By Julie Mollins
LONDON (AlertNet) - A short documentary about the alleged atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) shifts the spotlight from Uganda, where the notorious rebel group originated in 2005, onto the plight of women living in remote regions of Central African Republic (CAR).
In “Our Plea: Women and Girls from the Central African Republic Turn to the ICC for Justice”, two young women say they were captured, raped and tortured in the CAR jungle by members of the group led by Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic leader who at one time wanted to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments.
The 10-minute YouTube video features Nanzouno-Dadine Lea and Joelle Mazungi asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to expand its current investigations into the activities of the rebels in Uganda to include LRA activities in CAR.
In the video, the two women also ask for financial, medical and psychological help.
“When we refused to satisfy their sexual requests, they beat us,” Lea says in the film, which was presented this week to the office of the prosecutor at the ICC by human-rights groups WITNESS and Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice.
“When I think about my future, it looks grim because of the men who destroyed my life.”
Mazungi is pictured holding a baby in the video.
"I got pregnant," Mazungi says in the film. "I came back bearing this child."
The court has already issued arrest warrants for Kony and his top commanders for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Kony is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves and is said to have a fondness for hacking off limbs.
Kony fled Uganda in 2005 for South Sudan and Congo. In December 2008, Uganda launched Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA, dispersing the rebels and pushing them north into CAR.
An estimated 300 people have been killed and more 870 abducted in attacks carried out in CAR by the rebels between February 2008 and March 2011, according to Brigid Inder, executive director of Women’s Initiatives.
“The LRA is now most active in the CAR and parts of northeastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo),” Inder told AlertNet. “Very few people know the LRA is active there, have no idea of the impact on the community, the sorts of violations and gender-based crimes being committed.”
The group has been working in CAR since 2005, and has been calling for an extension of the ICC investigations into the LRA's alleged crimes since 2009, she said.
“We feel that the video draws attention to both the LRA activities in CAR, but also the gendered dimensions of the violence by the LRA,” Inder added.
“We think it’s been a very invisible aspect of some of the more popular information available around the Lord’s Resistance Army.”
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