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Obstructionism from Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) Boosting Lord’s Resistance Army

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Obstructionism from Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) Boosting Lord’s Resistance Army"

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The Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, is one of the nastiest, most brutal and evil organizations on the plant. The leadership of the LRA has been indicted for crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and enlisting of children as combatants. You can read a few recent grizzly details in this Human Rights Watch report. The point, however, is that it’s little surprise that the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 has widespread support in the Senate, including 63 Cosponsors.

But because the Senate’s rules are dumb, and because Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) is a moral monster, guided by a poisonously misguided ethical compass and a callous disregard for human welfare, there’s been no vote on the bill thanks to Coburn’s hold. Activists are staging an Oklahoma Hold Out to try to pressure the Senate to change his thinking:

Since December of 2009, Senator Coburn has blocked the passage of a bill intended to help end the longest running war in Africa and support communities ravaged by horrific violence at the hands of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by indicted war criminal Joseph Kony. During these three months of Dr. Coburn’s hold, Kony’s forces have gone on to attack, murder, and abduct innocent civilians across South Sudan, the DR Congo, and Central African Republic. The reality is that every day of inaction on this issue comes with a severe and painful price.

Senator Coburn’s lack of personal engagement indicates that ending this crisis is not a high priority. We believe it should be.

From the Human Rights Watch report, here’s a 12 year-old boy who was abducted from school by the LRA in September of 2008 and escaped three months later:

I cried so much after I was abducted and they told me that I was to become a soldier. I wanted to be in school. I didn’t want to fight. They said to stop crying and not to think about home, but I thought about it everyday.

And here’s a 17 year-old girl abducted in April 2008:

I was assigned to a commander. He spoke a different language from me, so we never spoke to each other. He forced me to sleep with him whenever he wanted. If I resisted, he whipped me. Sometimes he even grabbed my neck and tried to strangle me.

This is Pierre, age 15, abducted from CAR in September 2008:

After the first two weeks in Kiswahili, we went back to a camp called Gambungbu for four days. Two abducted children from CAR had tried to escape, and Kony gave the order that their friends had to kill them in front of all the other children. Kony wanted to be there himself when they were killed. There were about sixty children who had to watch the killing.

At any rate, I totally get that Tom Coburn is a man of principle. He thinks that minimizing federal spending is very important and preventing the rape, kidnap, and massacre of children is much less important. Those aren’t my priorities, but politics is all about the fact that priorities differ. To me, with interest rates so low, borrowing some money to minimize the rape, kidnap, and massacre of children is an investment worth making, but Coburn sees it another way. Which is exactly why you need to settle these things through votes. If Coburn doesn’t like the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, the appropriate way for him to express that is by voting “no” on the legislation. Plenty of other people aren’t as nutty as Coburn and are happy to vote for it. But this business of holds is simply unacceptable.

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