|Head of the Lord's Resistance Army|
August 1987 –present
|Preceded by||Position created|
|Born||Likely 1961 (age 59–60) |
Odek, Uganda Protectorate
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Children||42 (as of 2006)|
|Allegiance||Lord's Resistance Army (1987–present)|
|Years of service||1987–present|
|Rank||Head of the Lord's Resistance Army|
|Battles/wars||Lord's Resistance Army insurgency|
Joseph Rao Kony (pronounced [koɲ] ; likely born 1961) is a Ugandan insurgent and the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that formerly operated in Uganda. While initially purporting to fight against government oppression, the LRA allegedly turned against Kony's own supporters, supposedly to "purify" the Acholi people and turn Uganda into a theocracy. Kony proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium and claims he is visited by a multinational host of 13 spirits, including a Chinese phantom. Ideologically, the group is a syncretic mix of mysticism, Acholi nationalism, and heterodox Christian fundamentalism, and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and local Acholi tradition.
Kony has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers and sex slaves.66,000 children became soldiers, and 2 million people were displaced internally from 1986 to 2009. Kony was indicted in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, but he has evaded capture. Kony has been subject to an Interpol Red Notice at the request of the ICC since 2006. Since the Juba peace talks in 2006, the LRA no longer operates in Uganda. Sources claim that they are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), or South Sudan. In 2013, Kony was reported to be in poor health, and Michel Djotodia, president of the CAR, claimed he was negotiating with Kony to surrender.
By April 2017, Kony was still at large, but his force was reported to have shrunk to approximately 100 soldiers, down from an estimated high of 3,000. Both the United States and Uganda ended the hunt for Kony and the LRA, believing that the LRA was no longer a significant security risk to Uganda.
Kony was likely born in 1961,in Odek, a village east of Gulu in northern Uganda, to farmers Luizi Obol and Nora Oting. He is a member of the Acholi people. He was either the youngest or second youngest of six children in the family. Kony enjoyed a good relationship with his siblings, but was quick to retaliate in a dispute and when confronted would often resort to physical violence. His father was a lay catechist of the Catholic Church, and his mother was an Anglican. His older sister, Gabriela Lakot, still lives in Odek.
Kony never finished elementary schooland was an altar boy until 1976. He dropped out of school at the age of 15.
In 1995, Kony rose to prominence in Acholiland after the Holy Spirit Movement of Alice Auma (also known as Lakwena and to whom Kony is believed to be related).The overthrow of Acholi President Tito Okello by Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) during the Ugandan Bush War (1981–1986) had culminated in mass looting of livestock, rape, burning of homes, genocide, and murder by Museveni's army. The atrocities committed by the Museveni's NRA, now known as the Uganda People's Defence Force, led to the creation of LRA by Joseph Kony. The insurgencies also gave rise to concentration camps in northern Uganda where over 2 million people were confined. The government burned people's properties using helicopter gunships, killing many. There were forced displacements in the northern region. However, international campaigns called for all camps to be dismantled, and for the people to return to their former villages. In 2006, in the course of the Juba peace talks with the LRA rebels, Museveni's government gave permission for the local people to return to their villages. This marked the beginning of the rehabilitation of homes, roads, and so on.
Kony has been implicated in abduction and recruitment of child soldiers. The LRA have had battle confrontations with the government's NRA or UPDF within Uganda and in South Sudan for ten years. However, in 2008 the Ugandan army invaded the DRC in search for the LRA in Operation Lightning Thunder.In November 2013, Kony was reported to be in poor health in the eastern CAR town of Nzoka. Looking back at the LRA's campaign of violence, The Guardian stated in 2015 that Kony's forces had been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 and the abduction of at least 60,000 children. Various atrocities committed include raping young girls and abducting them for use as sex slaves. The actual number of LRA militia members has varied significantly over the years, reaching as high as 3000 soldiers. By 2017, the organization's membership had shrunk significantly to an estimated 100 soldiers. In April 2017, both the US and Ugandan governments ended efforts to find Kony and fight the LRA, stating that the LRA no longer posed a significant security risk to Uganda.
