask us, are we fighting for the Ten Commandments of God. That is true – because the Ten Commandments of God is the constitution that God has given to the people of the world.

~ Vincent Otti explains the ideology of the LRA.

The Lords Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord's Resistance Movement, is a militant group/cult operating in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. It has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, child-sex slavery and forcing children to participate in hostilities. Their leader, Joseph Kony, is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for multiple charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ideology

The LRA's ideology is disputed among academics. Although the LRA has been regarded primarily as a Christian militia, the LRA reportedly evokes Acholi nationalism on occasion, but many observers doubt the sincerity of this behaviour and the loyalty of Kony to either ideology.

Robert Gersony, in a report funded by United States Embassy in Kampala in 1997, concluded that "the LRA has no political program or ideology, at least none that the local population has heard or can understand." The International Crisis Group has stated that "the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, and its military strategy and tactics reflect this."

IRIN comments that "the LRA remains one of the least understood rebel movements in the world, and its ideology, as far as it has one, is difficult to understand."

In a speech delivered by James Alfred Obita, former secretary for external affairs and mobilisation of the Lord's Resistance Army, he adamantly denied that the LRA was "just an Acholi thing" and stated that claims made by the media and Museveni administration asserting that the LRA is a "group of Christian fundamentalists with bizarre beliefs whose aim is to topple the Museveni regime and replace it with governance based on the Bible's ten commandments" were false. In the same speech, Obita also claimed that the LRA's objectives are:

  1. To fight for the immediate restoration of competitive multi-party democracy in Uganda.
  2. To see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans.
  3. To ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda.
  4. To ensure unity, sovereignty and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans.
  5. To bring to an end to the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the National Resistance Army's ideology.

The original aims of the group were more closely aligned with those of its predecessor, the Holy Spirit Movement. Protection of the Acholi population was of great concern because of the reality of ethnic purges in the history of Uganda. This created a great deal of concern in the Acholi community as well as a strong desire for formidable leadership and protection. As the conflict has progressed, fewer and fewer Acholi offered sufficient support to the rebels in the eyes of the LRA. This led to an increased amount of violence toward the non-combatant population, which in turn further alienated them from the rebels. This self-perpetuating cycle led to the creation of a strict divide between Acholis and rebels, a divide that was previously not explicitly present.

History

In 1986, the armed rebellion led by Yoweri Kaguta Musevini's National Resistance Army (NRA) won the Ugandan Bush War and took control of the country. The victors sought vengeance against ethnic groups in the North of Uganda. Their activities included Operation Simsim, which engaged in burning, looting, and killings of locals.

Such acts of violence led to the formation of rebel groups from the ranks of the previous Ugandan army, UNLA. Many of those groups made peace with Museveni. However, the southern-dominated army did not stop attacking civilians in the north of the country. Therefore, by late 1987 to early 1988, a civilian resistance movement led by Alice Lakwena was formed.

Lakwena did not pick up arms against the central government; her members carried sticks and stones. She believed she was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. Lakwena portrayed herself as a prophet who received messages from the Holy Spirit and expressed the belief that the Acholi could defeat the Museveni government. She preached that her followers should cover their bodies with shea nut oil as protection from bullets, never take cover or retreat in battle, and never kill snakes or bees.

Joseph Kony would later preach a similar superstition, encouraging soldiers to use oil to draw a cross on their chest as protection from bullets. During a later interview, however, Alice Lakwena distanced herself from Kony, claiming that the Spirit does not want soldiers to kill civilians or prisoners of war.

Kony sought to align himself with Lakwena and in turn garner support from her constituents, even going so far as to claim they were cousins. Meanwhile, Kony gained a reputation as having been possessed by spirits and became a spiritual figure or a medium. He and a small group of followers first moved beyond his home village of Odek on 1 April 1987. A few days later, he met a group of former Uganda National Liberation Front soldiers from the Black Battalion whom he managed to recruit. They then launched a raid on the city of Gulu.

By August 1987, Lakwena's Holy Spirit Mobile Force scored several victories on the battlefield and began a march towards the capital Kampala. In 1988, after the Holy Spirit Movement was decisively defeated in the Jinja District and Lakwena fled to Kenya, Kony seized this opportunity to recruit the Holy Spirit remnants. The LRA occasionally carried out local attacks to underline the inability of the government to protect the population.

The fact that most National Resistance Army (NRA) government forces, in particular former members of the Federal Democratic Movement (FEDEMO), were known for their lack of discipline and brutal actions meant that the civilian population were accused of supporting the rebel LRA; likewise, the rebels accused the population of supporting the government army.

Starting in the mid-1990s, the LRA was strengthened by military support from the government of Sudan, which was retaliating against Ugandan government support for rebels in what would become South Sudan. The LRA fought with the NRA army which led to mass atrocities such as the killing or abduction of several hundred villagers in Atiak in 1995 and the kidnapping of 139 schoolgirls in Aboke in 1996. The government created the so-called "protected camps" beginning in 1996. The LRA declared a short-lived ceasefire for the duration of 1996 Ugandan presidential election, possibly in the hope that Yoweri Museveni would be defeated.

In March 2002, the NRA, under the new name of the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF), launched a massive military offensive code-named Operation Iron Fist against the LRA bases in southern Sudan, with agreement from the National Islamic Front. In retaliation, the LRA attacked the refugee camps in northern Uganda and the Eastern Equatoria in southern Sudan, brutally killing hundreds of civilians.

By 2004, according to the UPDF spokesman Shaban Bantariza, mediation efforts by the Carter Center and the Pope John Paul II had been spurned by Kony. In February 2004, the LRA unit led by Okot Odhiambo attacked Barlonyo IDP camp, killing over 300 people and abducting many others.

In 2006, UNICEF estimated that the LRA had abducted at least 25,000 children since the conflict began. In January 2006, eight Guatemalan Kaibiles commandos and at least 15 rebels were killed in a botched UN special forces raid targeting the LRA deputy leader Vincent Otti in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As of 2014, the LRA has largely collapsed. Their numbers have reportedly dwindled to just over 100 fighters, and they no longer have any presence in Uganda. Their forces are currently concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their leader, Kony, is currently in hiding, allegedly somewhere in the Central African Republic or South Sudan.

Trivia

  • is so far the only religious terrorist organization that is not Islamic