British Jewish students have staged a protest march in Jerusalem against the shocking rate of child abductions in Uganda. The rally was organised by ‘Gulu Walk’ campaign, an organisation raising awareness for the plight of children in Uganda.
Over 100 walks were held worldwide this weekend, in honour of the 30,000 children abducted over the past twenty years in Uganda, a shocking statistic provided by a United Nations report. The report also stated that after their abduction, children were normally forced into child soldiers, forming what is known as The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an army of children who go from village to village terrorising families and destroying huts and crops. Another fate for abductees is to be sold into the sex slave trade.
The British students, all aged 18-19 belong to RSY-Netzer Reform Judaism youth movement. They are spending a year in Israel learning about Judaism, Zionism and youth leadership. Although most of the other 100 marches were taking place on Saturday, the Jewish group chose to hold theirs on Sunday, so as not to violate the Shabbat.
One student, Deborah Blausten, 18, stressed the importance of the march in relation to Jewish principles. “Judaism says you mustn’t stand idly by while your neighbour’s blood is being shed. Even more so now, when we live in a global village-it makes their plight even harder to ignore. We have no excuse for not knowing,” she said.
Missing children in Uganda do not receive the same amount of support from the government or police as in Europe or the USA. In the areas of Acholi and Lango, nearly every family has lost a child as their village was attacked. In Britain, if a child is reported missing, it has potential to become a national, if not an international campaign to reunite them with their family. Obviously the Madeline McCann case springs to mind. But for the average villager in Uganda, where almot half the population live in poverty, it is commonplace for oung children to be snatched in daily raids by the LRA. Citizens distrust the government, who remain powerless to stop the unwavering forced of destruction cultivated by Uganda’s warlords.
The ringleader of these atrocities is Jospeh Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, responsible for the staggering rate of violent deaths and dissapearances in Uganda. He leads an army of child slaves, brainwashed into believing they are invincible, that their sticks and stones are magical weapons, and that killing is the only way to survive.Children as young as eight are ‘recruited’; their initiation ritual involves killing a family, sometimes their own. Then begins a life of terrorising innocent villages, rape, torture and muder, all based on a twisted version of the ten commandments which somehow, in Kony’s mind, permit these barbarious crimes.
Joseph Kony, originally from Acholi, Uganda, supposedly bases his theories behind his brutal campaign on the Ten Commandments. His reasoning is inexplicable however, as his tactic usually rely on the use of children as soldiers to carry out his horrific regime. The outcome of 20 years of guerilla warfare has resulted not only the disappearances of over 30, 000 children, but also the attacking of villages in Uganda, resulting in the deaths and displacements of countless thousands of innocent people, forcing them to flee to major cities which are now becoming overcrowded.