In an opinion last April, I asked Senator Bob Corker to use his political influence to help rescue abducted child soldiers in Central Africa. Since that time, legislation has been introduced to address this situation. The bill is the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (S. 1067).
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which Senator Corker is a member, will be considering this bill on Tuesday. In correspondence with the senator, he has acknowledged that it is a tragic situation, but he has yet to take a stance on the legislation.
When I look at my fellow Tennesseans, I see people who care about human rights issues. I desire that our elected officials represent us well.
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Mr. Parkhurst understates the urgency and importance of this issue.
I have spent a bit of time in Uganda, and have followed the situation he describes fairly closely.
The bill puts $10 million toward refugee relief for the victims of the Lord's Resistance Army operating in rural northern Uganda and in neighboring nations. The LRA claims to have as its goal the establishment a state, to overthrow the democratically elected government of Uganda, based on the Ten Commandments.
But in practice, the LRA is anything but Christian. It has kidnapped 30,000 or more children into its army, often forcing these children to kill their own parents so that it is clear that they have nowhere to return. Other children are stolen as sex slaves. Some 1.6 million people are refugees from their homes. No one knows with certainty how many have been butchered by the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony, but the deaths include hundreds or thousands killed on and around Christmas 2008, when the LRA burst into churches and hacked to pieces the worshippers there. (Some 85% of Ugandans are Catholic or Protestant, mostly Anglican.)
The people of Uganda are gentle, generous people who have endured the atrocities of Idi Amin and the brother butcher who followed him, Milton Obote, before insurrection brought the current democratic government to power. They deserve so much better than the continuous presence of Kony and his fellow criminals.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, and Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. This is not a partisan issue. Please urge Senator Corker to support this modest bill.