RKS 2023 Hot Docs: “Theatre of Violence”: Innocent Little Boy or the King of War Crimes in Uganda?

“Theatre of Violence” is a documentary examining the heinous crimes against humanity committed by Dominic Ongwen a senior brigade leader in the rebel faction Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). His trial for 70 charges of crimes against humanity began in 2016 in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

Clear cut isn’t it? Not really as at nine years of age he was abducted by the LRA and became a child soldier then a man fighting in the bush of Northern Uganda for 27 years.

The LRA was founded by former altar boy Joseph Kony. It was a bizarre resistance movement based on mystical spiritualism with the goal of having Uganda ruled by the Ten Commandments. The LRA were members of the Acholi “tribe”.

In 1986 Yoweri Museveni seized power in Uganda and has been in power ever since not afraid to arrest challengers in elections and intimidating opposition supporters. Although the theatre of violence is in Northern Uganda where civil conflict raged the theatre of violence can be seen as Uganda in its totality where since Museveni has seized power electoral violence has turned Uganda into a theatre of violence. The validity of his 5 election wins has been in question by the international community.

At what point did Ongwen cease being a brutalized child and become a cutthroat LRA military brigade leader?

What effect did the spiritualism have on child abductees?

What was the effect of duress?

What rightful moral jurisdiction did the ICC have with its western industrialized basis to prosecute Ongwen within the context of African morality?

Why was he the only LRA fighter detained when other known LRA perpetrators of violence walked free?

Why were there no charges against Museveni when many witnesses and citizens witnessed the murderous brutality of Ugandan government troops?

Being a lawyer, I was expecting a courtroom slugfest but was not disappointed to watch Krispus Ayena the lead defence attorney work behind the scenes to dig deeper prior to the trial to talk with child abductees, LRA members and villagers knowing Ongwen.

Ongwen was charged with 61 crimes against humanity but due to mitigating circumstances instead of a life sentence he received a 25-year prison sentence.

A fascinating glimpse of Uganda, its people, its history and there are no easy answers. As a lawyer why not say I would feel comfortable acting for the prosecution or defence.

“Theatre of Violence” screens on 2/6 May and was directed by Lukasz Konopa. It is a Danish and German production and its screenings at Hot Docs will be a North American premiere.

You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceN6R5167D4

RKS 2023 Film Rating 94/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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