Mosaic is a non-profit organization that initiates sustainable projects for peace and social justice in southern Sudan and Uganda.
The image of a "mosaic" expresses the beauty that emerges when broken and fragmented bodies, communities, and regions experience health, healing, and social justice. But, it also symbolizes the means for serving these areas — numerous organizations coming together in partnership and network to join resources for the sake of human rights and peace.
Suffering in Uganda and Sudan
For decades, the people in northern Uganda and southern Sudan have suffered from violence, injustice, land-grabbing, and poverty. These people have been attacked by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a terrifying extremist group that patrols the border of southern Sudan and northern Uganda attacking villages and refugee camps with grotesque violence. These butchers are notorious for filling its ranks by abducting children. Atrocities committed by this group include mass murder, forced prostitution, rape, forced cannibalism, and mutilation.
In addition to these attacks, the people of southern Sudan had been attacked by their own government-the Government of Sudan (GOS)-and they are still feeling the effects of a two-decade long civil war. Until January 9, 2005, the oldest civil war in the world was being fought in Sudan. In January, a comprehensive peace accord was signed ending the civil war that had been uninterrupted for the past twenty-two years. Sudan's conflict is old and complex. For many, the north-south war is rooted in the old toxic relationship between Arab masters and African slaves. For the religious, it is a conflict between northern Islam and southern tribal religions, animism, and Christianity. For economists, it is a war between the impoverished herdsmen and civilians of the south and the north made wealthy from oil profit. For global experts, it is a war of civilizations: Arabic civilization and African civilization. In the words of US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, there is "no greater tragedy on the face of the earth than the tragedy that is unfolding in the Sudan."
The Government of Sudan (GOS)
The government of Sudan is led by the National Islamic Front, which began as the Islamic Charter Front and was known as the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1970s. It has campaigned for the application of Sharia (Muslim law) and regularly uses Islamic sloganeering. It has demonstrated a high degree of ruthless political cunning and a readiness to use unprecedented levels of physical violence. Beneath its surface political activity over the years, it has acquired arms and trained loyalist militias.
Starting in 1983, the regime in northern Sudan has bombed, starved, and enslaved black southern Sudanese in an effort to subject them to Islamic rule. In response, southern Sudan organized a rebel movement and army-the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The SPLA defends against attacks from their government and fights for either a secular, unified Sudan-as opposed to the north's Muslim theocracy-or for full southern independence. Over the past twenty years, more than two million southern Sudanese are dead and nearly five million southern Sudanese have been displaced by starvation and violence.
Throughout its history, Sudan has rarely known peace or stability. Civil war erupted before the nation gained independence from Britain in 1956. There was a brief period of peace from 1972 to 1983. The roots of conflict and violence have remained the same: British-ruled Sudan was not one country, but two. Paul Salopek describes the conflict and its history: The south is tropical, underdeveloped, and populated by almost one hundred tribes or ethnic groups of African descent, including Dinkas, Nuers, and Azandes. By contrast, the north is drier, wealthier, and linked financially and culturally to the Muslim Middle East. These two groups-northern Arabs and southern blacks-have been at odds since the nineteenth century, when northern slave raiders preyed on the tribes of the south.
Today the territorial line of conflict that divides the country is also a symbolic line that represents radical diversity: religious, economic, linguistic, cultural, and ethnic. Presently the rebel SPLM along with the SPLA, control much of the southern third of Sudan. The soldiers carry spears, Kalashnikovs, and AK-47s and have fought for greater autonomy and for their independence. The conflict was, in a very real sense, a war of attrition, as the south has lost almost an entire generation of young men to the war. The northern government dropped bombs from Antanovs (old Russian cargo planes) targeting not only SPLA sites but also southern civilians, hospitals, schools, village centers, places of worship, and market-places. In addition to regular bombings, the GOS also employed famines, slavery, and mass murder as weapons of terror, genocide, oppression, and mass destruction. Sudanese slaves-usually women and children-are routinely beaten, raped, genitally mutilated, and forced to convert to Islam. Credible estimates of the number of Sudanese slaves range from at least 20,000 to as much as 200,000.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)
The January 1986 overthrow of President Tito Okello (an Acholi) by Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) of southwest Uganda marked a period of intense turmoil. This antagonized Acholis, who feared the loss of their traditional dominance of the army. Acholis were initially receptive to the LRA, mostly out of animosity toward the non-Acholi government of Museveni.
Until 1991, the LRA primarily raided the Acholi villages for supplies. Their brutal tactics ensured that they received at least passive support by Acholi villagers, who were becoming increasingly disillusioned with the LRA. In 1991, the Ugandan government seized the opportunity to exploit the disillusionment of the Acholi villagers and launched Operation North. "Arrow Groups" were small brigades of civilians armed with bows and arrows-no match for the modern weapons of the LRA. This enraged Kony and the LRA who retaliated by mutilating thousands of civilians they believed to be government supporters. The LRA's actions turned many Acholis against them for good. However, Acholi animosity toward the LRA is mitigated by their animosity toward the Ugandan government for exploiting them in Operation North, for failing to protect them from LRA terror attacks, and for human rights violations by occupying government troops.
In 1994, the LRA began to spread into southern Sudan, with the approval of and support from the Government of Sudan (GOS). The GOS support of the LRA was in retaliation for the Ugandan government's support of the SPLA rebel group in southern Sudan. The leader of the LRA (Joseph Kony), convinced that the Acholi were collaborating with the Ugandan government, began to viciously target civilians. Mutilations increased and child abductions for soldiers and sex slaves began.
In 2003, President Museveni referred Joseph Kony and other LRA leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In 2005, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Kony and four other LRA leaders for international war crimes. The LRA has stated that they will never surrender, but are willing to "return home" in exchange for amnesty from President Museveni. In the mean time, the killing, mutilations and child abductions continue unchecked.