In 2012 we travelled to Uganda and New Zealand to continue filming for our documentary ‘Child Troopers’.

In early 2013 we then traveled to the UK to find out more information and hear more stories for our film. This continues again in Uganda in the coming months.

We will be posting some clips form the recent filming in London in the next few weeks so please check back soon for a sneak peak!

We are also sending a 2nd container of bikes to Uganda through our partner organisation Bikes 4 Life, helping the lives of former child soldiers and victims of war.

We wish everyone success and happiness in 2013 and hope you continue to follow our progress with Child Troopers as we enter the final stages of post production later in the year!

Please follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/childtroopers  and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/madvsbad

Peace!

 

Vincent Magombe in London being interviewed by Child Troopers director Ebony Butler.
Vincent Magombe in London being interviewed by Child Troopers director Ebony Butler earlier this year.

Our team are on the move again, traveling the globe in search of the truth and the untold, unreported stories about the war in northern Uganda.

This week we will be traveling to New Zealand to conduct interviews with Ugandan expats. We then plan to visit London early January to continue our research and interview exiled Ugandans who want to tell their story, that has been silenced and suppressed by international media for far too long.

To follow our journey please check into http://www.twitter.com/madvsbad and follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/childtroopers

Don’t forget to also subscribe to this blog and share it with friends!

Wish us luck, as the road ahead could get rough!

What’s the difference between the actions of a WARMONGER & WARLORD?

Take Uganda‘s President Yoweri Museveni & LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) leader Joseph Kony for example… One’s totally MAD and the other’s just plain BAD… And both are BRUTAL despots and responsible for horrific crimes against humanity. (although Museveni has full impunity whereas Kony isn’t so privileged)

People would assume that the President (also known as M7) is the lesser of the two evils, but we are not so easily convinced. What are your thoughts?

So who’s worse? It’s a classic case of Mad Vs Bad…

& Please join our exciting new Facebook Group for some really interesting & controversial postings at: Mad Vs Bad

You can also join the conversation on Twitter by following @madvsbad and @atlanticstar233 – PEACE OUT, EB x

I was recently in Northern Uganda (Odek) where I spent some time with the victims of Nodding Disease, and their parents / guardians or only surviving family members. It was a period, and experience in my life I will always hold close to my heart, and could never forget. The faces of these children still haunt me to this day. I hope through my work with children around the world sick or not, that I have been able to make them smile, cheer them up, make them giggle and laugh through their suffering… But this was a different story altogether. The suffering, the pain, the anguish and isolation of these poor, sick and neglected people, is a sad story that has its roots buried far beyond the first outbreak of Nodding Disease.

This young boy has been severely disfigured by Nodding Disease. He is 12 years old yet looks about 6, he cannot speak and he is the last surviving son in his family. 4 died of Nodding Disease and one was abducted by the LRA and has never returned. His father does not know if he is dead or alive. April, 2012 www.atlanticstarproductions.com

The sad truth is that the government of Uganda does not really care about the poor young Acholi children in the North who are suffering, then dying of this shocking Nodding disease. When I was in Uganda a couple of months ago, there was so much local media showing President Museveni out in health clinics and setting up facilities for nodding disease victims and so forth. That was while I was in the same country. Actually! During my time in Northern Uganda; the President just flew in for many media opportunities. Speaking about these issues, I would say I have spent more time in Northern Uganda than the President himself. I would have spent more time on Acholi soil, speaking Acholi (a little, but a little more than President Museveni), working with them; learning; sharing; caring; teaching; drinking; eating; laughing; living; crying with them… and establishing life-long friends with them! Oh, my heart goes out to my dear Acholi friends from the North!

So all this news about the children being looked after and in hospital is a total lie. Because I have witnessed firsthand the suffering and the devastation of these young and older families who have children with the disease, I spent time with them, I listened to their stories and I saw with my own eyes what was going on. It is a total travesty by the Government of Uganda. There may be some health clinics set up for a few certain children, but in Odek, Josph Kony’s hometown, situated between Gulu and Pader (closer to Pader), hashundreds and hundreds of children with Nodding Disease, WITHOUT ANY AID AT ALL.