In October 2006, the ICC announced that arrest warrants had been issued for five members of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity following a sealed indictment. On the next day, Ugandan defense minister Amama Mbabazi revealed that the warrants include Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, and LRA commanders Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen. According to spokesmen for the military, the Ugandan army killed Lukwiya on 12 August 2006.The BBC received information that Otti had been killed on 2 October 2007, at Kony's home. In November 2006, Kony met Jan Egeland, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Journeyman Pictures released a 2006 interview with Kony in which he proclaims: "I am a freedom fighter, not a terrorist." He told Reuters: "We don't have any children. We only have combatants."
Kony's followers, as well as some detractors, believe him to have been possessed by spirits. Kony tells his child soldiers that a cross on their chest drawn in oil will protect them from bullets. : page 136 Kony insists that he and the LRA are fighting for the Ten Commandments, and defended his actions in an interview, saying, "Is it bad? It is not against human rights. And that commandment was not given by Joseph. It was not given by LRA. No, those commandments were given by God."He is a proponent of polygamy, and is thought to have had 60 wives, and to have fathered 42 children.
Ugandan political leader Betty Bigombe recalled that Kony and his followers used oil to ward off bullets and evil spirits.Kony believes himself to be a spirit medium. In 2008, responding to a request by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to engage in peace talks via telephone, he said, "I will communicate with Museveni through the holy spirits and not through the telephone." During peace talks in 1994, Kony was preceded by men in robes sprinkling holy water. According to Francis Ongom, a former LRA officer who defected, Kony "has found Bible justifications for killing witches, for killing [those who farm or eat] pigs because of the story of the Gadarene swine, and for killing [other] people because God did the same with Noah's flood and Sodom and Gomorrah."
Before the insurgency, he escaped in 1989 to Uganda. However, he was later captured by the Ugandan government. He was released in 1992 after the government no longer viewed him as a threat.
The Ugandan military has attempted to kill Kony throughout the insurgency. In Uganda's attempt to track down Kony, former LRA combatants have been enlisted to search remote areas of the CAR, Sudan, and the DRC where he was last seen.
After the September 11 attacks, the United States designated the LRA as a terrorist group.In August 2008, the US Department of State declared Joseph Kony a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224, a designation that carries financial and other penalties. In November 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the directive to the United States Africa Command to provide financial and logistical assistance to the Ugandan government during the unsuccessful 2008–2009 Garamba offensive, code-named Operation Lightning Thunder. No U.S. troops were directly involved, but 17 U.S. advisers and analysts provided intelligence, equipment, and fuel to Ugandan military counterparts. The offensive pushed Kony from his jungle camp, but he was not captured. One hundred children were rescued. In May 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, legislation aimed at stopping Kony and the LRA. The bill passed unanimously in the United States Senate on 11 March. On 12 May 2010, a motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill was agreed to by voice vote (two-thirds being in the affirmative) in the House of Representatives. In November 2010, President Obama delivered a strategy document to Congress asking for more funding to disarm Kony and the LRA.
In October 2011, President Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to central Africa.Their goal is to help regional forces remove Kony and senior LRA leaders from the battlefield. In a letter to Congress, Obama stated: "Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense". On 3 April 2013, the Obama administration offered rewards of up to US$5 million for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of Kony, Ongwen, and Odhiambo. On 24 March 2014, the U.S. announced they would deploy at least four CV-22 Ospreys and refuelling planes, and 150 Air Force special forces personnel to assist in the capture of Kony.
On 23 March 2012, the African Union announced its intentions to "send 5,000 soldiers to join the hunt for rebel leader Joseph Kony" and to "neutralize" him while isolating the scattered LRA groups responsible for 2,600 civilian killings since 2008. This international task force was stated to include soldiers "from Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo, countries where Kony's reign of terror has been felt over the years." Prior to this announcement, the hunt for Kony had primarily been carried out by troops from Uganda. The soldiers began their search in South Sudan on 24 March 2012, and the search "will last until Kony is caught".
