Friday, June 30, 2006

The Night Commuters

Okay … It would appear that I did not win yesterday’s NY Lotto Jackpot, so my global manhunt for Joseph Kony will have to wait … for the time being. This immaterial fact should not keep you all from trying to make a difference for the children of Uganda.

Uganda is a place that certainly deserves a moment or two of your attention. We marvel at the Seven Year War of 1756, or the half dozen years of WWII, or even the eleven years that Iraq was at war with Iraq. However there has been a war waged in northern Uganda for almost twenty years now. Most importantly, the victims of this war are mainly innocent women and children.

This 20-year battle has been primarily between two men and their followers. One of them is the current president of Uganda. His name is Yoweri Museveni (Pictured below). Museveni came to power in January of 1986. He has been praised by some, including the United States, as a new generation of African leaders. He has been credited with one of the most effective national responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Others have accused him of heavy-handed and brutal tactics.

Since 1986, Museveni’s army has been known to have committed some of the worst atrocities on the ethnic Acholi people who occupy the regions of Gulu, Kitgum and Padre. The UPDF, also formerly known as the National Resistance Army (NRA) became infamous for burning civilians alive in huts, killings, and the rapes of both women and men in what the Acholi called tek gungu. Tek Gungu referred to rape of men and women by Museveni’s soldiers who would force a man or woman to kneel down (gungu) before the rape is committed against the male or female victim. Human Rights Watch has documented these rape incidents, and yet they remain ignored by most mainstream media sources. Museveni, despite his army’s atrocities remains a Western “darling.”

On the other side of this struggle is Joseph Kony (Pictured below). Kony is a polygamist, and the primary leader of a guerrilla paramilitary group, and possibly religious movement, called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
The LRA is engaged in a violent campaign to establish a theocratic government in Uganda reportedly based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments. He firmly believes that he has been sent by God, and makes the claim that he often talks to him. In that sense, he is a lot like George Bush.

Just like George Bush, he is having a little trouble getting people to voluntarily join his army. Therefore he has resorted to abducting children from villages throughout northern Uganda. Those who refuse to join his army, are raped, killed or mutilated. Some end up looking a lot like the little boy pictured below.

Since 1986, over 30,000 boys and girls have been abducted in Northern Uganda and forced to become soldiers, laborers and sex slaves. Some children are forced to kill and mutilate other Ugandans to prove their loyalty to the LRA. Arms are hacked off with machetes. Ears and lips are crudely removed, and some people are even burned alive. Here is one account of an LRA abduction from Uganda Watch.

To avoid this fate, every night the children of Uganda make a bare foot commute from the villages that they call home to the relative safety of the larger cities or the few established commuter centers. These children are called ”The Night Commuters” of Uganda.

THIS LINK is to one film produced by Human Rights Watch. It will give you a good idea of what these children deal with each and every night.

One place you can go to help is Invisible Children. One film they offer at their web site is located Here

This type of genocide occurs in many of the African countries, and has been for a very long time now. When we went into Iraq, we all listened to Bush list the horrible things that Saddam was doing to his people. Perhaps we should ask ourselves this important question. Why do we do nothing for these African people? Is it the color of their skin? Does no one in his administration brief Bush about these horrors occurring in Central Africa? Or is it because they don’t occur on a sea of oil?


Blogger 357martini said...

Here here excellllllent blog. All the power to you.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Urban Vegan said...

Hear, hear. Thank you for raising awareness of this important--and devastatingly sad--issue.

Keep up the great blog!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

jesus h.

that's disturbing and helpless...what a world we live in, eh? and hawkins wants us to popluate the moon so we can spread our misery?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Shroom-Monkey said...

That was really great. I am often greatful that I am so lucky, and that I don't live in constant fear or terror. It seems insane to me that nothing is being done to stop that travesty.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Melody said...

Those poor children...

I sat my kids and their friends down and had them watch Invisible Children.. they were pretty shocked. Hell, I am shocked and feel so helpless. I show this film to anyone who is willing to watch it when they come to my home.

Thank you for raising awareness.
I'm going to look back through your blog.. I have a feeling we share many of the same political views... god, I hope we can get these War Criminals out of our government.

7:26 PM  
Blogger The Lone Beader said...

Powerful writing, Peter....And, you are exactly right. Read this post by Nairobi Paul entitled "Africa is Largely Ignored":

(Copy & Paste into your browser)

7:48 PM  
Blogger KleoPatra said...

Peter, what can i say? Your compassion and insight are wonderful. The photos are hard to look at but are important.

1:27 AM  
Blogger the fourth person said...

Answer: it's the sea of oil thing.

6:01 PM  
Blogger LaineyWorld said...

All excellent questions you pose, Peter. You continue to amaze me with the scope of your political and humanitarian knowledge and interest. And though I'm not a religious person, the thought keeps running through my head...Jesus saying, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." Why do we allow the suffering of any child?

11:35 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

I love the picture of the little boy asleep on the shoulder of his big brother. I guess the two of them night commute together.

I am amazed that that there are people out there, in this country or others, who can be so incredibly violent with little children.

5:34 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

God..two posts in a row that bring me literally to tears.

I think I love you Peter, where have you been all my life? You address issues I do not see on any other blog. They all make me think,cry and thats a good thing for the most part. Your a very powerful writer.

As for this post..its the lack of oil or any other resource that we can get our greedy little hands on..the color of their skin probably doesn't help either.

10:32 PM  
Blogger DJEB said...

An excellent post, Peter. _H_ will be linking it shortly.

4:22 PM  

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