Ugandan Religious Leaders Appeal for Release of Kidnapped Seminarians
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GULU, MAY 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The religious and traditional leaders of Northern Uganda took a firm stand against the continuing violence of the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), particularly the abduction of 40 seminarians on May 11.
In a statement received by MISNA missionary agency, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) -- the inter-religious body mediating between the government and rebels for a peaceful solution -- "firmly condemned the continuing atrocities committed by the rebels of the LRA against the population of the Acholi districts of Northern Uganda."
"In particular, we condemn the recent abduction of the students of the Minor Seminary of Lachor and we ask you once again in the name of the Lord to stop," the note reads. "These are the desires and hopes of the entire population of the Acholi districts and it is the only way for peace to return to our land," the ARLPI document states.
"We also implore you to release all the youths still in your hands and demonstrate with positive gestures that you are ready to come to a peaceful solution to the conflict," the message adds, signed by ARLPI chairman Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, and by the association's representatives.
Four of the abducted seminarians have returned; the location of the rest is unknown. It is thought that they have been divided into small groups and will be obliged to enlist with the guerrillas, a common objective of the multiple kidnappings in the region.
The Lord's Resistance Army is fighting against the government in an attempt to create a state based on the observance of alleged "biblical" concepts. To attain this objective, however, they do not hesitate to engage in criminal actions against the civilian population, spreading death and insecurity in the districts of northern Uganda.