Joseph Kony and the LRA received a surge of attention in early March 2012, when a 30-minute documentary titled Kony 2012 by US filmmaker Jason Russell for the campaign group Invisible Children, Inc. was released.The intention of the production was to draw attention to Kony in an effort to increase US involvement in the issue and have Kony arrested by the end of 2012. A poll suggested that more than half of young adult Americans heard about Kony 2012 in the days following the video's release, and several weeks after the release of the video, a resolution condemning Kony and supporting US assistance fighting the LRA was introduced in the US Senate, passing several months later. Kony 2012 has been criticized for simplifying the history of the LRA conflict, and for failing to note that Kony was already pushed out of Uganda six years before the film was made.
Dominic Ongwen served as a key member of the LRA and constituted one of Kony's senior aides in the organization. Himself kidnapped as a child, he became a soldier in the LRA, then rose through the organization's hierarchy. Ongwen surrendered himself to representatives of the CAR in January 2015, which was a major blow to Kony's group. Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda stated that the event "puts the LRA in the most vulnerable position" and that it "is only Kony left standing". Of the five LRA commanders charged by the ICC in 2004, only Kony remained at large at that time. With only a few hundred fighters remaining loyal to him, it was thought (mistakenly, it turns out) that he would be unable to evade capture for much longer.In February 2021, Ongwen was convicted by the International Criminal Court of 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In April 2017, Ugandan and US military forces ended their hunt for Kony and his group, with a Ugandan spokesperson stating that "the LRA no longer poses a threat to us as Uganda".At that time, his force was estimated to have shrunk to around 100 soldiers.
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgent group since 1987. Currently, there is low-level LRA activity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic. The movement is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the "spokesperson" of God and a spirit medium. It aims to overthrow Yoweri Museveni's Ugandan government and establish a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and Acholi tradition.
The history of Uganda since 11 April 1979 comprises the history of Uganda since the end of the dictatorship of Idi Amin. This period has seen the second rule of Milton Obote and the presidency of Yoweri Museveni since 1986, in which Ugandan politics have been dominated by the National Resistance Movement.
The Uganda People's Democratic Army (UPDA) was a rebel group operating in northern Uganda from March 1986 to June 1988.
The Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) is a spiritual/religious movement and Ugandan rebel group centered around founder Alice Lakwena (Aume) and the spirits that possessed her. Alice, an ethnic Acholi, was purportedly directed to form the HSM by Lakwena, one of her spirits, in August 1986. The movement grew to adopt a military wing and waged a major but short-lived rebellion as part of the war in Uganda (1986–1994). It inspired Joseph Kony to begin his rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Betty Oyella Bigombe, also known as Betty Atuku Bigombe, served as the Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence at the World Bank from 2014 to 2017. She was appointed to that position in June 2014. From May 2011 until June 2014, she was the State Minister for Water Resources in the Uganda Cabinet. She was appointed to that position on 27 May 2011. During the same timeframe, she concurrently served as the elected Member of Parliament (MP), representing Amuru District Women's Constituency. She resigned both those positions on 1 June 2014.
The period from 1986 to 1994 of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is the early history of the ongoing insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group in Uganda, which has been described as one of the most under-reported humanitarian crises in the world. The Lord's Resistance Army was formed in early 1987 out of the conflict following the successful rebellion of the National Resistance Army (NRA), though remained a relative small group through the counterinsurgency of the NRA. As the peace talks initiated by Minister Betty Bigombe failed Sudanese support to the LRA intensified the conflict.
The start of the period 1994 to 2002 of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency in northern Uganda saw the conflict intensifying due to Sudanese support to the rebels. There was a peak of bloodshed in the mid-1990s and then a gradual subsiding of the conflict. Violence was renewed beginning with the offensive by the Uganda People's Defence Force in 2002.
The period from 2000 to 2006 of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency in northern Uganda begins with the assault of the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) upon LRA strongholds in South Sudan. This in turn led to a series of retaliatory attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army of an intensity not seen to since the mid-1990s. International awareness of the conflict gradually grew and in September 2005, the International Criminal Court issues warrants for the arrest of senior LRA commanders, including Joseph Kony.
