A team from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum recently traveled to eastern Congo, where they collected testimonies from survivors of the ongoing conflict. In a powerful recent post on World Is Witness, Michael Graham profiled Joseph, a Congolese teenager who was abducted and enslaved for six months by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Joseph told Michael his story, which is described in this second post of a two-part series. Click here to read the first post.
The pilot dips the plane’s wing under the horizon as we circle Faradje to get a better look at the destruction below. Dozens of blackened huts line the road cutting its way across the forest from Dungu, empty circles scorched black inside.
It is at the Catholic Parish here in Faradje where I first meet Joseph, a 19 year old Congolese teenager captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) near Dungu six months ago. He sits quietly across from me in a wooden chair and continues the story that began with him being captured and taken to Joseph Kony’s base in Garamba National Park. Today Joseph is free; the last time he was in Faradje was as a slave to the LRA, and an unwilling witness to the horrors that were brought to a quiet village on Christmas day.
In the aftermath of the operation against the LRA at their base in Garamba Park on December 14th, Kony ordered his soldiers to send a message to the world and the Congolese people, who he accused of supporting the attacks against him. The message was simple. If you want war, we will do it on our terms. We will bring it straight to the people.
A group of a hundred rebel soldiers and a dozen porters including Joseph marched east from the park until they came to the outskirts of Faradje. The rebels split up and fanned out, moving towards the center of town, burning homes and killing quietly as they went. They used machetes and clubs to save bullets and maintain the element of surprise. It was here on the outskirts they tried to kill Roger, a farmer and carpenter with dull scars on the top of his head, who described to me the moment he saw the LRA enter the village:
At about 4:00PM I was at my house and saw a column of soldiers splitting up into groups, one going on the road and the other arriving right behind my house. A soldier knocked on the door. I came out and said hello, asking them what they wanted.
He hit me in the head with wood from behind my house until they thought I was dead. A neighbor saved me, crying out “stop, you have already killed him!” They left after hitting my father and also leaving him for dead.
When the LRA arrived to the center of the town, while Joseph and the others were tied together under guard, they turned the celebrating village into a killing field.
Click here to continue reading.
To learn more about Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and find out how you can take part in helping to end the LRA’s long and brutal reign, visit Enough’s special page.