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Public Statements

Nomination Of M. Patricia Smith To Be Solicitor For The Department Of Labor - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, last week I came to the floor to talk about an issue that has kind of been drowned out by a lot of other things that are going on, other conflicts and disasters around the world. This is having to do with northern Uganda. It is something I have been on the floor talking about for several years now, and I have had occasion to be there several times.

For over two decades, a guy named Joseph Kony has led what they call the LRA, the Lord's Resistance Army, in violence all throughout northern Uganda, in that whole Great Lakes Region of east and central Africa. They have killed tens of thousands--little kids--displacing over 1 million, and terrorizing and kidnapping over 30,000 little kids, forcing them to fight. It is this child soldier thing a lot of people are aware of, but not nearly enough people are aware of it.

With all the problems there are in Africa--people are more concerned about Zimbabwe. They hear about that. They have heard about Somalia, Sudan. Everyone knows about that. But nobody says anything about the Lord's Resistance Army and what they have been doing in that area of Africa for 25 years.

I have been there. I have been all the way up there to Gulu in northern Uganda. Let me share the problem that exists up there.

This madman, kind of a spiritual leader, by the name of Joseph Kony has taken advantage of all the unrest and the disasters by going into villages and kidnapping, taking young people and training them to be soldiers. We are talking about little kids, little boys. They are from 11 to 14 years old. Once they train them to be soldiers, they actually give them AK-47s. I do not have my chart now, but I have pictures of that. They train them to be soldiers, and then they have to go back to their villages and murder their parents and their siblings. If they do not do that, then they will dismember them. They will cut their noses off, cut their ears off, cut their lips off.

This has been going on for a long period of time. Quite frankly, I have gotten to know President Museveni in Uganda quite well, President Kagame in Rwanda, and President Kabila in Congo, and all of them agree that we need do something about this monster Joseph Kony. It happens that two of the three Presidents I mentioned--President Museveni from Uganda and President Kagame from Rwanda--are Presidents who have really come to power in the bush. They are warriors. These are people who really are reluctant to admit they cannot go after one guy and get him. Well, they have finally all gotten together.

What we are trying to do--well, we have already introduced it; the author of the bill is Senator Feingold of Wisconsin--is to go after these people, and this bill provides about $35 million to help these kids who have been brutalized, as well as to give whatever assistance we have to give to these different countries in order to bring this guy to justice.

During one of the trips I made up to northern Uganda, to Gulu, I ran into three young men. They are college-age types--Bobby Bailey, Lauren Poole, and Jason Russell. They have started a documentary on Joseph Kony. They have gone around to universities, and we now have thousands--tens of thousands--of young people who are rallying around this thing, trying to get us to do something as a nation. These young people have become very effective.

This week, this Senate has an opportunity to act in unison to shine the light on this forgotten place and to begin to bring relief to these children.

The Great Lakes Region in Africa has suffered from years of devastating fighting between tribes, and as a result the area is home to massive numbers of displaced people who are vulnerable to this type of treatment. So those are the conditions that allow Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels to thrive. Kony preys on the weak. He gets little kids who cannot defend themselves. He gets young girls. He sells them to be sex slaves and these kids to become murderers.

In December of 2008, the Government of Uganda, Southern Sudan, and the DRC--that is the Democratic Republic of the Congo--launched a coordinated offensive against the LRA. It was called Operation Lightning Thunder. During the operation, over 300 rebels were killed, over 40 were captured, and more than 500 kids who were abducted were rescued. So we are making some headway in doing this.

According to estimates by the U.N., between September of 2008 and June of 2009, the LRA killed over 1,300 civilians, abducted 1,400 more boys and girls, and displaced nearly 300,000 others.

I know something about this because I took the time to go to--you hear a lot about western Congo--Kinshasa and the problems there. This is eastern Congo that butts up against Rwanda and then, further north, Uganda.

In going to Goma, we thought that was where Joseph Kony was at the time. We thought we had an effort that could get him, but we barely missed him. He went north on a tirade, after that, going up toward Sudan and murdered thousands of people during that short period of time. It averages out, he murders or mutilates about three kids a day. That is why this is important. We can get this guy. We cannot do it if we just try the way we have tried it before because it has not worked and it is not going to work.

Well, anyway, we have watched this take place. It is spreading now to other areas. I would anticipate before too long, if left unchecked, it would go not just to the Central African Republic but also maybe back into Sudan and maybe even Ethiopia. So it is very serious.

In 2009, a total of 186 people were killed by the LRA just in Southern Sudan. One survivor describes his experience and the murders of his family at the hands of the LRA. This is a quote. This is actually what this person said:

We were eating dinner outside of our hut when several LRA--

That is the Lord's Resistance Army--

rebels appeared and told us in broken Lingala--

This is their local language--

to get inside of our hut. They looted our food, locked us inside our hut and burned it. There were 10 of us; my whole family was inside. When I realized they were burning us alive, I started to push against the door, forcing it open. One rebel standing outside of the door tried to hit me with a heavy club but I dodged it and ran in the bush. They shot after me but missed. Apparently they shot or hit everyone else in my family who tried to come out. Except for one other person, everyone else was burned alive.

This is the type of thing we have documented that has been happening for a long period of time.

What we are trying to do with this--as I mentioned before, the cost is not great. This, by the way, is not any appropriation. This is an authorization bill, to authorize probably what the CBO says is about $28 million to get this done. It is not offset. When the bill first came out, it was offset by a reduction in certain types of military expenditures. I disagreed with that, so it is not offset at this time. But of all the efforts out there right now, this is something that absolutely has to happen.

Just by contrast, we had a bill, the other African bill, just a couple years ago, called the PEPFAR bill. That was one that actually had about $35 billion--much larger than this--and it sailed right through. So I would say, if we were willing to do that, we ought to be willing to do this.

By the way, we have a lot of cosponsors now. I do believe we are going to be successful in getting this bill passed, and I will be bringing this up, I am guessing, probably either Wednesday or Thursday.

So with that, I will yield the floor and hope that any of the other Members of this body who are not already a cosponsor to this bill--it is S. 1067--we would like to get a few more cosponsors on here if at all possible.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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