By Anchalee Kongrut
Does the name Joseph Kony ring any bells? For many Facebook users, his name came up early last year when a video clip became famous as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the crimes of Kony and his Ugandan guerrilla group Lord's Resistance Army.
Thanks to the Kony 2012 campaign, we were informed that Kony is a horrible person. His Lord's Resistance Army (read: gang) have killed as many as 100,000 parents in order to abduct their children and turn them into soldiers _ and for girls, into sex slaves.
Despite portraying himself as Bible-quoting messiah, Kony has relied on criminal activity to obtain financial resources. In 2005, the International Criminal Court indicted him for crimes against humanity. Kony fled Uganda and has since been hiding somewhere in the Central African Republic, or South Sudan, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But our country might be involved with this man's illegal activity in a manner beyond our imagination.
According to a report in The New York Times last year, the African continent has attracted a new breed of ivory poachers. Among them is Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. Other groups are no less scary. They include Darfur's Janjaweed gunmen and Somalia's al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group with close ties to al-Qaeda, as well as the Congolese, Ugandan and South Sudanese armies.
The era of local village poachers or hunters with rifles on horseback is gone. Militant poachers now gun down wild elephants from helicopters.
The illegally harvested tusks are sent to countries which trade in ivory, such as Thailand and China, through loopholes in law enforcement. Since 1989, many countries around the world including Thailand have ratified the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on the ban against ivory trade. Yet, the ban gives exemptions for countries to trade ivory obtained legally.
For example, Thai law permits ivory trade from domestic elephants that die of natural causes. Since 2007, four countries in Africa have won exemptions to sell ivory obtained legally to countries in Asia such as China and Japan. More....