A young nodding disease victim in Odek northern Uganda who has ran into fire 8 times and had her fingers burnt & cut off, without treatment! Please explain Mr. President? April 2012

There have been a lot of funds that were supposed to be allocated to Nodding Disease, but they didn’t make it, if some did, it would surely be under 10% of what was allocated. I did not witness one clinic for the disease in all of Uganda, (Northern Uganda) yet I witnessed, on what was the most horrific and heartbreaking period of my 2 month trip there, so many young girls and boys, either tied to trees by their parent (usually only one guardian exists) to prevent them from hurting themselves as Nodding Disease victims often lose control of their behaviour and run towards fire and water, resulting in devastating and too often deadly consequences. I also interviewed the guardians, parents or remaining relatives of the young Nodding Disease victims.

Interviewing the parent of a young Nodding Disease victim in North Uganda, April 2012

The interviews offered interesting perspectives not so often discussed or dissected in corporate or commercial media. Insights given often pointed to the World Food Programme‘s (WFP) food and the possibility that it was contaminated, either by accident or as some would argue, was a deliberate move by the Ugandan Government. It seems almost clear that the children who are affected by Nodding Disease, who are generally between the ages of 6 and 15 years, were infected during the time of the massive forced encampment of the Acholi into overcrowded, unprotected, disease ridden and violence prone Internally Displacement Camps (IDP camps), a.k.a ‘death camps’ or ‘modern day concentration camps’. It was around this period when all food was supplied to the encamped Acholi by the World Food Programme, and the disease started to become apparent. (2003 I believe).

I will post a few more images here of other children I met with Nodding Disease, that were not treated at all, despite the severity of their conditions. Many have since died but these figures are not shown in official statistics, in fact, Odek was rarely mentioned in the media as an area that had suffered greatly from it. It’s a very sad story and one that demands greater attention from Uganda, and also, the rest of the world.

The boy I am pictured with below had the early symptoms of the mysterious & often fatal Nodding Disease.Let’s pray that his situation has not worsened and that he is receiving at least some medical care.

A young boy in Northern Uganda with early signs of Nodding Disease, April 2012

*If you haven’t yet heard of ‘Nodding Disease’, that means it needs serious attention from the international community, so scream and shout, tell people, and do your bit! Help spread the message that Nodding Disease victims (who are all children) need our help, now!

Another young victim of the horrific, and largely unknown disease… April 2012

Please follow me on twitter at the following profiles: @madvsbad @atlanticstar233 @ebony_atlanta and @bikes4lifeorg

For many years, international companies have benefited from the instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

via Clinton, Kagame and M23.

Excerpt from Article:

No blackmail, but persistence of a long term plan’ 

For many years, international companies have benefited from the instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Paul Kagame and Joweri Museveni have as well continued to plunder the country’s resources through a network of armed militias spread all over Eastern Congo.

There has been an official narrative which has been successively sold to the general opinion saying that the Rwandan genocide of April 1994 was a failure of the international community to protect lives in danger.

And for that reason, there are views particularly among Western scholars and foreign aid agencies claiming that the unconditional support to Rwanda over these last 18 years was a consequence of their guilt.

Either they are in denial of what they fully know, or they want to fool those among the general public who are ignorant of what has been going on.

Child Troopers Teaser 1 from Ebony Butler on Vimeo.

This is the first cut of a teaser for my documentary film Child Troopers, about the war between Joseph Kony‘s LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and the Ugandan Government.

Much more to come with new footage from Uganda 2012 so stay tuned!

See: www.atlanticstarproductions.com
www.faceook.com/childtroopers

My second trip to Uganda was vastly different from the first, back in 2009.

In 2009, I was researching the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), Joseph Kony and the topical issue of children in armed conflict. I spent most of my time with former child soldiers in Northern Uganda and also made a promise to a group of child soldiers that I had become close to. The promise was to send 2 bicycles, to help them in their lives and in their rehabilitation and re-integration into society.

In 2012, I returned with a container of 400 bicycles, a mission I had been on since my trip there in 2009. I also set up a bike workshop and vocational training centre at Friends of Orphans in Pader, to help victims of the conflict.

As as far as my research on the war in Northern Uganda goes, I had learnt a lot more in the three years since my first visit. During that period I also traveled to the United States, where I interviewed people at the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Black Star News, UNICEF, Resolve Uganda and many other organizations.

