Blog Posts for 2011
Today, I’m in South Sudan on the first leg of a four-month mission. If all goes as planned, in the coming months I will be traveling hundreds of miles across central Africa to focus on a single question: What is needed most from our country — and from us — to see the LRA crisis finally ended?
We’ve had legislation. We’ve had appearances in the Oval Office. We’ve had demonstrations with tens of thousands of people. Each of these developments has been critical to making sure the communities being targeted by the LRA — who live in remote corners of Africa — start to get the attention they deserve.
But we don’t plan to stop until we finish what we set out to do: see this violence end. What it will take to do that is a question not just for me to answer — it’s for each of us. So as I dig into it over the next four months of research, I want to hear from you. I’ll be tweeting, blogging, and posting videos to share my observations and explore questions you submit as I go. (more…)
In a major victory for Resolve’s S2F campaign, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act today — essentially the budget for the U.S. defense community — and included an unprecedented provision aimed at helping stop LRA atrocities. According to a release on the Committee website, the amendment — put forward by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and championed by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chair of the Committee — authorizes $35 million to provide support to regional forces working to protect people from LRA atrocities. (more…)
Yesterday, Washingtonians ushered in the month of June with a smoldering 98-degrees — not the late-nineties boy band, I’m sad to say. I’m talking Fahrenheit, people!
But not even abnormal, ice-cap-melting heat could stop our tenacious interns, Liz and Jenny, from making sure that your voices are being heard — and your letters are being read — by your elected officials.
Over the last few months, hundreds of you have written your members of Congress to let them know why ending LRA violence is so important to you and to ask that they take needed action to see this injustice finally ended. Right now, that specifically means we need Congress to ensure the President’s strategy to end LRA violence gets adequate funding in the FY2012 budget.
As the Resolve office has received your letters, Jenny and Liz have been women on a mission, hand-delivering them to the DC offices your members of Congress.
Our deepest thanks to all of you who took the time to put down on paper why this injustice — and seeing it finally ended — is so important to you. Some of you wrote letters and postcards as part of Resolve’s Start Something to Finish It campaign. Others of you met Koji and Brian on the Resolve Tour and wrote a letter during one of their community round-tables. Hundreds of others wrote letters in contemplative silence as part of Invisible Children’s 25 event.
Regardless of where or why you wrote your letter, in doing so, you chose to be an advocate. With each letter that you write or phone call you make or lobby meetings you join, you help marginalized families and children being targeted by LRA violence have access to the halls of power in Washington. You align your voice with theirs and bring a shared message of peace and justice to the front doors of your elected officials.
And while Oval Office ceremonies or Oklahoma Holdouts might get more attention, your humble, persistent acts of resistance to apathy are what’s really needed to see this injustice finally ended. So keep those letters coming!
Even though the LRA continues to prey on communities in central Africa, this summer will mark the five-year anniversary of the last LRA attack in Uganda. During these five years communities in northern Uganda affected by the conflict have made enormous strides, with millions of displaced people returning home and local economies slowly regrowing.
But the end of LRA violence in Uganda alone cannot – and has not – put Uganda on the path to lasting peace. Uganda’s future depends on whether democracy takes root, human rights are respected, divisions caused by the conflict can be healed and economic growth can benefit all citizens. Unfortunately, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party have often undermined efforts to see progress on these fronts in the past five years. The Ugandan government’s recent brutal crackdown on peaceful “walk-to-work” demonstrations has highlighted just how dangerous this governance crisis is to Uganda’s citizens and its stability.
Today Resolve joined with 12 Ugandan and international advocacy groups in signing a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to make progress towards a peaceful, free and economically secure future for all Ugandans a higher priority for the US. Though Secretary Clinton and President Obama have been vocal about some human rights issues in Uganda (most notably their opposition to the Anti Homosexuality bill), the US hasn’t been effective in using its diplomatic leverage with the Uganda government to see concrete progress. Part of this has to do with US concerns about jeopardizing its close collaboration with Museveni on regional security and counter-terror issues.
Balancing human rights and regional security in our relationship with the Ugandan government isn’t easy, but ultimately they’re intertwined. Failure to address the governance crisis in Uganda could result in further instability and conflict in a country that is already bordering some of the most volatile countries in the world.
We hope that Secretary Clinton will hear our message and help ensure that Uganda’s window of opportunity to move towards stability and lasting peace doesn’t slam shut.
p.s. Read the full letter and who signed it here.
We continue to be inspired and encouraged by the work of our friends at The Voice Project (TVP). They have some remarkable projects going on that utilize the power of music and story to bring needed attention to LRA violence and to help bring families in central Africa back together that have been torn apart by this conflict.
In just a few days, the Voice Project team is headed to central Africa and we’re really excited about what they have planned. Check out the message below from Hunter Heaney, Founder of The Voice Project and an all around stand-up guy. Then, visit their website and show them some love by spreading the word to your friends and family.
Back in February we released the first in what will be series of “report cards” grading President Obama’s progress on implementing the LRA strategy he released last November. It may seem strange to hand out grades to the most powerful man in the world, but the premise is actually pretty simple: citizens (that’s us) have a responsibility to hold elected officials (that’s him) accountable to the promises they make (that’s the President’s LRA strategy).
One year ago today, our team stood in the Oval Office as President Obama put pen to paper, signing into law a bill that committed his Administration to step up their leadership for an end to the LRA’s brutal atrocities and abductions. It was a moment of unparalleled optimism for us, made deeply satisfying by the countless hours of determined lobbying, writing, and braving-the-cold-in-Oklahoma-ing from thousands of committed advocates that made it possible. (more…)
We joined forces with 38 other civil society organizations today to urge President Obama to be more aggressive in implementing his strategy to protect civilians in central Africa affected by LRA violence.
The full statement is below, but here’s the skinny: One year after President Obama signed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act — championed by tens of thousands of Americans — into law, continuing LRA violence is far outmatching the US efforts to stop it. Or, in the words of Fr. Benoit Kinalegu, a priest who’s documented LRA atrocities in northern Congo for several years: (more…)
Last week, 32 Representatives and 20 Senators sent letters to Congressional leaders echoing our calls for dedicated funds in this year’s budget to help end LRA violence. This occasion marked an end of an intense flurry of effort over the past two months as part of our S2F campaign. (more…)
Last week I received an email from a colleague in South Sudan about an LRA attack on a funeral procession in the small village of Kpangu, telling me that five people – including a young girl– had been abducted. Unfortunately, such reports have been all too common recently—the LRA has committed more than 100 attacks so far this year.
Rising levels of LRA violence in central Africa makes the implementation of President Obama’s LRA strategy all the more urgent, and last week a remarkable 20 Senators and 32 Representatives — responding to thousands of people who wrote letters, signed our petition, and joined lobby meetings as part of our S2F campaign — joined in a bipartisan effort to make sure that happens. These 52 Members of Congress signed Senate and House letters urging their colleagues who hold Congress’ pursestrings to make sure that adequate funds are included in the 2012 budget to effectively implement the strategy. (more…)