“Rescue Me! Rescue Me! Rescue Me!”
Their chant echoes in the corridors of power and under the tree-leaves in the park just the same: Rescue Me. AK47s and teddy bears on their tees, a strange juxtaposition designed to stir us into action.
This is the RESCUE. For over 23 years, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda have been engaged in the longest running war in Africa. That war is no longer contained within the Ugandan border, but spilling over into neighbouring Sudan and DR Congo. Though there have been stuttering attempts at peace talks – more stops than starts, lets be honest – the violence continues. After the last failed peace talks in March 2008, Kony’s forces regained strength. On Christmas Day 2008, 620 people were massacred by the LRA in eastern DR Congo, and 160 children abducted.
Every day that it continues, more children lose their childhoods; abducted and forced into child soldiering. The world knows them as a rebel army, but in truth they’re just kids.
Edinburgh seems a long way from northern Uganda, but on Saturday it’s streets were filled with hundreds of activists, young and old alike, to raise awareness of this war. 100 cities in 10 countries around the world joined together to symbolically abduct themselves to free the abducted child soldiers. Our march took us from the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, along the Royal Mile, finally reaching our destination: a mock-LRA camp set up in Princes Street Gardens. Our abduction would see us spend the night sleeping out; waiting for a celebrity to arrive and rescue us.
As the music got going, all across the camp people were writing letters to our political leaders, asking them to bring an end to this war. Alongside the painting & photo projects already planned, spontaneous acts of creativity occurred as people responded to the stories. One group of over 50 pupils from Carnoustie High School spelt out the name of their town and a tri-peace symbol using tealights… a mammoth undertaking! Despite not having official backing for it to be a school trip, the senior pupils went ahead in organizing it all themselves. They described their motivation as ‘young people standing for young people’, that as a generation we have the buzz to carry this forward.
We didn’t have to wait long for our rescue: Billy Boyd, better known by many as Pippin from Lord of the Rings, came along to lend his support.
“The reason that we’re all here is because we’re all human beings, and we see an injustice, a wrong, and as human beings we want to see that made right. It doesn’t really matter what country it’s happening in, or what race you are, or religion; it’s more than that. It’s about being human. We’re all equal and we all deserve the same rights; the right to a childhood and the right for freedom.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Billy…
[From an article I wrote for Ctrl.Alt.Shift]