Barbara Boxer and the militarization of Africa

Why did California Sen. Barbara Boxer co-sponsor a bill that strengthens Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s dictatorial, anti-gay, genocidal hand?

by Ann Garrison

California Sen. Barbara Boxer co-sponsored Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold’s LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, even though it strengthens the hand of dictatorial, anti-gay, genocidal Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose human rights record includes not only war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in his own country, Uganda, and in neighboring Congo, but also the criminalization of homosexuality, with a penalty of 14 years to life.

Museveni’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo was one of the most vocal champions of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act, a.k.a. Hang-the-Gays Bill. On June 3, the Ugandan website The New Vision published a report titled “Museveni warns against sodomy,” quoting President Museveni: “The African Church is the only one that is still standing against homosexuality. The Europeans are finished. If we follow them, we shall end up in Sodom and Gomorrha.”

One of the LRA Disarmament Act’s goals is ending the use of child soldiers, but Museveni’s own army has been criticized for having a recruitment age of 13, and Museveni himself bragged about his child soldiers and introduced them in a news video still readily available on YouTube.

The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act passed the Senate on March 10 this year, the Senate two months later on May 12, and Barack Obama signed it into law, Public Law No. 111-172, on May 24. Three months after that, on Aug. 26, a leaked United Nations High Commission on Human Rights Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 1993-2003, documented Yoweri Museveni and his army’s collaboration in the genocidal massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Army in neighboring D.R. Congo, as did the letter produced by International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda defense lawyer Christopher Black, recently published for the first time by Monthly Review Zine, then by Global Research and the SF Bay View. That letter included this passage:

“Rest assured that our plan to continue shall be pursued as we agreed at our last meeting in Kampala. Last week I communicated with our big brother Yoweri Museveni and decided to make some modifications to the plan. Indeed, as you have noted, the taking of Kigali quickly provoked a panic among the Hutus who fled to Goma and Bukavu. We have found that the presence of a large number of Rwandan refugees at Goma and the international community can cause our plan for Zaire to fail. We cannot occupy ourselves with Zaire until after the return of these Hutus.”

The UNHCHR report documents the Rwandan Patriotic Front Army’s massacres of these Hutus upon their return and their massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus in Congo, with the help of Museveni’s army, the Ugandan People’s Defense Force.

Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi has reported that Museveni was the first dictator in the Great Lakes Region to be guilty of using targeted rape, including male on male rape, to spread HIV to decimate the indigenous Acholi region of Northern Uganda.

The bill, strangely, has no dollar figure attached to it – yet – so it could easily become an open tab for the further militarizing Uganda and further strengthening Museveni’s hand, or it could actually fund recovery in the indigenous Acholi region of Northern Uganda, where Acholi organizations have begged President Obama not to fund any more military action because, they say, that would only exacerbate and further widen the conflict to surrounding regions, as it already has in neighboring Congo.

Or, it could be a bill written and passed into law but never funded.

Unlike many other senators who co-sponsored the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, Barbara Boxer has not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss it with her constituents. To contact her San Francisco office, call (415) 403-0100; LA office, (213) 894-5000; D.C. office, (202) 224-3553.

The other 64 co-sponsors are listed on the left side of the page at this link.

What follows are Black Star contributor and Uganda/Acholi advocate Michael Kirkpatrick’s experience with the bill thus far, including his account of thwarted attempts to be included in a meeting with one of his senators, John Cornryn, R-Texas, who was, like Barbara Boxer, a co-sponsor. 

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com.

Toxic mix: Agenda driven ‘philanthropy,’ secrecy, U.S. policy and African tyranny

by Michael Kirkpatrick

In May 2010, the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was passed by Congress and President Obama promised to enact this country’s first-ever legalized pursuit of a foreign rebel army, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and capture its leader, Joseph Kony.

The bill also states that it will help rebuild the northern part of Uganda. The region was devastated by a 20 year war that mostly affected innocent civilians and children. Fortunately there has been an absence of rebel activity by the LRA for over five years and peace and stability has returned to the region. Joseph Kony and his pathetic group of rebel forces have been expelled from Uganda and now roam throughout remote parts of eastern Congo, the Central African Republic and southern Sudan.

Two American organizations have led the efforts to get the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act passed by Congress. Invisible Children and Resolve Uganda rallied their passionate young supporters to lobby Congress to ensure the successful passage of the bill.