Justine Odong Latek was a Ugandan brigadier who served in the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) during the Ugandan Bush War and later led the Uganda People's Democratic Army (UPDA) during the 1986–1994 war in Uganda.
Okot Odhiambo was a senior leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group which operates from Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Odhiambo was one of five people for whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first ever arrest warrants in 2005, for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2009, he announced his intention to defect from the LRA and return to Uganda if the government would agree not to surrender him to the ICC.
Dominic Ongwen is a Ugandan former child soldier and former commander of one of the brigades of the Ugandan guerilla group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
The Juba talks were a series of negotiations between the government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group over the terms of a ceasefire and possible peace agreement. The talks, held in Juba, the capital of autonomous Southern Sudan, began in July 2006 and were mediated by Riek Machar, the Vice President of Southern Sudan. The talks, which had resulted in a ceasefire by September 2006, were described as the best chance ever for a negotiated settlement to the 20-year-old war. However, LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the peace agreement in April 2008. Two months later, the LRA carried out an attack on a Southern Sudanese town, prompting the Government of Southern Sudan to officially withdraw from their mediation role.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), also known as the Lord's Resistance Movement, is a rebel group and heterodox Christian group which operates in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Originally known as the United Holy Salvation Army and Uganda Christian Army/Movement, its stated goals include establishment of multi-party democracy, ruling Uganda according to the Ten Commandments, and Acholi nationalism.
The 2008–2009 Garamba offensive started on 14 December 2008, when joint Ugandan, DR Congolese and Southern Sudanese forces launched a botched military attack against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Garamba region of DR Congo.
Invisible Children, Inc. is an organization that was founded in 2004 to increase awareness of the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa, and its leader, Joseph Kony. Specifically, the group seeks to put an end to the practices of the LRA, which include abductions and abuse of children, and forcing them to serve as soldiers. To this end, Invisible Children urges the United States government to take military action in the central region of Africa. Invisible Children also operates as a charitable organization, soliciting donations and selling merchandise to raise money for its cause. The organization promotes its cause by dispensing films on the internet and presenting in high schools and colleges around the United States.
The International Criminal Court investigation in Uganda or the situation in Uganda is an ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency which has been taking place in northern Uganda and neighbouring regions since 1987. The Lord's Resistance Army is a Christian-based group led by Joseph Kony that is accused of numerous human rights violations including massacres, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers, sexual enslavement, torture, and pillaging. After the government of Uganda referred the matter to the ICC in December 2003, warrants of arrest were issued in 2005 for Joseph Kony, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen, and Vincent Otti, who became the first people to be indicted by the Court. The proceedings against Lukwiya ended in July 2007 following his death on 12 August 2006.
Kony 2012 is a 2012 American short documentary film produced by Invisible Children, Inc.. The film's purpose was to make Ugandan cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony globally known in order to have him arrested by the end of 2012, when the campaign expired. The film was released on March 5, 2012, and spread virally, and the campaign was initially supported by various celebrities.
StGiNU is an advocacy group formed in the beginning of 2005 by Ugandans living in the United Kingdom. At that time, the situation in the concentration camps in Northern Uganda was claiming lives more than cross fire casualties. In the same year 2005, the Ugandan World Health Organization reported that there were 5000 excess deaths per week due to camp conditions alone. Jan Egeland UN's Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs stated that the Northern Uganda situation was worse than Iraq. Another UN representative Olara Otunnu said the situation in Northern Uganda was a secret genocide.
The African Union-led Regional Task Force is a multi-national military force in central Africa, authorised by the African Union's Peace and Security Council and approved by the United Nations Security Council, as part of a Regional Co-operation Initiative for the elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army.
The Acholi people are a Luo nation found in Magwi County in South Sudan and Northern Uganda, including the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, Pader and Omoro District. Approximately 1.47 million Acholi were counted in the Uganda census of 2014, and 45,000 more were living in South Sudan in 2000.
• "Interview with Vincent Otti, LRA second in command" Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine and "A leadership based on claims of divine revelations" Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine in IRIN In Depth, June 2007
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