Scars of War Remain in Uganda

The full article was published in the Ottawa Citizen, March 13, 2012.

By coincidence, I was in Pader, northern Uganda, last week when the video about the murderous warlord Joseph Kony, called Kony 2012, went viral. The video has ignited controversy concerning the motives and methods of those behind the populist campaign to see him captured. If nothing else, it has drawn wide attention to one of Africa’s most prolonged and violent, and yet little-known, tragedies: a 25-year “reign of terror” inflicted by a vicious, shadowy and elusive militia known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and led by Kony.

Kony and his lieutenants are Ugandans from the country’s north, a region that has long felt neglected by the national government. But while the LRA suggested a vaguely nationalistic agenda when it began attacking the civilian population of northern Uganda in the 1980s, it soon became clear that this was neither a political nor even a rational movement. The LRA seemed all along to inflict extravagant violence for its own sake, presenting neither objectives nor demands. It targeted towns and villages at random, raping and murdering, and frustrated the Ugandan army that was sent to chase it by fading into the bush between attacks….

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