I’ve done my part in helping children and communities in Uganda as a concerned global citizen. My involvement has been entirely personal and voluntary. I partner with my Ugandan friends who are stakeholders in the future of their country. I have traveled to Uganda many times since 1998. In 2007, I had the privilege of traveling extensively through the northern part of Uganda and visited the city of Gulu and several Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

I have previously written for this publication about Invisible Children and the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act: “How Invisible Children Falsely Marketed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act.”

Resolve Uganda is now scheduling meetings with every United States senator to discuss the implementation of the bill and to gain more support. The meetings are being referred to as “From Promise to Peace.” I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is an upcoming meeting scheduled with one of the senators from my home state of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010, at the senator’s local office in Dallas, which is close to my home.

I am very interested in learning about how this bill will improve the quality of life for my Acholi friends in the northern part of Uganda. I registered online to express my intention to attend the meeting. Soon after registering, I received a Facebook message from Lisa Dougan, the director of communications for Resolve Uganda. She made it very clear that I’m not welcome to the meeting. We exchanged messages that I have provided below.

To help me understand why I was being prohibited from attending this meeting, I decided to call Lisa Dougan at her Resolve Uganda office in Washington, D.C. During our conversation she reiterated that I would not be welcomed to the meeting and she highly recommended that I make no attempt to visit the senator’s office during the meeting.

I find it peculiar that a lobbying group based in Washington, D.C., is so adamant about preventing me from attending a 30-minute meeting at the local office of my senator. There is a pattern of secrecy and censorship in which Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children are engaging themselves.

The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act seems to be more about politics and United States foreign policy in Africa than about helping the victims of war in the northern part of Uganda. I believe that the bill is about legitimizing and legalizing an American military presence in Uganda to continue the global battle on terrorism, combating the growing presence of China in Africa, and defending American interests regarding natural resources, like oil and minerals. There is also a lot of money earmarked for this bill that will be distributed to unnamed groups and organizations.

The following is the written correspondence between Lisa Dougan and me.

Lisa Dougan (Sept. 14 at 11:50 a.m.)

Michael,

I have become [aware] of your efforts to join the Promise to Peace Lobby meeting in Dallas, TX. I have also seen the things you have posted on the Facebook event for that meeting. Let me be very clear: 1. These meetings are part of a RESOLVE campaign and are not connected to or organized by Invisible Children. Any postings you make on the event page to discredit or criticize Invisible Children are irrelevant and unnecessary. I have deleted them and will continue to delete anything you post of similar nature. 2. We both know that you are in no way supportive of the legislation or the policy objectives that will be promoted in this meeting. It is abundantly clear that your efforts to attend are not motivated by a desire to support the policy asks that will be made. As the coordinating organization of this campaign, we do not permit you to attend this meeting on the grounds that you in no way seek to advance the policy goals that this lobby meeting is specifically intended to promote. I will make it very clear to the leaders of the Promise to Peace lobby meeting and the Congressional staff who will be attending, that you were asked not to attend.

If you are interested in sharing your views on this or related issues with your Member of Congress, you are more than welcome to schedule and attend your own lobby meeting. That is your right and privilege as a US citizen.

Thank you Lisa

Michael Kirkpatrick (Sept. 14 at 12:40 p.m.)

Let me understand. Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children were allowed to harass and pester senators by calling and camping outside their offices for days. “Activists” were fine with calling senators things like “Dr No”. This was acceptable. However I am not allowed to attend a meeting? Interesting. So dissent is permitted as long as you get what you want? Why don’t you want people to be educated about the issues? Your political career is off to a great start.

Lisa Dougan (September 14 at 12:51pm)

Michael, Our efforts to influence our Members of Congress and other political leaders has been done through the hard work and coordination of our own events and meetings. And everyone who participated in those events and meetings did so because they shared the views and desire to achieve the objectives therein. We never inserted ourselves into the activities/events of other organizations or groups, especially if we are in DIRECT OPPOSITION to their goals.

I encourage you to coordinate your own meeting with your Members of Congress. You could even go so far as to plan your own public event(s) so more people can be “educated” by you. But to try to disingenuously join a constituent meeting with an objective that you in no way support or agree with is dishonest, lazy, and very much lacking in integrity. You are not permitted to attend this meeting. I will not discuss this any further.

Thank you, Lisa Resolve Uganda

Michael Kirkpatrick can be reached through Twitter @OtimMichael. This story first appeared in The Black Star News, New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, which can be reached at (212) 481-7745 or through publisher Milton Allimadi at Milton@blackstarnews.com. To empower local communities, Allimadi teaches a free journalism workshop “Guerrilla Journalism” every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at True South Bookstore, 492 Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn. Anyone is welcome to attend. Call (347) 257-7330 or just drop in.