Born In: Protectorate of Uganda
Joseph Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla leader and the founder of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Born into a peasant family, Kony was once a Catholic altar boy. However, he was later drawn toward the Holy Spirit Movement of Alice Auma. Following the ouster of Acholi president Tito Okello and the rebellion of Yoweri Museveni, Kony formed the LRA to establish theocracy in Uganda. He moved out of Uganda in 2006, after the Juba peace talks. Nevertheless, the LRA terrorized the DRC, South Sudan, and CAR, by recruiting child soldiers, raping women, and torturing common people. The LRA was declared a terrorist group in the U.S. Many countries joined hands to hound out Kony, but they later declared he was not a threat anymore, thus ending the search.
Also Known As: Joseph Rao Kony
father: Luizi Obol
mother: Nora Oting
siblings: Gabriela Lakot
children: Ali Kony, Salim Saleh Kony
Born Country: Uganda
Height: 1.8 m
Joseph Rao Kony was born in either the early 1960s or in 1961, in Odek, a village toward the east of Gulu in northern Uganda.
His parents, Luizi Obol and Nora Oting, were both farmers. He belonged to the Acholi community.
He was probably the youngest or the second-youngest of the six children of his parents. His father worked as a lay catechist of the Catholic Church, while his mother was an Anglican. His older sister, Gabriela Lakot, continues to live in Odek.
Kony dropped out of school at 15. He was an altar boy till 1976. His friends remember him as an amiable boy. Kony enjoyed playing football and was a talented dancer.
After leaving primary school, Kony became a traditional healer. However, in the 1980s, he became interested in the Holy Spirit Movement led by Alice Auma.
In 1995, Joseph Kony gained prominence as a rebel leader in Acholiland, following the Holy Spirit Movement of Alice Auma. The Acholi president, Tito Okello, was overthrown during the Ugandan Bush War (1981–1986), by Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Army (NRA). The rebellion had resulted in looting of livestock, rapes, genocide, and murders by Museveni's men.
Ms Auma's movement was crushed in 1988, after which she escaped to Kenya. The torture that Museveni's NRA (now Uganda People's Defence Force) inflicted on people led to the formation of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) by Joseph Kony.
The revolts also led to the formation of concentration camps in northern Uganda, which housed over 2 million people. The government confiscated and destroyed people's properties and killed many. Many were forced to move. Soon, international campaigns called for the destruction of all such camps and the allowance for people to go back to their villages.
In 2006, during the Juba peace negotiations with the LRA rebels, Museveni's government allowed the local people to go back to their villages. This was a welcome change and led to the reconstruction of homes and roads. Soon, the LRA left Uganda. Kony and his men are now said to be operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and CAR.
Kony has often been accused of abducting children and recruiting them as child soldiers in his army. Although the LRA was formed to fight the Ugandan government’s atrocities, it ended up changing its agenda and focused on "purifying" the Acholi people and converting Uganda into a theocracy.
In October 2006, the International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, issued arrest warrants for five members of the LRA. In fact, Kony has been under an Interpol Red Notice since 2006 and was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005.
In 2008, the Ugandan army marched into the DRC in search of the LRA, in what is known as Operation Lightning Thunder.
In November 2013, Kony was taken ill in Nzoka. Back then, Michel Djotodia, the president of CAR, stated he had been negotiating with Kony for his surrender.
In 2015, reports stated that Kony's men had caused the deaths of more than 100,000 people and had abducted at least 60,000 children.
His army was accused of raping minor girls and abducting them to be used as sex slaves. The LRA once even had as many as 3,000 soldiers.
Several countries took actions against Kony and his men. Kony escaped prior to the Ugandan insurgency. He was later captured by the Ugandan government but was released in 1992.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. listed the LRA as a terrorist group. On August 28, 2008, the United States Treasury Department put Kony on its list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
In November 2008, American president George W. Bush ratified the United States Africa Command, agreeing to offer financial and other assistance to the Ugandan government for the (unsuccessful) 2008–2009 Garamba offensive, known as Operation Lightning Thunder. The U.S. did not invest any troops in the mission, but 17 American advisors provided assistance to the Ugandan military with intelligence, equipment, and fuel. The mission pushed Kony away from his jungle camp, but he could not be captured. It, however, rescued 100 children.
In May 2010, U.S. president Barack Obama made the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into a law that focused on stopping Kony and the LRA.
The bill was passed in the United States Senate on March 11 that year. On May 12, 2010, a motion by a voice vote passed the bill in the House of Representatives. In November 2010, Obama introduced a strategy document to approve more funding to tackle Kony and the LRA.
In October 2011, Obama deployed 100 American troops to central Africa. Their aim was to assist regional forces to remove Kony and senior LRA leaders.
In March 2012, the African Union declared that it would send 5,000 of its troops to join the search for Kony. The Union also stated that it wished to "neutralize" Kony and isolate the LRA. This international task force was supposed to include forces from Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Congo.
On April 3, 2013, the Obama administration announced rewards amounting to $5 million for any information that could lead to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of Kony, Odhiambo, and Ongwen.
On March 24, 2014, the U.S. declared the deployment of at least four CV-22 Ospreys and 150 Air Force personnel to help in the effort to capture Kony.
Ongwen surrendered to the authorities of CAR in January 2015. By 2017, the LRA’s membership had reduced to about 100. In April 2017, both the American and the Ugandan governments ended their search for Kony and their battle against the LRA, stating that the group was no longer a risk to Uganda.
Kony is currently said to be in CAR, and his men often engage in poaching and illegal mining. Peace talks with CAR were unsuccessful back in 2008, as Kony wanted an assurance that he and his men would not be prosecuted.
Joseph Kony states he is a spirit medium, and even his followers believe he is possessed by spirits. Kony often tells his child army that a cross drawn in oil on their chests will protect them from bullets.
He supports polygamy. Many believe he has had 60 wives. He is also said to have fathered 42 children.
Kony believes the LRA is fighting and working for the Ten Commandments and justifies his crimes by citing the Bible. He says killing people is not a crime, as “God did the same with Noah's flood and Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Kony believes he is the spokesperson of God. He claims he wishes to establish a theocratic state with his concoction of mysticism, nationalism, and Christian fundamentalism.
In March 2012, Joseph Kony came under the media spotlight after a 30-minute documentary named Kony 2012, made by filmmaker Jason Russell, was released.
The documentary, made for the US advocacy group Invisible Children, Inc., became viral on the internet, with the hashtag #Kony2012.
Kony 2012 was criticized for simplifying the LRA’s intent and ignoring the fact that that Kony had already been chased out of Uganda 6 years before the film was made.
A few weeks after the release of Kony 2012, a resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate condemned Kony and supported the U.S. efforts in fighting the LRA.
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