My knowledge of the conflict grew day by day, and when I returned to Uganda earlier this year, I had many new contacts to meet and learn from. These included notable and die-hard pro-democracy activists such as Barbara Allimadi, Shawn Mubiru, Anne Mugisha, opposition leaders Kizza Besigye, Nandala Mafabi and the honorable UPC President and former UN Under Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, Dr. Olara Otunnu. The experts and scholars I met with included Adam Branch from Makerere University, Leander Komakech, Okello Okello John Livingstone and Major General Pecas Kutesa – who all offered interesting and informative insights into the war and the state of democracy in Uganda. This really put a new spin on my take of the conflict, which had gradually been happening since the U.S trip in 2011. There were things that didn’t add up and it has taken a long time to work out the truth, as the media portrayal of the conflict is far from the facts I had uncovered. Uganda, I also discovered, was a democracy in disguise. On two occasions I was almost arrested, for no reason other than having a camera and having friends who are with the opposition. On my last day in Uganda, the day I was grabbed by the Police and threatened to be tear gassed, my friend Doreen was actually arrested and put into maximum security prison (Luzira), for voicing her opinion about the government and Museveni’s corrupt regime. I can tell you first hand, Uganda is not as free and democratic as it appears to be…

I still spend countless hours researching the conflict and the human rights situation in the country, as what has occurred in Northern Uganda has been so well concealed by the powers that be, and the international community at large, making it very difficult for the truth to be made visually transparent. The ‘Kony War‘, as it is often called, is not what it seems. That is not to say that Kony does not exist, nor that he has not committed the atrocities that are now well-known to the world, thanks to the viral video campaign from Invisible Children, Kony 2012. The perpetrator of this conflict is not Kony, as most would believe due to media and government deception and misinformation. Joseph Kony is sadly a product of the war, and should still however be made to face justice for his crimes. But, will that bring justice to the Acholi people of Northern Uganda, particularly if the other perpetrators are not also made to stand trial for their involvement in this human tragedy? How can justice prevail when impunity reigns?

This year I also spent much time in Uganda looking into how the conflict can be resolved and what is the best way forward. Is military intervention (which is what is currently happening) the correct road, or could truth and reconciliation through national dialogue and peace talks be a better and more effective option? There are many differing views on this subject, but on the ground, there seems to be only one. Invisible Children have called out loud and clear for U.S military intervention in the region, but where has that got them in the past, and for what reasons would they really be intervening? The fact of the matter is, why intervene now, when they really needed to intervene 10 years ago, when there was a serious humanitarian crisis going on. That’s when everyone was silent on what was going on. That’s when help was needed and voices needed to be heard. Now there is relative peace and the people in Uganda want to know, “WHY NOW?”.

‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’
Albert Einstein

 

Olara Otunnu Claims Uganda is Hell on Earth for ChildrenOlara Otunna, the former United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is dedicated to taking a stance against human rights violations and protecting children affected by war and conflict.

There are not many people that speak out about the role of Museveni and the claims of genocide in Northern Uganda, however Olara Otunnu speaks openly and compares the the situation in Northern Uganda, sometimes regarded as the ‘Forgotton War’, to that of the systematic genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Other United Nations officials have stated that the forced relocation of close to two million Acholi, into ‘protected’ Internal Displacement (IDP) camps,should be compared to modern day concentration camps.

According to Otunnu “An entire society – the Acholi – is being systematically destroyed –physically, culturally, socially and economically – in full view of the international community. This has been going on non-stop for almost 20 years but Western governments have turned a blind eye to a pliant regime and dictatorship under President Museveni that practices genocide.”

http://www.usyd.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=767.

This site will give you information about Atlantic Star Productions’ feature documentary ‘Child Troopers’, on the topic of child soldiers, child rights worldwide, post-conflict rehabilitation and recovery. The site will profile the LRA terrorist organization that is behind the brutal atrocities and abduction of children in East Africa on an ongoing reign of terror that began in 1987. It will be informative, educational and will offer visitors to the site an opportunity learn about these and other human rights issues, and will give readers regular updates and key development and production information about the film we are currently producing. Enjoy the page as I hope you will enjoy the film!

Break the Silence.
End The Suffering.
Protect Our Vulnerable.
Say NO To CHILDREN In WAR!